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American Government 2e

Key Terms

American Government 2eKey Terms

a process of cooperation through compromise
critical election
an election that represents a sudden, clear, and long-term shift in voter allegiances
divided government
a condition in which one or more houses of the legislature is controlled by the party in opposition to the executive
a system in which the winner of an election is the candidate who wins the greatest number of votes cast, also known as plurality voting
the manipulation of legislative districts in an attempt to favor a particular candidate
majoritarian voting
a type of election in which the winning candidate must receive at least 50 percent of the votes, even if a run-off election is required
majority party
the legislative party with over half the seats in a legislative body, and thus significant power to control the agenda
minority party
the legislative party with less than half the seats in a legislative body
an individual who falls in the middle of the ideological spectrum
party identifiers
individuals who represent themselves in public as being part of a party
party organization
the formal structure of the political party and the active members responsible for coordinating party behavior and supporting party candidates
party platform
the collection of a party’s positions on issues it considers politically important
party polarization
the shift of party positions from moderate towards ideological extremes
party realignment
a shifting of party alliances within the electorate
party identifiers who have been elected to office and are responsible for fulfilling the party’s promises
members of the voting public who consider themselves part of a political party or who consistently prefer the candidates of one party over the other
personal politics
a political style that focuses on building direct relationships with voters rather than on promoting specific issues
plurality voting
the election rule by which the candidate with the most votes wins, regardless of vote share
political machine
an organization that secures votes for a party’s candidates or supports the party in other ways, usually in exchange for political favors such as a job in government
political parties
organizations made up of groups of people with similar interests that try to directly influence public policy through their members who seek and hold public office
the lowest level of party organization, usually organized around neighborhoods
proportional representation
a party-based election rule in which the number of seats a party receives is a function of the share of votes it receives in an election
the reallocation of House seats between the states to account for population changes
the redrawing of electoral maps
safe seat
a district drawn so members of a party can be assured of winning by a comfortable margin
the process in which voters change party allegiances in response to shifts in party position
third parties
political parties formed as an alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties, also known as minor parties
two-party system
a system in which two major parties win all or almost all elections
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