Sep 26

Past Event

Election Fundamentals: The Economy, the War and the President

Event Materials



  • Thomas Mann

    Mann says that there are many factors affecting a presidential election outcome and posited the question, "do campaigns matter?"

    Thomas E. Mann

  • Larry Bartels

    Bartels explains that presidential elections have generally followed predictable patterns.

  • John Mueller

    The American electorate''s voting patterns, Mueller says, have historically been more focused on the economy than foreign policy.

  • Robert Erikson

    Erickson says the state of the economy is often a reliable predictor of how the voters will cast their ballots.

  • Ron Elving

    When considering who to vote for, Elvings offers that both the issues as well as the candidate''s personal stories can influence the electorate.


The current economic and political climate in the U.S. has generated a strong market for change in the 2008 elections. A troubled economy, an unpopular war and a discredited Republican president would seem to give the Democrats a huge advantage this November. Yet the contest between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama remains remarkably close.

On September 26, the Brookings Institution’s Opportunity 08 project, in partnership with the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, hosted the second of four roundtable discussions which will examine key questions about American electoral politics and their connection with the 2008 campaign.

Brookings Senior Fellow Thomas Mann joined Princeton’s Larry Bartels to explore whether peace and prosperity factor into electoral outcomes; whether an incumbent president’s low approval ratings traditionally hurt his party nominee’s chances; and whether a candidate’s character and effective campaigning can overcome a strategic disadvantage on the issues. Other panelists included Robert Erikson of Columbia University, John Mueller of Ohio State University and Ron Elving of National Public Radio.

After the presentations, panelists took audience questions.

Event Materials:
Download Robert Erikson's event handouts »

Upcoming Events: Assessing Election Factors
As the presidential campaign comes down to its final weeks, Brookings and Princeton University will hold a series of Opportunity 08 events examining critical factors that could determine the outcome with Brookings scholar and presidential elections expert Thomas Mann.

  • October 17: an analysis of the candidates' ideology and image as well as the role of race in the campaign.
  • October 31: an examination of how money, advertising and voter mobilization efforts are shaping up in the final, decisive week.

Event Agenda

  • Panelists

    • Robert Erikson

      Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

    • John Mueller

      Woody Hayes Chair of National Security Studies, Mershon Center Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University

    • Ron Elving

      Senior Washington Editor, National Public Radio

  • Moderators

    • Larry Bartels

      Director, Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, Donald E. Stokes Professor of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University


September 26, 2008

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EDT

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105