United States presidential election, 2008

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2004 Flag of the United States 2012
United States presidential election, 2008
November 4, 2008
Nominee Barack Obama John McCain
Party Democratic Republican
Home state Illinois Arizona
Running mate Joe Biden Sarah Palin
Electoral vote 365 173
States carried 28 + DC + NE-02 22
Popular vote 69,456,897 59,934,814
Percentage 52.92% 45.66%
United States presidential election, 2008

Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states/districts won by Obama/Biden, and Red denotes those won by McCain/Palin. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to the winner of each state. Obama won one electoral vote (from Nebraska's 2nd congressional district) of Nebraska's five.

Incumbent President
George W. Bush
Barack Obama

The United States presidential election of 2008 was held on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. It was the 56th consecutive quadrennial United States presidential election. Outgoing incumbent Republican President George W. Bush's policies and actions and the American public's desire for change were key issues throughout the campaign, and during the general election campaign, both major party candidates ran on a platform of change and reform in Washington. Domestic policy and the economy eventually emerged as the main themes in the last few months of the election campaign, particularly after the onset of the 2008 economic crisis.

Democrat Barack Obama, then-junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior United States Senator from Arizona. Nine states changed allegiance from the 2004 election. Each had voted for the Republican nominee in 2004 and contributed to Obama's sizable Electoral College victory. The selected electors from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia voted for President and Vice President of the United States on December 15, 2008. Those votes were tallied before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 2009. Obama received 365 electoral votes, and McCain 173.

There were several unique aspects of the 2008 election. The election was the first in which an African American was elected President,[1] and the first time a Roman Catholic was elected Vice President.[2] It was also the first time two sitting senators ran against each other. It was the first election in 56 years in which neither an incumbent president (Bush was barred from seeking a third term by the Twenty-second Amendment) nor a vice president ran. Also, voter turnout for the 2008 election was the highest in at least 40 years.

[edit] Background

In 2004, President George W. Bush narrowly[3][4][5][6] won reelection, defeating the Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry. After Republican pickups in the House and Senate in the 2004 elections, Republicans maintained control of both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.

Bush's approval ratings had been slowly declining from their high point of almost 90% after 9/11,[7] and they were barely 50% after his reelection. Although Bush was reelected with a larger Electoral College margin than in 2000 and an absolute majority (50.7%) of the popular vote, during his second term, Bush's approval rating dropped more quickly, with the Iraq War and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 being most detrimental to the public's perception of his job performance.[8]

By September 2006, Bush's approval rating was below 40%,[9] and the Democratic party appeared to have a clear advantage in the upcoming Congressional elections. Additionally, Democrats pulled out several surprise victories in Congress and gained the majority in both houses. Bush's approval ratings continued to drop steadily throughout the rest of his term.

[edit] Nominations

[edit] Democratic Party nomination

[edit] Candidates gallery

[edit] Before the primaries

"Front-runner" status is dependent on the news agency reporting, and by October 2007, the consensus listed about three candidates as leading the pack after several debate performances. For example, CNN listed Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama as the Democratic front runners. The Washington Post listed Clinton, Edwards and Obama as the front-runners, "leading in polls and fundraising and well ahead of the other major candidates".[10] Clinton led in nearly all nationwide opinion polling until January.

Two candidates, Clinton and Obama, raised over $20 million in the first three months of 2007. Edwards raised over $12 million and Richardson raised over $6 million.[11] Hillary Clinton set the Democratic record for largest single day fund raising in a primary on June 30, 2007[12] while Barack Obama set the record for monthly fundraising during a primary with $55 million in February of 2008.[13]

[edit] Early primaries/caucuses

At the start of the year, support for Barack Obama began rising in the polls, passing Clinton for first place in Iowa; Obama ended up winning the caucus, with John Edwards coming in second and Clinton a close third. Iowa is viewed as the state that jump-started Obama's campaign and set him on track to win the nomination and the presidency.

Obama was the new front-runner in New Hampshire, and the Clinton campaign was struggling after a bad loss in Iowa and no real strategy in place for after the early primaries and caucuses. However, in a turning point for her campaign, Clinton's voice wavered with emotion in a public interview broadcast live on TV.[14] By the end of that day, Clinton won the primary by 2% of the vote, contrary to the predictions of pollsters who had her as much as twelve points behind on the day of the primary itself.

[edit] Super Tuesday

On February 3 on the UCLA campus, celebrities Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and Stevie Wonder, among others, made appearances to show support for Barack Obama in a rally led by Michelle Obama.[15] Obama trailed in the California polling by an average of 6.0%; he ended up losing the state by 8.3%.[16] Some analysts cited a large Latino turnout that voted for Clinton as the deciding factor.[17] Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, endorsed Obama.[18]

Barack Obama campaigns in Akron, Ohio on February 23, 2008

Super Tuesday occurred on February 5, 2008, during which the largest-ever number of simultaneous state primary elections was held.[19] Super Tuesday ended leaving the Democrats in a virtual tie, with Obama amounting 847 delegates to Clinton's 834 from the 23 states that held Democratic primaries.[20]

Louisiana, Washington, Nebraska, Hawaii, Wisconsin, U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia primaries and the Maine caucus all took place after Super Tuesday in February. Obama won all of them, giving him ten consecutive victories after Super Tuesday. [21][22]

[edit] Ohio and Texas

On March 4, Hillary Clinton carried Ohio and Rhode Island in the Democratic primaries; some considered these wins, especially Ohio, a surprise upset,[23] although she led in the polling averages in both states.[16][24] She also carried the primary in Texas, but Obama won the Texas caucuses held the same day and netted more delegates from the state than Clinton.[25]

Only one state held a primary in April. This was Pennsylvania, on April 22. Hillary Clinton won the primary by 9.2%, with approximately 54.6% of the vote.

[edit] Indiana and North Carolina

On May 6, North Carolina and Indiana held their Democratic presidential primaries. Clinton and Obama campaigned aggressively in both states before the voting took place; both candidates acknowledged the importance of these primaries and said they were turning point states.[26] Polling had shown Obama a few points ahead in North Carolina and Clinton similarly leading in Indiana.[27][28] However, in the actual results, Obama outperformed the polls by several points in both states, winning by a significant margin in North Carolina and losing by only 1.4% in Indiana. After these primaries, it became very improbable, if not virtually impossible, for Clinton to win the nomination; Indiana had barely kept her campaign alive for the next month.[29] Although she did manage to win the majority of the remaining primaries and delegates, it was not enough to overcome Obama's substantial delegate lead.

