Although it comes into the world too late to prevent “veepstakes” from infecting our imaginations, our partners at Associated Press have done journalists and content marketers a solid by compiling and releasing their style guide for the 2012 (and beyond) US elections. It should go a long way to reducing the number of ugly neologisms that appear in… wait, no it won’t. Elections bring out the worst in our dinner conversation partners and, often, the best in our journalists. Let’s root for more of the latter and much less of the former.
For your edification (and mine), here’s the section on “Clichés and Alternatives”:
CLICHES AND ALTERNATIVES
ahead of - before
rainbow colors - avoid red, blue or purple for the political leanings of states. Use Democratic-leaning, Republican-tilting or swing-voting, etc.
barnstormed - traveled across a state campaigning or campaigned across XYZ.
hand-to-hand campaigning - seeking support in face-to-face meetings with voters.
hat in the ring - a candidate decided to run for an office.
horse race - closely contested political contest.
laundry list - the candidate has ideas, proposals, etc.
messaging - the candidate’s pitch to voters.
pressing the flesh - shaking hands is preferred.
rope line - the physical barrier that separates a candidate from the audience. Instead, the candidate shook hands and posed for photographs with the audience.
state nicknames - avoid them in favor of the state name.
stump speech - campaign speech at a routine appearance (or standard or regular campaign speech)
testing the waters - considered entering the race or considered running for XYZ.
took his/her campaign to - specify what the candidate did.
veepstakes - the competition to be a candidate’s running mate.
war lingo - use criticized instead of attacked, or choose a better verb to describe what the candidate is doing, i.e., challenging, doubting, etc. Also avoidable: launch an assault, take aim, open fire, bombard.
war chest - use campaign bank account or stockpile of money.
white paper - a document of policy positions distributed by a campaign.