United States presidential election, 2008
Encyclopedia
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, defeated Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

. Obama received 365 electoral votes, and McCain 173. The popular vote was 69,456,897 to 59,934,814, respectively.

During the presidential election campaign, the major-party candidates ran on a platform of change and reform in Washington. Domestic policy
Domestic policy
Domestic policy, also known as public policy, presents decisions, laws, and programs made by the government which are directly related to all issues and activity within the country....

 and the economy eventually emerged as the main themes in the last few months of the election campaign after the onset of the 2008 economic crisis.

There were several unique aspects of the 2008 election. The election was the first in which an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 was elected President, as well as the first presidential election in which an African American was nominated by a major party for the office of president. It was the first time two sitting senators ran against each other. The 2008 election was the first in 56 years in which neither an incumbent president nor a vice president ran—President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 was constitutionally limited from seeking a third term by the Twenty-second Amendment
Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-second Amendment of the United States Constitution sets a term limit for the President of the United States. The Congress passed the amendment on March 21, 1947...

; Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 chose not to seek the presidency. It was also the first time the Republican Party nominated a woman for Vice President (Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

, then-Governor of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

), and the second time a major party did so. The first time a major party nominated a woman for Vice President was when the Democratic Party nominated Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Anne Ferraro was an American attorney, a Democratic Party politician, and a member of the United States House of Representatives. She was the first female Vice Presidential candidate representing a major American political party....

 for that office in 1984
United States presidential election, 1984
The United States presidential election of 1984 was a contest between the incumbent President Ronald Reagan, the Republican candidate, and former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate. Reagan was helped by a strong economic recovery from the deep recession of 1981–1982...

. Additionally, it was the first election in which both major parties nominated candidates who were born outside of the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

. Voter turnout for the 2008 election was the highest in at least 40 years and Obama received the most votes for a presidential candidate in American history.

Nine states changed allegiance from the 2004 election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. 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
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 and the District of Columbia voted for President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 and Vice President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 on December 15, 2008. Those votes were tallied before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 2009.

Along with the Democratic and Republican parties, three other parties nominated candidates with ballot access in enough states to theoretically win the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. These were the Constitution Party
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

, the Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

, and the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

. In addition, independent candidate Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

 ran his own campaign.

Background

In 2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

, President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 won reelection
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

, defeating the Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 nominee, Senator John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

. After Republican pickups in the House and Senate
United States Senate elections, 2004
The United States Senate election, 2004 was an election for one-third of the seats in the United States Senate which coincided with the re-election of George W. Bush as president and the United States House election, as well as many state and local elections. Senators who were elected in 1998,...

 in the 2004 elections, Republicans maintained control of 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, and they were barely 50% by his reelection. Although Bush was reelected with a larger Electoral College margin than in 2000
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

, during his second term, Bush's approval rating dropped more quickly, with the Iraq War and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 in 2005 being most detrimental to the public's perception of his job performance.

By September 2006, Bush's approval rating was below 40%, and in the November 2006 Congressional elections
United States general elections, 2006
The 2006 United States midterm elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. All United States House of Representatives seats and one third of the United States Senate seats were contested in this election, as well as 36 state governorships, many state legislatures, four territorial...

, Democrats gained the majority in both houses. Bush's approval ratings continued to drop steadily throughout the rest of his term.

Nominations

In the United States, there are two major political parties
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

, the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 and the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

. There are also several minor parties, usually called third parties, who have not won a presidential election since 1848
United States presidential election, 1848
The United States presidential election of 1848 was an open race. President James K. Polk, having achieved all of his major objectives in one term and suffering from declining health that would take his life less than four months after leaving office, kept his promise not to seek re-election.The...

 (Lincoln's National Union Party
National Union Party (United States)
The National Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election, held during the Civil War. State Republican parties did not usually change their name....

, which won in 1864
United States presidential election, 1864
In the United States Presidential election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president. The election was held during the Civil War. Lincoln ran under the National Union ticket against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top general. McClellan ran as the "peace candidate",...

, was a short-lived coalition of Republicans and Northern Democrats rather than an independent party), although in 1912
United States presidential election, 1912
The United States presidential election of 1912 was a rare four-way contest. Incumbent President William Howard Taft was renominated by the Republican Party with the support of its conservative wing. After former President Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, he called...

 former President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, as candidate of the Progressive Party
Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
The Progressive Party of 1912 was an American political party. It was formed after a split in the Republican Party between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt....

 came in second by a wide margin. Most media and public focus is on the two major parties.

Each party hosts candidates who go through a nomination process to determine the presidential nominee
Presidential nominee
In United States politics and government, the term presidential nominee has two distinct meanings.The first is the person chosen by the primary voters and caucus-goers of a political party to be the party's nominee for President of the United States...

 for that party. The nomination process consists of primaries
United States presidential primary
The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events run by the political parties...

 and caucuses, held by the 50 states, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

, and the Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines...

. The winner of each of these primary elections usually receives delegates proportional to the percentage of the popular vote that candidate received in each states. In many Republican primaries, all the state's delegates are awarded to the winning candidate. In the Democratic Party, high-ranking party members known as superdelegate
Superdelegate
"Superdelegate" is an informal term commonly used for some of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the presidential nominating convention of the United States Democratic Party....

s each receive one vote in the convention. Whichever candidate has the majority of the delegates at the end of the primary elections is designated the presumptive nominee
Presumptive nominee
In politics, the presumptive nominee is a political candidate who is all but assured of his or her party's nomination, but has not yet been formally nominated...

 until he or she is formally nominated and endorsed for the presidency by his or her political party. This is done by the aforementioned delegates for each party.

Democratic Party nomination

Candidates

  • Barack Obama
    Barack Obama
    Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

    , U.S. Senator from Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

  • Hillary Clinton
    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

    , U.S. Senator from New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

  • John Edwards
    John Edwards
    Johnny Reid "John" Edwards is an American politician, who served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004, and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008.He defeated incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth in...

    , former U.S. Senator from North Carolina
    North Carolina
    North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

  • Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

  • Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis John Kucinich is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1997. He was furthermore a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections....

    , U.S. Representative from Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

    , U.S. Senator from Delaware
    Delaware
    Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

  • Mike Gravel
    Mike Gravel
    Maurice Robert "Mike" Gravel is a former Democratic United States Senator from Alaska, who served two terms from 1969 to 1981, and a former candidate in the 2008 presidential election....

    , former U.S. Senator from Alaska
    Alaska
    Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

  • Christopher Dodd
    Christopher Dodd
    Christopher John "Chris" Dodd is an American lawyer, lobbyist, and Democratic Party politician who served as a United States Senator from Connecticut for a thirty-year period ending with the 111th United States Congress....

    , U.S. Senator from Connecticut
    Connecticut
    Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

  • Tom Vilsack
    Tom Vilsack
    Thomas James "Tom" Vilsack is an American politician, a member of the Democratic Party, and presently the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He served as the 40th Governor of the state of Iowa. He was first elected in 1998 and re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002...

    , former Governor of Iowa
    Iowa
    Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

  • Evan Bayh
    Evan Bayh
    Birch Evans "Evan" Bayh III is a lawyer, advisor and former Democratic politician who served as the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1999 to 2011. He earlier served as the 46th Governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997. Bayh is a current Fox News contributor as of March 14, 2011.Bayh first held...

    , former Governor and U.S. Senator from Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...


Before the primaries

Media speculation began almost immediately after the results of the 2004 presidential elections
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

 became known. In the 2006 midterm elections, the Democrats regained majorities in both houses of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. Early polls taken before anyone had announced a candidacy had shown Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 as the most popular potential Democratic candidates. Nevertheless, the media speculated on several other candidates, including Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

, the runner-up in the 2000 election
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

; John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

, the runner-up in the 2004 election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

; John Edwards
John Edwards
Johnny Reid "John" Edwards is an American politician, who served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004, and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008.He defeated incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth in...

, his running mate
Running mate
A running mate is a person running together with another person on a joint ticket during an election. The term is most often used in reference to the person in the subordinate position but can also properly be used when referring to both candidates, such as "Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen were...

; Delaware Senator Joseph Biden; New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack; and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

Edwards was one of the first to formally announce his candidacy for the presidency, on December 28, 2006. This run would be his second attempt at the presidency. Clinton announced intentions to run in the Democratic primaries on January 20, 2007. Obama announced his candidacy on February 10 in his home state of Illinois. None of the candidates received a significant bounce in their poll numbers after their official announcements. Through most of 2007, even after it was evident Al Gore would not run, John Edwards and Al Gore each hovered between the third and fourth place spots in the polls behind Clinton and Obama.

"Front-runner" status is dependent on the news agency reporting, and by October 2007, the consensus listed the three aforementioned candidates as leading the pack after several debate performances. The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

listed Clinton, Edwards and Obama as the front runners, "leading in polls and fundraising and well ahead of the other major candidates". Clinton led in nearly all nationwide opinion polling
Nationwide opinion polling for the Democratic Party 2008 presidential candidates
For state-by state numbers see Statewide opinion polling for the Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2008This is a collection of scientific, public nationwide opinion polls that have been conducted relating to the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates.-Broad field: For state-by state numbers...

 until January 2008.

Comedian Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert
Stephen Tyrone Colbert is an American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.Colbert originally studied to be an...

 mounted his own campaign
Stephen Colbert presidential campaign, 2008
On October 16, 2007, satirist Stephen Colbert officially announced that he would run for President of the United States. This came after weeks of being pressured to do so by the public and stating that he would need a sign, which came from Aragorn giving him the sword Anduril...

 for the nomination in his home state of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, announcing it in October 2007. Public Opinion Strategies conducted a poll and found Colbert nationally in fifth place at 2.3% behind Sen. Joseph Biden's 2.7%

Early primaries/caucuses

The early primaries and caucuses are considered the most critical of nomination process. Most candidates lacking support drop out after doing poorly in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years , as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.Although only a...

, and these states' results often shift national preferences, according to historical polling data. The states that hold early primaries and caucuses are, chronologically, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. In 2008, Florida and Michigan moved their primaries into January against the Democratic Party's rules, and the results of these primaries were discounted and disputed until after the rest of the contests occurred.

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 Iowa caucus, with John Edwards coming in second and Clinton in third. Obama's win was fueled mostly by first time caucus-goers and Independents
Independent (voter)
An independent voter, those who register as an unaffiliated voter in the United States, is a voter of a democratic country who does not align him- or herself with a political party...

 and showed voters viewed him as the candidate of change. Iowa is viewed as the state that jump-started Obama's campaign and set him on track to win the nomination and the presidency. After the Iowa caucus, Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

 and Christopher Dodd
Christopher Dodd
Christopher John "Chris" Dodd is an American lawyer, lobbyist, and Democratic Party politician who served as a United States Senator from Connecticut for a thirty-year period ending with the 111th United States Congress....

 withdrew from the nomination contest.

Obama became the new front runner in New Hampshire when his poll numbers skyrocketed after his victory in Iowa. The Clinton campaign was struggling after a bad loss in Iowa and no strategy beyond the early primaries and caucuses. According to The Vancouver Sun
The Vancouver Sun
The Vancouver Sun is a daily newspaper first published in the Canadian province of British Columbia on February 12, 1912. The paper is currently published by the Pacific Newspaper Group, a division of Postmedia Network. It is published six days a week, Monday to Saturday...

, "Campaign strategists had mapped a victory scenario that envisioned the former first lady wrapping up the Democratic presidential nomination by Super Tuesday on Feb. 5." In what is considered a turning point for her campaign, Clinton had a strong performance at the Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College is a nationally ranked, private, Benedictine, Catholic liberal arts college in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Founded in 1889 by Abbot Hilary Pfrängle, O.S.B. of Saint Mary's Abbey in Newark, New Jersey, at the request of Bishop Denis M. Bradley of Manchester, New Hampshire, the...

, ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 and Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 debates several days before the New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years , as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.Although only a...

 as well as an emotional interview in a public broadcast live on TV. Clinton won that primary by 2% of the vote, contrary to the predictions of pollsters who consistently had her trailing Obama for a few days up to the primary date. On January 30, 2008, after placing in third in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, Edwards announced that he was suspending his campaign for the presidency, but he did not initially endorse any remaining candidate.

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday
Super Tuesday, 2008
Super Tuesday 2008, Super Duper Tuesday, Mega Tuesday, Giga Tuesday, Tsunami Tuesday, and The Tuesday of Destiny are names for February 5, 2008, the day on which the largest simultaneous number of state U.S. presidential primary elections in the history of U.S. primaries were held...

 occurred on February 5, 2008, during which the largest-ever number of simultaneous state primary
United States presidential primary
The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events run by the political parties...

 elections was held. 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.

Earlier, on February 3 on the UCLA
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

 campus, celebrities Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

, Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is an American author and attorney. She is a member of the influential Kennedy family and the only surviving child of U.S. President John F...

 and Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevland Hardaway Morris , better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist...

, among others, made appearances to show support for Barack Obama in a rally led by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States...

. In addition, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

's wife, Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver
Maria Owings Shriver is an American journalist and author of six best-selling books. She has received a Peabody Award, and was co-anchor for NBC's Emmy-winning coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics. As executive producer of The Alzheimer's Project, Shriver earned two Emmy Awards and an Academy of...

, endorsed Obama. California
California Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 California Democratic primary took place on February 5, 2008, also known as Super Tuesday. California was dubbed the "Big Enchilada" by the media because it offers the most delegates out of any other delegation. Hillary Clinton won the primary....

 was one of the Super Tuesday states that were rich in delegates. Obama trailed in the California polling by an average of 6.0% before the primary; he ended up losing the state by 8.3%. Some analysts cited a large Latino
Latino
The demonyms Latino and Latina , are defined in English language dictionaries as:* "a person of Latin-American descent."* "A Latin American."* "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."...

 turnout that voted for Clinton as the deciding factor.
Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Nebraska
Nebraska Democratic caucuses, 2008
The Nebraska Democratic Presidential Caucuses took place on February 9, 2008, where 24 of the state's 31 convention delegates were chosen. Like he did throughout many other states that held caucuses instead of primaries, Barack Obama won the Nebraska Democratic Caucus by more than a two-to-one...

, Hawaii
Hawaii Democratic caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Hawaii Democratic Presidential Caucuses took place on February 19, 2008, with 20 pledged delegates at stake. The winner in each of Hawaii's two congressional districts was awarded all of that district's delegates, totaling 13. Another seven delegates were awarded to both candidates at the...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Wisconsin Democratic primary took place on February 19, 2008. 74 pledged delegates were at stake. The Hawaii Democratic caucuses, 2008 took place the same day....

, U.S. Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands Democratic territorial convention, 2008
The 2008 United States Virgin Islands Democratic territorial convention took place on February 9, 2008. The convention chose 6 delegates, all pledged to Senator Barack Obama. Each delegate, however, only counted for half a vote at the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia primaries and the Washington
Washington Democratic caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Washington Democratic caucuses were a series of events held by the Washington State Democratic Party to determine the delegates that the Party sent to the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

 and Maine caucuses all took place after Super Tuesday in February. Obama won all of them, giving him ten consecutive victories after Super Tuesday.

March and April contests

On March 4, Hillary Clinton carried Ohio
Ohio Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Ohio Democratic primary took place on March 4, 2008 and was open to registered Democrats and Independents. Ohio sent 141 pledged delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which were awarded to the candidates proportionally based on the outcome of the election. In addition,...

 and Rhode Island
Rhode Island Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Rhode Island Democratic primary took place on March 4, 2008. It was an open primary. 21 delegates were awarded on a proportional basis. Rhode Island's delegation to the 2008 Democratic National Convention also included 11 superdelegates whose votes were not bound by the results of the...

 in the Democratic primaries; some considered these wins, especially Ohio, a surprise upset, although she led in the polling averages in both states. She also carried the primary in Texas
Texas Democratic primary and caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Texas Democratic primary and caucuses were a series of events to determine the delegates that the Texas Democratic Party sent to the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

, but Obama won the Texas caucuses held the same day and netted more delegates from the state than Clinton.

Only one state held a primary in April. This was Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Democratic primary in Pennsylvania was held on April 22 by the Pennsylvania Department of State in which voters chose their preference for the Democratic Party's candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. Voters also chose the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's candidates for various...

, on April 22. Although Obama made a strong effort to win Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton won the primary by nearly 10%, with approximately 55% of the vote. Obama had outspent Clinton three to one in Pennsylvania, but his comment at a San Francisco fundraiser that small-town Americans "cling" to guns and religion drew sharp criticism from the Clinton campaign and may have hurt his chances in the Keystone State. In addition, Clinton had several advantages in Pennsylvania. Throughout the primary process, she relied on the support of older, white, working class voters. Pennsylvania held a closed primary, which means that only registered Democrats could vote, and, according to Ron Elving of NPR
NPR
NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

, "The established Democratic electorate was older, whiter, more Catholic and more working-class than in most of the primaries to date." After Pennsylvania, Obama had a higher number of delegates and popular votes than Clinton did and was still in a stronger position to win the nomination. Clinton, however, had received the endorsement of more superdelegates than Obama.

Indiana and North Carolina

On May 6, North Carolina
North Carolina Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Democratic presidential primary in North Carolina took place on May 6, 2008, one of the last primary elections in the long race for nomination between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama won the primary....

 and Indiana
Indiana Democratic primary, 2008
Clinton narrowly defeated Obama to win the primary.The Indiana Democratic Presidential Primary took place on May 6, 2008. It was an open primary with 72 delegates at stake. The winner in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts was awarded all of that district's delegates, totaling 47....

 held their Democratic presidential primaries. Clinton and Obama campaigned aggressively there before the voting took place. The candidates acknowledged the importance of these primaries and said they were turning point states that could make or break either of their campaigns. Polling had shown Obama a few points ahead in North Carolina and Clinton similarly leading in Indiana. 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 1.1% in Indiana (50.56% to 49.44%). After these primaries, most pundits declared that it had become increasingly improbable, if not impossible, for Clinton to win the nomination. The small win in Indiana barely kept her campaign alive for the next month. 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.

Florida and Michigan

During late 2007, the two 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. 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
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, 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 and popular votes from both states (though 40% voted uncommitted in Michigan) and subsequently led a fight to seat all the Florida and Michigan delegates.

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. 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.

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 states won, while Clinton had won majorities in several of the larger states. Because a form of proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 and popular vote decided Democratic state delegate contests, numbers were close between Clinton and Obama, the contest for the nomination continued into June 2008. By May, Clinton claimed to hold a lead in the popular vote, but the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 found her numbers accurate only in one close scenario.

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 declare their support for either candidate until the primaries were completed). He was the first African American to win the nomination of a major political party in the United States. 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. 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.

Republican Party nomination

Not only was 2008 the first election since 1952
United States presidential election, 1952
The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional...

 that neither the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election, but it was also the first time since the 1928 election
United States presidential election, 1928
The United States presidential election of 1928 pitted Republican Herbert Hoover against Democrat Al Smith. The Republicans were identified with the booming economy of the 1920s, whereas Smith, a Roman Catholic, suffered politically from Anti-Catholic prejudice, his anti-prohibitionist stance, and...

 that neither sought his party's nomination for president. Since term limits 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. This left the Republican field just as open to a wide field of new candidates as the Democratic field.

Candidates

  • John McCain
    John McCain
    John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

    , U.S. Senator from Arizona
    Arizona
    Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

  • Mike Huckabee
    Mike Huckabee
    Michael "Mike" Dale Huckabee is an American politician who served as the 44th Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the 2008 United States Republican presidential primaries, finishing second in delegate count and third in both popular vote and number of states won . He won...

    , former Governor of Arkansas
    Arkansas
    Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

  • Mitt Romney
    Mitt Romney
    Willard Mitt Romney is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination.The son of George W...

    , former Governor of Massachusetts
    Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

  • Ron Paul
    Ron Paul
    Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

    , U.S. Representative from Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

  • Fred Thompson, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee
    Tennessee
    Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

  • Duncan Hunter
    Duncan Hunter
    Duncan Lee Hunter is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from California's 52nd, 45th and 42nd districts from 1981 to 2009....

    , U.S. Representative from California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

  • Rudy Giuliani
    Rudy Giuliani
    Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani KBE is an American lawyer, businessman, and politician from New York. He served as Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001....

    , former Mayor of New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

  • Alan Keyes
    Alan Keyes
    Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

    , former U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador from Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

  • Tom Tancredo
    Tom Tancredo
    Thomas Gerard "Tom" Tancredo is an American politician from Colorado, who represented the state's sixth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009, as a Republican...

    , U.S. Representative from Colorado
    Colorado
    Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

  • John H. Cox
    John H. Cox
    John Herman Cox is an American lawyer, accountant, businessman, broadcaster, and aspiring politician. He was the first Republican to seek formally the party's 2008 nomination for president, but effectively withdrew from the race in late 2007 and suspended his campaign shortly after.-Biography:Born...

    , Businessman from Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

  • Ray McKinney
    Ray McKinney
    Raymond Louis "Ray" McKinney is a mechanical services manager from Savannah, Georgia, and was the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress from Georgia's 12th District in 2010. He was a candidate for U.S...

    , Mechanical services manager from Georgia
    Georgia (U.S. state)
    Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

  • Sam Brownback
    Sam Brownback
    Samuel Dale "Sam" Brownback is the 46th and current Governor of Kansas. A member of the Republican Party, he served as a U.S. Senator from Kansas from 1996 to 2011, and as a U.S. Representative for Kansas's 2nd congressional district from 1995 to 1996...

    , U.S. Senator from Kansas
    Kansas
    Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

  • Tommy Thompson
    Tommy Thompson
    Thomas George "Tommy" Thompson , a United States Republican politician, was the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, after which he served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Thompson was a candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, but dropped out early after a poor performance in polls...

    , former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from Wisconsin
    Wisconsin
    Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

  • Jim Gilmore
    Jim Gilmore
    James Stuart "Jim" Gilmore III is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, former 68th Governor of Virginia, and a member of the Republican Party. A native Virginian, Gilmore studied at the University of Virginia, and then served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent...

    , former Governor of Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...


Before the primaries

Immediately after the 2006 midterm elections, media pundits began speculating, as they did about the Democrats, about potential Republican candidates for President in 2008. In November 2006, Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani led in the polls, followed closely by Arizona Senator John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

. The media speculated that Giuliani's pro-choice
Pro-choice
Support for the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-choice movement, a sociopolitical movement supporting the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy....

 stance on abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 and McCain's age and support of the unpopular Iraq War would be detriments to their candidacies. Giuliani remained the frontrunner in the polls throughout most of 2007, with McCain and former Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 Senator Fred Thompson fighting for second place. Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 Governor Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee
Michael "Mike" Dale Huckabee is an American politician who served as the 44th Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the 2008 United States Republican presidential primaries, finishing second in delegate count and third in both popular vote and number of states won . He won...

