The Way We Vote Has Changed

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

No one can deny that this year’s election proved to be historic, transformational and unforgettable. But while many are focusing on race and the breaking of barriers, Graham Lee, Ph.D., professor of political science at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia, is talking about the changes he’s observed in voting trends.

“This is a turning point,” explains Lee. “What we have is no longer party-centered voting. We’ve entered the era of ‘candidate-centered’ politics. Most voters aren’t strong Democrats or strong Republicans anymore. Party is important, but it keeps getting less and less important.”

According to Lee, “This year’s election was all about selling the candidate, especially to people who had no dominant party affiliation.”

Lee predicts that the days of straight-ticket voting are gone, except for isolated groups. “We want to be ‘cafeteria’ Democrats or Republicans. I don’t think the straight-ticket vote will come back,” he says.

In addition to observing the change in voting trends, Lee addresses another important issue in this year’s election: the surge in participation. “There was a tremendous increase in the number of people who voted in 2008. And for many, it was their first time. And not just for those who recently became eligible, either.”

Graham Lee can be reached for comment at 610.660.1753,, or by contacting the Office of University Communications at 610.660.1222 or

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