How can we help?

You can also find more resources in our Help Center.

Chapter 1-5

Politics in States and Communities
STUDY
PLAY
Political Entrepreneurship
The tendency of candidates in electoral campaigns to propose policy innovations in order to publicize themselves and win votes
Commonwealth
Although four states call themselves "commonwealth", the term refers to any self-governing community and currently describes the government of Puerto Rico, a territory of the United States
Limited Government
The principle that government power over the individual is limited that there are some personal liberties that even a majority cannot regulate, and that government itself is restrained by law
Constitutionalism
A government of laws, not people, operating on the principle that governmental power must be limited, that government officials should be restrained in their exercise of power over individuals
Colonial Charters
Documents granted to American Colonies by English kings establishing governments; fostered American tradition of written constitutions
Constitution
The legal structure establishing governmental bodies, granting their powers, determining how their members are selected and prescribing the rules by which they make their decisions. Considered basic or fundamental a constitution cannot be changed by ordinary acts of governmental bodies
Limited Government
The principle that government power over the individual is limited, that there are some personal liberties that even a majority cannot regulate and that government itself is restrained by law
Constitutionalism
A government of laws, not people, operating on the principle that governmental power must be limited, that government officials should be restrained in their exercise of power over individuals
Bill of Rights
In state constitutions written protections for basic freedoms; most resemble the Bill of Rights in the U.S Constitution but some extend these rights
Separation of Powers
The constitutional allocation of powers among the three branches of government; legislative, executive, & judicial
Bicameral
A legislative body that consists of two separate chambers or houses
Homestead
An owner-occupied home; many states grant tax breaks to this type of property
Types of Constitutional Change
Legislative proposal, popular initiative, constitutional convention, constitutional commission
Legislative Proposal
The state legislative places a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voter approval
Popular Initiative
Registered voters sign a petition to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot for voter approval
Democracy
Popular participation in government (The greek root of the word means "rule by the many"
Representative Democracy
Popular participation in government through the selection of public officials by a vote of the people in periodic competitive elections in which candidates and voters can freely express themselves
Direct Democracy
Popular participation in government through direct voter initiation of policy (usually by petition) and voter approval or rejection of policy decisions by popular vote
Initiative
A device by which a specific number or percentage of the voters may petition to have constitutional amendment or law placed on the ballot for adoption or rejection by the electorate found in some state constitutions but not in the U.S constitution
Referenda
Proposed laws or constitutional amendments submitted to the voters for their direct approval or rejections; found in some state constitutions but not in the U.S constitution
Recall
An election to allow voters to decide whether to remove an elected official before his or her term expires
Checks & Balances
Constitutional provisions giving each branch of the national government certain checks over the actions of other branches
Proposition 13
A constitutional amendment to reduce property taxes passed by California voters; has come to symbolize tax revolts
Special Interests
Specific groups bound together by their common preferences on key policy issues
Term Limits
Constitutional limits on the number of terms or the number of years that public official may serve in the same office
Federalism
A constitutional arrangement whereby power is divided between national and subnational governments, each of which enforces its own laws directly on to citizens and neither of which can alter the arrangements without the consent of the other
Unitary system
Constitutional arrangement whereby authority rests with the national government; subnational governments have only those powers given to them by the national government
Confederation
Constitutional arrangement whereby the national government is created by and relies on subnational governments for its authority
Separation of Powers
The dispersal of power among the separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government
Delegated, or enumerated powers
Powers specifically mentioned in the Constitution as belonging to the national government
Necessary and Proper Clause
Clause in Article I Section 8, of the U.S Constitution granting Congress the power to enact all laws that are "necessary and proper" for carrying out those responsibilities specifically delegated to it. Also referred to as the Implied Powers Clause
Implied Power
Power not mentioned in the Constitution as belonging to Congress but inferred as necessary and proper for carrying out the enumerated powers
National Supremacy Clause
Clause in Article VI of the U.S Constitution declaring the constitution and laws of the national government "supreme law of the land" superior to the constitution and laws of the states
Reserved Powers
Power not granted to the national government or specifically denied to the states in the Constitution that are recognized by the 10th amendment as belonging to the state governments. This guarantee, known as the Reserved Powers Clause, embodies the principle of American Federalism
Equal Rights Amendment
A constitutional amendment proposed by Congress by never rectified by the necessary ¾ of the states. It would have guaranteed "equality of rights under law" for women and men
Grants-in-aid
Payments of funds from the national government to state or local governments or from a state government to local governments for specific purposes
Categorical Grants
Federal grants-in-aid to state or local governments for specific purposes or projects
Block Grants
Federal grants-in-aids for general governmental functions, allowing state and local governments to exercise some flexibility in use
Dual Federalism
Early concept of federalism in which national and state powers were clearly distinguished and functionally separate
Cooperative Federalism
Model of federalism in which national, state, and local governments work together exercising common policy responsibilities
Centralized Federalism
Model of federalism in which the national government assumes primary responsibility for determining national goals in all major policy areas and directs state and local government activity through conditions attached to money grants
New Federalism
A reference to efforts first in the Nixon administration to return some federal tax funds to the states (general revenue sharing) and later efforts in the Reagan administration to consolidate federal grant-in-aid programs into block grants
General Revenue Sharing
Federal sharing of tax revenues with state and local governments with few strings attached; program ended in 1986
Representational Federalism
The notion that federalism is defined by the role of the states in electing members of Congress and the president rather than any constitutional division of powers.
