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A decline in party loyalties that reduces long-term party commitment.

Democratic Party

One of the two major American political parties evolving out of the Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson

Divided Government

A situation in which one major political party controls the presidency and the other controls the chambers of Congress, or in which one party controls a state governorship and the other controls the state legislature.

Electoral College

A group of persons, called electors, who are selected by the voters in each state. This group officially elects the president and the vice president of the United States.

Era of Good Feelings

The years from 1817 to 1825, when James Monroe was president and there was, in effect, no political opposition.


A group or bloc in a legislature or political party acting in pursuit of some special interest or position


A voter or candidate who does not identify with a political party.

National Committee

A standing committee of a national political party established to direct and coordinate party activities between national party conventions

National Convention

The meeting held every four years by each major party to select presidential and vice presidential candidates, to write a platform, to choose a national committee, and to conduct party business.

Party Identification

Linking oneself to a particular political party.

Party Organization

The formal structure and leadership of a political party, including election committees local, state, and national executives and paid professional staff.

Party Platform

A document drawn up at each national convention, outlining the policies, positions, and principles of the party.


All of the elected and appointed officials who identify with a political party.


Those members of the general public who identify with a political party or who express a preference for one party over another.


Rewarding faithful party workers and followers with government employment and contracts.


A number of votes cast for a candidate that is greater than the number of votes for any other candidate but not necessarily a majority.

Political Party

A group of political activists who organize to win elections, operate the government, and determine public policy.


A process in which a substantial group of voters switches party allegiance, producing a long-term change in the political landscape.

Republican Party

One of the two major American political parties. It emerged in the 1850s as an antislavery party and consisted of former northern Whigs and antislavery Democrats.

Reverse-Income Effect

A tendency for wealthier states or regions to favor the Democrats and for less wealthy states or regions to favor the Republicans. The effect appears paradoxical because it reverses traditional patterns of support.

Splinter Party

A new party formed by a dissident faction within a major political party. Often, splinter parties have emerged when a particular personality was at odds with the major party.

Split-Ticket Voting

Voting for candidates of two or more parties for different offices, such as voting for a Republican presidential candidate and a Democratic congressional candidate

State Central Committee

The principal organized structure of each political party within each state. This committee is responsible for carrying out policy decisions of the party's state convention.

Straight-Ticket Voting

Voting exclusively for the candidates of one party.

Swing Voters

Voters who frequently swing their support from one party to another.

Third Party

A political party other than the two major political parties (Republican and Democratic).


A phenomenon that occurs when a group that is becoming more numerous over time grows large enough to change the political balance in a district, state, or country.

Two-Party System

A political system in which only two parties have a reasonable chance of winning.

Unit Rule

A rule by which all of a state's electoral votes are cast for the presidential candidate receiving a plurality of the popular vote in that state.

Whig Party

A major party in the United States during the first half of the nineteenth century, formally established in 1836. The Whig party was anti-Jackson and represented a variety of regional interests.

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