Party Identification in the 2008 Presidential Election


  • AUTHORS' NOTE: Dan Romer, associate director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, also contributed to this article.

Kenneth Winneg is the managing director of the National Annenberg Election Survey. His research interests are in political communication, the electoral process, and the Internet and political participation.

Kathleen Hall Jamieson is Elizabeth Ware Packard Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Walter and Leonore Annenberg Director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She codirected the 2008 National Annenberg Election Survey.


In the 2008 presidential election cycle, data from the National Annenberg Election Survey (NAES) showed that the gap between self-identified Democrats and Republicans widened from where it was after the 2004 presidential election. The Democratic edge grew from nearly 4 points in the 2004 NAES to almost 9 points in the 2008 NAES. This change reverses the trend, observed since the 2000 NAES, showing a narrowing of the gap. This article tracks the national trend from October 2007 through the November 2008 presidential general election to show that party self-identification fluctuated during the 2008 election season. Using both the 2008 NAES telephone rolling cross-sectional survey and the 2008 NAES Internet Panel, the authors document this national trend and show where the shifts occurred demographically and regionally. Additionally, the authors examine shifts among self-identified 2004 Bush and Kerry voters who participated in the 2008 National Annenberg Election survey—looking at whom they voted for and whether they switched party identification.