Coercive Federalism
The federal government's assumption of powers traditionally reserved to the states through preemptions and direct mandates to the states
Mandates
In federal-state relations, the federal government's orders to state (or local) governments to provide particular services or perform specific services.
Preemptions
In federal-state relations, the federal government's assumption of regulatory powers in a particular field to the partial or full exclusion of state powers
Unfunded mandates
Mandates that impose costs on state and local governments (and private industry) without reimbursements from the federal government
Devolution
Passing down of responsibilities from national government to the states
Horizontal Federalism
Relationships among the states
Full Faith and Credit
Constitution's requirement that each state accept the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state
Privileges and Immunities
States are prohibited from unreasonably discriminating against residents of other states
Extradition
A legal process whereby an alleged criminal offender is surrendered by the officials of one state to officials of the state in which the crime is alleged to have been committed.
Post-Registration Laws
Methods to enhance voter turnout after a person registers. Most effective with young voters.
White Primary
The discriminatory practice of keeping blacks from voting in the southern states' primaries through arbitrary use of registration requirements and intimidation. Democrats in the South declared their party a private club and prohibited blacks from membership
Intent Test
For an electoral law or practice to be proven discriminatory, minority plaintiffs had to prove it was designed to discriminate against them, now outlawed.
Effects Test
For an electoal law or practice to be proven discriminatory, all that minority plantiffs have to prove is that it adversely affects them.
Totality of Circumstances Test
A list of factors that courts must use to determine whether newly drawn districts effectively weaken minority voting power, including past discrimination, the extent of racially polarized voting, and whether a minority has ever been elected to office in a jurisdiction
Affirmative Racial Gerrymandering
Drawing election district boundaries to provide maximum opportunities for the election of minorities.
Gerrymandering
Drawing the boundaries of legislative districts in bizarre or unusual shapes to favor one party.
Majority-minority districts
Districts in which minority racial or ethnic group members constitute a majority of voters
Gender Gap
In politics, a terence to differences between men and women in political views, party affiliations, and voting choices
Generation Gap
In politics, a reference to differences between young and old in political views and policy preferences
Interest Groups
People who come together to exercise influences over government policy
Political Party
An organization of people with similar political views whose primary purpose is to elect its members to public office
Lobbyist
Individuals, groups, or organizations that actively seek to influence government policy
Lobbying
Communications directed at government decision makers with purpose of influencing policy
Conflicts of interest
Legislators voting on an issue in which they have a personal financial interest.
Bribery
Offering anything of value to government officials with the purpose of influencing them in the performance of their duties
Grassroots lobbying
Influencing legislators by contacting their constituents and asking them to contact their legislators
PACs
Political Action Committees, raise money for candidates &/or parties
Interest groups influence
The extent to which interest groups as a whole influence public policy as compared with other components of the political system
Professionalism
In legislatures, the extent to which members have the services of full-time, well-paid staff, as well as their access to research and sources of information
Protest
In politics, public activities designed to call attention to issues and influence decision makers
Civil Disobedience
A form of political participation that reflects a conscious decision to break a law believed to be immoral and to suffer the consequences.
