WORD LISTS

Talking About the Election Results? Ten Words from Today's News Can Help

November 6, 2013
It's all about the elections today, with Governor Chris Christie's reinstatement in New Jersey and governor-elect Terry McAuliffe's victory in Virginia giving pundits new information about the country's political temperature. Meanwhile, Illinois approved same-sex marriage, Colorado rejected a tax hike to fund an education overhaul, and New York City elected the first Democrat mayor in 20 years.

To fully understand these unfolding news stories, learn ten key words taken from Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, and New York Times coverage.
proponent
To be a proponent of something is to stand for it, a form of verbal shorthand (or "chunking") that comes in handy when talking about politicians whose very identities have become synonymous with the idea they support.
Chris Christie of New Jersey won re-election by a crushing margin on Tuesday, a victory that vaulted him to the front ranks of Republican presidential contenders and made him his party’s foremost proponent of pragmatism over ideology.
-- Chris Christie Coasts to 2nd Term as Governor of New Jersey, The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2013
pragmatism
Someone who is pragmatic values solutions or ideas that will work on a practical level. The opposite is someone who is ideological or idealistic and stands behind ideas no matter how unworkable they may be.
Chris Christie of New Jersey won re-election by a crushing margin on Tuesday, a victory that vaulted him to the front ranks of Republican presidential contenders and made him his party’s foremost proponent of pragmatism over ideology.
-- Chris Christie Coasts to 2nd Term as Governor of New Jersey, The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2013
inroad
Inroad's one of those words that you can take apart to see what it means. When you find a road that goes in, you'll be able to see that this word means to move into an area or penetrate.
Mr. Christie...made impressive inroads among younger voters and blacks — groups that Republicans nationally have struggled to attract.
-- Chris Christie Coasts to 2nd Term as Governor of New Jersey, The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2013
gubernatorial
The delightfully-specific gubernatorial reminds us that, as Latin morphed into other languages, the letter "V" spun off into U, W, F, and B sounds -- thus governor could be gubernor if that didn't sound like someone obsessed with Nestle's chocolate covered peanut candy.
At a time when the party’s image has sunk to record lows nationally, the results of the gubernatorial elections will reverberate far beyond the borders of Virginia and New Jersey.
-- Virginia, New Jersey results highlight Republican Party’s divisions, problems, The Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2013
reverberate
If you happen to know that reverb refers to the slightly echoing ringing sound of an electric guitar, you can remember that reverberate has to do with sound waves, and thus extends to waves of impact that keep coming over time. Think of it like a "ripple effect" but the metaphor is sound as opposed to water.
At a time when the party’s image has sunk to record lows nationally, the results of the gubernatorial elections will reverberate far beyond the borders of Virginia and New Jersey.
-- Virginia, New Jersey results highlight Republican Party’s divisions, problems, The Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2013
embolden
When you embolden someone, you make them feel more bold. In other words, you encourage them. A politician coming off a landslide victory might feel emboldened to push hard for his agenda that voters stood behind so clearly.
Christie’s campaign will embolden the establishment wing and many of the GOP’s major fundraisers, who have been on the defensive as tea party conservatives flexed their muscles in Republican primaries and in the battle in Congress that led to the shutdown.
-- Virginia, New Jersey results highlight Republican Party’s divisions, problems, The Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2013
insurgency
Check the usage tracker on insurgency's definition page in the Vocabulary.com Dictionary, and you'll see that insurgency is usually paired with Islamist or rebel. For the Post to apply insurgency to the Tea Party is to link it to extremist movements bent on government overthrow.
Those establishment forces have vowed to become more active in opposing the insurgency that has moved Republicans to the right.
-- Virginia, New Jersey results highlight Republican Party’s divisions, problems, The Washington Post, Nov. 5, 2013
bolster
If you put a bolster pillow on a bed, it immediately transforms it to a couch (or so IKEA will have you believe.) Bolster means "support," and those pillows are meant to deliver the kind of support that will help you sit, as opposed to lie down on your mattress.
The rejection of the tax hike and school-finance overhaul came despite proponents' huge war chest — more than $10 million — for a campaign to convince voters that a tax hike to bolster education constituted a worthwhile investment.
-- Voters reject big tax hike, school finance measure Amendment 66, The Denver Post, Nov. 5, 2013
advocate
To advocate means to argue on behalf of. To be an advocate means to be a supporter. It's also a word that stands in for a lawyer, who is, after all, a person who argues on behalf of someone else.
Across the state, gay and lesbian couples and their advocates celebrated as Illinois was poised to become the 15th in the country to allow same-sex marriages.
-- Gay marriage supporters rejoice in Chicago, The Chicago Tribune, Nov. 5, 2013
audacious
Audacious means daring and bold, but in a way that particularly relates to breaking conventions. Bodacious allows you to say the same thing in the California surfer speak of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure .
He cut his teeth as a political operator but abandoned life as a strategist to make an audacious bid for public office himself.
-- An Audacious Liberal
Heading to City Hall, Bill de Blasio Is Used to Exceeding Expectations
, The New York Times, Nov. 5, 2013

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