20 political terms the media assumes you know

While watching coverage of “Super Tuesday”, I realized that I don’t know what the word delegate means; at least not in the political context. I began to think about all the political jargon that outlets like FOX and CNN use on a daily basis as if it’s common knowledge. For the vast majority of the terms being used throughout the program I was running to Google so I didn’t feel dumb. Some of these words and phrases may have just been accepted as terms everyone should know, but for the uninitiated they are a barrier to truly understanding American Politics. Here is a list of twenty terms everyone should know about politics with some links to learn more if you want to.

1. Super Tuesday:

In the United States, Super Tuesday, in general, refers informally to one or more Tuesdays early in a United States presidential primary season when the greatest number of states hold primary elections.

2. Primary:

(in the US) a preliminary election to appoint delegates to a party conference or to select the candidates for a principal, especially presidential, election.


3. Caucus:

a meeting of the members of a legislative body who are members of a particular political party, to select candidates or decide policy.


4. DNC:

The Democratic National Committee is the formal governing body for the United States Democratic Party. The Committee coordinates strategy to support Democratic Party candidates throughout the country for local, state, and national office.


5. GOP:

The Republican Party, commonly referred to as the GOP (abbreviation for Grand Old Party), is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, the other being its historic rival, the Democratic Party.


6. Super PAC:

Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees, super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates.


7. Incumbent:

the holder of an office or post.

8. Constituent:

a member of an area which elects a representative to a legislative body.

9. Pundit:

A pundit (sometimes also called a talking head) is a person who offers to mass media their opinion or commentary on a particular subject area (most typically political analysis, the social sciences, technology or sport) on which they are knowledgeable (or can at least appear to be knowledgeable),


10. Liberal:

(in a political context) favouring individual liberty, free trade, and moderate political and social reform.

11. Conservative:

(in a political context) favouring free enterprise, private ownership, and socially conservative ideas.


12. Exit Poll:

an opinion poll of people leaving a polling station, asking how they voted.


13. Delegate:

a person sent or authorized to represent others, in particular an elected representative sent to a conference.


14. Superdelegate:

(in the Democratic Party) an unelected delegate who is free to support any candidate for the presidential nomination at the party’s national convention.


15. Electorate:

all the people in a country or area who are entitled to vote in an election.

16. Partisanship:

In politics, a partisan is a committed member of a political party. In multi-party systems, the term is used for politicians who strongly support their party’s policies and are reluctant to compromise with their political opponents.

17. Swing state:

In presidential politics of the United States, a swing state (also, battleground state or purple state, in reference to red states and blue states) is a state in which no single candidate or party has overwhelming support in securing that state’s electoral college votes.

18. General election:

A general election is an election in which all or most members of a given political body are chosen. The term is usually used to refer to elections held for a nation’s primary legislative body, as distinguished from by-elections and local elections.

19. Electoral College:

The Electoral College is a process, not a place. The founding fathers established it in the Constitution as a compromise between election of the President by a vote in Congress and election of the President by a popular vote of qualified citizens.


20. Popular vote:

In United States presidential elections, the national popular vote is the sum of all votes cast in every state and the District of Columbia. 

This list is just my quick google searches for terms that I thought people would have questions about and may not be include everything, but it will get you started and help you feel more informed next time the “talking heads” on tv are discussing the latest political story.