R

running between the raindrops

To dodge or deflect repeated political attacks. “Running between the raindrops” is used to describe actions taken by politicians to avoid political aggression from other candidates or the media.

In other circumstances, “running between the raindrops” may be used to describe politicians who are able to deflect scandals or pass blame onto others while still in office.

ranked-choice voting

Ranked-choice voting is an alternative to plurality elections —  which are when whoever receives the most votes wins, even if they don’t earn a majority of all votes.

Bangor Daily News: “Voters can rank as many of the candidates as they wish as their first, second and third choices, and so on. If no candidate receives a majority of all votes cast, the last-place candidate is eliminated from contention. The ballots from voters who ranked that candidate first are re-examined and all of their second-choice votes are added to the first-round totals. This continues until a candidate receives a majority of all votes cast and is declared the winner.”

Maine adopted ranked-choice voting in 2016 and the state released a cartoon explaining how it worked:

FairVote has a list of jurisdictions that currently use ranked-choice voting.

red meat

Rhetoric on an issue used to inflame supporters. It is often associated with populist ideas.

The phrase was first seen in 1911 in the movie industry, describing movies that were sensationalized. It shifted into a political term in the 1940s. A quote from the Baltimore Sun shows one of its first uses:

“Most of the audiences… were looking for red meat in Dewey’s carefully reasoned discussions of world affairs. Since he disdained mudslinging they seized upon his withering treatment of bureaucracy and governmental incompetence as a satisfactory substitute.”

Today, red meat is almost always associated with right-wing populist speech. Things that get crowds riled up and angry — such as the “Lock Her Up” chants during the 2016 presidential election — are good examples of red meat.

Rumsfeld’s rules

A list of guidelines by which former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld managed his staff. His rules were often cited when talking about both his managerial style and his personal interactions.

In the 1970s while he worked under Gerald Ford, Rumsfeld got by in Washington well, and Ford had Rumsfeld’s Rules given out to many members of his staff. The rules were seen as an effective guideline to being successful in politics.

In the 2000s, the rules were a source of ridicule during the Iraq War. Critics pointed to rules that Rumsfeld seemed to not follow during the Bush administration.

Rumsfeld published a book of these and other rules to live by in 2013, also titled Rumsfeld’s Rules

robocall

An automated telephone call that delivers a prerecorded message to multiple phones. Typically, robocalls are used for mass messaging.

In politics, a robocall is typically a way of campaigning. Robocalls are sent out to potential voters, and the fact that they are simply recorded messages makes them easier to send out than in-person phone calls.

An advantage of robocalls is that the candidate can be heard by many constituents without the effort of that candidate making hundreds of calls. They can also take one message from an influential person and distribute it to many people. A disadvantage of robocalls is that they are less genuine and may be ignored by some.

The website Local Victory gives tips on what makes an effective robocall: “The real place where they shine is as a quick, cheap way to get out breaking news (like an endorsement right before Election Day) or to respond to last minute attacks from your opponent. Watch out though, some voters get turned off by too many robocalls.  Even if your campaign only does one or two rounds of calls, if your opponents have been bombarding the phone lines with calls, the voters may penalize you when they hear your call”

red state

A state whose voters elect primarily Republican candidates. It is the opposite of a blue state.

There are different levels of how ‘red’ a state can be. If a Republican candidate wins the vote in that state, that state has ‘turned red.’ If a state votes for a Republican in nearly every statewide race, it could be considered a ‘deep red’ or ‘dark red’ state (Alabama, Texas, Idaho, etc.). If a state typically votes Republican but will occasionally vote for a Democrat, they are known as a ‘light red’ state (Indiana).

There is no hard and fast rule as to what makes a state dark or light red. Some people may consider North Carolina or Iowa a light red state, and others may consider them swing states. Conversely, some people may consider Georgia and Arizona dark red states, but others may consider them light red due to their potential to switch in an upcoming election.

The electoral map in 2016 shows what states went red and what states went blue.

read my lips

A phrase used by George H.W. Bush in his speech for the 1988 GOP nomination for president. The full quote is “Read my lips: no new taxes.” The line is credited with both helping him win the presidency in 1988 and losing his bid for reelection in 1992.

The phrase became the main soundbite of Bush’s campaign in 1988, and it electrified the GOP base. His assertive promise to not raise taxes became what the American people expected from him. When he was forced to raise taxes in 1990, that promise was broken, and he was attacked from both sides of the aisle.

Time ranks it as the 3rd most unfortunate one-liner ever given in politics (behind Clinton and Nixon’s famous denials).

rattle the cage

To attempt to get attention, often through annoying, angering, or protesting.

