Campaign Terminology

When you are around politics as much as I am, there is a certain terminology that you get used to.  I thought today might be a good time to explain a few terms.


advance voting:  where voters cast their vote before election day

burma-shaving:  where candidates and their supporters hold signs and waving to traffic during rush-hour traffic, essentially boosting their visibility and name recognition (hopefully)
also called bus-stopping, as it sometimes takes place by bus stops where you can also interact with voters as they wait for their bus

busstopping CBC

Example of burmashaving here in Winnipeg

campaign manager:  the person responsible for overseeing all aspects of the campaigns and all decisions run through this person

canvass:  2 definitions – going out to knock on doors or the area that you will knock on doors

constituency: the geographical area represented at the provincial level by a Member of the Legislative Assembly (at least that’s what it is in Manitoba, other provinces and territories may have different names)

Dipper:  another word for a member of the New Democratic Party

door knocking:  going out and knocking on doors to talk with voters
also known as the most important activity in an election campaign

e-day:  election day

GOTV:  also known as Get Out The Vote, which is campaign efforts to get your identified supporters to the polls to vote

Grit: another word for a member of the Liberal Party of Canada

identifying the vote:  goal of all efforts, to figure out how many people support your candidate/party so you can get them out to vote on election day

incumbent:  someone who held the office previously and is running for re-election

leader: the leader of a political party, who is ultimately attempting to win enough seats to form government

left-wing:  more small ‘l’ liberal ideology

lit:  another word for campaign materials, such as flyers and brochures
see also lit drop, meaning going out to distribute this material to households in your area

majority government:  the party who wins at least 170 seats across the country and who’s leader is asked to be the Prime Minister

minority government: when no one party has won more than 170 seats, you have a minority government where the leaders of the parties have to work together

partisan:  a person who is strongly devoted to a political party
see also non-partisan, meaning not tied to any one party

phone bank:  collection of phones used to call voters, often in a separate area of a campaign office

rally: an event where your volunteers and supporters are fired up

rally JT

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau at a campaign rally for Terry Duguid

riding:  the geographical area represented at the federal level by a Member of Parliament

right-wing:  more small ‘c’ conservative ideology

staffing:  someone assigned to travel with the candidate, ensures they arrive on time, depart on time, helps take pictures or get contact information
Tory: another word for a member of the Conservatives

ward:  the geographical represented at the municipal level

writ:  government document ordering an election that officially dissolves the government
see also “dropping the writ” which means the election has officially started

and finally, volunteer:  also known as the heart of any campaign
volunteer image


Are there any terms that aren’t on here that you’ve heard and want to know about?  Let me know!


About Dani K

Passionate young professional with a commitment to positive change. Partisan politico. Sometimes runner.
This entry was posted in Diary Of A Campaign Volunteer and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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