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(Reports Analysis Division) The FEC division that reviews campaign finance reports.

Rally ’Round the Flag Effect

A significant boost in presidential popularity when a foreign crisis arises.

Ratings Game

The practice of organizations rating members of Congress based on votes that matter to the organizations and their members.

Reagan Democrat

Working-class Democratic voter who defected from the party to vote for Republican candidate Ronald Reagan in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections. The term is also used these days to denote moderate Democrats who are more conservative than other Democrats on issues such as national security or immigration.

Realigning Election

A political party forges a new and enduring presidential coalition. See also Wave Election.


A dramatic shift in the balance of the two parties that changes the key issues dividing the parties.


The process of reallocating representation in the House of Representatives after a census; some states will gain seats, while other will lose them.

Reattributed Contribution

The portion of an excessive contribution that has been attributed in writing to another contributor and signed by both contributors.

Recall Election

A procedure by which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote, typically initiated when enough voters sign a petition.


Anything of value (money, goods, services or property) received by a political committee.

Recount Fund

A fundraising committee set up to pay the legal costs of a recount when election results are in dispute. Individual donations to a recount fund have no legal limit and do not have to be disclosed. Contributions from corporations or labor unions are prohibited.

Red Herring

A political diversion which draws attention away from something of significance. The term originates from an 1807 article published in the Weekly Political Register by William Cobbett where he critiqued the British press for falsely reporting Napoleon’s defeat. He wrote that he had once using a red herring to confuse hounds that were hunting a hare, and added, “It was a mere transitory effect of the political red-herring; for, on the Saturday, the scent became as cold as a stone.”

Red State

A state where people tend to vote for the Republican Party.

Redesignated Contribution

The portion of a contribution (usually excessive) that has been designated by the contributor, in writing, to an election other than the one for which the funds were originally given.


Redrawing district boundaries after a state loses or gains seats in the House of Representatives.

Refunded Contribution

A contribution is refunded when the recipient committee deposits the contribution and sends the contributor a check for the amount (or a portion) of the contribution.

Reports, Designations & Statements

All committees registered with the FEC and other persons who make certain expenditures or disbursements are required to file reports, designations, and statements that disclose their financial activity. The contents of those reports and statements, as well as the filing schedule, depend on the type of committee or organization, or the type of expenditure or disbursement made. See also Filing.

Restricted Class/Solicitable Class

Those persons, including the executive and administrative personnel, members or stockholders (and the families of each) within a corporation or labor organization, who may be solicited for contributions to the organization’s separate segregated fund at any time and who may receive certain communications from the organization.

Retention Election

A state election, held in states using the merit plan for selecting judges, in which voters are asked whether a judge should keep his or her job.


(Request for Additional Information) Sent by the Reports Analysis Division at the FEC to committees when reports contain apparent discrepancies, errors or surface violations.


The ability to use language effectively. The undue use of exaggeration or display. The art of influencing others through the use of words.

Richards Effect

The phenomenon in which polls consistently underestimate support for female candidates relative to white male candidates. The term originated after the 1990 Texas gubernatorial race when polls predicted Clayton Williams ® would beat Ann Richards (D) by as much as 8 points, but Richards won. See also Bradley Effect.


A false, dirty or slanderous story used for political advantage, usually about a candidate seeking political office. The term is believed to have originated in 1844 when the fictional Baron von Roorback wrote Roorback’s Tour Through the Western and Southern States to attack the campaign of then-Governor James K. Polk.

Rubber Chicken Circuit

The endless series of political dinners and lunches that politicians running for office must attend to raise money. Chicken is frequently served at events. Because it is cooked ahead of time and then reheated, it becomes rubbery.