In politics, rattling the cage of a politician or party typically happens when a large group of people get together to protest and demand whatever they are asking for.

In a more personal sense, it can be used for personal interactions if one person has been caught off guard by another.

realpolitik

A political philosophy based on using rationality, realism, and circumstance to define policy and action, rather than using morals or ethics. Realpolitik is often associated with power politics.

The term was first used in 1850s Germany (the term is a German one) by politician August Ludwig von Rochau, who used it to describe his view of a powerful Germany. The theory would become associated with German chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

Notable people associated with realpolitik include Niccolo Machiavelli, Bismarck, and Henry Kissinger. Critics of realpolitik often compare it to the harshness of Machiavellianism. Supporters simply equate it to pragmatism.

The Financial Times notes that in realpolitik, “politics is about power, about maneuvering coalitions, about social forces  and their capacity to influence politics, and about the power of ideas in shaping political possibilities.”

Richards effect

The phenomenon in which polls consistently underestimate support for female candidates relative to white male candidates.

The termed was coined by political scientists Christopher Stout and Reuben Kline who noted that in the 1990 Texas gubernatorial race many polls predicted Clayton Williams (R) to beat Ann Richards (D) by as much as 8 points. However, Clayton’s “lead” evaporated on election day and Richards won.

From their research paper: “Perhaps it was not only the traditional polling problems that led polls to be less accurate, Ann Richards’ gender may have also played a vital role in these polling discrepancies. Our results indicate that female candidates, and in particular female candidates from gender-conservative states, like Ann Richards in Texas, tend to do worse in pre-election polls than in actual elections.”

roorback

A false, dirty or slanderous story used for political advantage, usually about a candidate seeking political office.

In 1940 the Chicago Tribune offered this definition: “A roorback is a false report about some alleged misdeed in a candidate’s past, often based on forged evidence, circulated in the final days of a campaign. It is timed for climactic effect when the candidate will not be able to expose the fraud before the voters go to the polls.”

According to Museum of Hoaxes, the term is derived from Baron von Roorback, the invented author of an imaginary book, Roorback’s Tour Through the Western and Southern States, from which a passage was purportedly quoted in an attempt to defame Tennessee Gov. James K. Polk in the 1844 presidential election.

Rose Garden campaign

When an incumbent politician uses the trappings of office to project an image of power for the purposes of re-election.

The phrase originally referred to a president staying on the grounds of the White House to campaign as opposed to traveling throughout the country. However, it’s taken on a broader meaning in recent years.

For example, the New York Times notes President George H.W. Bush carried out a “Rose Garden strategy” for the 1992 campaign: “Sometimes the strategy puts the President in the Rose Garden, as it did this morning, and sometimes it takes him on the road, as it will to Pennsylvania on Thursday. But it always has one aim: to lift Mr. Bush’s political fortunes by wrapping him in the trappings of his office and having him take steps to demonstrate, as one political aide put it, that ‘he is the man in charge and the others are just wannabe’s.'”

red herring

A political diversion which draws attention away from something of significance.

Michael Quinlan notes the term likely originates from an article published on February 14, 1807 by journalist William Cobbett in the Weekly Political Register. In a critique of the English press, which had mistakenly reported Napoleon’s defeat, Cobbett recounted that he had once used a red herring to deflect hounds in pursuit of a hare, adding “It was a mere transitory effect of the political red-herring; for, on the Saturday, the scent became as cold as a stone.”

RINO

Republican In Name Only (RINO) is a disparaging term that refers to a Republican candidate whose political views are seen as insufficiently conforming to the party line.

recall election

A recall election is a procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote, typically initiated when enough voters sign a petition.

Only two governors have ever been successfully recalled. In 1921, Gov. Lynn Frazier of North Dakota was recalled during a dispute about state-owned industries, and in 2003, Gov. Gray Davis of California was recalled over the state budget.

The recall process has a history dating back to the ancient Athenian democracy.

recess appointment

A presidential appointment typically requiring Senate approval that is made during a Senate recess. To be confirmed, the appointment must be approved by the Senate by the end of the next session of Congress or the position becomes vacant again. Recess appointments are authorized by  Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

Recess appointments permitted the president to make appointments when the Senate was adjourned for lengthy periods. More recently, however, the president has used the privilege to push through unpopular candidates. For example, during his second term, President Bush appointed several controversial candidates while the Senate was in recess.  In 2007, Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, retaliated by holding pro forma sessions during Senate recesses. As a result, the Bush administration was unable to make further recess appointments.

rubber chicken circuit

The endless series of political dinners and lunches that politicians running for office must attend to raise money.

A frequent menu option at these gatherings is chicken, which must be cooked in advance and then reheated, making it rubbery to chew.

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