The race to be the next POTUS is officially underway, and there’s more jargon flying around the media, the boardroom, and, hey, even the local bar than ever before. Don’t just stand there! We broke down the fundamentals below so you can join the political “party”:
Convention: We know, we know, you’re not supposed to use the word in the definition — but this one is important. During each election cycle, the two main parties — Republican and Democrat — hold conventions during which they formally nominate their candidate for president. Of course, by this time in the election cycle (typically late August to early September) it’s usually pretty obvious who the candidate will be, so think of the conventions as a formal pep rally before the nominees head into the actual debates and election. They’re usually three days long, and feature speeches by the nominee for president and vice president, as well as major party officials, musical guests…and lots and lots of schmoozing.
Caucus: If the convention is the actual party, then the caucus is the pre-game. Held at the state-level, the caucuses are the political events that take place before the conventions in which the states select their presidential nominees. Because the state caucuses begin about six months ahead of the election, they’re a good litmus test for who each party will choose to nominate to run for president. You’ll be hearing a lot about the Iowa caucuses, because these are the first and largest caucuses each election cycle — they kick off the campaign party! And they’re accurate: since 1992, the Iowa Caucus has correctly predicted 8 out of 10 nominees: 4 Republicans and 4 Democrats.
GOP: Short for “The Grand Old Party,” this has been the nickname for the Republican Party since a New York Herald reporter used it in a headline in the 1880s. The term has taken on different meanings throughout history: during the early days of the automobile industry, it was said to stand for “Get Out and Push;” during the 1964 Johnson vs. Goldwater election, it became “Go-Party;” and under Nixon some took it as “Generation of Peace.” The ironic thing is, the Democrat Party was actually organized two decades earlier.
Superdelegate: Essentially a tie-breaker in the event of a tie going into the convention. Here’s how it works: the Democratic Party allocates delegates based on a state’s Presidential vote in the prior three elections and the number of electors. If there is no clear candidate after state primaries and caucuses, then the superdelegates decide who the party’s nominee will be. (By the way, states that hold their primaries or caucuses later in the election cycle also receive bonus delegates.) It’s been 30 years since the Dems had to use the superdelegates. The Republican Party doesn’t use superdelegates; instead, they have unpledged “party officials” who will decide if it’s a toss-up.
Gallup Poll: Should come with a warning label that reads: “Addictive to politicians and their campaign managers.” The Gallup poll measures public opinion on a variety of social, political, and economic issues in more than 140 countries all over the world, but because of its daily, even to-the-minute polls and updates it’s had an especially major impact on political campaigns. During the 2008 presidential election cycle, Gallup interviewed more than 1,000 American adults per day to see what they thought about the candidates and the issues.Not surprisingly, it’s creepily accurate in predicting the outcome of U.S. presidential elections. www.gallup.com. Read. Refresh. Repeat.