AP compiles Political Style Guide

Dec. 19, 2011
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AP Advisory

AP compiles Political Terms Style Guide

The Associated Press has compiled a Political Terms Style Guide of essential words, phrases and definitions to help with spelling and usage of political terms in the 2012 U.S. national elections. The guidance isoffered in advance of the Iowa caucus Jan. 3, 2012, and the New Hampshire primary Jan. 10, 2012, the first votes to choose delegates for the Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions. Most ofthe terms are from the AP Stylebook. Others are common usage in AP political stories. Below, see a list of terms sent in an advisory Dec. 19 to AP members and subscribers.



President Barack Obama, Democrat.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.

former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican.

former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, Republican.

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Republican.

former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Republican.

former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Republican.

Congress, congressional
Capitalize when referring to the U.S. Senate and House together. The adjective is lowercase unless part of a formal name.

congressman, congresswoman
Used only for members of the U.S. House; lowercase as a descriptive.

Lowercase in referring to a political philosophy.

Capitalize in a formal name: Republican National Convention, Democratic National Convention; otherwise lowercase: the convention.

Democrat, Democratic Party
Both terms are capitalized.

Election Day, election night
The first term is capitalized, the second is lowercase.

first lady
Not an official title, always lowercase.

fundraiser, fundraising
Single words in all uses.

Candidate who leads a political race; the term is hyphenated.

hand-to-hand campaigning
Seeking support in face-to-face meetings with voters.

horse race
Closely contested political contest.

Iowa caucus
Jan. 3, 2012, in 1,784 precincts. The first vote in which candidates can win delegates for party nominating conventions.

Politically powerful person who boosts candidates into office.

leftist, ultra-leftist
Avoid these terms in favor of more precise descriptions of political leanings.

Capitalize when preceded by the name of a state: Kansas Legislature; capitalize Legislature on subsequent references.

liberal, liberalism
Lowercase in reference to a political philosophy.

majority, plurality
A majority is more than half the votes cast; a plurality is the largest number of votes, but less than a majority.

majority leader, minority leader
Capitalize as formal legislative title before a name: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, otherwise lowercase.

“money bomb”
A rush of small political contributions collected via the Internet

New Hampshire primary
Jan. 10, 2012, the first direct vote in which candidates can secure delegates for the national party conventions.

party affiliation
A candidate’s political party is essential information in any election, campaign or issue story.

policymaker, policymaking
Both are compounds.

polls and surveys
Consult the detailed entry in the AP Stylebook -- print and online -- on how to use results of public opinion surveys and avoid exaggerating the meaning.

Someone who espouses the interests of common people, often low taxes and small government.

president, vice president
Capitalize these titles before names; lowercase in other uses.

presidential, presidency
The first term is lowercase except as part of a formal name; presidency is always lowercase.

press secretary
Seldom a formal title and thus lowercase.

primary, primary day
Both are lowercase, including when used with a state: New Hampshire primary.

push polling
Asking questions intended to influence voters while pretending to take a poll

re-elect, re-election
Both are hyphenated.

Republican, Republican Party
Both terms are capitalized. GOP (Grand Old Party) may be used on second reference.

rightist, ultra-rightist
Avoid these terms in favor of more precise descriptions of political leanings.

A prominent person who campaigns on behalf of a candidate.

stalking horse
Someone who enters a political race to lure voters away from rivals, then drops out and endorses another candidate.

PAC, super PAC
Political action committee raises money for candidates or parties from donations by individuals, but not businesses or labor unions. A super PAC may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, including from corporations and unions, to support candidates for federal office but must operate independently.

tea party
Lowercase the populist movement that opposes the Washington political establishment. Adherents are tea partyers. Formally named groups in the movement are capitalized: Tea Party Express.

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