, Giuliani, Former Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 Governor Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Willard Mitt Romney is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination.The son of George W...

, and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 Congressman Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

 announced their candidacies on January 28, February 5, February 13, and March 12, respectively. McCain officially announced his candidacy on March 1, 2007, after several informal announcements. In the third quarter of 2007, the top four GOP (Republican) fundraisers were Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, and Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

. MSNBC's Chuck Todd christened Giuliani and John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 the front runners after the second Republican presidential debate in early 2007.

Early primaries/caucuses

Huckabee, after winning in Iowa, had little money and hoped for a third-place finish in New Hampshire. McCain eventually displaced Rudy Giuliani and Romney as the front runner in New Hampshire
New Hampshire Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 New Hampshire Republican primary took place on January 8, 2008, with 12 national delegates being allocated proportionally to the popular vote...

. McCain staged a turnaround victory, having been written off by the pundits and polling in single digits less than a month before the race.

With the Republicans stripping Michigan and Florida of half their delegates for moving their primaries into January 2008 against party rules, the race for the nomination was based there. McCain meanwhile managed a small victory over Huckabee in South Carolina
South Carolina Republican primary, 2008
The South Carolina Republican primary, 2008 was held on January 19, with 24 delegates at stake. The Republican National Committee took half of South Carolina's 47 delegates away from them because the state committee moved its Republican primary before February 5...

, setting him up for a larger and more important victory over Romney in Florida
Florida Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Florida Republican primary was held on January 29, 2008, with 57 delegates at stake on a winner-take-all basis. The Republican National Committee removed half of Florida's delegates because the state committee moved its Republican primary before February 5. Arizona Senator John McCain was...

, which held a closed primary on January 29. By this time, after several scandals, no success in the early primaries, and a third-place finish in Florida, Giuliani conceded from the nomination race and endorsed John McCain the next day.

Super Tuesday

In February, McCain, besides winning Giuliani's support, was endorsed by California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

 before the California primary
California Republican primary, 2008
The California Republican primary, 2008 was held on February 5, 2008, with a total of 173 national delegates at stake.- Process :The delegates represented California at the Republican National Convention. There were three delegates to every congressional district and fourteen bonus delegates...

 took place on Super Tuesday. This gave him a significant boost in the polls for the state's primary, which awarded the greatest number of delegates of all the states. On Super Tuesday, McCain won his home state of Arizona, taking all 53 delegates, and the largest of the Super Tuesday prizes, nearly all of California's 173 delegates. McCain also scored wins in seven other states, picking up 574 delegates. Huckabee was the "surprise performer", winning 5 states and 218 delegates. Romney won 7 states and 231 delegates. Two days later, Romney suspended his presidential campaign, saying that if he stayed in the race, he would "forestall the launch of a national campaign and be making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win". His departure left Huckabee and Paul as McCain's only major challengers in the remaining primaries and caucuses. Romney endorsed McCain on February 14.

Louisiana, Washington, Kansas
Kansas Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Kansas Republican caucuses took place on February 9, 2008.By the evening of February 9, Fox News and CNN projected Mike Huckabee as the winner of the Kansas Caucuses.The Associated Press also called the race for Mike Huckabee.- Results :...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Wisconsin Primary for the Republicans was held on February 19, 2008. Polls in Wisconsin opened at 7:00 AM and closed 8:00 PM John McCain won the primary.- Polls leading up to Primary :Last 3 Poll Averages- Results :...

, and Washington
Washington Republican primary, 2008
- Results :* Candidate stopped campaign before primary- See also :* Washington Republican caucuses, 2008* Republican Party presidential primaries, 2008* Washington Democratic caucuses, 2008- References :...

 held primaries in February after Super Tuesday. Despite McCain picking up big victories, Huckabee won Louisiana and Kansas. McCain narrowly carried the Washington caucuses over Huckabee and Paul, who amassed a large showing. The Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 United States Virgin Islands Republican Territorial Meeting, also known as the Republican caucuses, took place on the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas on April 5, 2008. Virgin Islands Republicans could select six pledged delegates for the 2008 Republican National...

 and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Puerto Rico Republican caucuses were held on February 24, 2008. John McCain won all 20 pledged at the Commonwealth's convention.-Results:-See also:* Puerto Rico Democratic primary, 2008...

 closed February for the Republicans. After Super Tuesday, John McCain had become the clear front runner, but by the end of February, he still had not acquired enough delegates to secure the nomination. In March, John McCain clinched the Republican nomination after sweeping all four primaries, Texas
Texas Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Texas Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. John McCain won the primary election, giving him enough delegate votes to guarantee his nomination at the 2008 Republican National Convention.-Process:...

, Ohio
Ohio Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Ohio Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. That night, candidate John McCain secured enough delegate votes to win the Republican nomination for the 2008 U.S...

, Vermont
Vermont Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Vermont Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. Arizona Senator John McCain was the winner of the primary.- Results :* Candidate dropped out of the race before the primary- See also :...

, and Rhode Island
Rhode Island Republican primary, 2008
- Results :* Candidate dropped out of the race before March 4.- See also :* Republican Party presidential primaries, 2008* Rhode Island Democratic primary, 2008- References :...

, putting him over the top of the 1,191 delegates required to win the GOP nomination. Mike Huckabee then conceded the race to McCain, leaving Ron Paul, who had just 16 delegates, as his only remaining opponent.

Other nominations

Along with the Democratic and Republican parties, three other parties nominated candidates with ballot access in enough states to win the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. These were the Constitution Party
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

, the Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

, and the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

. In addition, independent candidate Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

 ran his own campaign.

The Constitution Party nominated writer, pastor, and conservative talk show host Chuck Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

 for President, and attorney Darrell Castle
Darrell Castle
Darrell Castle is an American political figure, activist and attorney from Memphis, Tennessee, and was the vice presidential candidate of the Constitution Party in the 2008 United States presidential election.-Early life and education:...

 of Tennessee for Vice President. While campaigning, Baldwin voiced his opposition to the Iraq war, the Sixteenth Amendment
Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states or basing it on Census results...

, Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

, the IRS
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

, and the Federal Reserve
Federal Reserve System
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907...

.

The Green Party nominated former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

 of Georgia for President, and political activist Rosa Clemente
Rosa Clemente
Rosa Alicia Clemente is a United States community organizer, independent journalist and hip-hop activist. She was the vice presidential running mate of 2008 Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.Clemente was born and raised in South Bronx, New...

 from New York for Vice President. McKinney campaigned on a platform that supported single-payer universal health care
Single-payer health care
Single-payer health care is medical care funded from a single insurance pool, run by the state. Under a single-payer system, universal health care for an entire population can be financed from a pool to which many parties employees, employers, and the state have contributed...

, the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations for African Americans, and the creation of a Department of Peace.

The Libertarian Party nominated former Republican Congressman Bob Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

 of Georgia for President, and his former rival for the Libertarian nomination Wayne Allyn Root
Wayne Allyn Root
Wayne Allyn Root is an American politician, entrepreneur, television and radio personality, author and political commentator. He was the 2008 Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee. In June 2009 Richard Winger wrote he was the front runner for the 2012 Libertarian Presidential nomination...

 of Nevada, for Vice President. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barr advocated a reworking or abolishment of the income tax
Income tax in the United States
In the United States, a tax is imposed on income by the Federal, most states, and many local governments. The income tax is determined by applying a tax rate, which may increase as income increases, to taxable income as defined. Individuals and corporations are directly taxable, and estates and...

 and opposed the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act
USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001...

.

Party conventions

  • April 23–26, 2008: 2008 Constitution Party National Convention
    Constitution Party National Convention
    Constitution Party National Convention is held by the United States Constitution Party every two to four years. To date, there have been five.-National Conventions:...

     held in Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

    .
  • May 23–26, 2008: 2008 Libertarian National Convention
    2008 Libertarian National Convention
    The 2008 Libertarian National Convention was held from May 22 to May 26, 2008 at the Sheraton Hotel in Denver, Colorado...

    , held in Denver, Colorado
    Denver, Colorado
    The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

    .
  • July 10–13, 2008: 2008 Green Party National Convention
    2008 Green National Convention
    The 2008 Green National Convention took place on July 10-14, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois at the Palmer House Hilton and Symphony Center. This served as both the venue for the Presidential Nominating Convention and the Annual Meeting of the Green Party of the United States.-Venues:The convention was...

    , held in Chicago, Illinois.
  • July 18–20, 2008: 2008 Reform Party
    Reform Party of the United States of America
    The Reform Party of the United States of America is a political party in the United States, founded in 1995 by Ross Perot...

     National Convention, held in Dallas, Texas
    Dallas, Texas
    Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

    .
  • August 25–28, 2008: 2008 Democratic National Convention
    2008 Democratic National Convention
    The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. The convention was held in Denver,...

    , held in Denver, Colorado
    Denver, Colorado
    The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

    .
  • September 1–4, 2008: 2008 Republican National Convention
    2008 Republican National Convention
    The United States 2008 Republican National Convention took place at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from September 1, through September 4, 2008...

    , held in Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the area surrounding its point of confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city...

    .

Notable characteristics

The 2008 election campaign brought several firsts in United States presidential election history. It was the first presidential election since 1952
United States presidential election, 1952
The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional...

 in which neither the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election. In addition, John McCain became the second oldest (after Bob Dole) first-time presidential nominee in history when the Republicans nominated him in September 2008 (Ronald Reagan was 73 years, 6 months in 1984, for his second presidential nomination). McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

, was the first woman nominated for Vice President by the Republican Party. Barack Obama and 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
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and Bob Dole
Bob Dole
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole is an American attorney and politician. Dole represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, was Gerald Ford's Vice Presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election, and was Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and in 1995 and 1996...

 (23 years apart in age), who ran against each other in 1996
United States presidential election, 1996
The United States presidential election of 1996 was a contest between the Democratic national ticket of President Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and the Republican national ticket of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for President and former Housing Secretary Jack...

. The election would mark the first time that candidates from both major parties were born outside the continental United States with Barack Obama born in Hawaii and John McCain who was born in the Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone
The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

. Yet another first was that, for the first time in history, both major party nominees were sitting United States Senators.

One of the most talked about firsts in this election was Obama's possible, and then actual, nomination by the Democratic Party. On August 28, 2008, when Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination for President, he became the first African American to be nominated for President by a major political party. The television audiences for both McCain's and Obama's acceptance speeches broke records, according to Nielsen ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

.

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. (Obama's early and strong opposition to the war helped him stand out against the other Democratic candidates during the primaries, as well as stand out to a war-weary electorate during the general campaign). Though McCain meant it as a peacetime presence like the United States maintained in Germany and Japan after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, his statement that the United States could be in Iraq for as much as the next 50 to 100 years would prove costly. Obama used it against him as part of his strategy to tie him to the unpopular President Bush.

John McCain's support for the troop 'surge' employed by General David Petraeus
David Petraeus
David Howell Petraeus is the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sworn in on September 6, 2011. Prior to his assuming the directorship of the CIA, Petraeus was a four-star general serving over 37 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as commander...

, 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.

Bush's unpopularity

George W. Bush had become increasingly unpopular by the beginning of 2008. Polls consistently showed that only twenty to thirty percent of the American public approved of his job performance. In March 2008, Bush endorsed McCain at the White House, but Bush did not make a single appearance for McCain during the campaign. Bush appeared at the 2008 GOP convention only through a live video broadcast. He chose not to appear in person due to disaster events in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike was the second-costliest hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States, the costliest hurricane ever to impact Cuba and the second most active hurricane to reach the Canadian mainland in the Great Lakes Region after Hurricane Hazel in 1954...

. 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 countered by pointing 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 congressional voting records supported this for the years Bush was in office.

Change vs. experience

Before the Democratic primaries had even begun, the dichotomy of change versus experience had already become a common theme in the presidential campaign, with Senator Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 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
Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008
New York junior Senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had expressed interest in the 2008 United States presidential election since at least October 2002, drawing media speculation on whether she would become a candidate. No woman has ever won the nomination of a major party in the...

, aides for Clinton were already planning to position her as the 'change' candidate, as strategist Mark Penn
Mark Penn
Mark J. Penn , is the worldwide CEO of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and president of the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. In September 2007, he released a book titled Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes, which examines small trends sweeping...

 made clear in an October 2006 memo titled "The Plan." In his presidential run announcement, Obama framed his candidacy by emphasizing that "Washington must change." 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. Exit polls on Super Tuesday
Super Tuesday
In the United States, Super Tuesday, in general, refers to the Tuesday in February or March of a presidential election year when the greatest number of states hold primary elections to select delegates to national conventions at which each party's presidential candidates are officially nominated...

 found that 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. 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. Advantages for McCain and Obama on experience and the ability to bring change, respectively, remained steady through the November 4 election. However, 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, 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
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 to be his running mate. Palin had been governor only since 2006, and before 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
2008 Republican National Convention
The United States 2008 Republican National Convention took place at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from September 1, through September 4, 2008...

, a group that was initially lukewarm toward McCain's candidacy. 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. Because of Palin's conservative views, there was also concern that she would alienate independents and moderates, two groups that pundits observed McCain would need to win the election.

The economy

Polls taken in the last few months of the presidential campaign and exit polls conducted on Election Day showed the economy as the top concern for voters. In the fall of 2008, many news sources were reporting that the economy was suffering its most serious downturn since the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. 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." 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, the day of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy
Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers
Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers remains the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S...

, 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." 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. 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 Congress' lack of immediate action on the bill. His ineffectiveness in the negotiations and his reversal in decision to attend the debates were 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
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

, and McCain all voting for the measure.

All 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 sound bites of all of these "missteps" were played repeatedly on national television, most pundits and analysts agree that the actual financial crisis and economic conditions caused McCain's large drop in support in mid-September and severely damaged his campaign.

Debates

The Commission on Presidential Debates
Commission on Presidential Debates
The Commission on Presidential Debates began in 1987 by the Democratic and Republican parties to establish the way that presidential election debates are run between candidates for President of the United States...

 announced four debates:
  • September 26: The first presidential debate took place at the University of Mississippi
    University of Mississippi
    The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, is a public, coeducational research university located in Oxford, Mississippi. Founded in 1844, the school is composed of the main campus in Oxford, four branch campuses located in Booneville, Grenada, Tupelo, and Southaven as well as the...

    . 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
    Jim Lehrer
    James Charles "Jim" Lehrer is an American journalist and the executive editor and former news anchor for PBS NewsHour on PBS, known for his role as a frequent debate moderator during elections...

     of PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

    , introduced the topics.
  • October 2: The vice-presidential debate was hosted at Washington University in St. Louis
    Washington University in St. Louis
    Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university located in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1853, and named for George Washington, the university has students and faculty from all fifty U.S. states and more than 110 nations...

    , and was moderated by Gwen Ifill
    Gwen Ifill
    Gwendolyn L. "Gwen" Ifill is an American journalist, television newscaster and author. She is the managing editor and moderator of Washington Week and a senior correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, both of which air on PBS. She is a political analyst, and moderated the 2004 and 2008 Vice...

     of PBS.
  • October 7: The second presidential debate took place at Belmont University
    Belmont University
    Belmont University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. It is the largest Christian university in Tennessee and the second largest private university in the state, behind nearby Vanderbilt University.-Belmont Mansion:Belmont Mansion...

    . It was a town meeting format debate moderated by NBC News
    NBC News
    NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

     anchor Tom Brokaw
    Tom Brokaw
    Thomas John "Tom" Brokaw is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors...

    , 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
    Hofstra University
    Hofstra University is a private, nonsectarian institution of higher learning located in the Village of Hempstead, New York, United States, about east of New York City: less than an hour away by train or car...

    . It focused on domestic and economic policy. Like the first presidential debate, it was formatted into segments, with moderator Bob Schieffer
    Bob Schieffer
    Bob Lloyd Schieffer is an American television journalist who has been with CBS News since 1969, serving 23 years as anchor on the Saturday edition of CBS Evening News from 1973 to 1996; chief Washington correspondent since 1982, moderator of the Sunday public affairs show Face the Nation since...

     introducing the topics.


Another debate was sponsored by the Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 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
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

, Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

, and Chuck Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

 agreed to attend. Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is an American progressive broadcast journalist, syndicated columnist, investigative reporter and author. Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, an independent global news program broadcast daily on radio, television and the internet.-Early life:Goodman was born in Bay Shore, New York...

, principal host of Democracy Now!
Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! and its staff have received several journalism awards, including the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television; the George Polk Award for its 1998 radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship, on the Chevron Corporation and the deaths of...

, moderated. It was broadcast on cable by C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

 and on the Internet by Break-the-Matrix.

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 were 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). In January 2007, Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael E. Toner
Michael E. Toner
Michael E. Toner, American attorney and political appointee, specialized in election law, and currently employed by Wiley Rein LLP where he co-chairs the Election Law & Government Ethics Practice. He formerly served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission , the regulatory body that...

 estimated that the 2008 race would be a $1 billion election, and that to be taken seriously, a candidate would have needed to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007.

Although he had said he would not be running for president, published reports in 2007 indicated that billionaire and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg
Michael Rubens Bloomberg is the current Mayor of New York City. With a net worth of $19.5 billion in 2011, he is also the 12th-richest person in the United States...

 had been considering a presidential bid as an independent with up to $1 billion of his own fortune to finance it. Bloomberg ultimately ended this speculation by unequivocally stating that he would not run.

With the increase in money expenditures, many candidates did not use the public financing system funded by the presidential election campaign fund checkoff
Presidential election campaign fund checkoff
The presidential election campaign fund checkoff appears on US income tax return forms as the question Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?...

. John McCain, Tom Tancredo, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden qualified for and elected to take public funds throughout the primary process. Major Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 chose not to participate in the public financing system.

Internet campaigns

Howard Dean
Howard Dean
Howard Brush Dean III is an American politician and physician from Vermont. He served six terms as the 79th Governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Although his U.S...

 collected large contributions through 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
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

, MySpace
MySpace
Myspace is a social networking service owned by Specific Media LLC and pop star Justin Timberlake. Myspace launched in August 2003 and is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. In August 2011, Myspace had 33.1 million unique U.S. visitors....

, and Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

.

Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama created a broad popular 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.

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.

Anonymous and semi-anonymous smear campaign
Smear campaign
A smear campaign, smear tactic or simply smear is a metaphor for activity that can harm an individual or group's reputation by conflation with a stigmatized group...

s, traditionally done with fliers and push calling
Push poll
A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze...

, also spread to the Internet. Organizations specializing in the production and distribution of viral
Viral video
A viral video is one that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites, social media and email...

 material, such as Brave New Films
Brave New Films
Brave New Films is a media company founded by filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Viral videos produced by Brave New Films have been widely circulated on the internet, during the 2008 United States presidential election campaign, and generally disparage Republican candidate John McCain and other prominent...

, emerged; such organizations have been said to be having a growing influence on American politics.

Expense summary

According to required campaign filings as reported by the Federal Election Commission
Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency that was founded in 1975 by the United States Congress to regulate the campaign finance legislation in the United States. It was created in a provision of the 1975 amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act...

 (FEC), 148 candidates for all parties collectively raised $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
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

)
$532,946,511 $513,557,218 69,498,215 $7.39
John McCain (R
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

)
$379,006,485 $346,666,422 59,948,240 $5.78
Ralph Nader (I) $4,496,180 $4,187,628 738,720 $5.67
Bob Barr (L
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

)
$1,383,681 $1,345,202 523,713 $2.57
Chuck Baldwin (C
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

)
$261,673 $234,309 199,437 $1.17
Cynthia McKinney (G
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

)
$240,130 $238,968 161,680 $1.48
Excludes spending by independent expenditure concerns.
Source: Federal Election Commission

Race

An October 17–20, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed among registered voters 2% said race made them more likely to vote for Barack Obama and 4% said it made them less likely to vote for Barack Obama. Those not sure how it swayed them were 2%, and race was not a major factor in the other 92% (margin of error was ± 2.9).

A July 18–21, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 20% of African American registered voters and 8% of white registered voters considered race the single most important factor when voting (margin of error was ± 3.1). This percentage increased in both groups from previous polls.

A June 6–9, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 17% were enthusiastic about Obama being the first African American President, 70% were comfortable or indifferent, and 13% had reservations or were uncomfortable (margin of error was ± 3.1).

Controversies

Some pre-election controversies in the election revolved around challenges to voter registration
Voter registration
Voter registration is the requirement in some democracies for citizens and residents to check in with some central registry specifically for the purpose of being allowed to vote in elections. An effort to get people to register is known as a voter registration drive.-Centralized/compulsory vs...

 lists, involving techniques such as caging lists alleged to constitute voter suppression
Voter suppression
Voter suppression is a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing people from exercising their right to vote. It is distinguished from political campaigning in that campaigning attempts to change likely voting behavior by changing the opinions of potential voters...

.

Allegations of voter list purges using unlawful criteria caused controversy in at least six swing states: Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 and North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. On October 5, 2008 the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Lt. Governor of Montana, John Bohlinger
John Bohlinger
John Bohlinger, Jr. is the current Lieutenant Governor of Montana. Bohlinger for lieutenant governor ran as a Republican on a bipartisan ticket headed by Democrat Brian Schweitzer...

, accused the Montana Republican Party of vote caging to purge 6,000 voters from three counties which trend Democratic. Allegations arose in Michigan that the Republican Party planned to challenge the eligibility of voters based on lists of foreclosed homes. The campaign of Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 presidential nominee Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 filed a lawsuit challenging this. The House Judiciary Committee
United States House Committee on the Judiciary
The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, also called the House Judiciary Committee, is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is charged with overseeing the administration of justice within the federal courts, administrative agencies and Federal law enforcement...

 wrote to the Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 requesting an investigation.

Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 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 service members. According to federal law, absentee ballots must be mailed to troops in foreign countries at least 45 days before 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.

Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

's 173,000 residents are U.S. citizens, and must obey U.S. laws passed in Washington, yet they have neither a voting member of Congress, nor votes in the Electoral College. Since 1980, they have held a straw poll for president at the same time as the U.S. national elections. In 2007, Guam's legislature voted to move the straw poll up to September to draw attention to the choices of Guam's population and their continued disfranchisement, but the governor vetoed the bill. Obama won the 2008 Guam straw poll with 20,120 votes to McCain's 11,940.

Libertarian
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

 candidate Bob Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

 filed a lawsuit in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 to have Obama and McCain removed from the ballot in that state. 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 candidate at the time of the deadline had been confirmed as the candidate for their respective parties. The Texas Supreme Court
Texas Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Texas is the court of last resort for non-criminal matters in the state of Texas. A different court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is the court of last resort for criminal matters.The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices...

 dismissed the lawsuit without explanation.

In Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, identified by both parties as a key state, allegations surfaced from both Republicans and Democrats that individuals from out of state were moving to the state temporarily and attempting to vote despite not meeting the state's requirement of permanent residency for more than 29 days. The Franklin County Board of Elections referred 55 cases of possible voting irregularities to the local prosecutor. Three groups attracted particular notice: 'Vote from Home,' 'Vote Today Ohio,' and 'Drop Everything and Come to Ohio.' Vote from Home attracted the most attention when thirteen of the group's members moved to the same location in eastern Columbus. Members of the group organized by Marc Gustafson, including several Marshall
Marshall Scholarship
The Marshall Scholarship, a postgraduate scholarships available to Americans, was created by the Parliament of the United Kingdom when the Marshall Aid Commemoration Act was passed in 1953. The scholarships serve as a living gift to the United States of America in recognition of the post-World War...

 and Rhodes
Rhodes Scholarship
The Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for study at the University of Oxford. It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the "world's most prestigious scholarship" by many public sources such as...

 scholars studying at Oxford University, settled with Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien to have their challenged ballots withdrawn. The Obama campaign and others alleged that members of the McCain campaign had also voted without properly establishing residency. Since 1953, only six people in Ohio have gone to prison for illegal voting.

Ayers controversy

A controversy arose regarding Obama's contact with Bill Ayers
Bill Ayers
William Charles "Bill" Ayers is an American elementary education theorist and a former leader in the movement that opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960s activism as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction...

, a Professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 at the University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago, or UIC, is a state-funded public research university located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Its campus is in the Near West Side community area, near the Chicago Loop...

, and a former leader of the Weather Underground
Weatherman (organization)
Weatherman, known colloquially as the Weathermen and later the Weather Underground Organization , was an American radical left organization. It originated in 1969 as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society composed for the most part of the national office leadership of SDS and their...

, a radical left
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 organization in the 1970s. Investigations by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

,
CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

, and other news organizations concluded that Obama does not have a close relationship with Ayers. Ayers served on two nonprofit boards with Obama. Both Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn
Bernardine Dohrn
Bernardine Rae Dohrn is a former leader of the American anti-Vietnam War radical organization, Weather Underground. She is an Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law and the immediate past Director of Northwestern's Children and Family Justice Center...

, hosted a gathering at their home in 1995, where Alice Palmer
Alice Palmer (Illinois politician)
Alice J. Palmer is an American educator and former Democratic member of the Illinois Senate. Known as a longtime progressive activist, Palmer represented the state's 13th senate district from June 6, 1991 until January 8, 1997...

 introduced Obama as her chosen successor in the Illinois State Senate.

The matter was initially raised by Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity is an American radio and television host, author, and conservative political commentator. He is the host of The Sean Hannity Show, a nationally syndicated talk radio show that airs throughout the United States on Premiere Radio Networks. Hannity also hosts a cable news show, Hannity,...

 and other hosts on conservative
American conservatism
Conservatism in the United States has played an important role in American politics since the 1950s. Historian Gregory Schneider identifies several constants in American conservatism: respect for tradition, support of republicanism, preservation of "the rule of law and the Christian religion", and...

 talk radio programs, and then by moderator George Stephanopoulos
George Stephanopoulos
George Robert Stephanopoulos is an American television journalist and a former political advisor.Stephanopoulos is most well known as the chief political correspondent for ABC News – the news division of the broadcast television network ABC – and a co-anchor of ABC News's morning news...

 during a debate between Clinton and Obama in April 2008. In October 2008, the matter was mentioned in attack ad
Attack ad
In political campaigns, an attack ad is an advertisement whose message is meant as a personal attack against another candidate or political party...

s, robocalls, mass mailings, and campaign speeches by Republican presidential candidate John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 as an issue in the general election campaign. Obama has condemned Ayers' past, and stated that he does not have a close association with him.

Allegations of media bias

Significant criticism was leveled at media outlets' coverage of the presidential election season. At the February debate, Tim Russert
Tim Russert
Timothy John "Tim" Russert was an American television journalist and lawyer who appeared for more than 16 years as the longest-serving moderator of NBC's Meet the Press. He was a senior vice president at NBC News, Washington bureau chief and also hosted the eponymous CNBC/MSNBC weekend interview...

 of NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

 was criticized for what some perceived as disproportionately tough questioning of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Among the questions, Russert had asked Clinton, but not Obama, to provide the name of the new Russian President (Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

). This was later parodied on Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

. In October 2007, liberal commentators accused Russert of harassing Clinton over the issue of supporting drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants.

On April 16, ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

 hosted a debate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

. Moderators Charles Gibson
Charles Gibson
Charles deWolf "Charlie" Gibson is a former American broadcast television anchor and journalist. He was a host of Good Morning America from 1987 to 1998 and 1999 to 2006 and anchor of World News with Charles Gibson from 2006 to 2009....

 and George Stephanopoulos
George Stephanopoulos
George Robert Stephanopoulos is an American television journalist and a former political advisor.Stephanopoulos is most well known as the chief political correspondent for ABC News – the news division of the broadcast television network ABC – and a co-anchor of ABC News's morning news...

 were criticized by viewers, blog
Blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

gers and media critics for the poor quality of their questions. 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
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 more than a decade ago, and Senator Obama's not wearing an American flag pin. The moderators focused on campaign gaffes and some believed they focused too much on Obama. Stephanopoulos defended their performance, saying "Senator Obama was the front-runner" and the questions were "not inappropriate or irrelevant at all."

In an op-ed
Op-ed
An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page , is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board...

 published on 2008 April 27 in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

,
Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Anania Edwards was an American attorney, a best-selling author and a health care activist. She was married to John Edwards, the former U.S...

 wrote that the media covered much more of "the rancor of the campaign" and "amount of money spent" than "the candidates' priorities, policies and principles." Author Erica Jong
Erica Jong
Erica Jong is an American author and teacher best known for her fiction and poetry.-Career:A 1963 graduate of Barnard College, and with an M.A...

 commented that "our press has become a sea of triviality, meanness and irrelevant chatter." A Gallup poll released on May 29, 2008 also estimated that more Americans felt the media was being harder on Hillary Clinton than they were towards Barack Obama.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism
Project for Excellence in Journalism
The Project for Excellence in Journalism is a non-profit research organization in the US that uses empirical methods to evaluate and study the performance of the press. It asserts that it is "non partisan, non ideological and non political"...

 and Harvard University's
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 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 January 1 through March 9, 2008. The study found that Obama received 69% favorable coverage and Clinton received 67%, compared to only 43% favorable media coverage of McCain. Another study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs
Center for Media and Public Affairs
The Center for Media and Public Affairs is a self-described nonpartisan and nonprofit research and educational organization that is affiliated with George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. It was founded in 1985 by political scientists Dr. S. Robert Lichter and his ex-wife, the late Dr....

 at George Mason University
George Mason University
George Mason University is a public university based in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, south of and adjacent to the city of Fairfax. Additional campuses are located nearby in Arlington County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County...

 found the media coverage of Obama to be 72% negative from June 8 to July 21 compared to 57% negative for McCain. An October 29 study found 29% of stories about Obama to be negative, compared to 57% of stories about McCain being negative.

An October 22, 2008 Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 poll estimated 70% of registered voters believed journalists wanted Barack Obama to win the election, as opposed to 9% for John McCain. Another Pew survey, conducted after the election, 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.

Election results

Election Day

November 4, 2008 was Election Day
Election Day (United States)
Election Day in the United States is the day set by law for the general elections of public officials. It occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest possible date is November 8...

 in 50 states and the District of Columbia; it was the last of 21 consecutive election days in Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, which abolished the voting booth in 1998. The majority of states allowed early voting, with all states allowing some form of absentee voting. Voters cast votes for listed presidential candidates but were actually selecting their state's slate of Electoral College electors.

A McCain victory quickly became improbable as Obama amassed early wins in Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 (his home state), the Northeast
Northeastern United States
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Composition:The region comprises nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New...

 and the critical battleground states of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 (which no Republican has ever been elected President without winning) and Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 by 9:20 PM. Obama won the entire Northeast by comfortable margins and the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 states of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 and Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 by double digits. McCain managed to hold on to traditionally Republican states like North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, and Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 (his home state). McCain, unlike Bush in 2000 and 2004, failed to receive all the southern states: Obama won Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Obama also won the hotly contested states of Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

 and New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, which Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

 had won in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2004. Also, for only the second time since 1940 (1964 being the other), Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 went Democratic. CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

 and Fox News called Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 for Obama shortly before 11pm, leaving him only 50 electoral votes shy of victory with only six West Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 states (California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Washington, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, Alaska, and Hawaii) still voting. All American networks called the election in favor of Obama at 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time as the polls closed on the West Coast. Obama was immediately declared the winner in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Washington, and Hawaii, McCain won Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, and the Electoral College totals were updated to 297 for Obama and 146 for McCain (270 are needed to win). McCain gave a concession speech half an hour later in his home state of Arizona. President-elect Obama appeared just before midnight Eastern Time on November 5 in Grant Park
Grant Park (Chicago)
Grant Park, with between the downtown Chicago Loop and Lake Michigan, offers many different attractions in its large open space. The park is generally flat. It is also crossed by large boulevards and even a bed of sunken railroad tracks...

, Chicago, in front of a crowd of 250,000 people to deliver his victory speech
Barack Obama election victory speech, 2008
Following his victory in the United States presidential election, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave his victory speech at Grant Park in his home city of Chicago, Illinois, on November 5, 2008, before an estimated crowd of 240,000...

.
Following Obama's speech, spontaneous street parties broke out in cities across the United States including Philadelphia, Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, Miami, Chicago, Columbus
Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

, Detroit, Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Portland
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Madison
Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

, and New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and around the world in London; Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

; Berlin; Obama, Japan; Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

; Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

; Sydney; and Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

.

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
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and the western states of Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 and Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

. All of these states had been carried by Bush in 2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and the bellwether
Missouri bellwether
The Missouri bellwether is a political phenomenon that notes that the state of Missouri voted for the winner in all but two U.S. Presidential election since 1904 . While states like Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and New Mexico have been arguably stronger indicators of political trends in recent years,...

 state of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 remained undecided for several days. Eventually Obama was declared the winner in North Carolina and McCain in Missouri, with Obama pulling out a rare win in Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district encompasses the core of the Omaha metropolitan area. It includes all of Douglas County, which includes Omaha, and the urbanized areas of Sarpy County...

. This put the projected electoral vote count at 365 for Obama and 173 for McCain. Obama's victories in the populous swing states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia contributed to his decisive win. The presidential electors cast their ballots for President and Vice President, and Congress tallied these votes on January 8, 2009.

Nationwide results

Popular vote totals are from the official Federal Election Commission report. Congress certified the electoral vote totals on January 8, 2009.

Turnout

The voter turnout
Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

 for this election was broadly predicted to be high by American standards, and a record number of votes were cast. The final tally of total votes counted was 131.3 million, compared to 122.3 million in 2004 (which also boasted the highest record since 1968
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...

, after which the voting age
Voting age
A voting age is a minimum age established by law that a person must attain to be eligible to vote in a public election.The vast majority of countries in the world have established a voting age. Most governments consider that those of any age lower than the chosen threshold lack the necessary...

 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
United States presidential election, 1960
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th American presidential election, held on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961, and ending January 20, 1965. The incumbent president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was not eligible to run again. The Republican Party...

. 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.

American University
American University
American University is a private, Methodist, liberal arts, and research university in Washington, D.C. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892 as "The American University", which was approved by President Benjamin Harrison on February 24, 1893...

'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. That report was the basis for some news articles that indicated voter turnout failed to meet expectations. When the remaining votes were counted after the release of the report, the total number of votes cast in the presidential election was raised to 131.2 million, which surpassed the American University report's preliminary estimate of 126.5 to 128.5 million voters by a factor of between 2% and 4%.

The election saw increased participation from African-Americans. African Americans made up 11.1% of the electorate in 2004, versus 13.0% in 2008. 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. 74% of North Carolina's registered African American voters turned out, as opposed to 69% of North Carolinians in general, with Obama carrying 100% (with rounding) of African American females and African Americans age 18 to 29, according to exit polling. This was the case in Virginia as well where much higher turnout among African Americans propelled Obama to victory in the former Republican stronghold. Even in southern states where Obama was unsuccessful, such as Georgia and Mississippi, due to large African American turnout he was much more competitive than John Kerry in 2004.

State results

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 and 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. Four states, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and Ohio, have since amended the popular vote results. The updated Georgia results, Illinois results, New York results, and Ohio results are included here.
States/districts won by Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

/Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

States/districts won by McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

/Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...


State Electors Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

OthersObama % margin
Alabama
United States presidential election in Alabama, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Alabama took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 9 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

9 813,479 1,266,546 6,788 4,991 4,310 3,705 -21.58
Alaska
United States presidential election in Alaska, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Alaska took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 123,594 193,841 3,783 1,589 1,660 1,730 -21.54
Arizona
United States presidential election in Arizona, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Arizona took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

10 1,034,707 1,230,111 11,301 12,555 1,371 3,406 24 -8.48
Arkansas
United States presidential election in Arkansas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Arkansas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

6 422,310 638,017 12,882 4,776 4,023 3,470 1,139 -19.85
California
United States presidential election in California, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in California took place on November 4, 2008 in California as part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 55 electors, the most out of any of the 50 states, to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President....

55 8,274,473 5,011,781 108,381 67,582 3,145 38,774 57,764 24.03
Colorado
United States presidential election in Colorado, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Colorado took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 9 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

9 1,288,576 1,073,589 13,350 10,897 6,233 2,822 5,894 8.95
Connecticut
United States presidential election in Connecticut, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Connecticut took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

7 997,772 629,428 19,162 311 90 29 22.37
Delaware
United States presidential election in Delaware, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Delaware took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 255,459 152,374 2,401 1,109 626 385 58 24.98
District of Columbia
United States presidential election in the District of Columbia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in the District of Columbia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 245,800 17,367 958 590 1,138 85.92
Florida
United States presidential election in Florida, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Florida took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 27 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

27 4,282,074 4,045,624 28,124 17,218 7,915 2,887 6,902 2.81
Georgia
United States presidential election in Georgia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Georgia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 15 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

15 1,844,123 2,048,759 1,158 28,731 1,402 250 63 -5.20
Hawaii
United States presidential election in Hawaii, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Hawaii took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 325,871 120,566 3,825 1,314 1,013 979 45.26
Idaho
United States presidential election in Idaho, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Idaho took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 4 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

4 236,440 403,012 7,175 3,658 4,747 -25.30
Illinois
United States presidential election in Illinois, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Illinois took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 21 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

21 3,419,348 2,031,179 30,948 19,642 8,256 11,838 1,160 25.11
Indiana
United States presidential election in Indiana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Indiana took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,374,039 1,345,648 909 29,257 1,024 87 90 1.03
Iowa
United States presidential election in Iowa, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Iowa took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 828,940 682,379 8,014 4,590 4,445 1,423 7,332 9.53
Kansas
United States presidential election in Kansas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Kansas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 6 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

6 514,765 699,655 10,527 6,706 4,148 35 36 -14.92
Kentucky
United States presidential election in Kentucky, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Kentucky took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 8 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

8 751,985 1,048,462 15,378 5,989 4,694 -16.22
Louisiana
United States presidential election in Louisiana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Louisiana which took place on November 4, 2008 was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose nine representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.Louisiana was won by...

9 782,989 1,148,275 6,997 2,581 9,187 10,732 -18.63
Maine
United States presidential election in Maine, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Maine took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Maine is one of two states in the U.S...

2* 421,923 295,273 10,636 251 177 2,900 431 17.32
ME 1st Dist.
Maine's 1st congressional district
Maine's 1st congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Maine. The geographically smaller of the two congressional districts in the state, the district covers the southern coastal area of the state. The district consists of all of Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc,...

1 232,145 144,604 5,263 1,362 252 22.82
ME 2nd Dist.
Maine's 2nd congressional district
Maine's 2nd congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Maine. Covering , it comprises nearly 80% of the state. It is the largest district east of the Mississippi River and the 24th-largest overall. The district consists of all of the state north of the Portland and...

1 189,778 150,669 5,373 1,538 179 11.25
Maryland
United States presidential election in Maryland, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Maryland took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,629,467 959,862 14,713 9,842 3,760 4,747 9,205 25.44
Massachusetts
United States presidential election in Massachusetts, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Massachusetts took place on November 4, 2008 in Massachusetts as in all 50 states and D.C., as part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

12 1,904,097 1,108,854 28,841 13,189 4,971 6,550 14,483 25.81
Michigan
United States presidential election in Michigan, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Michigan took place on November 4, 2008. It was part of the 2008 United States presidential election which happened throughout all 50 states and D.C....

17 2,872,579 2,048,639 33,085 23,716 14,685 8,892 170 16.44
Minnesota
United States presidential election in Minnesota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Minnesota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,573,354 1,275,409 30,152 9,174 6,787 5,174 10,319 10.24
Mississippi
United States presidential election in Mississippi, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Mississippi took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

6 554,662 724,597 4,011 2,529 2,551 1,034 481 -13.17
Missouri
United States presidential election in Missouri, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Missouri was held on November 4, 2008, and was part of the 2008 United States presidential election, which took place throughout all 50 states and D.C....

11 1,441,911 1,445,814 17,813 11,386 8,201 80 -0.13
Montana
United States presidential election in Montana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Montana took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 231,667 242,763 3,686 1,355 143 23 10,638 -2.38
Nebraska
United States presidential election in Nebraska, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Nebraska took place on November 4, 2008 as part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President. However, this state is one of the two states of the U.S...

2* 333,319 452,979 5,406 2,740 2,972 1,028 2,837 -14.93
NE 1st Dist.
Nebraska's 1st congressional district
Nebraska's 1st congressional district seat encompasses most of the eastern quarter of the state. It includes the state capital, Lincoln, Fremont, Norfolk, Beatrice and South Sioux City. It is currently held by Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican. George W. Bush received 63% of the vote in this district...

1 121,468 148,179 1,970 929 1,019 393 -9.75
NE 2nd Dist.
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district encompasses the core of the Omaha metropolitan area. It includes all of Douglas County, which includes Omaha, and the urbanized areas of Sarpy County...

1 138,752 135,439 1,621 1,007 604 321 1.19
NE 3rd Dist.
Nebraska's 3rd congressional district
Nebraska's 3rd congressional district seat encompasses the western three-fourths of the state; it is one of the largest non-at-large Congressional districts in the country, covering nearly , two time zones and 68.5 counties. It includes Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings, North Platte, Scottsbluff and...

1 73,099 169,361 1,815 804 1,349 314 -39.01
Nevada
United States presidential election in Nevada, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Nevada was part of the 2008 United States presidential election, which took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C.. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 533,736 412,827 6,150 4,263 3,194 1,411 6,267 12.49
New Hampshire
United States presidential election in New Hampshire, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Hampshire took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 384,826 316,534 3,503 2,217 226 40 3,624 9.61
New Jersey
United States presidential election in New Jersey, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Jersey took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

15 2,215,422 1,613,207 21,298 8,441 3,956 3,636 2,277 15.53
New Mexico
United States presidential election in New Mexico, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Mexico took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 472,422 346,832 5,327 2,428 1,597 1,552 15.13
New York
United States presidential election in New York, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New York took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 31 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

31 4,804,701 2,752,728 41,248 19,595 634 12,801 8,936 26.86
North Carolina
United States presidential election in North Carolina, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in North Carolina took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

15 2,142,651 2,128,474 1,448 25,722 158 13,942 0.33
North Dakota
United States presidential election in North Dakota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in North Dakota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 141,278 168,601 4,189 1,354 1,199 -8.65
Ohio
United States presidential election in Ohio, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Ohio took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 20 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

20 2,940,044 2,677,820 42,337 19,917 12,565 8,518 7,149 4.58
Oklahoma
United States presidential election in Oklahoma, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Oklahoma took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 502,496 960,165 -31.29
Oregon
United States presidential election in Oregon, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Oregon took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 1,037,291 738,475 18,614 7,635 7,693 4,543 13,613 16.35
Pennsylvania
United States presidential election in Pennsylvania, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Pennsylvania took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

21 3,276,363 2,655,885 42,977 19,912 1,092 10.31
Rhode Island
United States presidential election in Rhode Island, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Rhode Island took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 296,571 165,391 4,829 1,382 675 797 122 27.81
South Carolina
United States presidential election in South Carolina, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in South Carolina took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

8 862,449 1,034,896 5,053 7,283 6,827 4,461 -8.98
South Dakota
United States presidential election in South Dakota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in South Dakota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 170,924 203,054 4,267 1,835 1,895 -8.41
Tennessee
United States presidential election in Tennessee, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Tennessee took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,087,437 1,479,178 11,560 8,547 8,191 2,499 2,337 -15.06
Texas
United States presidential election in Texas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Texas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 34 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

34 3,528,633 4,479,328 5,440 56,116 5,395 831 2,781 -11.76
Utah
United States presidential election in Utah, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Utah took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 327,670 596,030 8,416 6,966 12,012 982 294 -28.02
Vermont
United States presidential election in Vermont, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Vermont took place on November 4, 2008 concurrent with the federal election in all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 219,262 98,974 3,339 1,067 500 66 1,904 37.01
Virginia
United States presidential election in Virginia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Virginia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 13 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

13 1,959,532 1,725,005 11,483 11,067 7,474 2,344 6,355 6.30
Washington
United States presidential election in Washington, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Washington took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,750,848 1,229,216 29,489 12,728 9,432 3,819 1,346 17.08
West Virginia
United States presidential election in West Virginia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in West Virginia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

5 303,857 397,466 7,219 2,465 2,355 89 -13.09
Wisconsin
United States presidential election in Wisconsin, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Wisconsin took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,677,211 1,262,393 17,605 8,858 5,072 4,216 8,062 13.90
Wyoming
United States presidential election in Wyoming, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Wyoming took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 82,868 164,958 2,525 1,594 1,192 1,521 -32.24
U.S. Total 538 69,498,215 59,948,240 738,720 523,713 199,437 161,680 226,979 7.26

Close states/districts

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 0.14%
  2. North Carolina 0.32%
  3. Indiana 1.04%
  4. Nebraska's 2nd congressional district 1.19%
  5. Montana 2.25%
  6. Florida 2.82%
  7. Ohio 4.59%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 5% but less than 10% (64 electoral votes):
  1. Georgia 5.21%
  2. Virginia 6.29%
  3. South Dakota 8.41%
  4. Arizona 8.52%
  5. North Dakota 8.63%
  6. Colorado 8.95%
  7. South Carolina 8.97%
  8. Iowa 9.54%
  9. New Hampshire 9.65%
  10. Pennsylvania 9.69%
  11. Nebraska's 1st congressional district 9.77%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 10% but less than 15%:
  1. Minnesota 10.24%
  2. Texas 11.76%
  3. Nevada 12.5%
  4. West Virginia 12.69%
  5. Mississippi 13.18%
  6. Wisconsin 13.91%
  7. Kansas 14.93%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 15% but less than 20%:
  1. Tennessee 15.06%
  2. New Mexico 15.13%
  3. New Jersey 15.57%
  4. Kentucky 16.22%
  5. Oregon 16.35%
  6. Michigan 16.45%
  7. Maine 17%
  8. Washington 17.17%
  9. Louisiana 18.63%
  10. Arkansas 19.86%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 20% but less than 25%:
  1. Alaska 21.53%
  2. Alabama 21.58%
  3. Connecticut 22.37%
  4. California 24.06%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 25% but less than 50%:
  1. Delaware 25.02%
  2. Illinois 25.12%
  3. Idaho 25.34%
  4. Maryland 25.45%
  5. Massachusetts 25.81%
  6. New York 26.85%
  7. Rhode Island 27.8%
  8. Utah 28.03%
  9. Oklahoma 31.3%
  10. Wyoming 32.24%
  11. Vermont 37.01%
  12. Hawaii 45.27%

Ballot access

Presidential ticket Party Ballot access
Ballot access
Ballot access rules, called nomination rules outside the United States, regulate the conditions under which a candidate or political party is either entitled to stand for election or to appear on voters' ballots...

