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Weakening of partisan preference that point to a rejection of both major parties and a rise in the number of Independents.

Party Identification

An informal and subjective affiliation with a political party that most people acquire in childhood.

Party Registration

The act of declaring party affiliation; required by some states when one registers to vote.

National Party Convention

A national meeting of delegates elected in primaries, caucuses, or state conventions who assemble once every four years to nominate candidates for president and vice president, ratify the party platform, elect officers, and adopt rules.

Divided Government

Governance divided between parties, as when one holds the presidency and the other controls one or both houses of Congress.

Keynesian Economics

Theory based on the principles of John Maynard Keynes, stating that government spending should increase during business slumps and be curbed during booms.

Laissez-Faire Economics

Theory that opposes governmental interference in economic affairs beyond what is necessary to protect life and property.

Realigning Election

An election during periods of expanded suffrage and change in the economy and society that proves to be a turning point, redefining the agenda of politics and the alignment of voters within parties.

Minor Party

A small political party that rises and falls with a charismatic candidate or, if composed of ideologies on the right or left, usually persists over time; also called a third party.

Winner-Take-All System

An election system in which the candidate with the most votes wins.

Proportional Representation

An election system in which each party running receives the proportion of legislative seats corresponding to its proportion of the vote.

Closed Primary

Primary election in which only persons registered in the party holding the primary may vote.

Crossover Voting

Voting by a member of one party for a candidate of another party.

Open Primary

Primary election in which any voter, regardless of party, may vote.

Direct Primary

Election in which voters choose party nominees.

Party Convention

A meeting of party delegates to vote on matters of policy and in some cases to select party candidates for public office.


A meeting of local party members to choose party officials or candidates for public office and to decide platform.


Period at the beginning of a new president's term during which the president enjoys generally positive relations with the press and Congress, usually lasting about six months.

Soft Money

Money raised in unlimited amounts by political parties for party building purposes. Now largely illegal except for limited contributions to state or local parties for voter registration and get-out-the-votes efforts.


The dispensing of government jobs to persons who belong to the winning political party.

Nonpartisan Election

A local or judicial election in which candidates are not selected or endorsed by political parties and party affiliation is not listed on ballots.

Office Block Ballot

Ballot on which all candidates are listed under the office for which they are running making split-ticket voting easier.

Party Column Ballot

Type of ballot that encourages party-line voting by listing all of a party's candidates in a column under the party name.

Political Party

An organization that seeks political power by electing people to office so that its positions and philosophy become public policy.

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