AP Gov – Chapter 7

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political party

An organization that seeks political power by electing people to office so that its positions and philosophy become public policy.

party column ballot

Type of ballot that encourages party-line voting by listing all of a party’s candidates in a column under the party name.

office block ballot

Ballot on which all candidates are listed under the office for which they are running, making split-ticket voting easier.

nonpartisan election

A local or judicial election in which candidates are not selected or endorsed by political parties and party affiliation is not listed on ballots.


The dispensing of government jobs to persons who belong to the winning political party.

soft money

Money raised in unlimited amounts by political parties for party building purposes. Now largely illegal except for limited contributions to state or local parties for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts.

hard money

Political contributions given to a party, candidate, or interest group that are limited in amount and fully disclosed. Raising such limited funds is harder than raising unlimited funds, hence the term "hard" money.

independent expenditure

The Supreme Court has ruled that individuals, groups, and parties can spend unlimited amounts in campaigns for or against candidates as long as they operate independently from the candidates. When an individual, group, or party does so, they are making an independent expenditure.


Period at the beginning of a new president’s term during which the president enjoys generally positive relations with the press and Congress, usually lasting about six months.


A meeting of local party members to choose party officials or candidates for public office and to decide the platform.

party convention

A meeting of party delegates to vote on matters of policy and in some cases to select party candidates for public office.

direct primary

Election in which voters choose party nominees.

open primary

Primary election in which any voter, regardless of party, may vote.

crossover voting

Voting by a member of one party for a candidate of another party.

closed primary

Primary election in which only persons registered in teh party holding the primary may vote.

proportional representation

An election system in which each party running receives the proportion of legislative seats corresponding to its proportion of the vote.

winner-take-all system

An election system in which the candidate with the most votes wins.

minor party

A small political party that rises and falls with a charismatic candidate or, if composed of ideologies on the right or left, usually persists over time; also called a third party.

Libertarian party

A minor party that believes in extremely limited government. Libertarians call for a freemarket system, expanded individual liberties such as drug legalization, and a foreign policy of non-intervention, free trade, and open immigration.

Green party

A minor party dedicated to the environment, social justice, nonviolence, and a foreign policy of nonintervention. Ralph Nader ran as the Green party’s nominee in 2000.

Reform party

A minor party founded by Ross Perot in 1995. It focuses on national government reform, fiscal responsibility, and political accountability. It has recently struggled with internal strife and criticism that it lacks an identity.

realigning election

An election during periods of expanded suffrage and change in the economy and society that proves to be a turning point, redefining the agenda of politics and the alignment of voters within parties.

laissez-faire economics

Theory that opposes governmental interference in economic affairs beyond what is necessary to protect life and property.

Keynesian economics

Theory based on the principles of John Maynard Keynes, stating the government spending should increase during business slumps and be curbed during booms.

divided government

Governance divided between the parties, as when one holds the presidency and the other controls one of both houses of Congress.

national party convention

A national meeting of delegates elected in primaries, caucuses, or state conventions who assemble once every four years to nominate candidates for president and vice president, ratify the party platform, elect officers, and adopt rules.

527 groups

A political group organized under section 527 of the IRS Code that may accept and spend unlimited amounts of money on election activities so long as they are not spent on broadcast ads run in the last 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election where a clearly identified candidate is referred to and a relevant electorate is targeted. 527 groups were important to the 2000 and 2004 elections.

party registration

The act of declaring party affiliation; required by some states when one registers to vote.

party identification

An informal and subjective affiliation with a political party that most people acquire in childhood.


Weakening of partisan preference that points to a rejection of both major parties and a rise in the number of independents.


Party power is diffused across regional levels in parties.

candidate-centered politics

Politics that develop based on a candidate’s attitude.

separation of powers

The doctrine that the three branches of American government operate independently of one another.

checks and balances

An attempt to divide the powers and keep the brances distinct.

split-ticket voting

Voting for candidates from different parties on the same ballot.

straight-ticket voting

Voting for the same party on a ballot.

civil service

A collective name for the bureaucrats who are not tied to one particular party.

political socialization

The process of acquiring political beliefs.


A term used by the founders of this country to refer to political parties and special interests or interest groups.

First Party System

1796-1824. Federalists vs. Jeffersonian Republicans.

Second Party System

1828-1856. Jacksonian Democrats vs. Whigs.

Third Party System

1860-1892. Republican dominance (against slavery) putting union back together.

Fourth Party System

1896-1928. Second period of Republican dominance coalition of big business and working class against Democratic rural.

Fifth Party System

1932-1964. Democratic dominance under FDR. Grand coalition of urban dwellers, labor unions, Catholics, Jews, poor, South, blacks and farmers.

Sixth Party System

1968-present. Era of divided government.

single-member district

An electoral district in which voters choose one representative or official.

Two party system

Political system dominated by two parties.

electoral college system

The electoral system used in electing the president and vice president, in which voters vote for electors pledged to cast their ballots for a particular party’s candidates.

party regulars

People who are mostly committed to one party.

issue loyalists

People committed to one issue (environmentalists etc.)

blue dogs

Fiscally conservative democrats.

political machines

Powerful political organizations.

17th Amendment

Direct election of senators.

super delegates

New votes balanced by people with political experience (super delegates).

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