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One thing it can refer to is the electronegativity of the central atom of the conjugate base. For example; ClO4- vs H2PO4- Cl is more electronegative than P, so it handles the negative charge more effectively. HClO4 is thus a stronger acid than H3PO4.
The book explains that more electronegative atoms in the conjugate bases of acids is what allows for electron delocalization, essentially the spread of the negative charge of the base, in the anion. This electron delocalization is what allows for the anions to be stable. The book discusses this on page 468.
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