Tuesday, November 6, 2012

2012 Election Lingo Top 10 List

Today Americans will elect a new president, and for those of you who are closely following the news, here is a list of new vocabulary words you may not already know to help you understand American election parlance and politics.


  1. swing state(n.): states in which there are many undecided voters, making it difficult for experts to predict whether a state will vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate.  For the 2012 election (according to the Washington Post), Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire and Iowa are swing states.
  2. absentee ballot(n.): a mail-in ballot used by Americans living or working abroad including U.S. military personnel.
  3. incumbent (n.):  the candidate running who is currently holding office.  In this election, Obama is the incumbent.
  4. dark horse(n.): a term used in gambling to describe a competitor or candidate that suprisingly upsets the expected outcome.  We also use the term´underdog', which expresses the idea of a disadvantaged player. 
  5. GOP(n.):  this acronym stands for Grand Old Party, or the Republican Party.  Curiously enough, it was founded by anti-slavery activists in the mid-1800.   
  6. partisan(adj.):  this term simply means committed, belonging to or favoring one party or another. 
  7. landslide(n.):  overwhelming victory, winning by a landslide means winning by a wide margin.
  8. platform(n.):  this is used to describe the policies, objectives and beliefs that define the campaign of a candidate.  For example, Obama's platform includes universal healthcare, Romney's, lower taxes. 
  9. straight vs. split ticket(n., adv.):  A straight ticket is voting strictly based on party affiliation--voting for either all Democrat, Republican or Independent runners--while a split ticket is a ballot with candidates from more than one party.  For example, voting for Romney and a Democratic senator would be a split ticket.
  10. exit poll:  An exit poll is conducted right after voters have submitted their ballots.   

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