Cover image for Encyclopedia of American parties, campaigns, and elections
Encyclopedia of American parties, campaigns, and elections
Binning, William C.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
x, 467 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1250 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
JK9 .B56 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



In this comprehensive guide to the language of contemporary American politics, Binning offers clear descriptions of terms such as soft money, gerrymandering, and blanket primary. Examples are frequently offered to help clarify definitions. Particular attention is given to the ever-changing organizational structure of parties and contemporary electoral systems. In addition to defining political terms and systems, however, this encyclopedia explains campaign finance reform laws and the Voting Rights Act. The more significant Supreme Court decisions in these areas are summarized, with an eye to giving readers a greater understanding of how these laws have been interpreted and applied.

This encyclopedia also describes the modern political campaign. Highlighted are the role of the media, the significance of presidential debates, the influence of campaign consultants, and the importance, types, and timing of primaries and caucuses. Brief biographies of important political figures such as presidents, vice presidents, and congressional and party leaders are also included, along with a concise summary of every presidential election since 1789.

Author Notes

WILLIAM C. BINNING is Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio.

LARRY E. ESTERLY is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Youngstown State University.

PAUL A. SRACIC is Assistant Professor of Political and Social Science at Youngstown State University.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Each of these titles takes a slightly different approach to surveying the political process. Part of Congressional Quarterly's Encyclopedia of American Government (along with Congress A to Z, The Presidency A to Z, and The Supreme Court A to Z), Elections A to Z has more than 200 entries. Emphasis is on the campaign and election process at the national level. For the most part, entries cover fairly broad topics (Campaign finance, Democratic Party, National party conventions, Women's suffrage) and run for several pages. There are also a number of shorter entries on more specific topics (e.g., Iowa Caucus, Motor Voter Act) and terms (Beauty contest, Gerrymander, Straw vote). Of particular interest are the very clear explanation of the electoral college system in Electoral College and vote and the chronology in Scandals, which begins with the Thomas Jefferson^-Sally Hemings affair in 1802 and ends with President Clinton's acquittal in 1999. Supporting the text are a number of appendixes, including "Election-Related Web Sites"; "Chief Officers and Keynote Speakers at Republican National Conventions, 1856^-1996" (with equal time provided in the form of a corresponding list for Democratic conventions); and "Blacks in Congress, 41st^-106th Congresses, 1869^-2001." Like Elections A to Z, Encyclopedia of American Parties, Campaigns, and Elections provides definitions of terms and descriptions of parties and political movements. In addition, it includes biographies, summaries of relevant Supreme Court cases, and, in a 64-page entry called "Elections," detailed accounts of presidential elections and campaigns from 1789 to 1996. Arranged alphabetically, the more than 450 entries were written by three Youngstown State University political science professors; and each ends with cited references. The appendix features a three-page table, "U.S. Presidential Candidates and Their Parties, 1789^-Present." Where coverage overlaps, entry length is generally shorter than in the Congressional Quarterly volume: two sentences versus almost six pages for Electoral College; four sentences versus more than half of a page for Landslide. However, the scope is broader and there is much here that the CQ volume does not provide. There are additional terms, including Barnstorm, Copperhead, and Sophomore surge, and treatment of more specific topics, such as Contract with America, Emily's List, and League of Women Voters, not to mention the biographical entries that cover individuals such as Newt Gingrich and Alfred E. Smith as well as all the presidents. The biographical entries are among the longest, sometimes covering several pages. Much of the information in both volumes is already available in other sources, such as Encyclopedia of the American Presidency [RBB Ja 15 94], The HarperCollins Dictionary of American Government and Politics [RBB My 1 92], and Political Parties and Elections in the U.S.: An Encyclopedia [RBB N 1 91]. However, these new titles update and supplement the older ones to some extent and should be useful in public and academic libraries. For high-school libraries, clear explanations, along with the illustrations and sidebars in CQ's Elections A to Z, make it more interesting, attractive, and useful as a teaching tool.

Choice Review

Terminology, political figures, parties, organizations, legislation, and court cases, whether recognized or less well known, are included in this encyclopedia intended for "professionals and amateurs." It focuses on contemporary US politics, but politicians, events, and terminology from history are included (e.g., Bull Moose Party, the Civil War's Copperhead faction). Current entries include NOW, NRA, television ad campaigns, and term limits. Each entry cites one or two books or periodical articles. "Elections" describes each presidential election since 1788 in one page apiece, giving candidates, campaigns, and results. The appendix lists all presidents and vice-presidents, their terms of office and parties, and the party controlling Congress. A selected bibliography lists books about political parties and elections. Binning (political science, Youngstown State Univ.) and his coauthors write explanatory but not lengthy entries; those covering such basic electoral concepts as campaign manager, candidate, congressional district, electoral college, precinct, different types of primaries, ticket, and ward make this book useful for secondary students, general readers, and undergraduates, although other inexpensive political dictionaries (e.g., Jack C. Plano and Milton Greenberg's American Political Dictionary, 10th ed., 1997) cover many of the same terms. John L. Moore's Elections A to Z (CH, Dec'99), which covers comparable concepts, parties, court cases, legislation, and presidential elections but omits biographies, is probably the most similar in coverage. The older but solid Political Parties & Elections in the United States: An Encyclopedia, ed. by Sandy L. Maisel (2v., CH, Dec'91), which devotes longer articles to such important components as the electoral college and the Voting Rights Act, is still valuable. The present encyclopedia is recommended primarily for public, community college, and undergraduate libraries. L. Treff-Gangler; University of Colorado at Denver

Table of Contents

Selected Bibliography