Votes
Obama / Biden Democratic 50+DC
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

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 37 199,314
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. All six candidates appeared on the ballot for a majority of the voters, while the 17 other listed candidates were available to no more than 30% of the voters.

The following nine candidates (and/or parties) had ballot listing and/or write-in status in more than one state:
  • Alan Keyes
    Alan Keyes
    Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

     (America's Independent Party
    America's Independent Party
    America's Party, originally known as America's Independent Party, is a conservative American political party formed in 2008 by supporters of Alan Keyes as an alternative to the Republican, Democratic and other parties....

    ) 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
    Ron Paul
    Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

     received 41,905 votes; listed in Louisiana (Louisiana Taxpayers) and in Montana (Constitution), with write-in status in California.
  • Róger Calero
    Róger Calero
    Róger Calero is a Nicaraguan American journalist and one of the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party. He was SWP candidate for President of the United States in 2004 and 2008, and for the United States Senate in New York in 2006....

     (Socialist Workers Party
    Socialist Workers Party (United States)
    The Socialist Workers Party is a far-left political organization in the United States. The group places a priority on "solidarity work" to aid strikes and is strongly supportive of Cuba...

    ) 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 Party
    Socialist Party USA
    The Socialist Party USA is a multi-tendency democratic-socialist party in the United States. The party states that it is the rightful continuation and successor to the tradition of the Socialist Party of America, which had lasted from 1901 to 1972.The party is officially committed to left-wing...

    , see Brian Moore presidential campaign, 2008
    Brian Moore presidential campaign, 2008
    Brian Patrick Moore, a local politician from California, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 19, 2007. The same month he was declared the nominee of the Socialist Party USA for the 2008 presidential election...

    ) received 6,566 votes; listed in eight states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and 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
    Party for Socialism and Liberation
    The Party for Socialism and Liberation is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the United States. It was originally created as the result of a split within the ranks of Workers World Party , although their political line is nearly identical. The San Francisco branch as well as several other...

    ) received 6,808 votes nationally; listed in 12 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • Charles Jay
    Charles Jay
    Charles Jay was the Presidential nominee of the United States Boston Tea Party in the 2008 United States presidential election. He was the presidential nominee of the Personal Choice Party in the 2004 election, achieving ballot status in Utah, and received 946 votes in the general election, coming...

     (Boston Tea Party
    Boston Tea Party (political party)
    The Boston Tea Party is a U.S. political party named after the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Its ideology is libertarian.A group of former Libertarian Party members founded the party in 2006...

    ) 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
    Objectivist Party
    The Objectivist Party is a political party in the United States that seeks to promote Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism in the political realm. The party was formed on February 2, 2008 by Thomas Stevens; the date was chosen to coincide with Rand's birthday....

    ) received 755 votes; listed in Colorado and Florida.
  • Gene Amondson
    Gene Amondson
    Gene Amondson, was a landscape painter, woodcarver, Christian minister and prohibition activist who was the 2004 US presidential candidate for one faction of the Prohibition Party and the nominee of the unified party in 2008.Amondson was known for his anti-Alcohol activism and reenactments of...

     (Prohibition
    Prohibition Party
    The Prohibition Party is a political party in the United States best known for its historic opposition to the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is the oldest existing third party in the US. The party was an integral part of the temperance movement...

    ) 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
    Frank McEnulty
    Frank Edward McEnulty is an American businessperson and politician. In the 2008 presidential election, he was both the Vice Presidential nominee of the Reform Party of the United States of America and the presidential nominee of the New American Independent Party. His running mate was Bobby...

     (New American Independent) - Colorado (listed as unaffiliated); 828 votes.
  • Jeffrey Wamboldt (We the People
    We the People Foundation
    We the People Foundation for Constitutional Education, Inc. also known as We the People Foundation is a non-profit education and research organization in Queensbury, New York with the declared mission "to protect and defend individual Rights as guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States."...

    ) - 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
    Ted Weill
    Theodore "Ted" Weill was the nominee for President of the United States of the Reform Party of the United States of America in the 2008 election...

     (Reform
    Reform Party of the United States of America
    The Reform Party of the United States of America is a political party in the United States, founded in 1995 by Ross Perot...

    ) - Mississippi; 481 votes.
  • Bradford Lyttle
    Bradford Lyttle
    Bradford Lyttle is a prominent pacifist and peace activist, and organizer with the Committee for Non-Violent Action of several major campaigns against militarism, including "Omaha Action", against land-based nuclear missiles ; "Polaris Action" against submarine-based nuclear missiles ; the San...

     (U.S. Pacifist) - Colorado; 110 votes.


In Nevada, 6,251 votes were cast for "None Of These Candidates". In the three states that officially keep track of "blank" votes for President, 103,193 votes were recorded as "blank". More than 100,000 write-in votes were cast and recorded for a scattering of other candidates, including 62 votes for "Santa Claus
Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to Santa Claus...

" (in ten states) and 11 votes for "Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studio. Mickey is an anthropomorphic black mouse and typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves...

"(in five states).

According to the Federal Election Commission, an unusually high number of "miscellaneous" write-ins were cast for president in 2008, including 112,554 tallied in the 17 states that record votes for non-listed candidates. There were more presidential candidates on the ballot than at any other time in U. S. history, except for the 1992 election
United States presidential election, 1992
The United States presidential election of 1992 had three major candidates: Incumbent Republican President George Bush; Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and independent Texas businessman Ross Perot....

, which also had 23 candidates listed in at least one state.


The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, defeated Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

. Obama received 365 electoral votes, and McCain 173. The popular vote was 69,456,897 to 59,934,814, respectively.

During the presidential election campaign, the major-party candidates ran on a platform of change and reform in Washington. Domestic policy
Domestic policy
Domestic policy, also known as public policy, presents decisions, laws, and programs made by the government which are directly related to all issues and activity within the country....

 and the economy eventually emerged as the main themes in the last few months of the election campaign after the onset of the 2008 economic crisis.

There were several unique aspects of the 2008 election. The election was the first in which an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 was elected President, as well as the first presidential election in which an African American was nominated by a major party for the office of president. It was the first time two sitting senators ran against each other. The 2008 election was the first in 56 years in which neither an incumbent president nor a vice president ran—President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 was constitutionally limited from seeking a third term by the Twenty-second Amendment
Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-second Amendment of the United States Constitution sets a term limit for the President of the United States. The Congress passed the amendment on March 21, 1947...

; Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 chose not to seek the presidency. It was also the first time the Republican Party nominated a woman for Vice President (Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

, then-Governor of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

), and the second time a major party did so. The first time a major party nominated a woman for Vice President was when the Democratic Party nominated Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Anne Ferraro was an American attorney, a Democratic Party politician, and a member of the United States House of Representatives. She was the first female Vice Presidential candidate representing a major American political party....

 for that office in 1984
United States presidential election, 1984
The United States presidential election of 1984 was a contest between the incumbent President Ronald Reagan, the Republican candidate, and former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate. Reagan was helped by a strong economic recovery from the deep recession of 1981–1982...

. Additionally, it was the first election in which both major parties nominated candidates who were born outside of the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

. Voter turnout for the 2008 election was the highest in at least 40 years and Obama received the most votes for a presidential candidate in American history.

Nine states changed allegiance from the 2004 election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. 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
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 and the District of Columbia voted for President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 and Vice President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 on December 15, 2008. Those votes were tallied before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 2009.

Along with the Democratic and Republican parties, three other parties nominated candidates with ballot access in enough states to theoretically win the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. These were the Constitution Party
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

, the Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

, and the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

. In addition, independent candidate Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

 ran his own campaign.

Background

In 2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

, President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 won reelection
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

, defeating the Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 nominee, Senator John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

. After Republican pickups in the House and Senate
United States Senate elections, 2004
The United States Senate election, 2004 was an election for one-third of the seats in the United States Senate which coincided with the re-election of George W. Bush as president and the United States House election, as well as many state and local elections. Senators who were elected in 1998,...

 in the 2004 elections, Republicans maintained control of 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, and they were barely 50% by his reelection. Although Bush was reelected with a larger Electoral College margin than in 2000
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

, during his second term, Bush's approval rating dropped more quickly, with the Iraq War and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 in 2005 being most detrimental to the public's perception of his job performance.

By September 2006, Bush's approval rating was below 40%, and in the November 2006 Congressional elections
United States general elections, 2006
The 2006 United States midterm elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. All United States House of Representatives seats and one third of the United States Senate seats were contested in this election, as well as 36 state governorships, many state legislatures, four territorial...

, Democrats gained the majority in both houses. Bush's approval ratings continued to drop steadily throughout the rest of his term.

Nominations

In the United States, there are two major political parties
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

, the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 and the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

. There are also several minor parties, usually called third parties, who have not won a presidential election since 1848
United States presidential election, 1848
The United States presidential election of 1848 was an open race. President James K. Polk, having achieved all of his major objectives in one term and suffering from declining health that would take his life less than four months after leaving office, kept his promise not to seek re-election.The...

 (Lincoln's National Union Party
National Union Party (United States)
The National Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election, held during the Civil War. State Republican parties did not usually change their name....

, which won in 1864
United States presidential election, 1864
In the United States Presidential election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president. The election was held during the Civil War. Lincoln ran under the National Union ticket against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top general. McClellan ran as the "peace candidate",...

, was a short-lived coalition of Republicans and Northern Democrats rather than an independent party), although in 1912
United States presidential election, 1912
The United States presidential election of 1912 was a rare four-way contest. Incumbent President William Howard Taft was renominated by the Republican Party with the support of its conservative wing. After former President Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, he called...

 former President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, as candidate of the Progressive Party
Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
The Progressive Party of 1912 was an American political party. It was formed after a split in the Republican Party between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt....

 came in second by a wide margin. Most media and public focus is on the two major parties.

Each party hosts candidates who go through a nomination process to determine the presidential nominee
Presidential nominee
In United States politics and government, the term presidential nominee has two distinct meanings.The first is the person chosen by the primary voters and caucus-goers of a political party to be the party's nominee for President of the United States...

 for that party. The nomination process consists of primaries
United States presidential primary
The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events run by the political parties...

 and caucuses, held by the 50 states, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

, and the Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines...

. The winner of each of these primary elections usually receives delegates proportional to the percentage of the popular vote that candidate received in each states. In many Republican primaries, all the state's delegates are awarded to the winning candidate. In the Democratic Party, high-ranking party members known as superdelegate
Superdelegate
"Superdelegate" is an informal term commonly used for some of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the presidential nominating convention of the United States Democratic Party....

s each receive one vote in the convention. Whichever candidate has the majority of the delegates at the end of the primary elections is designated the presumptive nominee
Presumptive nominee
In politics, the presumptive nominee is a political candidate who is all but assured of his or her party's nomination, but has not yet been formally nominated...

 until he or she is formally nominated and endorsed for the presidency by his or her political party. This is done by the aforementioned delegates for each party.

Democratic Party nomination

Candidates

  • Barack Obama
    Barack Obama
    Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

    , U.S. Senator from Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

  • Hillary Clinton
    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

    , U.S. Senator from New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

  • John Edwards
    John Edwards
    Johnny Reid "John" Edwards is an American politician, who served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004, and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008.He defeated incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth in...

    , former U.S. Senator from North Carolina
    North Carolina
    North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

  • Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

  • Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis John Kucinich is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1997. He was furthermore a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections....

    , U.S. Representative from Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

    , U.S. Senator from Delaware
    Delaware
    Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

  • Mike Gravel
    Mike Gravel
    Maurice Robert "Mike" Gravel is a former Democratic United States Senator from Alaska, who served two terms from 1969 to 1981, and a former candidate in the 2008 presidential election....

    , former U.S. Senator from Alaska
    Alaska
    Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

  • Christopher Dodd
    Christopher Dodd
    Christopher John "Chris" Dodd is an American lawyer, lobbyist, and Democratic Party politician who served as a United States Senator from Connecticut for a thirty-year period ending with the 111th United States Congress....

    , U.S. Senator from Connecticut
    Connecticut
    Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

  • Tom Vilsack
    Tom Vilsack
    Thomas James "Tom" Vilsack is an American politician, a member of the Democratic Party, and presently the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He served as the 40th Governor of the state of Iowa. He was first elected in 1998 and re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002...

    , former Governor of Iowa
    Iowa
    Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

  • Evan Bayh
    Evan Bayh
    Birch Evans "Evan" Bayh III is a lawyer, advisor and former Democratic politician who served as the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1999 to 2011. He earlier served as the 46th Governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997. Bayh is a current Fox News contributor as of March 14, 2011.Bayh first held...

    , former Governor and U.S. Senator from Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...


Before the primaries

Media speculation began almost immediately after the results of the 2004 presidential elections
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

 became known. In the 2006 midterm elections, the Democrats regained majorities in both houses of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. Early polls taken before anyone had announced a candidacy had shown Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 as the most popular potential Democratic candidates. Nevertheless, the media speculated on several other candidates, including Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

, the runner-up in the 2000 election
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

; John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

, the runner-up in the 2004 election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

; John Edwards
John Edwards
Johnny Reid "John" Edwards is an American politician, who served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004, and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008.He defeated incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth in...

, his running mate
Running mate
A running mate is a person running together with another person on a joint ticket during an election. The term is most often used in reference to the person in the subordinate position but can also properly be used when referring to both candidates, such as "Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen were...

; Delaware Senator Joseph Biden; New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack; and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

Edwards was one of the first to formally announce his candidacy for the presidency, on December 28, 2006. This run would be his second attempt at the presidency. Clinton announced intentions to run in the Democratic primaries on January 20, 2007. Obama announced his candidacy on February 10 in his home state of Illinois. None of the candidates received a significant bounce in their poll numbers after their official announcements. Through most of 2007, even after it was evident Al Gore would not run, John Edwards and Al Gore each hovered between the third and fourth place spots in the polls behind Clinton and Obama.

"Front-runner" status is dependent on the news agency reporting, and by October 2007, the consensus listed the three aforementioned candidates as leading the pack after several debate performances. The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

listed Clinton, Edwards and Obama as the front runners, "leading in polls and fundraising and well ahead of the other major candidates". Clinton led in nearly all nationwide opinion polling
Nationwide opinion polling for the Democratic Party 2008 presidential candidates
For state-by state numbers see Statewide opinion polling for the Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2008This is a collection of scientific, public nationwide opinion polls that have been conducted relating to the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates.-Broad field: For state-by state numbers...

 until January 2008.

Comedian Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert
Stephen Tyrone Colbert is an American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.Colbert originally studied to be an...

 mounted his own campaign
Stephen Colbert presidential campaign, 2008
On October 16, 2007, satirist Stephen Colbert officially announced that he would run for President of the United States. This came after weeks of being pressured to do so by the public and stating that he would need a sign, which came from Aragorn giving him the sword Anduril...

 for the nomination in his home state of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, announcing it in October 2007. Public Opinion Strategies conducted a poll and found Colbert nationally in fifth place at 2.3% behind Sen. Joseph Biden's 2.7%

Early primaries/caucuses

The early primaries and caucuses are considered the most critical of nomination process. Most candidates lacking support drop out after doing poorly in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years , as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.Although only a...

, and these states' results often shift national preferences, according to historical polling data. The states that hold early primaries and caucuses are, chronologically, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. In 2008, Florida and Michigan moved their primaries into January against the Democratic Party's rules, and the results of these primaries were discounted and disputed until after the rest of the contests occurred.

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 Iowa caucus, with John Edwards coming in second and Clinton in third. Obama's win was fueled mostly by first time caucus-goers and Independents
Independent (voter)
An independent voter, those who register as an unaffiliated voter in the United States, is a voter of a democratic country who does not align him- or herself with a political party...

 and showed voters viewed him as the candidate of change. Iowa is viewed as the state that jump-started Obama's campaign and set him on track to win the nomination and the presidency. After the Iowa caucus, Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

 and Christopher Dodd
Christopher Dodd
Christopher John "Chris" Dodd is an American lawyer, lobbyist, and Democratic Party politician who served as a United States Senator from Connecticut for a thirty-year period ending with the 111th United States Congress....

 withdrew from the nomination contest.

Obama became the new front runner in New Hampshire when his poll numbers skyrocketed after his victory in Iowa. The Clinton campaign was struggling after a bad loss in Iowa and no strategy beyond the early primaries and caucuses. According to The Vancouver Sun
The Vancouver Sun
The Vancouver Sun is a daily newspaper first published in the Canadian province of British Columbia on February 12, 1912. The paper is currently published by the Pacific Newspaper Group, a division of Postmedia Network. It is published six days a week, Monday to Saturday...

, "Campaign strategists had mapped a victory scenario that envisioned the former first lady wrapping up the Democratic presidential nomination by Super Tuesday on Feb. 5." In what is considered a turning point for her campaign, Clinton had a strong performance at the Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College is a nationally ranked, private, Benedictine, Catholic liberal arts college in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Founded in 1889 by Abbot Hilary Pfrängle, O.S.B. of Saint Mary's Abbey in Newark, New Jersey, at the request of Bishop Denis M. Bradley of Manchester, New Hampshire, the...

, ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 and Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 debates several days before the New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years , as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.Although only a...

 as well as an emotional interview in a public broadcast live on TV. Clinton won that primary by 2% of the vote, contrary to the predictions of pollsters who consistently had her trailing Obama for a few days up to the primary date. On January 30, 2008, after placing in third in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, Edwards announced that he was suspending his campaign for the presidency, but he did not initially endorse any remaining candidate.

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday
Super Tuesday, 2008
Super Tuesday 2008, Super Duper Tuesday, Mega Tuesday, Giga Tuesday, Tsunami Tuesday, and The Tuesday of Destiny are names for February 5, 2008, the day on which the largest simultaneous number of state U.S. presidential primary elections in the history of U.S. primaries were held...

 occurred on February 5, 2008, during which the largest-ever number of simultaneous state primary
United States presidential primary
The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events run by the political parties...

 elections was held. 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.

Earlier, on February 3 on the UCLA
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

 campus, celebrities Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

, Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is an American author and attorney. She is a member of the influential Kennedy family and the only surviving child of U.S. President John F...

 and Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevland Hardaway Morris , better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist...

, among others, made appearances to show support for Barack Obama in a rally led by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States...

. In addition, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

's wife, Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver
Maria Owings Shriver is an American journalist and author of six best-selling books. She has received a Peabody Award, and was co-anchor for NBC's Emmy-winning coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics. As executive producer of The Alzheimer's Project, Shriver earned two Emmy Awards and an Academy of...

, endorsed Obama. California
California Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 California Democratic primary took place on February 5, 2008, also known as Super Tuesday. California was dubbed the "Big Enchilada" by the media because it offers the most delegates out of any other delegation. Hillary Clinton won the primary....

 was one of the Super Tuesday states that were rich in delegates. Obama trailed in the California polling by an average of 6.0% before the primary; he ended up losing the state by 8.3%. Some analysts cited a large Latino
Latino
The demonyms Latino and Latina , are defined in English language dictionaries as:* "a person of Latin-American descent."* "A Latin American."* "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."...

 turnout that voted for Clinton as the deciding factor.
Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Nebraska
Nebraska Democratic caucuses, 2008
The Nebraska Democratic Presidential Caucuses took place on February 9, 2008, where 24 of the state's 31 convention delegates were chosen. Like he did throughout many other states that held caucuses instead of primaries, Barack Obama won the Nebraska Democratic Caucus by more than a two-to-one...

, Hawaii
Hawaii Democratic caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Hawaii Democratic Presidential Caucuses took place on February 19, 2008, with 20 pledged delegates at stake. The winner in each of Hawaii's two congressional districts was awarded all of that district's delegates, totaling 13. Another seven delegates were awarded to both candidates at the...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Wisconsin Democratic primary took place on February 19, 2008. 74 pledged delegates were at stake. The Hawaii Democratic caucuses, 2008 took place the same day....

, U.S. Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands Democratic territorial convention, 2008
The 2008 United States Virgin Islands Democratic territorial convention took place on February 9, 2008. The convention chose 6 delegates, all pledged to Senator Barack Obama. Each delegate, however, only counted for half a vote at the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia primaries and the Washington
Washington Democratic caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Washington Democratic caucuses were a series of events held by the Washington State Democratic Party to determine the delegates that the Party sent to the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

 and Maine caucuses all took place after Super Tuesday in February. Obama won all of them, giving him ten consecutive victories after Super Tuesday.

March and April contests

On March 4, Hillary Clinton carried Ohio
Ohio Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Ohio Democratic primary took place on March 4, 2008 and was open to registered Democrats and Independents. Ohio sent 141 pledged delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which were awarded to the candidates proportionally based on the outcome of the election. In addition,...

 and Rhode Island
Rhode Island Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Rhode Island Democratic primary took place on March 4, 2008. It was an open primary. 21 delegates were awarded on a proportional basis. Rhode Island's delegation to the 2008 Democratic National Convention also included 11 superdelegates whose votes were not bound by the results of the...

 in the Democratic primaries; some considered these wins, especially Ohio, a surprise upset, although she led in the polling averages in both states. She also carried the primary in Texas
Texas Democratic primary and caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Texas Democratic primary and caucuses were a series of events to determine the delegates that the Texas Democratic Party sent to the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

, but Obama won the Texas caucuses held the same day and netted more delegates from the state than Clinton.

