Chapter 9 Campaigns, Elections, and the Media

Presidential Policy

A statewide primary election of delegates to a political party's national convention, held to determine a party's presidential nominee

Primary Election

An election in which political parties choose their candidates for the general election

General Election

An election, normally held on the first Tuesday in November, that determines who will fill various elected positions

Political Consultant

A paid professional hired to devise a campaign strategy and manage a campaign

Tracking Poll

A poll taken on a nearly daily basis as election day approaches

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

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

Hatch Act

An act passed in 1939 that restricted the political activities of government employees. Is 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

Political Action Committee (PAC)

A committee set up by and representing a corporation, labor union, or special interest group.

Soft Money

Campaign contributions unregulated by federal or state law, usually given to parties and party committees to help fund general party activities

Independent Expenditures

Non-regulated 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

Issue Advocacy

Advertising paid for by interest groups that support or oppose a candidate or a candidate's position on an issue without mentioning voting or elections

Beauty Contest

A presidential primary in which candidates compete for popular votes but the results do not control the selection of delegates to the national convention


A party leader or elected official who is given the right to vote at the party's national convention. Not elected at the state level


A meeting of party members designed to select candidates and propose policies

Direct Primary

A primary election in which voters decide party nominations by voting directly for candidates

Indirect Primary

A primary election in which voters choose convention delegates, and the delegates determine the party's candidate in the general election

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

Open Primary

A primary in which any registered voter can vote (but must vote for candidates of only one party)


The presidential candidate who appears to be ahead at a given time in the primary season


The practice of moving presidential primary elections to the early part of the campaign to maximize the impact of these primaries on the nomination

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


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

Australian Ballot

A secret ballot prepared, distributed, and tabulated by government officials at public expense. Since 1888, states have used this ballot rather than an open, public ballot

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

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

Coattail Effect

The influence of a popular candidate on the success of other candidates on the same party ticket. The effect is increased by the party-column ballot, which encourages straight-ticket voting

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

Voting-Age Population

The number of people of voting age living in the country at a given time, regardless of whether they have the right to vote

Vote-Eligible Population

The number of people who, at a given time, enjoy the right to vote in national elections

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


The entry of 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

Public Agenda

Issues that are perceived by the political community as meriting public attention and governmental action

Sound Bite

A brief, memorable comment that can easily be fit into news broadcasts


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


A method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio or video files, for downloading onto mobile devices or personal computers


An inclination or preference that interferes with impartial judgement