Blogosphere
An "area" on the Internet dominated by Web-logs. "Blogger" often protest various societal ills via their space on the Internet
Party
An organization that seeks to achieve power by winning public office in elections
Responsible parties
A party system in which each party offers clear policy alternatives and holds their elected officials responsible for enacting these policies in office
Party Identification
A citizen's self-proclaimed preference for one party or the other
Candidate Centered Politics
Individual candidates rather than parties raise funds, create personal organizations, and rely on professional consultants to direct their campaigns
"Shoe Leather Campaigning"
Door to door campaigning by candidates or party workers
Party Professionals
Those who participate in campaigns and party politics year-round, often to get jobs for themselves or their friends and to strengthen their party
Political Amateurs
Part-timers who participate in campaigns and party politics primarily during elections usually to support a specific candidate or cause
Dealignment
A decline in party loyalty among voters and a rise in independent and split-ticket voting
Party Activist
PEople who serve in city, county, or state party organizations or who regularly work in campaigns
Primary Elections
An election held to decide a political party's nominee for public office
Closed Primaries
Primary elections in which voters must declare (of have previously declared) their party affiliation and can cast a ballot only in their own party's primary election
Semi-closed primaries
Primary elections in which voters must declare their party affiliation and can cast a ballot only in their own party's primary election; voters can change party registration on primary Election day
Open primaries
Elections to select party nominees in which voters can decide on election day whether they want to participate in the Democratic or Republican contests
Blanket Primary
A primary election in which each voter may vote for candidates from both parties
Voter-Nominated "top two" primary
The top 2 votegetters in primary races for congressional, state legislative and statewide offices regardless of their party affiliation run against each other in the general election
Crossover voting
Voting by a member of one party for a candidate of another party
Raiding
an organized attempt by voters of one party to influence the primary results of the other party
Plurality Winner
The candidate receiving the most votes, whether a majority or not.
Majority Winner
the choice with the over half the first place votes
Runoff primary
A second primary election held when no candidate wins a majority of the votes in the first primary
Party Convention
A meeting of party delegates to vote on matters of policy and in some cases to select party candidates for public office.
Presidential Primary Election
election held in some states in which voters select the presidential candidates they want their party's national convention delegates to nominate as the national party's candidate for president
Party caucus
A meeting of voters at some officially designated location for the purpose of choosing who they prefer to be their party's standard bearer in the race for president
Party Organization
National, state, county, and precinct party officials and workers, committee members, convention delegates, and others in party office.
Ideologue
A person who consistently takes liberal or conservative stance on issues
State Committees
Governing bodies of state party organization
County Committees
Governing bodies of county party organizations
Divided party government
One party controls the presidency while the other party controls one or both houses of Congress
Unified Party government
in state politics, where the governorship and both houses of the state legislature are controlled by the same party
Legislative Gridlock
A complete lack of movement or progress in the passage of legislation, typically resulting from conflicts between political parties or between the Congress and president.
Bimodal distribution
This occurs when most voters are clearly divided in their ideologies and policy preferences, thereby causing the parties to take divergent policy positions
Unimodal Distribution of opinion
This occurs when most voters are less ideologically divided and prefer moderate or centrist policies, thereby causing the parties to move closer together in their policy positions
Polling
Systematically surveying the views on individuals within a selected group or groups in order to determine a public opinion on an issue
Media Event
An activity designed to attract news coverage of a candidate
Name recognition
The likelihood that people recognize a candidates name when questioned in opinion polls
Grassroots campaigning
Directly soliciting voter support through telephone calls or face-to-face meetings
Media Campaign
Contacting potential voters and soliciting their support primarily through television, online, radio, and newspaper advertising
Microtargeting
Aiming an ad at a specific subgroup of potential voters
Negative Campaigning
Soliciting voter support by attacking one's opponent
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act 2002
A law passed in 2002 that banned soft money, put limits on issue advertising, and increased the amount people can donate to candidates; also called the McCain-Feingold bill.
Soft Money
Campaign contributions unregulated by federal or state law, usually given to parties and party committees to help fund general party activities.
Express Advocacy
endorsement of or attack on candidate ad
Issue Ads
Ads paid for by an individual or interest group that have an opinion on key policies by do not urge voters to vote for a specific candidate or party