Terms Glossary

Good Party's Terms Glossary is a list of definitions of words from the political and elections world. These terms are from an independent's perspective with an eye toward reform. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, send it to ask@goodparty.org.

Campaign Contributions

Campaign contributions refer to the financial support given to candidates running for political office. This can come in the form of direct donations, as well as in-kind contributions such as the use of a campaign headquarters or advertising space. While campaign contributions can come from a variety of sources, including individuals, political action committees (PACs), and corporations, they are often seen as a way for wealthy donors to exert influence over political candidates and elections.

In some states and municipalities, there are laws and regulations in place to limit the amount of money that can be donated to political campaigns. For example, in New York City, individuals can only donate up to $2,800 per election to a candidate's campaign, while PACs can donate up to $5,000. Additionally, the city has a matching funds program that matches small donations from city residents with public funds, in an effort to level the playing field for candidates who may not have access to large sums of money.

However, not all states and municipalities have such regulations in place. In states such as Maine and Arizona, there are no limits on campaign contributions and candidates can accept unlimited amounts of money from donors. This can lead to situations where a few wealthy donors can have a disproportionate influence over the outcome of an election.

While campaign contributions can help fund a candidate's campaign, it is important to consider the potential impact they may have on the political process. The lack of regulations and limits in some places may lead to a system that prioritizes the interests of wealthy donors over those of the general public. Therefore, it is essential to consider the need for campaign finance reform in order to ensure fair and transparent political process.

Campaign Finance

Campaign finance refers to the money that is raised and spent by candidates, political parties, and other organizations to influence the outcome of an election. This can include everything from campaign contributions to advertising to voter outreach.

Unfortunately, the campaign finance system in the United States is often criticized for being unfair and undemocratic. One of the main problems is that it is heavily influenced by wealthy special interests, who use their financial resources to sway the political process in their favor. This can create a situation where politicians are more accountable to their donors than they are to the voters they represent.

Another issue with campaign finance is that it is often used to exclude independent and third party candidates from the political process. These candidates often struggle to raise the same amount of money as the major party candidates, which makes it difficult for them to get their message out and compete on an equal footing.

It's time for a change! We need campaign finance reform that levels the playing field and allows for a more diverse and representative democracy. This could include measures such as public financing of elections, limits on campaign contributions, and greater transparency in campaign financing. By taking these steps, we can create a more fair and equitable political system that works for everyone, not just the wealthy elite.

Caucus System

A caucus system is a method of selecting a political party's nominee for a general election in which voters gather in person to discuss and vote on candidates. Unlike a primary election, which typically involves voters casting secret ballots, a caucus is a public meeting in which voters openly show their support for a particular candidate. The process of a caucus can vary depending on the state or municipality, but typically involves a series of votes in which the least popular candidates are eliminated until one candidate has a majority of the votes.

Caucuses are typically organized by the political parties themselves, rather than by state or local governments. They are commonly used in the United States by the Democratic and Republican parties, and examples of states that use caucus systems include Iowa, Nevada, and Colorado. Some political parties may also use caucuses in addition to primary elections, to elect delegates or other party officials.

The caucus system can have both advantages and disadvantages for voters. On one hand, caucuses allow for more direct voter participation and can foster a sense of community among party members. They also can be more cost-effective than primary elections. On the other hand, caucuses can be less accessible to certain groups of voters, such as those who are unable to attend a meeting in person due to work or other obligations. Additionally, the open nature of caucuses can make it more difficult for voters to maintain anonymity and can deter some from participating.

Closed Primary

A closed primary is an electoral system in which only registered members of a particular political party are eligible to vote in that party's primary election. This means that only registered Democrats can vote in a Democratic primary, and only registered Republicans can vote in a Republican primary. The purpose of a closed primary is to ensure that only members of a particular party are able to select that party's nominee for a general election.

In a closed primary system, the rules for registering to vote may vary depending on the state or municipality. In some cases, voters must register with a specific party in order to vote in that party's primary. In other cases, voters may be able to register as "unaffiliated" or "independent" and choose which party's primary to vote in.

Closed primary system may also have different rules for voter registration cut-off dates, and for voter eligibility (like age, citizenship).

Closed primaries have the advantage of ensuring that only committed members of a party are able to select that party's nominee. This can help to prevent candidates who do not align with the party's platform or values from winning the nomination. However, closed primaries can also limit voter choice, as those who are not registered with a particular party are not able to participate in that party's primary.

Contributions and Spending Limits

Contributions and spending limits refer to the regulations placed on the amount of money that individuals, organizations, and political action committees (PACs) can donate to a candidate's campaign, as well as the amount a candidate can spend on their campaign. These limits are put in place to prevent wealthy individuals or organizations from having disproportionate influence on the outcome of an election.

For example, in the state of New York, candidates for governor are subject to a $65,100 contribution limit per individual donor and a $5,000 contribution limit per PAC. In addition, candidates for governor are subject to a spending limit of $22.5 million in the primary election and $40 million in the general election.

However, not all states or municipalities have these limits in place. Some states have no contribution or spending limits, while others have only partial limits. Reasons for this can vary, but often it is because these regulations are difficult to enforce and can be subject to legal challenges. Additionally, some states may have a history of relatively low campaign spending or have a small population, making campaign spending limits less necessary.

It is important to note that contribution and spending limits for independent and 3rd party candidates for office may vary from those of major party candidates. This is because these candidates often have less access to funding, and therefore may be subject to different regulations to level the playing field.