Only one state held a primary in April. This was Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Democratic primary in Pennsylvania was held on April 22 by the Pennsylvania Department of State in which voters chose their preference for the Democratic Party's candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. Voters also chose the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's candidates for various...

, on April 22. Although Obama made a strong effort to win Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton won the primary by nearly 10%, with approximately 55% of the vote. Obama had outspent Clinton three to one in Pennsylvania, but his comment at a San Francisco fundraiser that small-town Americans "cling" to guns and religion drew sharp criticism from the Clinton campaign and may have hurt his chances in the Keystone State. In addition, Clinton had several advantages in Pennsylvania. Throughout the primary process, she relied on the support of older, white, working class voters. Pennsylvania held a closed primary, which means that only registered Democrats could vote, and, according to Ron Elving of NPR
NPR
NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

, "The established Democratic electorate was older, whiter, more Catholic and more working-class than in most of the primaries to date." After Pennsylvania, Obama had a higher number of delegates and popular votes than Clinton did and was still in a stronger position to win the nomination. Clinton, however, had received the endorsement of more superdelegates than Obama.

Indiana and North Carolina

On May 6, North Carolina
North Carolina Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Democratic presidential primary in North Carolina took place on May 6, 2008, one of the last primary elections in the long race for nomination between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama won the primary....

 and Indiana
Indiana Democratic primary, 2008
Clinton narrowly defeated Obama to win the primary.The Indiana Democratic Presidential Primary took place on May 6, 2008. It was an open primary with 72 delegates at stake. The winner in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts was awarded all of that district's delegates, totaling 47....

 held their Democratic presidential primaries. Clinton and Obama campaigned aggressively there before the voting took place. The candidates acknowledged the importance of these primaries and said they were turning point states that could make or break either of their campaigns. Polling had shown Obama a few points ahead in North Carolina and Clinton similarly leading in Indiana. 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 1.1% in Indiana (50.56% to 49.44%). After these primaries, most pundits declared that it had become increasingly improbable, if not impossible, for Clinton to win the nomination. The small win in Indiana barely kept her campaign alive for the next month. 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.

Florida and Michigan

During late 2007, the two 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. 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
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, 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 and popular votes from both states (though 40% voted uncommitted in Michigan) and subsequently led a fight to seat all the Florida and Michigan delegates.

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. 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.

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 states won, while Clinton had won majorities in several of the larger states. Because a form of proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 and popular vote decided Democratic state delegate contests, numbers were close between Clinton and Obama, the contest for the nomination continued into June 2008. By May, Clinton claimed to hold a lead in the popular vote, but the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 found her numbers accurate only in one close scenario.

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 declare their support for either candidate until the primaries were completed). He was the first African American to win the nomination of a major political party in the United States. 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. 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.

Republican Party nomination

Not only was 2008 the first election since 1952
United States presidential election, 1952
The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional...

 that neither the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election, but it was also the first time since the 1928 election
United States presidential election, 1928
The United States presidential election of 1928 pitted Republican Herbert Hoover against Democrat Al Smith. The Republicans were identified with the booming economy of the 1920s, whereas Smith, a Roman Catholic, suffered politically from Anti-Catholic prejudice, his anti-prohibitionist stance, and...

 that neither sought his party's nomination for president. Since term limits 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. This left the Republican field just as open to a wide field of new candidates as the Democratic field.

Candidates

  • John McCain
    John McCain
    John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

    , U.S. Senator from Arizona
    Arizona
    Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

  • Mike Huckabee
    Mike Huckabee
    Michael "Mike" Dale Huckabee is an American politician who served as the 44th Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the 2008 United States Republican presidential primaries, finishing second in delegate count and third in both popular vote and number of states won . He won...

    , former Governor of Arkansas
    Arkansas
    Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

  • Mitt Romney
    Mitt Romney
    Willard Mitt Romney is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination.The son of George W...

    , former Governor of Massachusetts
    Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

  • Ron Paul
    Ron Paul
    Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

    , U.S. Representative from Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

  • Fred Thompson, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee
    Tennessee
    Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

  • Duncan Hunter
    Duncan Hunter
    Duncan Lee Hunter is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from California's 52nd, 45th and 42nd districts from 1981 to 2009....

    , U.S. Representative from California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

  • Rudy Giuliani
    Rudy Giuliani
    Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani KBE is an American lawyer, businessman, and politician from New York. He served as Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001....

    , former Mayor of New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

  • Alan Keyes
    Alan Keyes
    Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

    , former U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador from Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

  • Tom Tancredo
    Tom Tancredo
    Thomas Gerard "Tom" Tancredo is an American politician from Colorado, who represented the state's sixth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009, as a Republican...

    , U.S. Representative from Colorado
    Colorado
    Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

  • John H. Cox
    John H. Cox
    John Herman Cox is an American lawyer, accountant, businessman, broadcaster, and aspiring politician. He was the first Republican to seek formally the party's 2008 nomination for president, but effectively withdrew from the race in late 2007 and suspended his campaign shortly after.-Biography:Born...

    , Businessman from Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

  • Ray McKinney
    Ray McKinney
    Raymond Louis "Ray" McKinney is a mechanical services manager from Savannah, Georgia, and was the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress from Georgia's 12th District in 2010. He was a candidate for U.S...

    , Mechanical services manager from Georgia
    Georgia (U.S. state)
    Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

  • Sam Brownback
    Sam Brownback
    Samuel Dale "Sam" Brownback is the 46th and current Governor of Kansas. A member of the Republican Party, he served as a U.S. Senator from Kansas from 1996 to 2011, and as a U.S. Representative for Kansas's 2nd congressional district from 1995 to 1996...

    , U.S. Senator from Kansas
    Kansas
    Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

  • Tommy Thompson
    Tommy Thompson
    Thomas George "Tommy" Thompson , a United States Republican politician, was the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, after which he served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Thompson was a candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, but dropped out early after a poor performance in polls...

    , former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from Wisconsin
    Wisconsin
    Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

  • Jim Gilmore
    Jim Gilmore
    James Stuart "Jim" Gilmore III is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, former 68th Governor of Virginia, and a member of the Republican Party. A native Virginian, Gilmore studied at the University of Virginia, and then served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent...

    , former Governor of Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...


Before the primaries

Immediately after the 2006 midterm elections, media pundits began speculating, as they did about the Democrats, about potential Republican candidates for President in 2008. In November 2006, Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani led in the polls, followed closely by Arizona Senator John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

. The media speculated that Giuliani's pro-choice
Pro-choice
Support for the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-choice movement, a sociopolitical movement supporting the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy....

 stance on abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 and McCain's age and support of the unpopular Iraq War would be detriments to their candidacies. Giuliani remained the frontrunner in the polls throughout most of 2007, with McCain and former Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 Senator Fred Thompson fighting for second place. Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 Governor Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee
Michael "Mike" Dale Huckabee is an American politician who served as the 44th Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the 2008 United States Republican presidential primaries, finishing second in delegate count and third in both popular vote and number of states won . He won...

, Giuliani, Former Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 Governor Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Willard Mitt Romney is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination.The son of George W...

, and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 Congressman Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

 announced their candidacies on January 28, February 5, February 13, and March 12, respectively. McCain officially announced his candidacy on March 1, 2007, after several informal announcements. In the third quarter of 2007, the top four GOP (Republican) fundraisers were Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, and Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

. MSNBC's Chuck Todd christened Giuliani and John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 the front runners after the second Republican presidential debate in early 2007.

Early primaries/caucuses

Huckabee, after winning in Iowa, had little money and hoped for a third-place finish in New Hampshire. McCain eventually displaced Rudy Giuliani and Romney as the front runner in New Hampshire
New Hampshire Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 New Hampshire Republican primary took place on January 8, 2008, with 12 national delegates being allocated proportionally to the popular vote...

. McCain staged a turnaround victory, having been written off by the pundits and polling in single digits less than a month before the race.

With the Republicans stripping Michigan and Florida of half their delegates for moving their primaries into January 2008 against party rules, the race for the nomination was based there. McCain meanwhile managed a small victory over Huckabee in South Carolina
South Carolina Republican primary, 2008
The South Carolina Republican primary, 2008 was held on January 19, with 24 delegates at stake. The Republican National Committee took half of South Carolina's 47 delegates away from them because the state committee moved its Republican primary before February 5...

, setting him up for a larger and more important victory over Romney in Florida
Florida Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Florida Republican primary was held on January 29, 2008, with 57 delegates at stake on a winner-take-all basis. The Republican National Committee removed half of Florida's delegates because the state committee moved its Republican primary before February 5. Arizona Senator John McCain was...

, which held a closed primary on January 29. By this time, after several scandals, no success in the early primaries, and a third-place finish in Florida, Giuliani conceded from the nomination race and endorsed John McCain the next day.

Super Tuesday

In February, McCain, besides winning Giuliani's support, was endorsed by California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

 before the California primary
California Republican primary, 2008
The California Republican primary, 2008 was held on February 5, 2008, with a total of 173 national delegates at stake.- Process :The delegates represented California at the Republican National Convention. There were three delegates to every congressional district and fourteen bonus delegates...

 took place on Super Tuesday. This gave him a significant boost in the polls for the state's primary, which awarded the greatest number of delegates of all the states. On Super Tuesday, McCain won his home state of Arizona, taking all 53 delegates, and the largest of the Super Tuesday prizes, nearly all of California's 173 delegates. McCain also scored wins in seven other states, picking up 574 delegates. Huckabee was the "surprise performer", winning 5 states and 218 delegates. Romney won 7 states and 231 delegates. Two days later, Romney suspended his presidential campaign, saying that if he stayed in the race, he would "forestall the launch of a national campaign and be making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win". His departure left Huckabee and Paul as McCain's only major challengers in the remaining primaries and caucuses. Romney endorsed McCain on February 14.

Louisiana, Washington, Kansas
Kansas Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Kansas Republican caucuses took place on February 9, 2008.By the evening of February 9, Fox News and CNN projected Mike Huckabee as the winner of the Kansas Caucuses.The Associated Press also called the race for Mike Huckabee.- Results :...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Wisconsin Primary for the Republicans was held on February 19, 2008. Polls in Wisconsin opened at 7:00 AM and closed 8:00 PM John McCain won the primary.- Polls leading up to Primary :Last 3 Poll Averages- Results :...

, and Washington
Washington Republican primary, 2008
- Results :* Candidate stopped campaign before primary- See also :* Washington Republican caucuses, 2008* Republican Party presidential primaries, 2008* Washington Democratic caucuses, 2008- References :...

 held primaries in February after Super Tuesday. Despite McCain picking up big victories, Huckabee won Louisiana and Kansas. McCain narrowly carried the Washington caucuses over Huckabee and Paul, who amassed a large showing. The Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 United States Virgin Islands Republican Territorial Meeting, also known as the Republican caucuses, took place on the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas on April 5, 2008. Virgin Islands Republicans could select six pledged delegates for the 2008 Republican National...

 and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Puerto Rico Republican caucuses were held on February 24, 2008. John McCain won all 20 pledged at the Commonwealth's convention.-Results:-See also:* Puerto Rico Democratic primary, 2008...

 closed February for the Republicans. After Super Tuesday, John McCain had become the clear front runner, but by the end of February, he still had not acquired enough delegates to secure the nomination. In March, John McCain clinched the Republican nomination after sweeping all four primaries, Texas
Texas Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Texas Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. John McCain won the primary election, giving him enough delegate votes to guarantee his nomination at the 2008 Republican National Convention.-Process:...

, Ohio
Ohio Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Ohio Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. That night, candidate John McCain secured enough delegate votes to win the Republican nomination for the 2008 U.S...

, Vermont
Vermont Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Vermont Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. Arizona Senator John McCain was the winner of the primary.- Results :* Candidate dropped out of the race before the primary- See also :...

, and Rhode Island
Rhode Island Republican primary, 2008
- Results :* Candidate dropped out of the race before March 4.- See also :* Republican Party presidential primaries, 2008* Rhode Island Democratic primary, 2008- References :...

, putting him over the top of the 1,191 delegates required to win the GOP nomination. Mike Huckabee then conceded the race to McCain, leaving Ron Paul, who had just 16 delegates, as his only remaining opponent.

Other nominations

Along with the Democratic and Republican parties, three other parties nominated candidates with ballot access in enough states to win the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. These were the Constitution Party
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

, the Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

, and the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

. In addition, independent candidate Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

 ran his own campaign.

The Constitution Party nominated writer, pastor, and conservative talk show host Chuck Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

 for President, and attorney Darrell Castle
Darrell Castle
Darrell Castle is an American political figure, activist and attorney from Memphis, Tennessee, and was the vice presidential candidate of the Constitution Party in the 2008 United States presidential election.-Early life and education:...

 of Tennessee for Vice President. While campaigning, Baldwin voiced his opposition to the Iraq war, the Sixteenth Amendment
Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states or basing it on Census results...

, Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

, the IRS
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

, and the Federal Reserve
Federal Reserve System
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907...

.

The Green Party nominated former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

 of Georgia for President, and political activist Rosa Clemente
Rosa Clemente
Rosa Alicia Clemente is a United States community organizer, independent journalist and hip-hop activist. She was the vice presidential running mate of 2008 Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.Clemente was born and raised in South Bronx, New...

 from New York for Vice President. McKinney campaigned on a platform that supported single-payer universal health care
Single-payer health care
Single-payer health care is medical care funded from a single insurance pool, run by the state. Under a single-payer system, universal health care for an entire population can be financed from a pool to which many parties employees, employers, and the state have contributed...

, the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations for African Americans, and the creation of a Department of Peace.

The Libertarian Party nominated former Republican Congressman Bob Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

 of Georgia for President, and his former rival for the Libertarian nomination Wayne Allyn Root
Wayne Allyn Root
Wayne Allyn Root is an American politician, entrepreneur, television and radio personality, author and political commentator. He was the 2008 Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee. In June 2009 Richard Winger wrote he was the front runner for the 2012 Libertarian Presidential nomination...

 of Nevada, for Vice President. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barr advocated a reworking or abolishment of the income tax
Income tax in the United States
In the United States, a tax is imposed on income by the Federal, most states, and many local governments. The income tax is determined by applying a tax rate, which may increase as income increases, to taxable income as defined. Individuals and corporations are directly taxable, and estates and...

 and opposed the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act
USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001...

.

Party conventions

  • April 23–26, 2008: 2008 Constitution Party National Convention
    Constitution Party National Convention
    Constitution Party National Convention is held by the United States Constitution Party every two to four years. To date, there have been five.-National Conventions:...

     held in Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

    .
  • May 23–26, 2008: 2008 Libertarian National Convention
    2008 Libertarian National Convention
    The 2008 Libertarian National Convention was held from May 22 to May 26, 2008 at the Sheraton Hotel in Denver, Colorado...

    , held in Denver, Colorado
    Denver, Colorado
    The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

    .
  • July 10–13, 2008: 2008 Green Party National Convention
    2008 Green National Convention
    The 2008 Green National Convention took place on July 10-14, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois at the Palmer House Hilton and Symphony Center. This served as both the venue for the Presidential Nominating Convention and the Annual Meeting of the Green Party of the United States.-Venues:The convention was...

    , held in Chicago, Illinois.
  • July 18–20, 2008: 2008 Reform Party
    Reform Party of the United States of America
    The Reform Party of the United States of America is a political party in the United States, founded in 1995 by Ross Perot...

     National Convention, held in Dallas, Texas
    Dallas, Texas
    Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

    .
  • August 25–28, 2008: 2008 Democratic National Convention
    2008 Democratic National Convention
    The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. The convention was held in Denver,...

    , held in Denver, Colorado
    Denver, Colorado
    The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

    .
  • September 1–4, 2008: 2008 Republican National Convention
    2008 Republican National Convention
    The United States 2008 Republican National Convention took place at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from September 1, through September 4, 2008...

    , held in Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the area surrounding its point of confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city...

    .

Notable characteristics

The 2008 election campaign brought several firsts in United States presidential election history. It was the first presidential election since 1952
United States presidential election, 1952
The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional...

 in which neither the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election. In addition, John McCain became the second oldest (after Bob Dole) first-time presidential nominee in history when the Republicans nominated him in September 2008 (Ronald Reagan was 73 years, 6 months in 1984, for his second presidential nomination). McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

, was the first woman nominated for Vice President by the Republican Party. Barack Obama and 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
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and Bob Dole
Bob Dole
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole is an American attorney and politician. Dole represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, was Gerald Ford's Vice Presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election, and was Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and in 1995 and 1996...

 (23 years apart in age), who ran against each other in 1996
United States presidential election, 1996
The United States presidential election of 1996 was a contest between the Democratic national ticket of President Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and the Republican national ticket of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for President and former Housing Secretary Jack...

. The election would mark the first time that candidates from both major parties were born outside the continental United States with Barack Obama born in Hawaii and John McCain who was born in the Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone
The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

. Yet another first was that, for the first time in history, both major party nominees were sitting United States Senators.

One of the most talked about firsts in this election was Obama's possible, and then actual, nomination by the Democratic Party. On August 28, 2008, when Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination for President, he became the first African American to be nominated for President by a major political party. The television audiences for both McCain's and Obama's acceptance speeches broke records, according to Nielsen ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

.

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. (Obama's early and strong opposition to the war helped him stand out against the other Democratic candidates during the primaries, as well as stand out to a war-weary electorate during the general campaign). Though McCain meant it as a peacetime presence like the United States maintained in Germany and Japan after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, his statement that the United States could be in Iraq for as much as the next 50 to 100 years would prove costly. Obama used it against him as part of his strategy to tie him to the unpopular President Bush.

John McCain's support for the troop 'surge' employed by General David Petraeus
David Petraeus
David Howell Petraeus is the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sworn in on September 6, 2011. Prior to his assuming the directorship of the CIA, Petraeus was a four-star general serving over 37 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as commander...

, 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.

Bush's unpopularity

George W. Bush had become increasingly unpopular by the beginning of 2008. Polls consistently showed that only twenty to thirty percent of the American public approved of his job performance. In March 2008, Bush endorsed McCain at the White House, but Bush did not make a single appearance for McCain during the campaign. Bush appeared at the 2008 GOP convention only through a live video broadcast. He chose not to appear in person due to disaster events in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike was the second-costliest hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States, the costliest hurricane ever to impact Cuba and the second most active hurricane to reach the Canadian mainland in the Great Lakes Region after Hurricane Hazel in 1954...

. 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 countered by pointing 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 congressional voting records supported this for the years Bush was in office.

Change vs. experience

Before the Democratic primaries had even begun, the dichotomy of change versus experience had already become a common theme in the presidential campaign, with Senator Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 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
Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008
New York junior Senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had expressed interest in the 2008 United States presidential election since at least October 2002, drawing media speculation on whether she would become a candidate. No woman has ever won the nomination of a major party in the...

, aides for Clinton were already planning to position her as the 'change' candidate, as strategist Mark Penn
Mark Penn
Mark J. Penn , is the worldwide CEO of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and president of the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. In September 2007, he released a book titled Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes, which examines small trends sweeping...

 made clear in an October 2006 memo titled "The Plan." In his presidential run announcement, Obama framed his candidacy by emphasizing that "Washington must change." 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. Exit polls on Super Tuesday
Super Tuesday
In the United States, Super Tuesday, in general, refers to the Tuesday in February or March of a presidential election year when the greatest number of states hold primary elections to select delegates to national conventions at which each party's presidential candidates are officially nominated...

 found that 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. 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. Advantages for McCain and Obama on experience and the ability to bring change, respectively, remained steady through the November 4 election. However, 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, 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
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 to be his running mate. Palin had been governor only since 2006, and before 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
2008 Republican National Convention
The United States 2008 Republican National Convention took place at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from September 1, through September 4, 2008...

, a group that was initially lukewarm toward McCain's candidacy. 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. Because of Palin's conservative views, there was also concern that she would alienate independents and moderates, two groups that pundits observed McCain would need to win the election.

The economy

Polls taken in the last few months of the presidential campaign and exit polls conducted on Election Day showed the economy as the top concern for voters. In the fall of 2008, many news sources were reporting that the economy was suffering its most serious downturn since the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. 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." 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, the day of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy
Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers
Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers remains the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S...

, 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." 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. 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 Congress' lack of immediate action on the bill. His ineffectiveness in the negotiations and his reversal in decision to attend the debates were 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
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

, and McCain all voting for the measure.

All 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 sound bites of all of these "missteps" were played repeatedly on national television, most pundits and analysts agree that the actual financial crisis and economic conditions caused McCain's large drop in support in mid-September and severely damaged his campaign.

Debates

The Commission on Presidential Debates
Commission on Presidential Debates
The Commission on Presidential Debates began in 1987 by the Democratic and Republican parties to establish the way that presidential election debates are run between candidates for President of the United States...

 announced four debates:
  • September 26: The first presidential debate took place at the University of Mississippi
    University of Mississippi
    The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, is a public, coeducational research university located in Oxford, Mississippi. Founded in 1844, the school is composed of the main campus in Oxford, four branch campuses located in Booneville, Grenada, Tupelo, and Southaven as well as the...

    . 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
    Jim Lehrer
    James Charles "Jim" Lehrer is an American journalist and the executive editor and former news anchor for PBS NewsHour on PBS, known for his role as a frequent debate moderator during elections...

     of PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

    , introduced the topics.
  • October 2: The vice-presidential debate was hosted at Washington University in St. Louis
    Washington University in St. Louis
    Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university located in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1853, and named for George Washington, the university has students and faculty from all fifty U.S. states and more than 110 nations...

    , and was moderated by Gwen Ifill
    Gwen Ifill
    Gwendolyn L. "Gwen" Ifill is an American journalist, television newscaster and author. She is the managing editor and moderator of Washington Week and a senior correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, both of which air on PBS. She is a political analyst, and moderated the 2004 and 2008 Vice...

     of PBS.
  • October 7: The second presidential debate took place at Belmont University
    Belmont University
    Belmont University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. It is the largest Christian university in Tennessee and the second largest private university in the state, behind nearby Vanderbilt University.-Belmont Mansion:Belmont Mansion...

    . It was a town meeting format debate moderated by NBC News
    NBC News
    NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

     anchor Tom Brokaw
    Tom Brokaw
    Thomas John "Tom" Brokaw is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors...

    , 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
    Hofstra University
    Hofstra University is a private, nonsectarian institution of higher learning located in the Village of Hempstead, New York, United States, about east of New York City: less than an hour away by train or car...

    . It focused on domestic and economic policy. Like the first presidential debate, it was formatted into segments, with moderator Bob Schieffer
    Bob Schieffer
    Bob Lloyd Schieffer is an American television journalist who has been with CBS News since 1969, serving 23 years as anchor on the Saturday edition of CBS Evening News from 1973 to 1996; chief Washington correspondent since 1982, moderator of the Sunday public affairs show Face the Nation since...

     introducing the topics.