[edit] Florida and Michigan

During late 2007, both parties adopted rules against states' moving their primaries to an earlier date in the year. For the Republicans, the penalty for this violation was supposed to be the loss of half the state party's delegates to the convention; however, the Democratic penalty was the complete exclusion from the national convention of delegates from states that broke these rules. The Democratic Party allowed only four states to hold elections before February 5, 2008. Initially, the Democratic leadership said it would strip all delegates from Florida and Michigan, which had moved their primaries into January. In addition, all major Democratic candidates agreed officially not to campaign in Florida or Michigan, and Edwards and Obama removed their names from the Michigan ballot. Clinton won a majority of delegates from both states (though 40% voted uncommitted in Michigan) and subsequently led a fight to seat all the Florida and Michigan delegates.[30]

Political columnist Christopher Weber noted that while her action was self-serving, it was also pragmatic to forestall Florida or Michigan voters becoming so disaffected they did not vote for Democrats in the general election.[31] There was some speculation that the fight over the delegates could last until the convention in August. On May 31, 2008, the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic Party reached a compromise on the Florida and Michigan delegate situation. The committee decided to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida at the convention in August, but to only award each a half-vote.[32]

[edit] Clinching the nomination

Technically the nomination process for major political parties continues through June of election year. In previous cycles the candidates were effectively chosen by the end of the March primaries. However, Barack Obama did not win enough delegates to secure the nomination until June 3, after a 17-month-long campaign against Hillary Clinton. Obama had a wide lead in the number of states won, while Clinton had won majorities in several of the larger states. Because Democratic state delegate contests were decided by a form of proportional representation and popular vote numbers were close between Clinton and Obama, the contest for the nomination continued into June 2008.[33] By May, Clinton claimed a lead in the popular vote, but the Associated Press found her numbers accurate only in one close scenario.[34]

In June, after the last of the primaries had taken place, Obama secured the Democratic nomination for President, with the help of multiple super delegate endorsements. (Most of the super delegates had refused to cast their votes until the primaries were completed.)[35] He was the first African American to win the nomination of a major political party in the United States.[36] For several days, Clinton refused to concede the race, although she signaled her presidential campaign was ending in a post-primary speech on June 3 in her home state of New York.[37] She finally conceded the nomination to Obama on June 7. She pledged her full support to the presumptive nominee and vowed to do everything she could to help him get elected.[38]

[edit] Republican Party nomination

Not only was 2008 the first election since 1952 that neither the incumbent president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election, but it was also the first time since the 1928 election that neither sought his party's nomination for president. Since term limits absolutely prevented Bush from seeking the nomination and being a candidate, the unique aspect was vice-president Cheney's decision not to seek the Republican nomination.[39][40] This left the Republican field just as open to a wide field of new candidates as the Democratic field was.

[edit] Candidates gallery

[edit] Before the primaries

In the third quarter of 2007, the top four GOP (Republican) fund raisers were Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, and Ron Paul.[41] Paul set the GOP record for the largest online single day fund raising on November 5, 2007.[42] MSNBC's Chuck Todd christened Giuliani and John McCain the front runners after the second Republican presidential debate in early 2007.[43]

[edit] Early primaries/caucuses

Huckabee, after winning in Iowa, had little money and hoped for a third-place finish in New Hampshire. John McCain eventually displaced Rudy Giuliani and Romney as the front-runner in New Hampshire. McCain staged a turnaround victory, having been written off by the pundits and polling in single digits less than a month before the race.[44]

With the Republicans stripping Michigan and Florida of half their delegates, the race for the nomination was based there. McCain meanwhile managed a small victory in South Carolina, setting him up for a larger and more important victory in Florida soon afterward.

[edit] Super Tuesday

In February, before Super Tuesday, the California primary took place after John McCain was endorsed by Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani (who had dropped out of the race following the Florida primary). This gave him a significant boost in the state.[45]

A few days later, Mitt Romney suspended his presidential campaign and endorsed McCain, leaving Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul as the only major challengers of McCain in the remaining Republican primaries.[46] Louisiana, Washington, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Washington held primaries in February after Super Tuesday. Despite McCain picking up big victories, Huckabee won Louisiana and Kansas while McCain only barely carried the Washington caucuses over Huckabee and Paul who both amassed a large showing.[22] The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico closed February for the Republicans.

After Super Tuesday, John McCain had become the clear front runner, but by the end of February he still hadn't acquired enough delegates to secure the nomination. In March, John McCain clinched the Republican nomination after sweeping all four primaries, Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island, putting him over the top of the 1,191 delegates required to win the GOP nomination.[24] Mike Huckabee then conceded the race to McCain, leaving Ron Paul, who had just 16 delegates, as his only remaining active opponent.[47]

[edit] Other nominations

[edit] Party conventions

[edit] General election campaign

[edit] Campaign issues

[edit] Iraq

The unpopular war in Iraq was a key issue during the campaign before the economic crisis. John McCain supported the war while Barack Obama opposed it from the outset because there was no credible evidence that Iraq was tied to Al-Qaeda or the September 11, 2001 attacks it was responsible for.[48] The Bush Administration based its case to invade Iraq on the premise of ties between Al Qaeda and Iraq, claiming it was necessary to launch an immediate military strike for fear of Iraq possibly handing weapons of mass destruction off to Al Qaeda.[49][50] Though McCain meant it as a peacetime presence as the United States maintained in Germany and Japan after World War II[51], his statement that the United States could be in Iraq for as much as the next 50 to 100 years would prove costly as Obama used the statement against him as part of his strategy to tie him to the unpopular President Bush.

