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"Beauty Contest"
A presidential primary in which contending candidates compete for popular votes but the results do not control the selection of delegates to the national convention.
  Australian Ballot
A secret ballot prepared, distributed, and tabulated by government officials at public expense. Since 1888, all states have used the Australian ballot rather than an open, public ballot.
  Bias
An inclination or a preference that interferes with impartial judgment.
  Caucus
A meeting of party members designed to select candidates and propose policies.
  Closed Primary
A type of primary in which the voter is limited to choosing candidates of the party of which he or she is a member.
  Coattail Effect
The influence of a popular candidate on the electoral success of other candidates on the same party ticket. The effect is increased by the party-column ballot, which encourages straight-ticket voting.
  Corrupt Practices Acts
A series of acts passed by Congress in an attempt to limit and regulate the size and sources of contributions and expenditures in political campaigns.
  Credentials Committee
A committee used by political parties at their national conventions to determine which delegates may participate. The committee inspects the claim of each prospective delegate to be seated as a legitimate representative of his or her state.
  Elector
A member of the electoral college, which selects the president and vice president. Each state's electors are chosen in each presidential election year according to state laws.
  Electronic Media
Communication channels that involve electronic transmissions, such as radio, television, and, to an increasing extent, the Internet.
  Focus Group
A small group of individuals who are led in discussion by a professional consultant in order to gather opinions on and responses to candidates and issues.
  Front-Loading
The practice of moving presidential primary elections to the early part of the campaign to maximize the impact of these primaries on the nomination.
  Front-Runner
The presidential candidate who appears to be ahead at a given time in the primary season.
  Hatch Act
An act passed in 1939 that restricted the political activities of government employees. It also prohibited a political group from spending more than $3 million in any campaign and limited individual contributions to a campaign committee to $5,000.
  Independent Expenditures
Nonregulated contributions from PACs, organizations, and individuals. The funds may be spent on advertising or other campaign activities so long as those expenditures are not coordinated with those of a candidate.
  Managed News
Information generated and distributed by the government in such a way as to give government interests priority over candor.
  Media Access
The public's right of access to the media. The Federal Communications Commission and the courts gradually have taken the stance that citizens do have a right to media access.
  Narrowcasting
Broadcasting that is targeted to one small sector of the population.
  Office-Block, or Massachusetts, Ballot
A form of general election ballot in which candidates for elective office are grouped together under the title of each office. It emphasizes voting for the office and the individual candidate, rather than for the party.
  Open Primary
A primary in which any registered voter can vote (but must vote for candidates of only one party).
  Party-Column, or Indiana, Ballot
A form of general election ballot in which all of a party's candidates for elective office are arranged in one column under the party's label and symbol. It emphasizes voting for the party, rather than for the office or individual.
  Podcasting
A method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio or video files, for downloading onto mobile devices or personal computers.
  Political Action Committee (PAC)
A committee set up by and representing a corporation, labor union, or special interest group. PACs raise and give campaign donations.
  Political Consultant
A paid professional hired to devise a campaign strategy and manage a campaign.
  Presidential Primary
A statewide primary election of delegates to a political party's national convention, held to determine a party's presidential nominee.
  Press Secretary
The presidential staff member responsible for handling White House media relations and communications.
  Public Agenda
Issues that are perceived by the political community as meriting public attention and governmental action.
  Rational Ignorance Effect
An effect produced when people purposely and rationally decide not to become informed on an issue because they believe that their vote on the issue is not likely to be a deciding one a lack of incentive to seek the necessary information to cast an intelligent vote.
  Registration
The entry of a person's name onto the list of registered voters for elections. To register, a person must meet certain legal requirements Of age, citizenship, and residency.
  Soft Money
Campaign contributions unregulated by federal or state law, usually given to parties and party committees to help fund general party activities.
  Soft Money
Campaign contributions unregulated by federal or state law, usually given to parties and party committees to help fund general party activities.
  Sound Bite
A brief, memorable comment that can easily be fit into news broadcasts.
  Spin
An interpretation of campaign events or election results that is favorable to the candidate's campaign strategy.
  Spin Doctor
A political campaign adviser who tries to convince journalists of the truth of a particular interpretation of events.
  Superdelegate
A party leader or elected official who is given the right to vote at the party's national convention. Superdelegates are not elected at the state level.
  Tracking Poll
A poll taken for the candidate on a nearly daily basis as election day approaches.
      Voter Turnout
The percentage of citizens taking part in the election process the number of eligible voters that actually "turn out" on election day to cast their ballots.
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