Another debate was sponsored by the Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 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
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

, Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

, and Chuck Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

 agreed to attend. Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is an American progressive broadcast journalist, syndicated columnist, investigative reporter and author. Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, an independent global news program broadcast daily on radio, television and the internet.-Early life:Goodman was born in Bay Shore, New York...

, principal host of Democracy Now!
Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! and its staff have received several journalism awards, including the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television; the George Polk Award for its 1998 radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship, on the Chevron Corporation and the deaths of...

, moderated. It was broadcast on cable by C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

 and on the Internet by Break-the-Matrix.

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 were 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). In January 2007, Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael E. Toner
Michael E. Toner
Michael E. Toner, American attorney and political appointee, specialized in election law, and currently employed by Wiley Rein LLP where he co-chairs the Election Law & Government Ethics Practice. He formerly served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission , the regulatory body that...

 estimated that the 2008 race would be a $1 billion election, and that to be taken seriously, a candidate would have needed to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007.

Although he had said he would not be running for president, published reports in 2007 indicated that billionaire and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg
Michael Rubens Bloomberg is the current Mayor of New York City. With a net worth of $19.5 billion in 2011, he is also the 12th-richest person in the United States...

 had been considering a presidential bid as an independent with up to $1 billion of his own fortune to finance it. Bloomberg ultimately ended this speculation by unequivocally stating that he would not run.

With the increase in money expenditures, many candidates did not use the public financing system funded by the presidential election campaign fund checkoff
Presidential election campaign fund checkoff
The presidential election campaign fund checkoff appears on US income tax return forms as the question Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?...

. John McCain, Tom Tancredo, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden qualified for and elected to take public funds throughout the primary process. Major Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 chose not to participate in the public financing system.

Internet campaigns

Howard Dean
Howard Dean
Howard Brush Dean III is an American politician and physician from Vermont. He served six terms as the 79th Governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Although his U.S...

 collected large contributions through 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
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

, MySpace
MySpace
Myspace is a social networking service owned by Specific Media LLC and pop star Justin Timberlake. Myspace launched in August 2003 and is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. In August 2011, Myspace had 33.1 million unique U.S. visitors....

, and Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

.

Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama created a broad popular 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.

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.

Anonymous and semi-anonymous smear campaign
Smear campaign
A smear campaign, smear tactic or simply smear is a metaphor for activity that can harm an individual or group's reputation by conflation with a stigmatized group...

s, traditionally done with fliers and push calling
Push poll
A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze...

, also spread to the Internet. Organizations specializing in the production and distribution of viral
Viral video
A viral video is one that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites, social media and email...

 material, such as Brave New Films
Brave New Films
Brave New Films is a media company founded by filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Viral videos produced by Brave New Films have been widely circulated on the internet, during the 2008 United States presidential election campaign, and generally disparage Republican candidate John McCain and other prominent...

, emerged; such organizations have been said to be having a growing influence on American politics.

Expense summary

According to required campaign filings as reported by the Federal Election Commission
Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency that was founded in 1975 by the United States Congress to regulate the campaign finance legislation in the United States. It was created in a provision of the 1975 amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act...

 (FEC), 148 candidates for all parties collectively raised $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
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

)
$532,946,511 $513,557,218 69,498,215 $7.39
John McCain (R
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

)
$379,006,485 $346,666,422 59,948,240 $5.78
Ralph Nader (I) $4,496,180 $4,187,628 738,720 $5.67
Bob Barr (L
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

)
$1,383,681 $1,345,202 523,713 $2.57
Chuck Baldwin (C
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

)
$261,673 $234,309 199,437 $1.17
Cynthia McKinney (G
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

)
$240,130 $238,968 161,680 $1.48
Excludes spending by independent expenditure concerns.
Source: Federal Election Commission

Race

An October 17–20, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed among registered voters 2% said race made them more likely to vote for Barack Obama and 4% said it made them less likely to vote for Barack Obama. Those not sure how it swayed them were 2%, and race was not a major factor in the other 92% (margin of error was ± 2.9).

A July 18–21, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 20% of African American registered voters and 8% of white registered voters considered race the single most important factor when voting (margin of error was ± 3.1). This percentage increased in both groups from previous polls.

A June 6–9, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 17% were enthusiastic about Obama being the first African American President, 70% were comfortable or indifferent, and 13% had reservations or were uncomfortable (margin of error was ± 3.1).

Controversies

Some pre-election controversies in the election revolved around challenges to voter registration
Voter registration
Voter registration is the requirement in some democracies for citizens and residents to check in with some central registry specifically for the purpose of being allowed to vote in elections. An effort to get people to register is known as a voter registration drive.-Centralized/compulsory vs...

 lists, involving techniques such as caging lists alleged to constitute voter suppression
Voter suppression
Voter suppression is a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing people from exercising their right to vote. It is distinguished from political campaigning in that campaigning attempts to change likely voting behavior by changing the opinions of potential voters...

.

Allegations of voter list purges using unlawful criteria caused controversy in at least six swing states: Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 and North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. On October 5, 2008 the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Lt. Governor of Montana, John Bohlinger
John Bohlinger
John Bohlinger, Jr. is the current Lieutenant Governor of Montana. Bohlinger for lieutenant governor ran as a Republican on a bipartisan ticket headed by Democrat Brian Schweitzer...

, accused the Montana Republican Party of vote caging to purge 6,000 voters from three counties which trend Democratic. Allegations arose in Michigan that the Republican Party planned to challenge the eligibility of voters based on lists of foreclosed homes. The campaign of Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 presidential nominee Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 filed a lawsuit challenging this. The House Judiciary Committee
United States House Committee on the Judiciary
The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, also called the House Judiciary Committee, is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is charged with overseeing the administration of justice within the federal courts, administrative agencies and Federal law enforcement...

 wrote to the Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 requesting an investigation.

Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 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 service members. According to federal law, absentee ballots must be mailed to troops in foreign countries at least 45 days before 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.

Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

's 173,000 residents are U.S. citizens, and must obey U.S. laws passed in Washington, yet they have neither a voting member of Congress, nor votes in the Electoral College. Since 1980, they have held a straw poll for president at the same time as the U.S. national elections. In 2007, Guam's legislature voted to move the straw poll up to September to draw attention to the choices of Guam's population and their continued disfranchisement, but the governor vetoed the bill. Obama won the 2008 Guam straw poll with 20,120 votes to McCain's 11,940.

Libertarian
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

 candidate Bob Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

 filed a lawsuit in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 to have Obama and McCain removed from the ballot in that state. 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 candidate at the time of the deadline had been confirmed as the candidate for their respective parties. The Texas Supreme Court
Texas Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Texas is the court of last resort for non-criminal matters in the state of Texas. A different court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is the court of last resort for criminal matters.The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices...

 dismissed the lawsuit without explanation.

In Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, identified by both parties as a key state, allegations surfaced from both Republicans and Democrats that individuals from out of state were moving to the state temporarily and attempting to vote despite not meeting the state's requirement of permanent residency for more than 29 days. The Franklin County Board of Elections referred 55 cases of possible voting irregularities to the local prosecutor. Three groups attracted particular notice: 'Vote from Home,' 'Vote Today Ohio,' and 'Drop Everything and Come to Ohio.' Vote from Home attracted the most attention when thirteen of the group's members moved to the same location in eastern Columbus. Members of the group organized by Marc Gustafson, including several Marshall
Marshall Scholarship
The Marshall Scholarship, a postgraduate scholarships available to Americans, was created by the Parliament of the United Kingdom when the Marshall Aid Commemoration Act was passed in 1953. The scholarships serve as a living gift to the United States of America in recognition of the post-World War...

 and Rhodes
Rhodes Scholarship
The Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for study at the University of Oxford. It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the "world's most prestigious scholarship" by many public sources such as...

 scholars studying at Oxford University, settled with Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien to have their challenged ballots withdrawn. The Obama campaign and others alleged that members of the McCain campaign had also voted without properly establishing residency. Since 1953, only six people in Ohio have gone to prison for illegal voting.

Ayers controversy

A controversy arose regarding Obama's contact with Bill Ayers
Bill Ayers
William Charles "Bill" Ayers is an American elementary education theorist and a former leader in the movement that opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960s activism as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction...

, a Professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 at the University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago, or UIC, is a state-funded public research university located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Its campus is in the Near West Side community area, near the Chicago Loop...

, and a former leader of the Weather Underground
Weatherman (organization)
Weatherman, known colloquially as the Weathermen and later the Weather Underground Organization , was an American radical left organization. It originated in 1969 as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society composed for the most part of the national office leadership of SDS and their...

, a radical left
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 organization in the 1970s. Investigations by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

,
CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

, and other news organizations concluded that Obama does not have a close relationship with Ayers. Ayers served on two nonprofit boards with Obama. Both Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn
Bernardine Dohrn
Bernardine Rae Dohrn is a former leader of the American anti-Vietnam War radical organization, Weather Underground. She is an Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law and the immediate past Director of Northwestern's Children and Family Justice Center...

, hosted a gathering at their home in 1995, where Alice Palmer
Alice Palmer (Illinois politician)
Alice J. Palmer is an American educator and former Democratic member of the Illinois Senate. Known as a longtime progressive activist, Palmer represented the state's 13th senate district from June 6, 1991 until January 8, 1997...

 introduced Obama as her chosen successor in the Illinois State Senate.

The matter was initially raised by Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity is an American radio and television host, author, and conservative political commentator. He is the host of The Sean Hannity Show, a nationally syndicated talk radio show that airs throughout the United States on Premiere Radio Networks. Hannity also hosts a cable news show, Hannity,...

 and other hosts on conservative
American conservatism
Conservatism in the United States has played an important role in American politics since the 1950s. Historian Gregory Schneider identifies several constants in American conservatism: respect for tradition, support of republicanism, preservation of "the rule of law and the Christian religion", and...

 talk radio programs, and then by moderator George Stephanopoulos
George Stephanopoulos
George Robert Stephanopoulos is an American television journalist and a former political advisor.Stephanopoulos is most well known as the chief political correspondent for ABC News – the news division of the broadcast television network ABC – and a co-anchor of ABC News's morning news...

 during a debate between Clinton and Obama in April 2008. In October 2008, the matter was mentioned in attack ad
Attack ad
In political campaigns, an attack ad is an advertisement whose message is meant as a personal attack against another candidate or political party...

s, robocalls, mass mailings, and campaign speeches by Republican presidential candidate John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 as an issue in the general election campaign. Obama has condemned Ayers' past, and stated that he does not have a close association with him.

Allegations of media bias

Significant criticism was leveled at media outlets' coverage of the presidential election season. At the February debate, Tim Russert
Tim Russert
Timothy John "Tim" Russert was an American television journalist and lawyer who appeared for more than 16 years as the longest-serving moderator of NBC's Meet the Press. He was a senior vice president at NBC News, Washington bureau chief and also hosted the eponymous CNBC/MSNBC weekend interview...

 of NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

 was criticized for what some perceived as disproportionately tough questioning of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Among the questions, Russert had asked Clinton, but not Obama, to provide the name of the new Russian President (Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

). This was later parodied on Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

. In October 2007, liberal commentators accused Russert of harassing Clinton over the issue of supporting drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants.

On April 16, ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

 hosted a debate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

. Moderators Charles Gibson
Charles Gibson
Charles deWolf "Charlie" Gibson is a former American broadcast television anchor and journalist. He was a host of Good Morning America from 1987 to 1998 and 1999 to 2006 and anchor of World News with Charles Gibson from 2006 to 2009....

 and George Stephanopoulos
George Stephanopoulos
George Robert Stephanopoulos is an American television journalist and a former political advisor.Stephanopoulos is most well known as the chief political correspondent for ABC News – the news division of the broadcast television network ABC – and a co-anchor of ABC News's morning news...

 were criticized by viewers, blog
Blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

gers and media critics for the poor quality of their questions. 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
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 more than a decade ago, and Senator Obama's not wearing an American flag pin. The moderators focused on campaign gaffes and some believed they focused too much on Obama. Stephanopoulos defended their performance, saying "Senator Obama was the front-runner" and the questions were "not inappropriate or irrelevant at all."

In an op-ed
Op-ed
An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page , is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board...

 published on 2008 April 27 in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

,
Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Anania Edwards was an American attorney, a best-selling author and a health care activist. She was married to John Edwards, the former U.S...

 wrote that the media covered much more of "the rancor of the campaign" and "amount of money spent" than "the candidates' priorities, policies and principles." Author Erica Jong
Erica Jong
Erica Jong is an American author and teacher best known for her fiction and poetry.-Career:A 1963 graduate of Barnard College, and with an M.A...

 commented that "our press has become a sea of triviality, meanness and irrelevant chatter." A Gallup poll released on May 29, 2008 also estimated that more Americans felt the media was being harder on Hillary Clinton than they were towards Barack Obama.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism
Project for Excellence in Journalism
The Project for Excellence in Journalism is a non-profit research organization in the US that uses empirical methods to evaluate and study the performance of the press. It asserts that it is "non partisan, non ideological and non political"...

 and Harvard University's
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 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 January 1 through March 9, 2008. The study found that Obama received 69% favorable coverage and Clinton received 67%, compared to only 43% favorable media coverage of McCain. Another study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs
Center for Media and Public Affairs
The Center for Media and Public Affairs is a self-described nonpartisan and nonprofit research and educational organization that is affiliated with George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. It was founded in 1985 by political scientists Dr. S. Robert Lichter and his ex-wife, the late Dr....

 at George Mason University
George Mason University
George Mason University is a public university based in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, south of and adjacent to the city of Fairfax. Additional campuses are located nearby in Arlington County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County...

 found the media coverage of Obama to be 72% negative from June 8 to July 21 compared to 57% negative for McCain. An October 29 study found 29% of stories about Obama to be negative, compared to 57% of stories about McCain being negative.

An October 22, 2008 Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 poll estimated 70% of registered voters believed journalists wanted Barack Obama to win the election, as opposed to 9% for John McCain. Another Pew survey, conducted after the election, 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.

Election results

Election Day

November 4, 2008 was Election Day
Election Day (United States)
Election Day in the United States is the day set by law for the general elections of public officials. It occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest possible date is November 8...

 in 50 states and the District of Columbia; it was the last of 21 consecutive election days in Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, which abolished the voting booth in 1998. The majority of states allowed early voting, with all states allowing some form of absentee voting. Voters cast votes for listed presidential candidates but were actually selecting their state's slate of Electoral College electors.

A McCain victory quickly became improbable as Obama amassed early wins in Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 (his home state), the Northeast
Northeastern United States
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Composition:The region comprises nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New...

 and the critical battleground states of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 (which no Republican has ever been elected President without winning) and Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 by 9:20 PM. Obama won the entire Northeast by comfortable margins and the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 states of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 and Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 by double digits. McCain managed to hold on to traditionally Republican states like North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, and Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 (his home state). McCain, unlike Bush in 2000 and 2004, failed to receive all the southern states: Obama won Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Obama also won the hotly contested states of Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

 and New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, which Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

 had won in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2004. Also, for only the second time since 1940 (1964 being the other), Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 went Democratic. CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

 and Fox News called Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 for Obama shortly before 11pm, leaving him only 50 electoral votes shy of victory with only six West Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 states (California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Washington, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, Alaska, and Hawaii) still voting. All American networks called the election in favor of Obama at 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time as the polls closed on the West Coast. Obama was immediately declared the winner in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Washington, and Hawaii, McCain won Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, and the Electoral College totals were updated to 297 for Obama and 146 for McCain (270 are needed to win). McCain gave a concession speech half an hour later in his home state of Arizona. President-elect Obama appeared just before midnight Eastern Time on November 5 in Grant Park
Grant Park (Chicago)
Grant Park, with between the downtown Chicago Loop and Lake Michigan, offers many different attractions in its large open space. The park is generally flat. It is also crossed by large boulevards and even a bed of sunken railroad tracks...

, Chicago, in front of a crowd of 250,000 people to deliver his victory speech
Barack Obama election victory speech, 2008
Following his victory in the United States presidential election, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave his victory speech at Grant Park in his home city of Chicago, Illinois, on November 5, 2008, before an estimated crowd of 240,000...

.
Following Obama's speech, spontaneous street parties broke out in cities across the United States including Philadelphia, Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, Miami, Chicago, Columbus
Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

, Detroit, Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Portland
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Madison
Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

, and New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and around the world in London; Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

; Berlin; Obama, Japan; Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

; Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

; Sydney; and Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

.

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
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and the western states of Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 and Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

. All of these states had been carried by Bush in 2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and the bellwether
Missouri bellwether
The Missouri bellwether is a political phenomenon that notes that the state of Missouri voted for the winner in all but two U.S. Presidential election since 1904 . While states like Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and New Mexico have been arguably stronger indicators of political trends in recent years,...

 state of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 remained undecided for several days. Eventually Obama was declared the winner in North Carolina and McCain in Missouri, with Obama pulling out a rare win in Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district encompasses the core of the Omaha metropolitan area. It includes all of Douglas County, which includes Omaha, and the urbanized areas of Sarpy County...

. This put the projected electoral vote count at 365 for Obama and 173 for McCain. Obama's victories in the populous swing states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia contributed to his decisive win. The presidential electors cast their ballots for President and Vice President, and Congress tallied these votes on January 8, 2009.

Nationwide results

Popular vote totals are from the official Federal Election Commission report. Congress certified the electoral vote totals on January 8, 2009.









Turnout

The voter turnout
Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

 for this election was broadly predicted to be high by American standards, and a record number of votes were cast. The final tally of total votes counted was 131.3 million, compared to 122.3 million in 2004 (which also boasted the highest record since 1968
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...

, after which the voting age
Voting age
A voting age is a minimum age established by law that a person must attain to be eligible to vote in a public election.The vast majority of countries in the world have established a voting age. Most governments consider that those of any age lower than the chosen threshold lack the necessary...

 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
United States presidential election, 1960
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th American presidential election, held on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961, and ending January 20, 1965. The incumbent president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was not eligible to run again. The Republican Party...

. 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.

American University
American University
American University is a private, Methodist, liberal arts, and research university in Washington, D.C. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892 as "The American University", which was approved by President Benjamin Harrison on February 24, 1893...

'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. That report was the basis for some news articles that indicated voter turnout failed to meet expectations. When the remaining votes were counted after the release of the report, the total number of votes cast in the presidential election was raised to 131.2 million, which surpassed the American University report's preliminary estimate of 126.5 to 128.5 million voters by a factor of between 2% and 4%.

The election saw increased participation from African-Americans. African Americans made up 11.1% of the electorate in 2004, versus 13.0% in 2008. 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. 74% of North Carolina's registered African American voters turned out, as opposed to 69% of North Carolinians in general, with Obama carrying 100% (with rounding) of African American females and African Americans age 18 to 29, according to exit polling. This was the case in Virginia as well where much higher turnout among African Americans propelled Obama to victory in the former Republican stronghold. Even in southern states where Obama was unsuccessful, such as Georgia and Mississippi, due to large African American turnout he was much more competitive than John Kerry in 2004.

State results

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 and 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. Four states, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and Ohio, have since amended the popular vote results. The updated Georgia results, Illinois results, New York results, and Ohio results are included here.
States/districts won by Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

/Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

States/districts won by McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

/Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...


State Electors Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

OthersObama % margin
Alabama
United States presidential election in Alabama, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Alabama took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 9 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

9 813,479 1,266,546 6,788 4,991 4,310 3,705 -21.58
Alaska
United States presidential election in Alaska, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Alaska took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 123,594 193,841 3,783 1,589 1,660 1,730 -21.54
Arizona
United States presidential election in Arizona, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Arizona took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

10 1,034,707 1,230,111 11,301 12,555 1,371 3,406 24 -8.48
Arkansas
United States presidential election in Arkansas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Arkansas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

6 422,310 638,017 12,882 4,776 4,023 3,470 1,139 -19.85
California
United States presidential election in California, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in California took place on November 4, 2008 in California as part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 55 electors, the most out of any of the 50 states, to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President....

55 8,274,473 5,011,781 108,381 67,582 3,145 38,774 57,764 24.03
Colorado
United States presidential election in Colorado, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Colorado took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 9 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

9 1,288,576 1,073,589 13,350 10,897 6,233 2,822 5,894 8.95
Connecticut
United States presidential election in Connecticut, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Connecticut took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

7 997,772 629,428 19,162 311 90 29 22.37
Delaware
United States presidential election in Delaware, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Delaware took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 255,459 152,374 2,401 1,109 626 385 58 24.98
District of Columbia
United States presidential election in the District of Columbia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in the District of Columbia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 245,800 17,367 958 590 1,138 85.92
Florida
United States presidential election in Florida, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Florida took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 27 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

27 4,282,074 4,045,624 28,124 17,218 7,915 2,887 6,902 2.81
Georgia
United States presidential election in Georgia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Georgia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 15 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

15 1,844,123 2,048,759 1,158 28,731 1,402 250 63 -5.20
Hawaii
United States presidential election in Hawaii, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Hawaii took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 325,871 120,566 3,825 1,314 1,013 979 45.26
Idaho
United States presidential election in Idaho, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Idaho took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 4 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

4 236,440 403,012 7,175 3,658 4,747 -25.30
Illinois
United States presidential election in Illinois, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Illinois took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 21 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

21 3,419,348 2,031,179 30,948 19,642 8,256 11,838 1,160 25.11
Indiana
United States presidential election in Indiana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Indiana took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,374,039 1,345,648 909 29,257 1,024 87 90 1.03
Iowa
United States presidential election in Iowa, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Iowa took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 828,940 682,379 8,014 4,590 4,445 1,423 7,332 9.53
Kansas
United States presidential election in Kansas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Kansas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 6 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

6 514,765 699,655 10,527 6,706 4,148 35 36 -14.92
Kentucky
United States presidential election in Kentucky, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Kentucky took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 8 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

8 751,985 1,048,462 15,378 5,989 4,694 -16.22
Louisiana
United States presidential election in Louisiana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Louisiana which took place on November 4, 2008 was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose nine representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.Louisiana was won by...

9 782,989 1,148,275 6,997 2,581 9,187 10,732 -18.63
Maine
United States presidential election in Maine, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Maine took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Maine is one of two states in the U.S...

2* 421,923 295,273 10,636 251 177 2,900 431 17.32
ME 1st Dist.
Maine's 1st congressional district
Maine's 1st congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Maine. The geographically smaller of the two congressional districts in the state, the district covers the southern coastal area of the state. The district consists of all of Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc,...

