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Chapter 12

political party

an organized effort by office holders, candidates, activists, and voters to pursue their common interests by gaining and excessing power through the electoral process

governmental party

the office holders who organize themselves and pursue policy objectives under a party label

organizational party

the workers and activists who make up the part's formal organization structure

party in the electorate

the voters who consider themselves allied or part of the political party

political machine

a party organization that recruits voter loyalty with tangible incentives and is characterized by high degree of control over member activity

direct primary

the selection of party candidates through the ballots of qualified voters rather than at party nominating conventions

civil service laws

these acts removed the staffing of the bureaucracy from political parties and created a professional bureaucracy filled through competition

issue-oriented politics

politics that focuses on specific issues rather than only on party, candidate, or other loyalties.


to vote for candidates of different parties for various offices in the same election

candidate-centered politics

politics that focuses directly on the candidates, their particular issues, and character, rather than on party affiliation

party realignment

a shifting of party coalition groupings in the electorate that remains in place for several elections

critical election

an election that signals a party realignment through voter polarization around new issues

secular realignment

the gradual rearrangement of party coalitions, based more on demographic shifts than on shocks to the political system


a group made up of interest or organizations that join forces for the purpose of electing public officials

national party platform

a statement of the general and specific philosophy and policy goals of a political party, usually promulgated at the national convention

proportional representation

a voting system that apportions legislative seats according to the percentage of the vote won by particular political party

winner-take-all system

an electoral system in which the party that receives at least one or more vote than any other party wins the election

national convention

a party meeting held in the presidential election year for the purposes of nominating a presidential and vice presidential ticket and adopting a platform

think tank

institutional collection of policy-oriented researchers and academics who are sources of policy ideas

soft money

the virtually unregulated money funneled through political parties for party-building purposes, such as get out the got efforts or issue ads. Banned after 2002

hard money

funds that can be used for direct electioneering but are limited and regulated by the Federal Elections Commission

party identification

a citizens personal affinity for a political party, usually expressed by a tendency to vote for the candidates of that party


a general decline in party identification and loyalty in the electorate

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