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War Chest

Money a politician sets aside to use for campaigns.

Washington Community

The “inside the beltway” group that closely follows politics and constantly evaluates the relative power of politicians. See also Beltway and Inside the Beltway.

Wave Election

Election results in which a political party wins a large and lopsided number of House and Senate seats while sustaining minimal losses.” See also Realigning Election.

Wedge Issue

An issue used by a candidate to divide factions within his opponent’s supporter base.

Whisper Campaign

A method of persuasion using rumors, innuendos, or other sneaky tactics to create false impressions about a political candidate while not being detected spreading them.


The practice of making political speeches or appearances in different towns during a short period of time using any means of travel. The term originates from the time when politicians mainly traveled by train and gave speeches from the back of the train during “whistle-stops” in small towns.


An electoral system in which the person with the most votes wins everything (and everyone else loses); most states have winner-take-all systems for determining electoral votes.

Witch Hunt

A politically-motivated, often vindictive investigation that feeds on public fears. The term refers to the witch hunts in 17th-century Salem, Massachusetts, where many innocent women accused of witchcraft were burned at the stake or drowned.


A political figure or pundit seen as having a studied and detailed command of public policy.