1 232,145 144,604 5,263 1,362 252 22.82
ME 2nd Dist.
Maine's 2nd congressional district
Maine's 2nd congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Maine. Covering , it comprises nearly 80% of the state. It is the largest district east of the Mississippi River and the 24th-largest overall. The district consists of all of the state north of the Portland and...

1 189,778 150,669 5,373 1,538 179 11.25
Maryland
United States presidential election in Maryland, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Maryland took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,629,467 959,862 14,713 9,842 3,760 4,747 9,205 25.44
Massachusetts
United States presidential election in Massachusetts, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Massachusetts took place on November 4, 2008 in Massachusetts as in all 50 states and D.C., as part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

12 1,904,097 1,108,854 28,841 13,189 4,971 6,550 14,483 25.81
Michigan
United States presidential election in Michigan, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Michigan took place on November 4, 2008. It was part of the 2008 United States presidential election which happened throughout all 50 states and D.C....

17 2,872,579 2,048,639 33,085 23,716 14,685 8,892 170 16.44
Minnesota
United States presidential election in Minnesota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Minnesota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,573,354 1,275,409 30,152 9,174 6,787 5,174 10,319 10.24
Mississippi
United States presidential election in Mississippi, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Mississippi took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

6 554,662 724,597 4,011 2,529 2,551 1,034 481 -13.17
Missouri
United States presidential election in Missouri, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Missouri was held on November 4, 2008, and was part of the 2008 United States presidential election, which took place throughout all 50 states and D.C....

11 1,441,911 1,445,814 17,813 11,386 8,201 80 -0.13
Montana
United States presidential election in Montana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Montana took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 231,667 242,763 3,686 1,355 143 23 10,638 -2.38
Nebraska
United States presidential election in Nebraska, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Nebraska took place on November 4, 2008 as part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President. However, this state is one of the two states of the U.S...

2* 333,319 452,979 5,406 2,740 2,972 1,028 2,837 -14.93
NE 1st Dist.
Nebraska's 1st congressional district
Nebraska's 1st congressional district seat encompasses most of the eastern quarter of the state. It includes the state capital, Lincoln, Fremont, Norfolk, Beatrice and South Sioux City. It is currently held by Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican. George W. Bush received 63% of the vote in this district...

1 121,468 148,179 1,970 929 1,019 393 -9.75
NE 2nd Dist.
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district encompasses the core of the Omaha metropolitan area. It includes all of Douglas County, which includes Omaha, and the urbanized areas of Sarpy County...

1 138,752 135,439 1,621 1,007 604 321 1.19
NE 3rd Dist.
Nebraska's 3rd congressional district
Nebraska's 3rd congressional district seat encompasses the western three-fourths of the state; it is one of the largest non-at-large Congressional districts in the country, covering nearly , two time zones and 68.5 counties. It includes Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings, North Platte, Scottsbluff and...

1 73,099 169,361 1,815 804 1,349 314 -39.01
Nevada
United States presidential election in Nevada, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Nevada was part of the 2008 United States presidential election, which took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C.. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 533,736 412,827 6,150 4,263 3,194 1,411 6,267 12.49
New Hampshire
United States presidential election in New Hampshire, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Hampshire took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 384,826 316,534 3,503 2,217 226 40 3,624 9.61
New Jersey
United States presidential election in New Jersey, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Jersey took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

15 2,215,422 1,613,207 21,298 8,441 3,956 3,636 2,277 15.53
New Mexico
United States presidential election in New Mexico, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Mexico took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 472,422 346,832 5,327 2,428 1,597 1,552 15.13
New York
United States presidential election in New York, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New York took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 31 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

31 4,804,701 2,752,728 41,248 19,595 634 12,801 8,936 26.86
North Carolina
United States presidential election in North Carolina, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in North Carolina took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

15 2,142,651 2,128,474 1,448 25,722 158 13,942 0.33
North Dakota
United States presidential election in North Dakota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in North Dakota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 141,278 168,601 4,189 1,354 1,199 -8.65
Ohio
United States presidential election in Ohio, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Ohio took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 20 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

20 2,940,044 2,677,820 42,337 19,917 12,565 8,518 7,149 4.58
Oklahoma
United States presidential election in Oklahoma, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Oklahoma took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 502,496 960,165 -31.29
Oregon
United States presidential election in Oregon, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Oregon took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 1,037,291 738,475 18,614 7,635 7,693 4,543 13,613 16.35
Pennsylvania
United States presidential election in Pennsylvania, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Pennsylvania took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

21 3,276,363 2,655,885 42,977 19,912 1,092 10.31
Rhode Island
United States presidential election in Rhode Island, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Rhode Island took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 296,571 165,391 4,829 1,382 675 797 122 27.81
South Carolina
United States presidential election in South Carolina, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in South Carolina took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

8 862,449 1,034,896 5,053 7,283 6,827 4,461 -8.98
South Dakota
United States presidential election in South Dakota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in South Dakota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 170,924 203,054 4,267 1,835 1,895 -8.41
Tennessee
United States presidential election in Tennessee, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Tennessee took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,087,437 1,479,178 11,560 8,547 8,191 2,499 2,337 -15.06
Texas
United States presidential election in Texas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Texas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 34 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

34 3,528,633 4,479,328 5,440 56,116 5,395 831 2,781 -11.76
Utah
United States presidential election in Utah, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Utah took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 327,670 596,030 8,416 6,966 12,012 982 294 -28.02
Vermont
United States presidential election in Vermont, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Vermont took place on November 4, 2008 concurrent with the federal election in all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 219,262 98,974 3,339 1,067 500 66 1,904 37.01
Virginia
United States presidential election in Virginia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Virginia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 13 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

13 1,959,532 1,725,005 11,483 11,067 7,474 2,344 6,355 6.30
Washington
United States presidential election in Washington, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Washington took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,750,848 1,229,216 29,489 12,728 9,432 3,819 1,346 17.08
West Virginia
United States presidential election in West Virginia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in West Virginia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

5 303,857 397,466 7,219 2,465 2,355 89 -13.09
Wisconsin
United States presidential election in Wisconsin, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Wisconsin took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,677,211 1,262,393 17,605 8,858 5,072 4,216 8,062 13.90
Wyoming
United States presidential election in Wyoming, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Wyoming took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 82,868 164,958 2,525 1,594 1,192 1,521 -32.24
U.S. Total 538 69,498,215 59,948,240 738,720 523,713 199,437 161,680 226,979 7.26

Close states/districts

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 0.14%
  2. North Carolina 0.32%
  3. Indiana 1.04%
  4. Nebraska's 2nd congressional district 1.19%
  5. Montana 2.25%
  6. Florida 2.82%
  7. Ohio 4.59%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 5% but less than 10% (64 electoral votes):
  1. Georgia 5.21%
  2. Virginia 6.29%
  3. South Dakota 8.41%
  4. Arizona 8.52%
  5. North Dakota 8.63%
  6. Colorado 8.95%
  7. South Carolina 8.97%
  8. Iowa 9.54%
  9. New Hampshire 9.65%
  10. Pennsylvania 9.69%
  11. Nebraska's 1st congressional district 9.77%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 10% but less than 15%:
  1. Minnesota 10.24%
  2. Texas 11.76%
  3. Nevada 12.5%
  4. West Virginia 12.69%
  5. Mississippi 13.18%
  6. Wisconsin 13.91%
  7. Kansas 14.93%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 15% but less than 20%:
  1. Tennessee 15.06%
  2. New Mexico 15.13%
  3. New Jersey 15.57%
  4. Kentucky 16.22%
  5. Oregon 16.35%
  6. Michigan 16.45%
  7. Maine 17%
  8. Washington 17.17%
  9. Louisiana 18.63%
  10. Arkansas 19.86%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 20% but less than 25%:
  1. Alaska 21.53%
  2. Alabama 21.58%
  3. Connecticut 22.37%
  4. California 24.06%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 25% but less than 50%:
  1. Delaware 25.02%
  2. Illinois 25.12%
  3. Idaho 25.34%
  4. Maryland 25.45%
  5. Massachusetts 25.81%
  6. New York 26.85%
  7. Rhode Island 27.8%
  8. Utah 28.03%
  9. Oklahoma 31.3%
  10. Wyoming 32.24%
  11. Vermont 37.01%
  12. Hawaii 45.27%

Ballot access

Presidential ticket Party Ballot access
Ballot access
Ballot access rules, called nomination rules outside the United States, regulate the conditions under which a candidate or political party is either entitled to stand for election or to appear on voters' ballots...

Votes
Obama / Biden Democratic 50+DC
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

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 37 199,314
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. All six candidates appeared on the ballot for a majority of the voters, while the 17 other listed candidates were available to no more than 30% of the voters.

The following nine candidates (and/or parties) had ballot listing and/or write-in status in more than one state:
  • Alan Keyes
    Alan Keyes
    Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

     (America's Independent Party
    America's Independent Party
    America's Party, originally known as America's Independent Party, is a conservative American political party formed in 2008 by supporters of Alan Keyes as an alternative to the Republican, Democratic and other parties....

    ) 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
    Ron Paul
    Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

     received 41,905 votes; listed in Louisiana (Louisiana Taxpayers) and in Montana (Constitution), with write-in status in California.
  • Róger Calero
    Róger Calero
    Róger Calero is a Nicaraguan American journalist and one of the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party. He was SWP candidate for President of the United States in 2004 and 2008, and for the United States Senate in New York in 2006....

     (Socialist Workers Party
    Socialist Workers Party (United States)
    The Socialist Workers Party is a far-left political organization in the United States. The group places a priority on "solidarity work" to aid strikes and is strongly supportive of Cuba...

    ) 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 Party
    Socialist Party USA
    The Socialist Party USA is a multi-tendency democratic-socialist party in the United States. The party states that it is the rightful continuation and successor to the tradition of the Socialist Party of America, which had lasted from 1901 to 1972.The party is officially committed to left-wing...

    , see Brian Moore presidential campaign, 2008
    Brian Moore presidential campaign, 2008
    Brian Patrick Moore, a local politician from California, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 19, 2007. The same month he was declared the nominee of the Socialist Party USA for the 2008 presidential election...

    ) received 6,566 votes; listed in eight states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and 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
    Party for Socialism and Liberation
    The Party for Socialism and Liberation is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the United States. It was originally created as the result of a split within the ranks of Workers World Party , although their political line is nearly identical. The San Francisco branch as well as several other...

    ) received 6,808 votes nationally; listed in 12 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • Charles Jay
    Charles Jay
    Charles Jay was the Presidential nominee of the United States Boston Tea Party in the 2008 United States presidential election. He was the presidential nominee of the Personal Choice Party in the 2004 election, achieving ballot status in Utah, and received 946 votes in the general election, coming...

     (Boston Tea Party
    Boston Tea Party (political party)
    The Boston Tea Party is a U.S. political party named after the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Its ideology is libertarian.A group of former Libertarian Party members founded the party in 2006...

    ) 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
    Objectivist Party
    The Objectivist Party is a political party in the United States that seeks to promote Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism in the political realm. The party was formed on February 2, 2008 by Thomas Stevens; the date was chosen to coincide with Rand's birthday....

    ) received 755 votes; listed in Colorado and Florida.
  • Gene Amondson
    Gene Amondson
    Gene Amondson, was a landscape painter, woodcarver, Christian minister and prohibition activist who was the 2004 US presidential candidate for one faction of the Prohibition Party and the nominee of the unified party in 2008.Amondson was known for his anti-Alcohol activism and reenactments of...

     (Prohibition
    Prohibition Party
    The Prohibition Party is a political party in the United States best known for its historic opposition to the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is the oldest existing third party in the US. The party was an integral part of the temperance movement...

    ) 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
    Frank McEnulty
    Frank Edward McEnulty is an American businessperson and politician. In the 2008 presidential election, he was both the Vice Presidential nominee of the Reform Party of the United States of America and the presidential nominee of the New American Independent Party. His running mate was Bobby...

     (New American Independent) - Colorado (listed as unaffiliated); 828 votes.
  • Jeffrey Wamboldt (We the People
    We the People Foundation
    We the People Foundation for Constitutional Education, Inc. also known as We the People Foundation is a non-profit education and research organization in Queensbury, New York with the declared mission "to protect and defend individual Rights as guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States."...

    ) - 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
    Ted Weill
    Theodore "Ted" Weill was the nominee for President of the United States of the Reform Party of the United States of America in the 2008 election...

     (Reform
    Reform Party of the United States of America
    The Reform Party of the United States of America is a political party in the United States, founded in 1995 by Ross Perot...

    ) - Mississippi; 481 votes.
  • Bradford Lyttle
    Bradford Lyttle
    Bradford Lyttle is a prominent pacifist and peace activist, and organizer with the Committee for Non-Violent Action of several major campaigns against militarism, including "Omaha Action", against land-based nuclear missiles ; "Polaris Action" against submarine-based nuclear missiles ; the San...

     (U.S. Pacifist) - Colorado; 110 votes.


In Nevada, 6,251 votes were cast for "None Of These Candidates". In the three states that officially keep track of "blank" votes for President, 103,193 votes were recorded as "blank". More than 100,000 write-in votes were cast and recorded for a scattering of other candidates, including 62 votes for "Santa Claus
Santa Claus
Santa Claus is a folklore figure in various cultures who distributes gifts to children, normally on Christmas Eve. Each name is a variation of Saint Nicholas, but refers to Santa Claus...

" (in ten states) and 11 votes for "Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse
Mickey Mouse is a cartoon character created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks at The Walt Disney Studio. Mickey is an anthropomorphic black mouse and typically wears red shorts, large yellow shoes, and white gloves...

"(in five states).

According to the Federal Election Commission, an unusually high number of "miscellaneous" write-ins were cast for president in 2008, including 112,554 tallied in the 17 states that record votes for non-listed candidates. There were more presidential candidates on the ballot than at any other time in U. S. history, except for the 1992 election
United States presidential election, 1992
The United States presidential election of 1992 had three major candidates: Incumbent Republican President George Bush; Democratic Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, and independent Texas businessman Ross Perot....

, which also had 23 candidates listed in at least one state.


The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, defeated Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

. Obama received 365 electoral votes, and McCain 173. The popular vote was 69,456,897 to 59,934,814, respectively.

During the presidential election campaign, the major-party candidates ran on a platform of change and reform in Washington. Domestic policy
Domestic policy
Domestic policy, also known as public policy, presents decisions, laws, and programs made by the government which are directly related to all issues and activity within the country....

 and the economy eventually emerged as the main themes in the last few months of the election campaign after the onset of the 2008 economic crisis.

There were several unique aspects of the 2008 election. The election was the first in which an African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 was elected President, as well as the first presidential election in which an African American was nominated by a major party for the office of president. It was the first time two sitting senators ran against each other. The 2008 election was the first in 56 years in which neither an incumbent president nor a vice president ran—President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 was constitutionally limited from seeking a third term by the Twenty-second Amendment
Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twenty-second Amendment of the United States Constitution sets a term limit for the President of the United States. The Congress passed the amendment on March 21, 1947...

; Vice President Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 chose not to seek the presidency. It was also the first time the Republican Party nominated a woman for Vice President (Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

, then-Governor of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

), and the second time a major party did so. The first time a major party nominated a woman for Vice President was when the Democratic Party nominated Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Ferraro
Geraldine Anne Ferraro was an American attorney, a Democratic Party politician, and a member of the United States House of Representatives. She was the first female Vice Presidential candidate representing a major American political party....

 for that office in 1984
United States presidential election, 1984
The United States presidential election of 1984 was a contest between the incumbent President Ronald Reagan, the Republican candidate, and former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate. Reagan was helped by a strong economic recovery from the deep recession of 1981–1982...

. Additionally, it was the first election in which both major parties nominated candidates who were born outside of the contiguous United States
Contiguous United States
The contiguous United States are the 48 U.S. states on the continent of North America that are south of Canada and north of Mexico, plus the District of Columbia....

. Voter turnout for the 2008 election was the highest in at least 40 years and Obama received the most votes for a presidential candidate in American history.

Nine states changed allegiance from the 2004 election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. 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
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 and the District of Columbia voted for President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 and Vice President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
The Vice President of the United States is the holder of a public office created by the United States Constitution. The Vice President, together with the President of the United States, is indirectly elected by the people, through the Electoral College, to a four-year term...

 on December 15, 2008. Those votes were tallied before a joint session of Congress on January 8, 2009.

Along with the Democratic and Republican parties, three other parties nominated candidates with ballot access in enough states to theoretically win the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. These were the Constitution Party
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

, the Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

, and the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

. In addition, independent candidate Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

 ran his own campaign.

Background

In 2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

, President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 won reelection
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

, defeating the Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 nominee, Senator John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

. After Republican pickups in the House and Senate
United States Senate elections, 2004
The United States Senate election, 2004 was an election for one-third of the seats in the United States Senate which coincided with the re-election of George W. Bush as president and the United States House election, as well as many state and local elections. Senators who were elected in 1998,...

 in the 2004 elections, Republicans maintained control of 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, and they were barely 50% by his reelection. Although Bush was reelected with a larger Electoral College margin than in 2000
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

, during his second term, Bush's approval rating dropped more quickly, with the Iraq War and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was a powerful Atlantic hurricane. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. Among recorded Atlantic hurricanes, it was the sixth strongest overall...

 in 2005 being most detrimental to the public's perception of his job performance.

By September 2006, Bush's approval rating was below 40%, and in the November 2006 Congressional elections
United States general elections, 2006
The 2006 United States midterm elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006. All United States House of Representatives seats and one third of the United States Senate seats were contested in this election, as well as 36 state governorships, many state legislatures, four territorial...

, Democrats gained the majority in both houses. Bush's approval ratings continued to drop steadily throughout the rest of his term.

Nominations

In the United States, there are two major political parties
Political party
A political party is a political organization that typically seeks to influence government policy, usually by nominating their own candidates and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns, educational outreach or protest actions...

, the Democratic Party
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 and the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

. There are also several minor parties, usually called third parties, who have not won a presidential election since 1848
United States presidential election, 1848
The United States presidential election of 1848 was an open race. President James K. Polk, having achieved all of his major objectives in one term and suffering from declining health that would take his life less than four months after leaving office, kept his promise not to seek re-election.The...

 (Lincoln's National Union Party
National Union Party (United States)
The National Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election, held during the Civil War. State Republican parties did not usually change their name....

, which won in 1864
United States presidential election, 1864
In the United States Presidential election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president. The election was held during the Civil War. Lincoln ran under the National Union ticket against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top general. McClellan ran as the "peace candidate",...

, was a short-lived coalition of Republicans and Northern Democrats rather than an independent party), although in 1912
United States presidential election, 1912
The United States presidential election of 1912 was a rare four-way contest. Incumbent President William Howard Taft was renominated by the Republican Party with the support of its conservative wing. After former President Theodore Roosevelt failed to receive the Republican nomination, he called...

 former President Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States . He is noted for his exuberant personality, range of interests and achievements, and his leadership of the Progressive Movement, as well as his "cowboy" persona and robust masculinity...

, as candidate of the Progressive Party
Progressive Party (United States, 1912)
The Progressive Party of 1912 was an American political party. It was formed after a split in the Republican Party between President William Howard Taft and former President Theodore Roosevelt....

 came in second by a wide margin. Most media and public focus is on the two major parties.

Each party hosts candidates who go through a nomination process to determine the presidential nominee
Presidential nominee
In United States politics and government, the term presidential nominee has two distinct meanings.The first is the person chosen by the primary voters and caucus-goers of a political party to be the party's nominee for President of the United States...

 for that party. The nomination process consists of primaries
United States presidential primary
The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events run by the political parties...

 and caucuses, held by the 50 states, Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa
American Samoa
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, southeast of the sovereign state of Samoa...

, and the Northern Mariana Islands
Northern Mariana Islands
The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands , is a commonwealth in political union with the United States, occupying a strategic region of the western Pacific Ocean. It consists of 15 islands about three-quarters of the way from Hawaii to the Philippines...

. The winner of each of these primary elections usually receives delegates proportional to the percentage of the popular vote that candidate received in each states. In many Republican primaries, all the state's delegates are awarded to the winning candidate. In the Democratic Party, high-ranking party members known as superdelegate
Superdelegate
"Superdelegate" is an informal term commonly used for some of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention, the presidential nominating convention of the United States Democratic Party....

s each receive one vote in the convention. Whichever candidate has the majority of the delegates at the end of the primary elections is designated the presumptive nominee
Presumptive nominee
In politics, the presumptive nominee is a political candidate who is all but assured of his or her party's nomination, but has not yet been formally nominated...

 until he or she is formally nominated and endorsed for the presidency by his or her political party. This is done by the aforementioned delegates for each party.

Democratic Party nomination

Candidates

  • Barack Obama
    Barack Obama
    Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

    , U.S. Senator from Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

  • Hillary Clinton
    Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

    , U.S. Senator from New York
    New York
    New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

  • John Edwards
    John Edwards
    Johnny Reid "John" Edwards is an American politician, who served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004, and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008.He defeated incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth in...

    , former U.S. Senator from North Carolina
    North Carolina
    North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

  • Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

  • Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis Kucinich
    Dennis John Kucinich is the U.S. Representative for , serving since 1997. He was furthermore a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections....

    , U.S. Representative from Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

  • Joe Biden
    Joe Biden
    Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

    , U.S. Senator from Delaware
    Delaware
    Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

  • Mike Gravel
    Mike Gravel
    Maurice Robert "Mike" Gravel is a former Democratic United States Senator from Alaska, who served two terms from 1969 to 1981, and a former candidate in the 2008 presidential election....

    , former U.S. Senator from Alaska
    Alaska
    Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

  • Christopher Dodd
    Christopher Dodd
    Christopher John "Chris" Dodd is an American lawyer, lobbyist, and Democratic Party politician who served as a United States Senator from Connecticut for a thirty-year period ending with the 111th United States Congress....

    , U.S. Senator from Connecticut
    Connecticut
    Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

  • Tom Vilsack
    Tom Vilsack
    Thomas James "Tom" Vilsack is an American politician, a member of the Democratic Party, and presently the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. He served as the 40th Governor of the state of Iowa. He was first elected in 1998 and re-elected to a second four-year term in 2002...

    , former Governor of Iowa
    Iowa
    Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

  • Evan Bayh
    Evan Bayh
    Birch Evans "Evan" Bayh III is a lawyer, advisor and former Democratic politician who served as the junior U.S. Senator from Indiana from 1999 to 2011. He earlier served as the 46th Governor of Indiana from 1989 to 1997. Bayh is a current Fox News contributor as of March 14, 2011.Bayh first held...

    , former Governor and U.S. Senator from Indiana
    Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...


