10:00 am EDT - 11:30 am EDT

Past Event

The American Electorate in 2008

Friday, September 12, 2008

10:00 am - 11:30 am EDT

The Brookings Institution
Saul/Zilkha Rooms

1775 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC

It is commonplace to observe that this is an era of sharply polarized political parties. But what does this mean for the 2008 elections? Have Democrats built a significant advantage in underlying partisan attachments, ending an extended period of rough parity between the parties? How important is party identification in presidential and congressional elections? Have changes in partisanship altered the electoral map? How numerous are independents and swing voters? On September 12, 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 Affairs, hosted the first of four roundtable discussions which will examine these and other key questions about American electoral politics and their connection with the 2008 campaign.

The event featured panelists Alan Abramowitz of Emory University, John Aldrich of Duke University, and E.J. Dionne, Jr. of Brookings. Larry Bartels of Princeton and Thomas Mann of Brookings moderated the discussion, which explored the current partisan landscape in the United States and how partisanship is likely to affect the outcome of the presidential contest.

After initial presentations, panelists took audience questions.

Event Materials:

View handout from Alan Abramowitz »
View handout from Larry Bartels »

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.

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.

  • September 26: a look at how Bush’s legacy on the economy and the Iraq war are playing out in the contest.
  • 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.