John McCain's support for the successful troop 'surge' employed by General David Petraeus, which was one of several factors credited with improving the security situation in Iraq, may have boosted McCain's stance on the issue in voters' minds. McCain (who supported the invasion) argued that his support for the successful surge showed his superior judgment, whereas Obama (who opposed the surge) argued that his opposition to the invasion that preceded the surge showed his. However, Obama was quick to remind voters that there would have been no need for a "surge" had there been no war at all, which he then used to question McCain's judgment as well.

[edit] Bush's unpopularity

Entering 2008, George W. Bush was very unpopular, with polls consistently showing his percent support from the American public in the twenties and thirties.[52][53] In March 2008, McCain was endorsed by Bush at the White House,[54] but Bush did not make a single appearance on McCain's behalf during the campaign. Although he supported the war in Iraq, McCain made an effort to show that he had disagreed with Bush on many other key issues such as climate change. During the entire general election campaign, Obama pointed out in ads and at numerous campaign rallies that McCain had claimed in an interview that he voted with Bush 90% of the time, and this was supported by the congressional voting records for the years Bush was in office.[55]

[edit] Change vs. experience

Barack Obama and John McCain.

Before even the first Democratic primaries, the dichotomy of change versus experience had already become a common theme in the presidential campaign, with Senator Hillary Clinton positioning herself as the candidate with experience and Obama embracing the characterization as the candidate most able to bring change to Washington. Before the official launch of her campaign, aides for Clinton were already planning to position her as the 'change' candidate, as strategist Mark Penn made clear in an October 2006 memo titled "The Plan."[56] In his presidential run announcement, Obama framed his candidacy by emphasizing that "Washington must change."[57] In response to this, Clinton adopted her experience as a major campaign theme. By early and mid-2007, polls regularly found voters identifying Clinton as the more experienced candidate and Obama as the "fresh" or "new" candidate.[58][59] Exit polls on Super Tuesday found that while Obama won voters who thought that the ability to bring change was the most important quality in a candidate, who made up a majority of the Democratic electorate, by a margin of about 2-1, Clinton was able to make up for this deficiency by an almost total domination among voters who thought experience was the most important quality.[60] These margins generally remained the same until Obama clinched the Democratic nomination on June 3.

John McCain quickly adopted similar campaign themes against Obama at the start of the general election campaign. Polls regularly found the general electorate as a whole divided more evenly between 'change' and 'experience' as candidate qualities than the Democratic primary electorate, which split in favor of 'change' by a nearly 2-1 margin.[61] Advantages for McCain and Obama on experience and the ability to bring change, respectively, remained steady through the November 4 election, although final pre-election polling found that voters considered Obama's inexperience less of an impediment than McCain's association with sitting President George W. Bush,[62] an association which was rhetorically framed by the Obama campaign throughout the election season as "more of the same".

McCain appeared to undercut his line of attack by picking first-term Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate.[63] Palin had been governor only since 2006, and prior to that had been a council member and mayor of Wasilla. Nonetheless, she excited much of the conservative base of the GOP with her speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention, a group that was initially lukewarm toward McCain's candidacy.[64] However, media interviews suggested that Palin lacked knowledge on certain key issues, and they cast doubt among many voters about her qualifications to be Vice President or President.[65] In addition, because of Palin's conservative views, there was also concern that, while she would bring conservatives to McCain, she would also alienate independents and moderates, two groups that pundits observed McCain would need to win the election.[66]

[edit] The economy

Polls taken in the last few months of the presidential campaign as well as exit polls conducted on election day showed the economy as the top concern for voters.[67][68] In the fall of 2008, many news sources were reporting that the economy was suffering its most serious downturn since the Great Depression.[69] During this period John McCain's election prospects fell with several politically costly comments about the economy.

On August 20, John McCain said in an interview with Politico that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, owned; "I think — I'll have my staff get to you."[70] Both on the stump and in Obama's political ad, "Seven", the gaffe was used to portray McCain as unable to relate to the concerns of ordinary Americans. This out-of-touch image was further cultivated when, on September 15, at a morning rally in Jacksonville, Florida, McCain declared that "the fundamentals of our economy are strong," despite what he described as "tremendous turmoil in our financial markets and Wall Street."[71] With the perception among voters to the contrary, the comment appeared to cost McCain politically.

On September 24, 2008, after the onset of the 2008 financial crisis, McCain announced that he was suspending his campaign to return to Washington to help craft a $700 billion bailout package for the troubled financial industry, and he stated that he would not debate Obama until Congress passed the bailout bill.[72] Despite this decision, McCain was portrayed as not playing a significant role in the negotiations for the first version of the bill, which fell short of passage in the House. He eventually decided to attend the first presidential debate on September 26, despite the bill going nowhere in Congress. His ineffectiveness in the negotiations and his reversal in decision to attend the debates was seized upon to portray McCain as erratic in his response to the economy. Days later, a second version of the original bailout bill was passed by both the House and Senate, with Obama, his vice presidential running mate Joe Biden, and McCain all voting for the measure.

All of the aforementioned remarks and campaign issues hurt McCain's standing with voters. All these also occurred after the economic crisis and after McCain's poll numbers had started to fall. Although soundbites of all of these "missteps" were played repeatedly on national television, most pundits and analysts agree that it was the actual financial crisis and economic conditions that caused McCain's large drop in support in mid-September and severely damaged his campaign.[73][74]

[edit] Presidential and vice-presidential debates

Four debates were announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates:[75]

  • September 26: The first presidential debate took place at the University of Mississippi. The central issues debated were supposed to be foreign policy and national security. However, due to the economic climate, some questions appeared on this topic. The debate was formatted into nine nine-minute segments, and the moderator (Jim Lehrer) introduced the topics.[76]
  • October 2: The vice-presidential debate was hosted at Washington University in St. Louis, and was moderated by Gwen Ifill of PBS.
  • October 7: The second presidential debate took place at Belmont University. It was a town meeting format debate moderated by NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, and addressed issues raised by members of the audience, particularly the economy.
  • October 15: The third and final presidential debate was hosted at Hofstra University. It focused on domestic and economic policy. Like the first presidential debate, it was formatted into a number of segments, with moderator Bob Schieffer introducing the topics.

