Examples of Political Jargon: Essential Buzzwords Explained

, Staff Writer
Updated August 24, 2021
Examples of Political Jargon
    Examples of Political Jargon
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Political jargon refers to the words and phrases used by politicians, lobbyists, the media, and other people to talk about political issues quickly. Political jargon is the shared language of catchphrases and political buzzwords spoken by those in the political sphere. Begin your journey into understanding politics with some must-know examples of political words and phrases.

Election Jargon

Whenever election season rolls around, you are likely to hear these terms thrown around, but what do they mean?

  • astroturfing - creating a false impression of organic support for or opposition to an organization, policy, individual or program

  • balancing the ticket - when a presidential candidate chooses a running mate whose qualities will appeal to more voters

  • battleground state - a state that has an equal chance of being won by a Democratic or Republican candidate

  • bellwether state - a state that typically votes for the leading candidate

  • blue state - a state that votes primarily for Democrats or liberals

  • coastal elites - typically wealthy, well-educated people from the northeastern or Californian coast of the U.S. that have left-leaning political views

  • coffers - the money in an organization’s or political party’s bank accounts available for spending

  • dark horse - an unknown or underestimated candidate that seems unlikely to succeed, but who goes on to succeed

  • dark money - political funds or donations raised by nonprofit organizations where the donors are not disclosed

  • earmark - money set aside for a specific purpose or program

  • endorsement - public approval from one political entity or organization for another

  • inside the beltway - an idiom to classify issues that are significant to government officials rather than the general public; the “beltway” refers to Interstate 495 around Washington D.C.

  • political action committee (PAC) - political committees that receive financial contributions from corporations, individuals or organizations to support or oppose specific political campaigns or legislation

  • purple state - a state that has a similar amount of Republican and Democrat voters

  • red state - a state that votes primarily for Republicans or conservatives

  • stump speech - a prepared speech or pitch that explains their core platform

  • swing state - a state where both political parties have similar levels of support

  • war chest - funding set aside specifically to finance a war effort; funds earmarked for a particular purpose

  • wedge issue - a controversial political issue that divides members of opposing political parties or the same party


Socio-Political Jargon and Buzzwords

Whether you are watching the news or interacting on social media, you are likely to hear these terms at some point to refer to politicians, the political process or the news itself.

  • blue dog - a Democrat who is likely to side with Republicans on certain issues

  • bailout - helping a large company with its debts with the intention that the company will repay the money in the future

  • dog whistle - a suggestive buzzword or phrase that has an implied meaning for the target audience

  • fake news - information that is intentionally false or misleading; propaganda

  • flip flopper - a candidate or politician who changes his or her mind on certain important issues over time

  • greenwashing - when companies attempt to make themselves look environmentally friendly, regardless of whether or not they are, in actuality, environmentally friendly

  • grown in office - political term used for someone who won office based on one set of principles, but over time adopted an opposite set of principles

  • kool-aid-drinker - derogatory term for an individual who votes for a candidate or a party against their common sense

  • lame duck - a politician who is considered ineffective, either because he or she was recently elected out of office or announced retirement

  • malarkey - nonsense

  • pro-choice - a person who is in favor of a woman's right to choose abortion or not

  • pro-life - a person who opposes abortion

  • public servant - an elected official

  • reform - to change a law or a system to make it better or more efficient

  • RINO - short for "Republican in Name Only;" used to criticize Republicans who often side with Democrats

  • tree hugger - an environmentalist


Talk Like a Washington Insider

These are all examples of political slang terms or political speech commonly used by those on the "inside" of politics. So next time you watch the news or head to the voting booth, you can impress your friends with your knowledge of political jargon.

For more political terminology, you can learn more common political terms related to U.S. politics, voting and government. Teachers and parents can see how your kids can get up to date on current events and get involved with local or national issues to learn more.