When one political party makes major gains in the United States House and Senate and the other has few losses.
Mark Barabak: “There is no authoritative definition of a wave election. (Which is not to be confused with a realigning election, like those in 1932 and 1968, in which a party forges a new and enduring presidential coalition.) A wave election is commonly considered one in which a political party wins a large and lopsided number of House and Senate seats while sustaining minimal losses.”
“In the past 20 years, there have been several wave elections of that type, including 1994 when Republicans netted 54 House and 10 Senate seats; 2006 when Democrats won 31 House and six Senate seats; 2008 when Democrats gained 21 House and eight Senate seats, and—most spectacularly—the last midterm vote, in 2010, when the GOP won 63 House seats and four in the Senate.”
Charlie Cook says wave elections are usually the result of a “overarching, nationwide dynamic.”
A con artist or someone who swindles people out of money through fraud and deception. In politics, the term has been used to describe those who use the political process to enrich themselves.
Former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), writing for Politico, noted that today’s political grifters “are a lot like the grifters of old—lining their pockets with the hard-earned money of working men and women be promising things in return that they know they can’t deliver.”
“Political grifting is a lucrative business. Groups like the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the Tea Party Patriots are run by men and women who have made millions by playing on the fears and anger about the dysfunction in Washington… These people have lined their pockets by promising that if you send them money, they will send men and women to Washington who can ‘fix it.’ Of course, in the ultimate con, the always extreme and often amateurish candidates these groups back either end up losing to Democrats or they come to Washington and actually make the process even more dysfunctional… The grifting wing of the party promises that you can have ideological purity—that you don’t have to compromise—and, of course, all you have to do is send them money to make it happen.”
Mike Lupica: “You could call people like this the brand new Washington generation of the boys of Tammany Hall, except that in another New York, Tammany Hall was actually known for providing services, starting with jobs. That’s how those boys got the vote in the old days, how they kept their power. Something else separates Tammany Hall from the current U.S. Senate. In old New York, they did their skimming out in the open and never tried to pretend they were doing something noble.”
An annual picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky that has come to represent the traditional starting point of the fall campaign season in Kentucky. The gathering attracts statewide and occasionally national candidates and is held on the first Saturday in August.
The picnic was mainly a local affair until A. B. “Happy” Chandler began making appearances, going for the first time in 1931 while running for Lieutenant Governor. So many Kentucky politicians now attend that it tends to only be news when a major politician decides not to make an appearance.
Said Chandler in an interview: “I guess I was one of the first candidates for statewide office to ever go to Fancy Farm. I ended my 1931 campaign for lieutenant governor down there. I won that election and thought Fancy Farm was good luck, so I kept going back.”
Sam Youngman: “Politically speaking, there are two main attractions at Fancy Farm: The specter of a career-ending gaffe hanging over every politician who takes the stage, and the crowd, half of which is trying to will that gaffe to happen through endless heckling and occasional chants.”
The Louisville Courier Journal has a good video explainer of the event.
Used to characterize a supposedly offensive tough, “take-no-prisoners” approach to politics.
Jacob Weisberg: “Chicago-style politics, in common parlance, refers to the 1950s-1970s era of the Richard J. Daley machine… The strength and durability of the Daley machine was its ethnically based patronage network, a complex system of obligations, benefits, and loyalties that didn’t depend on televised communication with a broader public. It was a noncompetitive system that in its heyday had a lock on urban power and the spoils that went with it.”
Don Rose: “Time was the term ‘Chicago politics’ or ‘Chicago-style politics’ had a special meaning based on our history from the Al Capone years through the regime (1955-76) of one Richard J. Daley, aka Da Mare. Nowadays, like our unique political lexicon, it seems to have become a generic insult for just about any politics one disagrees with.”
A wall where people flaunt their political connections by displaying photos of themselves with more famous people.
The phenomenon is also sometimes called the “glory wall” or “me wall.”
Mike Nichols: “The ego wall is where the politician hangs pictures of himself or herself beside other, more famous politicians. It is why, when a president flies into town, there are usually about 495 lesser politicians waiting on the tarmac. They want a picture for the ego wall.”
Slate: “Lobbyists have glory walls in the office to impress clients. Staffers have them to impress other staffers. Socialites have their glory walls on the piano… For aspiring Washingtonians, the glory wall allows you to brag about conversations you never really had with the chief justice and intimacies you never really shared with the president.”
To attack a person’s reputation and views.
The term was popularized by the Wall Street Journal editorial page after the Senate rejected the nomination of Robert Bork the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987.
Bork himself later discussed the origination of the term in a 2005 interview with Frank Sesno on CNN:
BORK: Well, I knew what was happening. The core of the issue was, they were afraid I would vote to overrule Roe against Wade. And they were quite right.
SESNO: And your name became a verb.
BORK: My name became a verb. And I regard that as one form of immortality.
SESNO: To Bork means what?
BORK: I think to attack with — to attack a person’s reputation and views unfairly.
The point when you have tried everything but failed.
While the term originally refers to the effort required to remove a rusted or stripped nut, it has come to be used in a legislative context as the time to exert maximum effort to round up votes to get a bill passed due to an approaching deadline.
While the term did not originally refer to castration, many have used that as its double-meaning in a political context.
The junior members in the British House of Commons who occupy the back benches of Parliament, sitting behind party leaders and top government officials.
BBC: “Backbenchers are also sometimes known as private members and thus a backbencher can introduce an original idea for legislation in the form of a Private Member’s Bill. Backbenchers have more freedom to speak as they are not as constrained by loyalty to the government. This can also pose problems for the party whips who try to impose party discipline.”
The term has also come to refer to the rank-and-file members of the U.S. Congress who are not part of their party’s leadership.
Someone who expresses doubt or excessive worry about a political outcome.
ABC News reports that David Plouffe, President Obama’s former campaign manager and top political adviser, first coined the term in 2008 when Democrats began openly fretting about their political challenges.
Plouffe used the term again before the 2010 midterm elections in a Washington Post op-ed when he urged “no bed-wetting” among Democrats: “This will be a tough election for our party and for many Republican incumbents as well. Instead of fearing what may happen, let’s prove that we have more than just the brains to govern — that we have the guts to govern.”
A term coined for a Saturday Night Live sketch mocking George W. Bush and his reputation for mispronouncing words during the first presidential debate in 2000.
Comedian Will Ferrell played Bush in the sketch and was asked by the debate moderator to summarize “the best argument for his campaign.” His answer was “strategery.”
After the 2000 presidential election, the Washington Post reported that Bush staffers reportedly began using the term as a joke and even referred to the president’s political team as “The Department of Strategery.”
Bush himself used the term in a 2001 interview with CNN, presumably as a self-deprecating nod to the comedy sketch.