Another debate was sponsored by the Columbia University political union and took place there on October 19. All candidates who could theoretically win the 270 electoral votes needed to win the election were invited, and Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney, and Chuck Baldwin agreed to attend. Amy Goodman, principal host of Democracy Now!, moderated. It was broadcast on cable by C-SPAN and on the Internet by Break-the-Matrix.[77][78]

[edit] Campaign costs

The reported cost of campaigning for President has increased significantly in recent years. One source reported that if the costs for both Democratic and Republican campaigns are added together (for the Presidential primary election, general election, and the political conventions) the costs have more than doubled in only eight years ($448.9 million in 1996, $649.5 million in 2000, and $1.01 billion in 2004).[79] In January 2007, Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael E. Toner estimated the 2008 race will be a $1 billion election, and that to be taken seriously, a candidate needed to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007.[80]

Although he had said he would not be running for president, published reports indicated that billionaire and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg had been considering a presidential bid as an independent with up to $1 billion of his own fortune to finance it.[81] Bloomberg ultimately ended this speculation by unequivocally stating that he would not run.[82] Had Bloomberg decided to run, he would not have needed to campaign in the primary elections or participate in the conventions, greatly reducing both the necessary length and cost of his campaign, but perhaps also its exposure.

With the increase in money, the public financing system funded by the presidential election campaign fund checkoff has not been used by many candidates. John McCain,[83] Tom Tancredo,[84] John Edwards,[85] Chris Dodd,[86] and Joe Biden[87] qualified for and elected to take public funds in the primary. Other major candidates eschewed the low amount of spending permitted, or gave other reasons as in the case of Barack Obama, and chose not to participate.

[edit] Internet campaigns

Howard Dean collected large contributions via the internet in his 2004 primary run. In 2008 candidates went even further to reach out to Internet users through their own sites and such sites as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.[88][89]

Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama created a broad grassroots movement and a new method of campaigning by courting and mobilizing activists, donations and voters through the Internet. It was part of a campaign that mobilized grassroots workers in every state. Obama also set fundraising records in more than one month by gaining support from a record-breaking number of individual small donors.[90]

On December 16, 2007, Ron Paul collected $6 million, more money on a single day through Internet donations than any presidential candidate in US history.[91]

Anonymous and semi-anonymous smear campaigns traditionally done with fliers and push calling also spread to the Internet.[92] Organizations specializing in the production and distribution of viral material, such as Brave New Films, emerged; such organizations have been said to be having a growing influence on American politics.[93]

[edit] General Campaign Expense Summary

According to required campaign filings as reported by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), a total of 148 candidates for all parties raised a collective total of $1,644,712,232 and spent $1,601,104,696 for the primary and general campaigns combined through November 24, 2008. The amounts raised and spent by the major candidates, according to the same source, were as follows:

Candidate (Party) Amount raised Amount spent Votes Average spent per vote
Barack Obama (D) $532,946,511 $513,557,218 69,456,897 $7.39 per vote
John McCain (R) $379,006,485 $346,666,422 59,934,814 $5.78
Ralph Nader (I) $4,496,180 $4,187,628 738,475 $5.67
Bob Barr (L) $1,383,681 $1,345,202 523,686 $2.57
Chuck Baldwin (C) $261,673 $234,309 199,314 $1.18
Cynthia McKinney (G) $240,130 $238,968 161,603 $1.48
Excludes spending by independent expenditure concerns.
Source: Federal Election Commission[94]

[edit] Election controversies

A number of pre-election controversies in the 2008 United States presidential election revolved around challenges to voter registration lists, involving techniques such as caging lists alleged to constitute voter suppression.

Allegations of voter list purges using unlawful criteria caused controversy in at least six swing states: Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina.[95] On October 5, 2008 the Republican Lt. Governor of Montana, John Bohlinger, accused the Montana Republican Party of vote caging to purge 6,000 voters from three counties which trend Democratic.[96] Allegations arose in Michigan that the Republican Party planned to challenge the eligibility of voters based on lists of foreclosed homes.[97] The campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama filed a lawsuit challenging this. The House Judiciary Committee wrote to the Department of Justice requesting an investigation.[98]

Virginia election authorities were ordered by a federal judge to preserve late-arriving absentee ballots sent by active-duty military personnel following a suit by the McCain campaign. It alleged that the state sent absentee ballots late to servicemen.[99] According to federal law, absentee ballots must be mailed to troops in foreign countries at least 45 days prior to an election. The charge against Virginia was that the ballots were not printed until after the deadline and therefore were mailed late to soldiers abroad.[100]

Libertarian candidate Bob Barr filed a lawsuit in Texas to have Obama and McCain removed from the ballot in that state.[101] His campaign alleged that both the candidates had missed the August 26 deadline to file, and were present on the ballot contrary to Texas election law. Neither candidates at the time of the deadline had been confirmed as the candidate for their respective parties. The Texas Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit without explanation.[102]

Significant criticism was leveled at media outlets' coverage of the presidential election season. At the February debate, Tim Russert of NBC News was criticized for what some perceived as disproportionately tough questioning of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton.[103] Among the questions, Russert had asked Clinton, but not Obama, to provide the name of the new Russian President (Dmitry Medvedev).[103] This was later parodied on Saturday Night Live. In October 2007, liberal commentators accused Russert of harassing Clinton over the issue of supporting drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants.[104]

On April 16 ABC News hosted a debate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Moderators Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos were criticized by viewers, bloggers and media critics for the poor quality of their questions.[103][104] Many viewers said they considered some of the questions irrelevant when measured against the importance of the faltering economy or the Iraq war. Included in that category were continued questions about Obama’s former pastor, Senator Hillary Clinton’s assertion that she had to duck sniper fire in Bosnia more than a decade ago, and Senator Obama's not wearing an American flag pin.[103] The moderators focused on campaign gaffes and some believed they focused too much on Obama.[104] Stephanopoulos defended their performance, saying "Senator Obama was the front-runner" and the questions were "not inappropriate or irrelevant at all."[103][104]

In an op-ed published on 2008 April 27 in The New York Times, Elizabeth Edwards bemoaned that the media covered much more of "the rancor of the campaign" and "amount of money spent" than "the candidates' priorities, policies and principles."[105] Author Erica Jong commented that "our press has become a sea of triviality, meanness and irrelevant chatter."[106]

The Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy conducted a study of 5,374 media narratives and assertions about the presidential candidates from 2008 January 1 through 2008 March 9. The study found that Obama and Clinton received 69 percent and 67 percent favorable coverage, respectively, compared to only 43 percent favorable media coverage of McCain [107] although another study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University found the media coverage of Obama to be 72% negative from June 8 to July 21 compared to 57% negative fo McCain.[108] An October 29 study found 29 percent of stories about Obama to be negative, compared to 57 percent of stories about McCain being negative. [109]

A 2008 October 22 Pew Research Center poll estimated 70 percent of registered voters believed journalists wanted Barack Obama to win the election, as opposed to 9 percent for John McCain.[110]

Despite controversy during the campaign, a post-election Pew research survey found that 67% of voters thought that the press fairly covered Obama, versus 30% who viewed the coverage as unfair. Regarding McCain, 53% of voters viewed his press coverage as fair versus 44% who characterized it as unfair. Among affiliated Democrats, 83% believed the press fairly covered Obama; just 22% of Republicans thought the press was fair to McCain. In a post-election survey in 2004, after Republican George W. Bush won the presidency, 40% of Republicans thought the press was fair to Bush, and 67% of Democrats believed it was fair to Democratic challenger John Kerry. [111]

[edit] Election results

Final poll closing times on Election Day.      7PM EST [00:00 UTC] (6)      7:30PM EST [00:30 UTC] (3)      8PM EST [01:00 UTC] (15+DC)      8:30PM EST [01:30 UTC] (1)      9PM EST [02:00 UTC] (15)      10PM EST [03:00 UTC] (4)      11PM EST [04:00 UTC] (5)      1AM EST [06:00 UTC] (1)

[edit] Election Day

November 4, 2008 was Election Day in 49 states and the District of Columbia; it was the last of 21 consecutive election days in Oregon, which abolished the voting booth in 1998. The majority of states allowed early voting with all states allowing some form of absentee voting.[112] Voters cast votes for listed presidential candidates but were actually selecting their state's slate of Electoral College members.

A McCain victory quickly became improbable as Obama amassed early wins in the Northeast, and the critical swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania by 9:20 PM.[113] He also won the entire Northeast by comfortable margins, and the Great Lakes states of Michigan and Wisconsin, and neighboring Minnesota by double digits. After Ohio was called for Obama, the chances of a McCain victory became slim, but he managed to hold on to traditionally Republican states like North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota and swept all the tradionally Republican Deep South states, including Georgia, which had been seriously contested by the Democrats for the first time since 1996. McCain also won George W. Bush's home state of Texas, but the results there were closer than many expected. Obama won the hotly contested states of Iowa and New Mexico, which Al Gore had won in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2004. CNN and Fox News called Virginia for Obama shortly before 11pm, leaving him only 50 electoral votes shy of victory with the six west coast states (California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii) still voting. All American networks called the election in favor of Barack Obama at 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time as the polls closed on the West Coast. Obama was immediately declared the winner in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii, McCain won Idaho, and the Electoral College totals were updated to 297 for Obama and 146 for McCain (270 are needed to win). Senator McCain gave a concession speech about half an hour later. President-elect Barack Obama appeared at midnight Eastern time, November 5, in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, in front of a crowd of 250,000 people to deliver his acceptance speech.[114]

Cartogram of the Electoral Votes for 2008 U.S. Presidential Election with each square representing one electoral vote. The map shows the impact of winning swing states. Nebraska, being one of two states that are not winner-take-all, for the first time had its votes split, with NE-2 projected for Obama and the rest of the state for McCain.

Following Obama's speech, spontaneous street parties broke out in major cities across the United States including New York City, Miami, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Detroit, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C.,San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Madison, Wisconsin, and Philadelphia. [115] and around the world in London; Bonn; Berlin; Obama, Japan; Toronto; Rio de Janeiro; Sydney; and Nairobi, Kenya.[116]

Later on election night, after Obama was named the President-elect, he picked up several more wins in swing states in which the polls had shown a close race. These included Florida, Indiana, Virginia, and the western states of Colorado and Nevada. All of these states had been carried by George Bush in 2004. However, North Carolina and the bellwether state of Missouri remained undecided for several days. Eventually, Obama won North Carolina, and McCain won Missouri, with Obama pulling out a rare win in Nebraska's 2nd congressional district. This put the total projected electoral vote count at 365 for Obama and 173 for McCain. Obama was able to win 12 of the 15 most populous states, losing only in Georgia, McCain's home state of Arizona and Texas. His victories in the populous swing states of Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina contributed to his decisive win. The presidential electors cast their ballots for President and Vice President, and these votes were tallied by Congress on January 8, 2009.

[edit] Grand total

Popular vote totals are from the official final state tallies as detailed in the state-by-state "Popular vote" table below. The electoral vote totals were certified by Congress on January 8, 2009.[117]

Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
Barack Obama Democratic Illinois 69,456,897 52.92% 365 Joe Biden Delaware 365
John McCain Republican Arizona 59,934,814 45.66% 173 Sarah Palin Alaska 173
Ralph Nader Independent Connecticut 738,475 0.56% 0 Matt Gonzalez California 0
Bob Barr Libertarian Georgia 523,686 0.40% 0 Wayne Allyn Root Nevada 0
Chuck Baldwin Constitution Florida 199,314 0.15% 0 Darrell Castle Tennessee 0
Cynthia McKinney Green California 161,603 0.12% 0 Rosa Clemente North Carolina 0
Other 226,908 0.17% Other
Total 131,257,328 100% 538 538
Needed to win 270 270

[edit] Turnout

The voter turnout for this election was broadly predicted to be very high by American standards,[118] and a record number of votes were cast. The final tally of total votes counted was 131.2 million, compared to 122.3 million in 2004 (which also boasted the highest record since 1968, after which the voting age was lowered to 18). Expressed as a percentage of eligible voters, 131.2 million votes could reflect a turnout as high as 63.0% of eligible voters, which would be the highest since 1960.[119][120] This 63.0% turnout rate is based on an estimated eligible voter population of 208,323,000. Another estimate puts the eligible voter population at 212,720,027, resulting in a turnout rate of 61.7%, which would be the highest turnout rate since 1968.[121]

American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate released a report on November 6, 2008, two days after the election, which concluded that the anticipated increase in turnout had failed to materialize.[119] That report was the basis for a number of news articles indicating that voter turnout failed to meet expectations.[122][123] However, the actual turnout of 131.2 million voters in the presidential election surpassed the American University report's preliminary estimate of 126.5 to 128.5 million voters by a factor of between 2% and 4%. Expressed as a percentage of the increase in voter turnout, the American University report underestimated the increase by 33-56%.

