Terms You Should Know About Voting

26th Amendment

Passed in 1971, lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.


Not caring about anything that matters. Lack of interest or concern, indifference.

Barack Obama

The Democratic presidential candidate for the 2008 Presidential Election who is currently a Senator from Illinois.


‘Bi’ means two and ‘partisan’ means member. A bipartisan issue or topic means that both major political parties (Republicans & Democrats) agree on it or cooperated to create it.


A gathering of each party’s local political activists during the presidential nomination process to decide who the people in the state prefer to be the party’s candidate. The most notable caucus in Iowa is the first contest for the candidates.


Having to do with citizens or being part of a city (state or country).


Describes a political philosophy that favors tradition, from moderately right-of-center to firmly right-of-center. “Political” conservatives in the United States usually support free-market economic principles and low taxes, and distrust federal, as opposed to state and local, government power. “Cultural” conservatives may be opposed to abortion or to the excesses of popular media. Of the two major parties in the United States, the Republican Party is generally considered to be the more conservative.


Large conferences held by the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee at which the presidential nominee is officially selected and announced. Each party also adopts a statement of party principles and goals known as the platform and determines the rules for the party's activities.

Democratic Party

Usually have liberal beliefs on the role the government should have.


Having to do with money.


A candidate in any election or nomination process who is considered to be the most popular or likely to win.

Green Party

First entered a candidate for presidential nominee in 1996, Ralph Nader, who is running again in 2008. It favors all environmental issues and government support of social needs.


The person who has been in an elected position for one or more terms.

John McCain

The Republican presidential candidate for the 2008 Presidential Election.


Tend to favor greater federal power to remedy perceived social inequities; "cultural" liberals tend to support a woman’s right to choose when to give birth, as well as feminism, homosexual rights, and similar freedoms of personal choice and behavior. Of the two main political parties, the Democrats are usually more liberal.


A balance in between both conservative and liberal, middle of the political spectrum.


A group of persons with common political opinions and purposes organized for gaining political influence and governmental control and for directing government policy.


An election held to determine each political party’s candidate for a particular public office at the local and state level. Primaries for presidential candidates are held at the state level to indicate who the people of that state prefer to be the parties’ candidates. Primaries that occur earlier in primary season can have a great impact on who the nominee will be. The first primary has traditionally occurred in New Hampshire.

Ralph Nader

The Green Party candidate who has run in the three previous elections and is running again in 2008.

Republican Party

Also known as the Grand Old Party (GOP), usually supports conservative beliefs on what the government should do.

Social Security

A retirement plan run by the government and funded through income and other taxes.

Super Tuesday

Refers to a Tuesday either in February or March when the greatest number of states hold primaries to select the delegates to national conventions where presidential nominees are chosen. In 2008, Super Tuesday was on February 5th.

Swing voters

Voters not loyal to a particular political party, usually independents, who can determine the outcome of an election by "swinging" one way or the other on an issue or candidate, often reversing their choices the next time around.

Third party

Any political party that is not one of the two parties that have dominated U.S. politics in the 20th century — the Republican Party and the Democratic Party — and that receives a base of support and plays a role in influencing the outcome of an election.

Voter Turnout Rate

The percent of a population that cast a vote in a particular election. This can be the population as a whole or just a part of a population. For example, the youth voter turnout rate refers to the percentage of people younger than 30 who cast a vote in a particular election.


United States Political Glossary