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43 Cards in this Set

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2002 Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (McCain-Feingold Act)

A United States federal law that amended the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which regulates the financing of political campaigns.

527 groups

A type of U.S. tax-exempt organization created primarily to influence the selection, nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates to federal, state or local public office.

Blue state

States whose residents predominantly vote for the Democratic Party presidential candidates.

Campaign contributions/donations

Money given to candidates by outside sources.

Campaign manager

The individual who travels with the candidate and coordinates the many different aspects of the campaign.

Campaign spots/ads

The use of an advertising campaign through the media to influence political debate, and ultimately, voters.

Challenger (candidate)

Candidate who is challenging an incumbent for a position.

Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission

A U.S. constitutional law case dealing with the regulation of campaign spending by organizations.

Coattail effect

The tendency of lesser-known or weaker candidates lower on the ballot to profit in an election by the presence on the party's ticket of a more popular candidate.

Congressional redistricting

The redrawing of congressional districts to reflect increases or decreases in seats allotted to the states, as well as population shifts within a state.

Federal Election Campaign Act (1974)

A United States federal law designed to increase disclosure of contributions for federal campaigns. It was amended in 1974 to place legal limits on the campaign contributions.

Federal Elections Commission (FEC)

An independent regulatory agency that was founded in 1975 by the United States Congress to regulate the campaign finance legislation in the United States. It was created in a provision of the 1975 amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Free rider problem

Potential members fail to join a group because they can get the benefits, or collective good, sought by the group without contributing to the effort.

Front-loaded campaign

The movement of state delegate selection contests to the beginning of the nomination calendar.

Front-loading primaries

Choosing an early date to hold the primary election.

General election

Election in which voters decide which candidates will actually fill elective public offices.


The legislative process through which the majority party in each statehouse tries to ensure that the maximum number of representatives from its political party can be elected to Congress through the redrawing of legislative districts.

Get-out-the-vote drive (GOTV)

A push at the end of a political campaign to encourage supporters to go to the polls.

Hard money

Legally specified and limited contributions that are clearly regulated by the Federal Election Campaign Act and by the Federal Elections Commission.

Incumbent (candidate)

The current holder of a political office.

Incumbent advantage

The fact that being an office helps a person stay in office because of a variety of benefits that go with the position.

Independent expenditure

A political campaign communication that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate that is not made in cooperation, consultation or concert with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, candidate’s authorized committee or political party.

Matching funds

Donations to presidential campaigns from the federal government that are determined by the amount of private funds a qualifying candidate raises.

Open seat

An election (especially for a legislature) in which no incumbent is running.

National party convention

A party conclave (meeting) held in the presidential election year for the purposes of nominating a presidential and vice presidential ticket and adopting a platform.

Party machine

A party organization that recruits its members with tangible incentives and is characterized by a high degree of control over member activity.

Political action committee (PAC)

Federally mandated, officially registered fundraising committee that represents interest groups in the political process.

Position issue

An issue dividing the electorate on which rival parties adopt different policy positions to attract voters.

Proportional representation primary

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

Public financing

The receipt of federal government funds to pay for the valid expenses of candidates’ political campaigns in both the primary and general elections.

Purple/swing state

A U.S. state where the two major political parties have similar levels of support among voters, viewed as important in determining the overall result of a presidential election.

Red state

A U.S. state that predominantly votes for or supports the Republican Party.

Regional primary

A proposed system in which the country would be divided into five or six geographic areas and all states in each region would hold their presidential primary elections on the same day.

Secular (gradual) realignment

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

Soft money

The virtually unregulated money funneled by individuals and political committees through state and local parties.


In public relations, it is a form of propaganda, achieved through providing an interpretation of an event or campaign to persuade public opinion in favor or against a certain organization or public figure.

Stump speech

A speech addressed to the general public during a political campaign or in support of a cause; a standard speech used by a politician running for office.

Super Tuesday

A day on which several US states hold primary elections.


Delegate slot to the Democratic Party's National Convention that is reserved for an elected party official.

Valence issue

A political issue about which voters will usually share a common preference. Prosperity is a common example of this type of issue.

Voter fatigue

The apathy that the electorate can experience under certain circumstances, one of which could be (in exceptional circumstances) that they are required to vote too often, or that they feel disengaged.

Whistle-stop train (bus) tour

A style of political campaigning where the politician makes a series of brief appearances or speeches at a number of small towns over a short period of time.

Winner-take-all primary

A primary in which all of a state's delegates are required to vote for the same candidate.