African American turnout increased from 11.1% of the electorate in 2004 to 13.0% in 2008.[124] According to exit polls, over 95% of African Americans voted for Barack Obama. This played a critical role in southern states such as North Carolina. 95% of North Carolina's registered African American voters turned out, as opposed to 69% of North Carolinians in general, with Obama carrying an unprecedented 100% of African American females and African Americans age 18 to 29, according to exit polling.[125] This was the case in Virginia as well where much higher turnout among African Americans propelled Obama to victory in the former Republican stronghold.[citation needed] Even in southern states where Obama was unsuccessful, such as Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi, due to large African American turnout he was much more competitive than John Kerry in 2004.[citation needed]

[edit] Popular vote

[edit] Results by state

This table records the official final state election board tallies for those presidential candidates who were listed on ballots in enough states to have a theoretical chance for a majority in the Electoral College. The first two columns contain the state name and its number of electors. Bold indicates statewide vote count winner in each state as well as winners in each electoral district of Maine and Nebraska, the only two states that apportion electoral votes by district. State popular vote results are from the official Federal Election Commission report.

States/districts won by Obama/Biden
States/districts won by McCain/Palin
State Electors Obama McCain Nader Barr Baldwin McKinney Others
Alabama 9 813,479 1,266,546 6,788 4,991 4,310 3,705
Alaska 3 123,594 193,841 3,783 1,589 1,660 1,730
Arizona 10 1,034,707 1,230,111 11,301 12,555 1,371 3,406 24
Arkansas 6 422,310 638,017 12,882 4,776 4,023 3,470 1,139
California 55 8,274,473 5,011,781 108,381 67,582 3,145 38,774 57,764
Colorado 9 1,288,576 1,073,589 13,350 10,897 6,233 2,822 5,894
Connecticut 7 997,772 629,428 19,162 311 90 29
Delaware 3 255,459 152,374 2,401 1,109 626 385 58
District of Columbia 3 245,800 17,367 958 590 1,138
Florida 27 4,282,074 4,045,624 28,124 17,218 7,915 2,887 6,902
Georgia 15 1,844,137 2,048,744 1,120 28,812 1,314 250 62
Hawaii 4 325,871 120,566 3,825 1,314 1,013 979
Idaho 4 236,440 403,012 7,175 4,747 3,658
Illinois 21 3,419,673 2,031,527 30,952 19,645 8,256 11,838 1,160
Indiana 11 1,374,039 1,345,648 909 29,257 1,024 87 90
Iowa 7 828,940 682,379 8,014 4,590 4,445 1,423 7,332
Kansas 6 514,765 699,655 10,527 6,706 4,148 35 36
Kentucky 8 751,985 1,048,462 15,378 5,989 4,694
Louisiana 9 782,989 1,148,275 6,997 2,581 9,187 10,732
Maine 2* 421,923 295,273 10,636 251 177 2,900 431
ME 1st Dist. 1 232,145 144,604 5,263 1,362 252
ME 2nd Dist. 1 189,778 150,669 5,373 1,538 179
Maryland 10 1,629,467 959,862 14,713 9,842 3,760 4,747 9,205
Massachusetts 12 1,904,097 1,108,854 28,841 13,189 4,971 6,550 14,483
Michigan 17 2,872,579 2,048,639 33,085 23,716 14,685 8,892 170
Minnesota 10 1,573,354 1,275,409 30,152 9,174 6,787 5,174 10,319
Mississippi 6 554,662 724,597 4,011 2,529 2,551 1,034 481
Missouri 11 1,441,911 1,445,814 17,813 11,386 8,201 80
Montana 3 231,667 242,763 3,686 1,355 143 23 10,638
Nebraska 2* 333,319 452,979 5,406 2,740 2,972 1,028 2,837
NE 1st Dist. 1 121,468 148,179 1,970 929 1,019 393
NE 2nd Dist. 1 138,752 135,439 1,621 1,007 604 321
NE 3rd Dist. 1 73,099 169,361 1,815 804 1,349 314
Nevada 5 533,736 412,827 6,150 4,263 3,194 1,411 6,267
New Hampshire 4 384,826 316,534 3,503 2,217 226 40 3,624
New Jersey 15 2,215,422 1,613,207 21,298 8,441 3,956 3,636 2,277
New Mexico 5 472,422 346,832 5,327 2,428 1,597 1,552
New York 31 4,769,700 2,742,298 41,086 19,513 614 12,729 8,873
North Carolina 15 2,142,651 2,128,474 1,448 25,722 158 13,942
North Dakota 3 141,278 168,601 4,189 1,354 1,199
Ohio 20 2,933,388 2,674,491 42,288 19,888 12,550 8,513 7,142
Oklahoma 7 502,496 960,165
Oregon 7 1,037,291 738,475 18,614 7,635 7,693 4,543 13,613
Pennsylvania 21 3,276,363 2,655,885 42,977 19,912 1,092
Rhode Island 4 296,571 165,391 4,829 1,382 675 797 122
South Carolina 8 862,449 1,034,896 5,053 7,283 6,827 4,461
South Dakota 3 170,924 203,054 4,267 1,835 1,895
Tennessee 11 1,087,437 1,479,178 11,560 8,547 8,191 2,499 2,337
Texas 34 3,528,633 4,479,328 5,440 56,116 5,395 831 2,781
Utah 5 327,670 596,030 8,416 6,966 12,012 982 294
Vermont 3 219,262 98,974 3,339 1,067 500 66 1,904
Virginia 13 1,959,532 1,725,005 11,483 11,067 7,474 2,344 6,355
Washington 11 1,750,848 1,229,216 29,489 12,728 9,432 3,819 1,346
West Virginia 5 303,857 397,466 7,219 2,465 2,355 89
Wisconsin 10 1,677,211 1,262,393 17,605 8,858 5,072 4,216 8,062
Wyoming 3 82,868 164,958 2,525 1,594 1,192 1,521
U.S. Total 538 69,456,897 59,934,814 738,475 523,686 199,314 161,603 226,908

[edit] Interpretive maps

[edit] Close states/districts

States/districts in the 2008 United States Presidential election where the margin of victory was less than 5%. Blue states/districts went for Obama, red for McCain. Yellow states were won by either candidate by 5% or more. Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia and Iowa were won by Bush in 2004 but were won by Obama by a margin of more than 5% in 2008.

