coattail effect

The tendency for a popular political party leader to attract votes for other candidates of the same party in an election. For example, the party of a victorious presidential candidate will often win many seats in Congress as well; these congressmen are voted into office “on the coattails” of the president.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.