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the official endorsement of a candidate for office by a political party; generally, success in the nomination game requires momentum, money, and media attention

campaign strategy

the master game plan candidates lay out to guide their electoral campaign

national party convention

the supreme power within each of the parties; meets every 4 years to nominate the party's presidential and vice-presidential candidates and to write the party's platform


a meeting of all state party leaders for selecting delegates to the national party convention; usually organized as a pyramid

presidential primaries

elections in which voters in a state vote for a candidate (or delegates pledged to him or her); most delegates to the national party conventions are chosen this way

McGovern-Fraser Commission

a commission formed at the 1968 Democratic convention in response to demands for reform by minority groups and others who sought better representations


national party leaders who automatically get a delegate slot at the Democratic national party convention


the recent tendency of states to hold primaries early in the calendar in order to capitalize on media attention; it used to be advantageous to hold late primaries because you played a decisive role, but now late primaries are irrelevant because the nominee is virtually decided already

national primary

a proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries systems who would replace these electoral methods with a nationwide primary held early in the election year

regional primaries

a proposal by critics of the caucuses and presidential primaries to replace these electoral methods with a series of primaries held in each geographic region

party platform

a political party's statement of its goals and policies for the next 4 years; drafted prior to the party convention by a committee whose members are chosen in rough proportion to each candidate's strength; best formal statement of what a party believes in

direct mail

a high-tech method of raising money for a political cause or candidate; involves sending information and requests for money to people whose names appear on lists of those who have supported similar views or candidates in the past

Federal Election Campaign Act

a law passed in 1974 for reforming campaign finances; created the Federal Election Commission, provided public financing for presidential primaries and general elections, limited presidential campaign spending, required disclosure, and attempted to limit contributions

Federal Election Commission

a 6-member bipartisan agency created by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974; administers the campaign finance laws and enforces compliance with their requirements

Presidential Elections Campaign Fund

money from the $3 federal income tax check-off goes into this fund, which is then distributed to qualified candidates to subsidize their presidential campaigns

matching funds

contributions of up to $250 are matched from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund to candidates for the presidential nomination who qualify and agree to meet various conditions, such as limiting their overall spending

soft money

political contributions earmarked for party-building expenses at the grass-roots level (or for generic party advertising); unlike money that goes to the campaign of a particular candidate, such party donations are not subject to contribution limits

527 groups

independent groups that seek to influence the political process but are not subject to contribution restrictions because they do not directly seek the election of particular candidates

political action committees

funding vehicles created by the 1974 campaign finance reforms; a corporation, union, or some other interest group can create a PAC and register it with the Federal Election Commission, which will meticulously monitor the PAC's expenditures

selective perception

the phenomenon that people often pay the most attention to things they already agree with and interpret them according to their own predispositions

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