Red font color denotes states won by Republican John McCain; blue denotes those won by Democrat Barack Obama.

States/districts where the margin of victory was under 5% (88 electoral votes):

  1. Missouri 0.13%
  2. North Carolina 0.33%
  3. Indiana 1.04%
  4. Nebraska's 2nd congressional district 1.19%
  5. Montana 2.26%
  6. Florida 2.82%
  7. Ohio 4.54%

States/districts where the margin of victory was between 5% and 10% (73 electoral votes):

  1. Georgia 5.21%
  2. Virginia 6.30%
  3. South Dakota 8.41%
  4. Arizona 8.52%
  5. North Dakota 8.63%
  6. Colorado 8.95%
  7. South Carolina 8.98%
  8. Iowa 9.54%
  9. New Hampshire 9.61%
  10. Nebraska's 1st congressional district 9.75%

[edit] Voter demographics

The following statistics are based on a nationwide exit poll taken on November 4.[127]

Size Obama McCain Other
Democratic 39% 89% 10% 1%
Independent 29% 52% 44% 4%
Republican 32% 10% 89% 1%
Liberal 22% 89% 10% 1%
Moderate 44% 60% 39% 1%
Conservative 34% 20% 78% 2%
Black 13% 95% 4% 1%
Hispanic 9% 67% 31% 2%
White 74% 43% 55% 2%
Asian 2% 62% 35% 3%
Other 3% 66% 31% 3%
Female 53% 56% 43% 1%
Male 47% 49% 48% 3%
Protestant 54% 45% 54% 1%
Catholic 27% 54% 45% 1%
Jewish 2% 78% 21% 1%
Other 6% 73% 22% 5%
None 12% 75% 23% 2%
Military Background
Yes 15% 44% 54% 2%
No 85% 54% 44% 2%
Family Income
Less than $15,000 6% 73% 25% 2%
$15,000–$29,999 12% 60% 37% 3%
$30,000-$49,999 19% 55% 43% 2%
$50,000-$74,999 21% 48% 49% 3%
$75,000-$99,999 15% 51% 48% 1%
$100,000-$149,999 14% 48% 51% 1%
$150,000-$199,999 6% 48% 50% 2%
Greater than $200,000 6% 52% 46% 2%
No High School 4% 63% 35% 2%
H.S. Graduate 20% 52% 46% 2%
Some College 31% 51% 47% 2%
College Graduate 28% 50% 48% 2%
Postgraduate Study 17% 58% 40% 2%
Union Membership
Union Member 12% 59% 39% 3%
Non-Union Member 88% 51% 47% 2%
18–29 years old 18% 66% 32% 2%
30-44 years old 29% 52% 46% 2%
45–64 years old 37% 50% 49% 1%
65 years or older 16% 45% 53% 2%
Northeast 21% 59% 40% 1%
South 32% 45% 54% 1%
Midwest 24% 54% 44% 2%
West 23% 57% 40% 3%
Sexual Orientation
Heterosexual 96% 53% 45% 2%
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual 4% 70% 27% 3%
Gun Ownership
Gun Owner in Household 42% 37% 62% 1%
No Gun Owner in Household 58% 65% 33% 2%
Bush Approval
Approve 27% 10% 89% 1%
Disapprove 71% 67% 31% 2%

[edit] Ballot access

Presidential ticket Party Ballot access[128] Votes
Obama / Biden Democratic 50+DC 69,456,897
McCain / Palin Republican 50+DC 59,934,814
Nader / Gonzalez Independent 45+DC 736,804
Barr / Root Libertarian 45 524,524
Baldwin / Castle Constitution 37 196,461
McKinney / Clemente Green 32 161,195
Others - total (see below) 226,908

No other candidate had ballot access in enough states to win 270 electoral votes, although Brian Moore (Socialist) had a theoretical chance, through write-in status, of winning 308 electors.

The following nine candidates (and/or parties) had ballot listing and/or write-in status in more than one state:[129]

  • Alan Keyes (America's Independent Party) received 47,768 votes; listed in three states: Colorado and Florida, plus California (listed as American Independent), and also had write-in status in Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, and Utah.
  • Ron Paul received 41,905 votes; listed in Louisiana (Louisiana Taxpayers) and in Montana (Constitution), with write-in status in California.
  • Roger Calero (Socialist Workers Party) received 7,561 votes; listed in ten states. He was listed by name in Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. James Harris was listed as his stand-in in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, and Washington, and also had write-in status in California.
  • Brian Moore (Socialist) received 7,315 votes; listed in eight states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin, as well as Tennessee (independent) and Vermont (Liberty Union). He also filed for write-in status in 17 other states: Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming.
  • Gloria La Riva (Party for Socialism and Liberation) received 6,808 votes[130] nationally; listed in 12 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • Charles Jay (Boston Tea Party) received 2,420 votes; listed in Colorado and Florida, and in Tennessee (as independent), with write-in status in Arizona, Montana, and Utah.
  • Tom Stevens (Objectivist) received 755 votes; listed in Colorado and Florida.
  • Gene Amondson (Prohibition) received 653 votes; listed in Colorado, Florida, and Louisiana.
  • Jonathan Allen (HeartQuake) received 483 votes; listed only in Colorado, with write-in status in Arizona, Georgia, Montana, Texas, and other states.

