Oct 17

Past Event

Issues, Ideology, Gender and Race in the 2008 Election

Event Materials



  • Larry Bartels

    Bartels says the youth vote will likely be a factor in the election and adds that many young voters have been influenced by the success and failures of the current administration.

    Thomas E. Mann

  • Sunshine Hillygus

    Hillygus says campaign issues often split party lines and that each party must devise a platform persuading voters to focus on their representation of those issues.

    Thomas E. Mann

  • Daron Shaw

    Shaw says race is an issue in the presidential campaign and that Barack Obama has faced questions about his ethnicity even from some in the African American community.

    Thomas E. Mann

  • Shankar Vedantam

    With an age gap of nearly 30 years between the presidential candidates, Vedantam says some voters could view John McCain''s age as a liability.

    Thomas E. Mann


Listen to complete audio of event » (MP3 - start at 1:10)

The fundamentals shaping the 2008 elections—a troubled economy, an unpopular president, and a costly war—appear to work to the advantage of the Democratic Party and its presidential nominee, Barack Obama. Will the respective positions of Obama and the Republican nominee, Senator John McCain, on issues such as the financial bailout package and the surge in Iraq make a difference to swing voters? Might one of the candidates be seen as ideologically extreme? How might the race of Barack Obama and the gender of Sarah Palin influence the vote? To examine these and related matters, 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 third of four roundtable discussions on key questions about American electoral politics in connection with the 2008 campaign.

Featuring panelists Sunshine Hillygus of Harvard University, Daron Shaw of the University of Texas, and Shankar Vedantam of the Washington Post—and moderators Larry Bartels of Princeton and Thomas Mann of Brookings—the session explored how issues, ideology, gender and race are likely to affect the outcome of the presidential election.

Opportunity 08 aims to help presidential candidates and the public focus on critical issues facing the nation, providing ideas, policy forums and information on a broad range of domestic and foreign policy questions. The Center for the Study of Democratic Politics supports empirical research on democratic political processes and institutions; its aim is to encourage rigorous social scientific analysis that informs and is informed by normative theories of democracy.

Event Materials:

View handout from Daron Shaw »

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 31: an examination of how money, advertising and voter mobilization efforts are shaping up in the final, decisive week.

Event Agenda

  • Panelists

    • Sunshine Hillygus

      Frederick S. Danziger Associate Professor of Government, Harvard University

    • Daron Shaw

      Associate Professor of Government, University of Texas at Austin

    • Shankar Vedantam

      Columnist, Washington Post

  • Moderators

    • Larry Bartels

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

    • Thomas E. Mann

      Senior Fellow, Governance Studies

      The W. Averell Harriman Chair


October 17, 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