The election held in the 6th year of a president’s tenure in which the party holding the White House historically loses a substantial number of House and Senate seats.
The Atlantic: “For decades political analysts have been intrigued by an ironclad pattern in American politics: the President’s party loses seats in the off-year election that follows his White House triumph–a phenomenon that has occurred in every off-year election save one since the Civil War. Since the Second World War, off-year losses for the President’s party in the House have averaged fifteen seats in the second year and forty-eight in the sixth; in the Senate the average losses are zero in the second year and seven in the sixth.”
Charlie Cook: “There are a variety of reasons, but at that midway point in a party’s second four years in the White House, the ‘in’ party tends to lose energy and focus. Party leaders run out of ideas, and the ‘first team’ in terms of personnel—the people who were there when the president took office—have often bailed out, and the second or third team is sometimes not as good. Voters tend to grow weary and to look for something different.”
A state whose voting outcome in a presidential election is relatively sensitive or responsive to changes in political conditions, such as a change in the national economic mood.
Nate Silver: “Elastic states are those which have a lot of swing voters — that is, voters who could plausibly vote for either party’s candidate. A swing voter is very likely to be an independent voter, since registered Republicans and registered Democrats vote with their party at least 90 percent of the time in most presidential elections. The swing voter is also likely to be devoid of other characteristics that are very strong predictors of voting behavior.”
An inelastic state, by contrast, is one which is relatively insensitive to these changes.
Funds used for a political campaign that are not properly disclosed before an election.
The term was apparently coined by Mother Jones.
The locked box where legendary Louisiana Gov. Huey Long kept “deducts” from state employee salaries to fund his political operation.
Estimates suggest Long collected between $50,000 to $75,000 each election cycle from government workers. The deduct box was kept at his Roosevelt Hotel headquarters in New Orleans.
After being shot in 1935, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports Long was asked on his deathbed by Roosevelt Hotel owner Seymour Weiss, “Huey, where is the deduct box?” Before falling into a coma, Long responded, “I’ll tell you later, Seymour.”
The deduct box was never found.
An informal briefing by the White House press secretary that is on the record but video recording is not allowed. It can occur anywhere, such as on Air Force One, but it often describes the informal interactions between the press and the press secretary that occur before a formal White House briefing.
The term likens the members of the press corps to a “gaggle of geese” honking.
Washington Monthly: “Gaggles historically refer to informal briefings the press secretary conducts with the press pool rather than the entire press corps. They used to happen in the morning, they were more or less off the record, and their purpose was mostly to exchange information – the president’s schedule and briefing schedule, from the administration side; heads-up on likely topics or early comment on pressing issues, from the news side. Briefings were what everybody knows them to be.”
A person preoccupied with arcane details of public policy.
Democrats In Name Only (DINO) is a disparaging term that refers to a Democratic candidate whose political views are seen as insufficiently conforming to the party line.
Federal law does not define or officially recognize the act of a presidential candidate “suspending” their campaign instead of formally ending it.
CNN: “Practically speaking, if a candidate removes him- or herself from the race without the intent of re-entering at a later date, then there is not a big difference between ‘suspending’ a campaign vs. dropping out entirely. The end result is usually the same: the candidate is no longer seeking that particular office… That said, there are two main differences between ‘suspending’ and ending a presidential campaign: delegates and money.”
Candidates who suspend their campaigns usually get to keep any delegates they’ve won and can continue to raise money beyond what’s needed to retire their campaign debts. In contrast, candidates who actually drop out of a race, usually have to forfeit certain delegates and are limited in how they can raise future funds.
Slate: “The phrase has been employed at least as far back as the 1970s and continues to serve as the most popular way for candidates to end their primary bids without closing down their campaign committees.”
A candidate put forward in an election to conceal an anonymous person’s potential candidacy. If the idea of the campaign proves viable, the anonymous person can then declare their interest and run with little risk of failure.
A stalking horse candidate is also sometimes used to divide the opposition in order to help another candidate.
Daryl Lyman: “The expression originated hundreds of years ago in old English hunting practices, especially among fowlers. Many kinds of game that would flee at the first sign of humans would not be alarmed by the approach of a horse. Therefore, fowlers trained horses to serve as covers during hunting.”
A planted or pre-arranged question asked of a government minister by a backbencher of his or her own political party during Parliamentary Question Time.
The term refers to American advice columnist Dorothy Dix’s reputed practice of making up her own questions to allow her to publish more interesting answers.
The term has been used in Australian politics since the 1950s, and has become increasingly common in everyday usage, but interestingly is virtually unknown in other countries where Dix’s advice column was equally popular.