The following candidates (parties) were listed on ballot in only one state:

  • Richard Duncan (Independent) - Ohio; 3,902 votes.
  • John Joseph Polachek (New Party) Illinois; 1,149 votes.
  • Frank McEnulty (New American Independent) - Colorado (listed as unaffiliated); 828 votes.
  • Jeffrey Wamboldt (We the People) - Wisconsin; 764 votes.
  • Jeffrey Boss (Vote Here Party) - New Jersey; 639 votes.
  • George Phillies - New Hampshire (also listed with the label Libertarian); 522 votes.
  • Ted Weill (Reform) - Mississippi; 481 votes.
  • Bradford Lyttle (U.S. Pacifist) - Colorado; 110 votes.

In Nevada, 6,251 votes were cast for "None Of These Candidates" [131]. In the three states that officially keep track of "blank" votes for President, 103,193 votes were recorded as "blank".[132] More than 100,000 write-in votes were cast and recorded for a scattering of other candidates, including 62 votes for "Santa Claus" (in ten states) and 11 votes for "Mickey Mouse"(in five states). [133]

[edit] Analysis

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is the first president to be born outside the continental United States. He is also the third president from Illinois, the first two being Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.[134] (Ronald Reagan was born in Illinois, but when elected had been in California for decades, where he was a former governor). Obama, having a white mother and Kenyan father of the Luo ethnic group,[135] became the first African American and the first bi-racial president.

For the first time in history, both major party nominees were sitting United States Senators: Republican candidate John McCain (Arizona) and Democratic candidate Barack Obama (Illinois).[136] The 2008 election marked the first time since the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 that a sitting Senator was elected President of the United States, and the third time in American history (Warren G. Harding in 1920 was the first). It was also the second time in American history, after the election of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960, that both the successful presidential and vice-presidential candidates (Barack Obama and Joe Biden) were sitting Senators. Obama was the first Northern Democrat elected to the presidency since John F. Kennedy in 1960. Also, the Obama-Biden ticket was the first winning Democratic ticket consisting of two northerners since FDR and Henry A. Wallace in 1940. With their victory, Biden, a United States Senator from January 3, 1973 to January 15, 2009, became the longest-serving senator in history to become Vice President. Biden also became the first man since Lyndon Johnson in 1960 to be elected Vice President while also being reelected to the Senate, easily defeating Republican Christine O'Donnell to win his seventh term.

The 2008 election was the first since 1952 in which neither the incumbent president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election and the first since the 1928 election that neither sought his party's nomination for president.[39][40]

Barack Obama and John McCain are nearly 25 years apart in age. This is the largest age disparity between the two major party presidential candidates in history, surpassing Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, (23 years apart in age) who ran against each other in the 1996 presidential election. On January 20, 2009, Obama was inaugurated to the presidency at the age of 47 years 138 days. He is the fourth youngest man to be elected president, after John Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Ulysses Grant, and the fifth youngest president when inaugurated, after Kennedy, Clinton, Grant, and Theodore Roosevelt.

Swing by state. States are listed by (increasing) percentage of Democratic votes, showing how the share of the vote changed between 2004 and 2008. Five states trended more Republican, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and West Virginia (though the latter three by very small amounts).

Prior to the election, commentators discussed whether Senator Obama would be able to redraw the electoral map by winning states that had been voting for Republican candidates in recent decades.[137] In many ways, he was successful. He won every region of the country by double digits except the South, which John McCain won by less than double digits (9 points). Obama won Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, and Virginia in the South (region as defined by the US Census Bureau). The Republicans "took the South only because McCain, who ran roughly even with Obama among whites in every other region, won Southern whites by 38 percentage points."[138] Obama also defied some political bellwethers, becoming the first person to win the presidency while losing Missouri since 1956. He was the first Democrat to win the presidency without winning West Virginia since 1916. He was also the first Democrat to win without Arkansas since the advent of the Democratic Party, and the first person of either party to win without Arkansas or Louisiana since 1968, as well as Tennessee and Kentucky since 1960. Obama became the first ever Democrat to lose the state of Ohio in a primary but to go on and win in the general election.[citation needed] Obama's victories in Indiana and Virginia were also noteworthy. Both states voted for the Democratic nominee for the first time since 1964. Obama was also the first Democrat to win the state of North Carolina since 1976. Although Obama did not win other normally Republican states such as Georgia and Montana (which were won by Bill Clinton in 1992), he nonetheless was competitive in both. He lost Montana by just under 3% and Georgia by slightly more than 5%.

Obama was the first presidential candidate to split the electoral votes from Nebraska. Together with Maine, which has not yet split its electoral votes, Nebraska is one of two states that split their electoral votes, two going to the statewide popular vote winner and the rest going to the winner of each respective congressional district (Nebraska has three, and Maine has two). Obama won the electoral vote from Nebraska's 2nd congressional district which contains the city of Omaha. Nebraska's other four electoral votes went to John McCain.

Obama's raw popular vote margin of victory (approximately 9.5 million votes) was the largest ever for a non-incumbent presidential candidate, and the sixth largest margin of victory ever. Obama's popular vote percentage (52.9%) is also the highest for a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and the highest overall since George H. W. Bush was elected president in 1988. He also received more votes than any presidential candidate in American history, breaking the previous record of just over 62 million, held by President George W. Bush after his successful reelection bid in 2004. Meanwhile, John McCain set the record for the most votes received by a losing presidential candidate with slightly less than 60 million votes, beating the record of just over 59 million set by John Kerry.

Also notably, Barack Obama won all of the 2004 swing states (states that either Kerry or Bush won by less than 5%) by a margin of 9 percent or more with the exception of Ohio, which the Democrat carried by 4.5 percent.

It was observed that this election exhibited the continuation of some of the polarization trends evident in the 2000 and 2004 elections.[139] McCain won whites by 12 points, while Obama won blacks by 91 points, Hispanics by 36 points, and Asians by 27 points. Voters aged 18-29 voted for Obama by 66-32 percent while elderly voters backed McCain 53-45 percent.[140] However, from 2004, Obama improved on John Kerry's support among all race and age groups.

[edit] International reaction

The American presidential election was followed closely internationally. When it was clear that Obama was victorious, many world leaders sent congratulations and well-wishes to the President-elect.

[edit] Opinion polling

[edit] See also

[edit] Other elections

[edit] References

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