Gervais says, the primary season is finally upon us, even if some candidates are skipping out on today's gubernatorial debate like it's an Air Force Reserve drill weekend. In order to adequately follow the slings and arrows, the barnstorming, and the visceral missives that make up party politics, I’ve compiled a glossary of the terms you need to know.
Ad hominem – This term describes an attack at the character of another politician – presumably in a state where the politicians have character which can be attacked.
Baiting – Politically, an effort by one candidate, elected official, or party to gain an advantage by placing opponents on the defensive, as in, ‘In the last Attorney General primary, McMaster baited his opponent mercilessly.’
Debate – Face-to-face discussion between or among candidates so viewers can judge them based on their qualifications, leadership abilities, and hair. As in, ‘A master debater, McMaster baited his opponent mercilessly.’
Endorsement – Term for when one politician lends his name to the support of another. An endorsement is meant to instill voter confidence in an unproven candidate, but occasionally it leaves would-be voters asking, “Who the hell is John Sununu?”
Hat in the ring – To throw one’s hat in the ring is to enter a political contest. The term comes from boxing, where throwing a hat into the ring signified a challenge. Other classic boxing terms commonly heard during political campaigns include “on the ropes,” “below the belt,” and the timeless “we wuz robbed.”
Incumbent – For several years, I assumed the little “I” in parentheses next to a candidate’s name stood for imbecile. I was only half right; it also stands for incumbent, which means the current office-holder and implies a “leg up” on one’s opponents. Interestingly, incumbent is also a synonym of lying.
Margin of error – A measure of how lazy pollsters are.
Mudslinging – Apparently, in other states, the political process has deteriorated to the point where issues such as education and unemployment are no longer the focal point of political campaigns. In these states, politicians attack each other in an act termed “mudslinging.”
Political Efficacy – The belief on the part of the individual that he or she can "make a difference" through voting, giving campaign contributions, working on a campaign, or even running for political office. Examples of a high degree of political efficacy in SC politics include the large voter turnout in Greenville County, the abundance of political volunteers in Richland County, and the multitude of large campaign donations in Broward County.
Primary – Term for when a political party decides its candidate for the general election by whatever candidate gets a majority of Katon Dawson. Some parties also use popular vote to decide.
Rhetoric – The ability to use language effectively to influence others. Used by most politicians, but not all; Jakie Knotts influences others via interpretive dance.
Straw Poll – A nonscientific poll, taken in such a slapdash fashion that any results are not truly representative of the population. I know, it does sound a lot like a primary.
Stumping – Term for making speeches, from when politicians once stood upon a tall tree stump to make their remarks. Also, the term for asking the Governor about job creation.