Before the primaries

Media speculation began almost immediately after the results of the 2004 presidential elections
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

 became known. In the 2006 midterm elections, the Democrats regained majorities in both houses of Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. Early polls taken before anyone had announced a candidacy had shown Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 as the most popular potential Democratic candidates. Nevertheless, the media speculated on several other candidates, including Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

, the runner-up in the 2000 election
United States presidential election, 2000
The United States presidential election of 2000 was a contest between Republican candidate George W. Bush, then-governor of Texas and son of former president George H. W. Bush , and Democratic candidate Al Gore, then-Vice President....

; John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

, the runner-up in the 2004 election
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

; John Edwards
John Edwards
Johnny Reid "John" Edwards is an American politician, who served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina. He was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004, and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and 2008.He defeated incumbent Republican Lauch Faircloth in...

, his running mate
Running mate
A running mate is a person running together with another person on a joint ticket during an election. The term is most often used in reference to the person in the subordinate position but can also properly be used when referring to both candidates, such as "Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen were...

; Delaware Senator Joseph Biden; New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson; Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack; and Indiana Senator Evan Bayh.

Edwards was one of the first to formally announce his candidacy for the presidency, on December 28, 2006. This run would be his second attempt at the presidency. Clinton announced intentions to run in the Democratic primaries on January 20, 2007. Obama announced his candidacy on February 10 in his home state of Illinois. None of the candidates received a significant bounce in their poll numbers after their official announcements. Through most of 2007, even after it was evident Al Gore would not run, John Edwards and Al Gore each hovered between the third and fourth place spots in the polls behind Clinton and Obama.

"Front-runner" status is dependent on the news agency reporting, and by October 2007, the consensus listed the three aforementioned candidates as leading the pack after several debate performances. The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

listed Clinton, Edwards and Obama as the front runners, "leading in polls and fundraising and well ahead of the other major candidates". Clinton led in nearly all nationwide opinion polling
Nationwide opinion polling for the Democratic Party 2008 presidential candidates
For state-by state numbers see Statewide opinion polling for the Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2008This is a collection of scientific, public nationwide opinion polls that have been conducted relating to the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates.-Broad field: For state-by state numbers...

 until January 2008.

Comedian Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert
Stephen Tyrone Colbert is an American political satirist, writer, comedian, television host, and actor. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.Colbert originally studied to be an...

 mounted his own campaign
Stephen Colbert presidential campaign, 2008
On October 16, 2007, satirist Stephen Colbert officially announced that he would run for President of the United States. This came after weeks of being pressured to do so by the public and stating that he would need a sign, which came from Aragorn giving him the sword Anduril...

 for the nomination in his home state of South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, announcing it in October 2007. Public Opinion Strategies conducted a poll and found Colbert nationally in fifth place at 2.3% behind Sen. Joseph Biden's 2.7%

Early primaries/caucuses

The early primaries and caucuses are considered the most critical of nomination process. Most candidates lacking support drop out after doing poorly in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years , as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.Although only a...

, and these states' results often shift national preferences, according to historical polling data. The states that hold early primaries and caucuses are, chronologically, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. In 2008, Florida and Michigan moved their primaries into January against the Democratic Party's rules, and the results of these primaries were discounted and disputed until after the rest of the contests occurred.

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 Iowa caucus, with John Edwards coming in second and Clinton in third. Obama's win was fueled mostly by first time caucus-goers and Independents
Independent (voter)
An independent voter, those who register as an unaffiliated voter in the United States, is a voter of a democratic country who does not align him- or herself with a political party...

 and showed voters viewed him as the candidate of change. Iowa is viewed as the state that jump-started Obama's campaign and set him on track to win the nomination and the presidency. After the Iowa caucus, Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

 and Christopher Dodd
Christopher Dodd
Christopher John "Chris" Dodd is an American lawyer, lobbyist, and Democratic Party politician who served as a United States Senator from Connecticut for a thirty-year period ending with the 111th United States Congress....

 withdrew from the nomination contest.

Obama became the new front runner in New Hampshire when his poll numbers skyrocketed after his victory in Iowa. The Clinton campaign was struggling after a bad loss in Iowa and no strategy beyond the early primaries and caucuses. According to The Vancouver Sun
The Vancouver Sun
The Vancouver Sun is a daily newspaper first published in the Canadian province of British Columbia on February 12, 1912. The paper is currently published by the Pacific Newspaper Group, a division of Postmedia Network. It is published six days a week, Monday to Saturday...

, "Campaign strategists had mapped a victory scenario that envisioned the former first lady wrapping up the Democratic presidential nomination by Super Tuesday on Feb. 5." In what is considered a turning point for her campaign, Clinton had a strong performance at the Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College
Saint Anselm College is a nationally ranked, private, Benedictine, Catholic liberal arts college in Goffstown, New Hampshire. Founded in 1889 by Abbot Hilary Pfrängle, O.S.B. of Saint Mary's Abbey in Newark, New Jersey, at the request of Bishop Denis M. Bradley of Manchester, New Hampshire, the...

, ABC
American Broadcasting Company
The American Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network. Created in 1943 from the former NBC Blue radio network, ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Company and is part of Disney-ABC Television Group. Its first broadcast on television was in 1948...

 and Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 debates several days before the New Hampshire primary
New Hampshire primary
The New Hampshire primary is the first in a series of nationwide political party primary elections held in the United States every four years , as part of the process of choosing the Democratic and Republican nominees for the presidential elections to be held the subsequent November.Although only a...

 as well as an emotional interview in a public broadcast live on TV. Clinton won that primary by 2% of the vote, contrary to the predictions of pollsters who consistently had her trailing Obama for a few days up to the primary date. On January 30, 2008, after placing in third in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries, Edwards announced that he was suspending his campaign for the presidency, but he did not initially endorse any remaining candidate.

Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday
Super Tuesday, 2008
Super Tuesday 2008, Super Duper Tuesday, Mega Tuesday, Giga Tuesday, Tsunami Tuesday, and The Tuesday of Destiny are names for February 5, 2008, the day on which the largest simultaneous number of state U.S. presidential primary elections in the history of U.S. primaries were held...

 occurred on February 5, 2008, during which the largest-ever number of simultaneous state primary
United States presidential primary
The series of presidential primary elections and caucuses is one of the first steps in the process of electing the President of the United States of America. The primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private events run by the political parties...

 elections was held. 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.

Earlier, on February 3 on the UCLA
University of California, Los Angeles
The University of California, Los Angeles is a public research university located in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, USA. It was founded in 1919 as the "Southern Branch" of the University of California and is the second oldest of the ten campuses...

 campus, celebrities Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey
Oprah Winfrey is an American media proprietor, talk show host, actress, producer and philanthropist. Winfrey is best known for her self-titled, multi-award-winning talk show, which has become the highest-rated program of its kind in history and was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2011...

, Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Bouvier Kennedy is an American author and attorney. She is a member of the influential Kennedy family and the only surviving child of U.S. President John F...

 and Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevland Hardaway Morris , better known by his stage name Stevie Wonder, is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and activist...

, among others, made appearances to show support for Barack Obama in a rally led by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama
Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the 44th and incumbent President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States...

. In addition, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

's wife, Maria Shriver
Maria Shriver
Maria Owings Shriver is an American journalist and author of six best-selling books. She has received a Peabody Award, and was co-anchor for NBC's Emmy-winning coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics. As executive producer of The Alzheimer's Project, Shriver earned two Emmy Awards and an Academy of...

, endorsed Obama. California
California Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 California Democratic primary took place on February 5, 2008, also known as Super Tuesday. California was dubbed the "Big Enchilada" by the media because it offers the most delegates out of any other delegation. Hillary Clinton won the primary....

 was one of the Super Tuesday states that were rich in delegates. Obama trailed in the California polling by an average of 6.0% before the primary; he ended up losing the state by 8.3%. Some analysts cited a large Latino
Latino
The demonyms Latino and Latina , are defined in English language dictionaries as:* "a person of Latin-American descent."* "A Latin American."* "A person of Hispanic, especially Latin-American, descent, often one living in the United States."...

 turnout that voted for Clinton as the deciding factor.
Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Nebraska
Nebraska Democratic caucuses, 2008
The Nebraska Democratic Presidential Caucuses took place on February 9, 2008, where 24 of the state's 31 convention delegates were chosen. Like he did throughout many other states that held caucuses instead of primaries, Barack Obama won the Nebraska Democratic Caucus by more than a two-to-one...

, Hawaii
Hawaii Democratic caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Hawaii Democratic Presidential Caucuses took place on February 19, 2008, with 20 pledged delegates at stake. The winner in each of Hawaii's two congressional districts was awarded all of that district's delegates, totaling 13. Another seven delegates were awarded to both candidates at the...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Wisconsin Democratic primary took place on February 19, 2008. 74 pledged delegates were at stake. The Hawaii Democratic caucuses, 2008 took place the same day....

, U.S. Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands Democratic territorial convention, 2008
The 2008 United States Virgin Islands Democratic territorial convention took place on February 9, 2008. The convention chose 6 delegates, all pledged to Senator Barack Obama. Each delegate, however, only counted for half a vote at the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia primaries and the Washington
Washington Democratic caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Washington Democratic caucuses were a series of events held by the Washington State Democratic Party to determine the delegates that the Party sent to the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

 and Maine caucuses all took place after Super Tuesday in February. Obama won all of them, giving him ten consecutive victories after Super Tuesday.

March and April contests

On March 4, Hillary Clinton carried Ohio
Ohio Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Ohio Democratic primary took place on March 4, 2008 and was open to registered Democrats and Independents. Ohio sent 141 pledged delegates to the 2008 Democratic National Convention, which were awarded to the candidates proportionally based on the outcome of the election. In addition,...

 and Rhode Island
Rhode Island Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Rhode Island Democratic primary took place on March 4, 2008. It was an open primary. 21 delegates were awarded on a proportional basis. Rhode Island's delegation to the 2008 Democratic National Convention also included 11 superdelegates whose votes were not bound by the results of the...

 in the Democratic primaries; some considered these wins, especially Ohio, a surprise upset, although she led in the polling averages in both states. She also carried the primary in Texas
Texas Democratic primary and caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Texas Democratic primary and caucuses were a series of events to determine the delegates that the Texas Democratic Party sent to the 2008 Democratic National Convention...

, but Obama won the Texas caucuses held the same day and netted more delegates from the state than Clinton.

Only one state held a primary in April. This was Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Democratic primary in Pennsylvania was held on April 22 by the Pennsylvania Department of State in which voters chose their preference for the Democratic Party's candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential election. Voters also chose the Pennsylvania Democratic Party's candidates for various...

, on April 22. Although Obama made a strong effort to win Pennsylvania, Hillary Clinton won the primary by nearly 10%, with approximately 55% of the vote. Obama had outspent Clinton three to one in Pennsylvania, but his comment at a San Francisco fundraiser that small-town Americans "cling" to guns and religion drew sharp criticism from the Clinton campaign and may have hurt his chances in the Keystone State. In addition, Clinton had several advantages in Pennsylvania. Throughout the primary process, she relied on the support of older, white, working class voters. Pennsylvania held a closed primary, which means that only registered Democrats could vote, and, according to Ron Elving of NPR
NPR
NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

, "The established Democratic electorate was older, whiter, more Catholic and more working-class than in most of the primaries to date." After Pennsylvania, Obama had a higher number of delegates and popular votes than Clinton did and was still in a stronger position to win the nomination. Clinton, however, had received the endorsement of more superdelegates than Obama.

Indiana and North Carolina

On May 6, North Carolina
North Carolina Democratic primary, 2008
The 2008 Democratic presidential primary in North Carolina took place on May 6, 2008, one of the last primary elections in the long race for nomination between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Obama won the primary....

 and Indiana
Indiana Democratic primary, 2008
Clinton narrowly defeated Obama to win the primary.The Indiana Democratic Presidential Primary took place on May 6, 2008. It was an open primary with 72 delegates at stake. The winner in each of Indiana's nine congressional districts was awarded all of that district's delegates, totaling 47....

 held their Democratic presidential primaries. Clinton and Obama campaigned aggressively there before the voting took place. The candidates acknowledged the importance of these primaries and said they were turning point states that could make or break either of their campaigns. Polling had shown Obama a few points ahead in North Carolina and Clinton similarly leading in Indiana. 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 1.1% in Indiana (50.56% to 49.44%). After these primaries, most pundits declared that it had become increasingly improbable, if not impossible, for Clinton to win the nomination. The small win in Indiana barely kept her campaign alive for the next month. 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.

Florida and Michigan

During late 2007, the two 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. 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
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

 and Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, 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 and popular votes from both states (though 40% voted uncommitted in Michigan) and subsequently led a fight to seat all the Florida and Michigan delegates.

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. 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.

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 states won, while Clinton had won majorities in several of the larger states. Because a form of proportional representation
Proportional representation
Proportional representation is a concept in voting systems used to elect an assembly or council. PR means that the number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. For example, under a PR voting system if 30% of voters support a particular...

 and popular vote decided Democratic state delegate contests, numbers were close between Clinton and Obama, the contest for the nomination continued into June 2008. By May, Clinton claimed to hold a lead in the popular vote, but the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 found her numbers accurate only in one close scenario.

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 declare their support for either candidate until the primaries were completed). He was the first African American to win the nomination of a major political party in the United States. 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. 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.

Republican Party nomination

Not only was 2008 the first election since 1952
United States presidential election, 1952
The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional...

 that neither the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election, but it was also the first time since the 1928 election
United States presidential election, 1928
The United States presidential election of 1928 pitted Republican Herbert Hoover against Democrat Al Smith. The Republicans were identified with the booming economy of the 1920s, whereas Smith, a Roman Catholic, suffered politically from Anti-Catholic prejudice, his anti-prohibitionist stance, and...

 that neither sought his party's nomination for president. Since term limits 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. This left the Republican field just as open to a wide field of new candidates as the Democratic field.

Candidates

  • John McCain
    John McCain
    John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

    , U.S. Senator from Arizona
    Arizona
    Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

  • Mike Huckabee
    Mike Huckabee
    Michael "Mike" Dale Huckabee is an American politician who served as the 44th Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the 2008 United States Republican presidential primaries, finishing second in delegate count and third in both popular vote and number of states won . He won...

    , former Governor of Arkansas
    Arkansas
    Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

  • Mitt Romney
    Mitt Romney
    Willard Mitt Romney is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination.The son of George W...

    , former Governor of Massachusetts
    Massachusetts
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

  • Ron Paul
    Ron Paul
    Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

    , U.S. Representative from Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

  • Fred Thompson, former U.S. Senator from Tennessee
    Tennessee
    Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

  • Duncan Hunter
    Duncan Hunter
    Duncan Lee Hunter is an American politician. He was a Republican member of the House of Representatives from California's 52nd, 45th and 42nd districts from 1981 to 2009....

    , U.S. Representative from California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

  • Rudy Giuliani
    Rudy Giuliani
    Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani KBE is an American lawyer, businessman, and politician from New York. He served as Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001....

    , former Mayor of New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

  • Alan Keyes
    Alan Keyes
    Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

    , former U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador from Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

  • Tom Tancredo
    Tom Tancredo
    Thomas Gerard "Tom" Tancredo is an American politician from Colorado, who represented the state's sixth congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1999 to 2009, as a Republican...

    , U.S. Representative from Colorado
    Colorado
    Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

  • John H. Cox
    John H. Cox
    John Herman Cox is an American lawyer, accountant, businessman, broadcaster, and aspiring politician. He was the first Republican to seek formally the party's 2008 nomination for president, but effectively withdrew from the race in late 2007 and suspended his campaign shortly after.-Biography:Born...

    , Businessman from Illinois
    Illinois
    Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

  • Ray McKinney
    Ray McKinney
    Raymond Louis "Ray" McKinney is a mechanical services manager from Savannah, Georgia, and was the Republican nominee for U.S. Congress from Georgia's 12th District in 2010. He was a candidate for U.S...

    , Mechanical services manager from Georgia
    Georgia (U.S. state)
    Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

  • Sam Brownback
    Sam Brownback
    Samuel Dale "Sam" Brownback is the 46th and current Governor of Kansas. A member of the Republican Party, he served as a U.S. Senator from Kansas from 1996 to 2011, and as a U.S. Representative for Kansas's 2nd congressional district from 1995 to 1996...

    , U.S. Senator from Kansas
    Kansas
    Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

  • Tommy Thompson
    Tommy Thompson
    Thomas George "Tommy" Thompson , a United States Republican politician, was the 42nd Governor of Wisconsin, after which he served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. Thompson was a candidate for the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, but dropped out early after a poor performance in polls...

    , former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services from Wisconsin
    Wisconsin
    Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

  • Jim Gilmore
    Jim Gilmore
    James Stuart "Jim" Gilmore III is an American politician from the Commonwealth of Virginia, former 68th Governor of Virginia, and a member of the Republican Party. A native Virginian, Gilmore studied at the University of Virginia, and then served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent...

    , former Governor of Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...


Before the primaries

Immediately after the 2006 midterm elections, media pundits began speculating, as they did about the Democrats, about potential Republican candidates for President in 2008. In November 2006, Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani led in the polls, followed closely by Arizona Senator John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

. The media speculated that Giuliani's pro-choice
Pro-choice
Support for the legalization of abortion is centered around the pro-choice movement, a sociopolitical movement supporting the ethical view that a woman should have the legal right to elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy....

 stance on abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 and McCain's age and support of the unpopular Iraq War would be detriments to their candidacies. Giuliani remained the frontrunner in the polls throughout most of 2007, with McCain and former Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 Senator Fred Thompson fighting for second place. Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 Governor Mike Huckabee
Mike Huckabee
Michael "Mike" Dale Huckabee is an American politician who served as the 44th Governor of Arkansas from 1996 to 2007. He was a candidate in the 2008 United States Republican presidential primaries, finishing second in delegate count and third in both popular vote and number of states won . He won...

, Giuliani, Former Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 Governor Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney
Willard Mitt Romney is an American businessman and politician. He was the 70th Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 and is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination.The son of George W...

, and Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 Congressman Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

 announced their candidacies on January 28, February 5, February 13, and March 12, respectively. McCain officially announced his candidacy on March 1, 2007, after several informal announcements. In the third quarter of 2007, the top four GOP (Republican) fundraisers were Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, and Ron Paul
Ron Paul
Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

. MSNBC's Chuck Todd christened Giuliani and John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 the front runners after the second Republican presidential debate in early 2007.

Early primaries/caucuses

Huckabee, after winning in Iowa, had little money and hoped for a third-place finish in New Hampshire. McCain eventually displaced Rudy Giuliani and Romney as the front runner in New Hampshire
New Hampshire Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 New Hampshire Republican primary took place on January 8, 2008, with 12 national delegates being allocated proportionally to the popular vote...

. McCain staged a turnaround victory, having been written off by the pundits and polling in single digits less than a month before the race.

With the Republicans stripping Michigan and Florida of half their delegates for moving their primaries into January 2008 against party rules, the race for the nomination was based there. McCain meanwhile managed a small victory over Huckabee in South Carolina
South Carolina Republican primary, 2008
The South Carolina Republican primary, 2008 was held on January 19, with 24 delegates at stake. The Republican National Committee took half of South Carolina's 47 delegates away from them because the state committee moved its Republican primary before February 5...

, setting him up for a larger and more important victory over Romney in Florida
Florida Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Florida Republican primary was held on January 29, 2008, with 57 delegates at stake on a winner-take-all basis. The Republican National Committee removed half of Florida's delegates because the state committee moved its Republican primary before February 5. Arizona Senator John McCain was...

, which held a closed primary on January 29. By this time, after several scandals, no success in the early primaries, and a third-place finish in Florida, Giuliani conceded from the nomination race and endorsed John McCain the next day.

Super Tuesday

In February, McCain, besides winning Giuliani's support, was endorsed by California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger is an Austrian-American former professional bodybuilder, actor, businessman, investor, and politician. Schwarzenegger served as the 38th Governor of California from 2003 until 2011....

 before the California primary
California Republican primary, 2008
The California Republican primary, 2008 was held on February 5, 2008, with a total of 173 national delegates at stake.- Process :The delegates represented California at the Republican National Convention. There were three delegates to every congressional district and fourteen bonus delegates...

 took place on Super Tuesday. This gave him a significant boost in the polls for the state's primary, which awarded the greatest number of delegates of all the states. On Super Tuesday, McCain won his home state of Arizona, taking all 53 delegates, and the largest of the Super Tuesday prizes, nearly all of California's 173 delegates. McCain also scored wins in seven other states, picking up 574 delegates. Huckabee was the "surprise performer", winning 5 states and 218 delegates. Romney won 7 states and 231 delegates. Two days later, Romney suspended his presidential campaign, saying that if he stayed in the race, he would "forestall the launch of a national campaign and be making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win". His departure left Huckabee and Paul as McCain's only major challengers in the remaining primaries and caucuses. Romney endorsed McCain on February 14.

Louisiana, Washington, Kansas
Kansas Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Kansas Republican caucuses took place on February 9, 2008.By the evening of February 9, Fox News and CNN projected Mike Huckabee as the winner of the Kansas Caucuses.The Associated Press also called the race for Mike Huckabee.- Results :...

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Wisconsin Primary for the Republicans was held on February 19, 2008. Polls in Wisconsin opened at 7:00 AM and closed 8:00 PM John McCain won the primary.- Polls leading up to Primary :Last 3 Poll Averages- Results :...

, and Washington
Washington Republican primary, 2008
- Results :* Candidate stopped campaign before primary- See also :* Washington Republican caucuses, 2008* Republican Party presidential primaries, 2008* Washington Democratic caucuses, 2008- References :...

 held primaries in February after Super Tuesday. Despite McCain picking up big victories, Huckabee won Louisiana and Kansas. McCain narrowly carried the Washington caucuses over Huckabee and Paul, who amassed a large showing. The Virgin Islands
United States Virgin Islands Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 United States Virgin Islands Republican Territorial Meeting, also known as the Republican caucuses, took place on the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Croix and St. Thomas on April 5, 2008. Virgin Islands Republicans could select six pledged delegates for the 2008 Republican National...

 and Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Republican caucuses, 2008
The 2008 Puerto Rico Republican caucuses were held on February 24, 2008. John McCain won all 20 pledged at the Commonwealth's convention.-Results:-See also:* Puerto Rico Democratic primary, 2008...

 closed February for the Republicans. After Super Tuesday, John McCain had become the clear front runner, but by the end of February, he still had not acquired enough delegates to secure the nomination. In March, John McCain clinched the Republican nomination after sweeping all four primaries, Texas
Texas Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Texas Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. John McCain won the primary election, giving him enough delegate votes to guarantee his nomination at the 2008 Republican National Convention.-Process:...

, Ohio
Ohio Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Ohio Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. That night, candidate John McCain secured enough delegate votes to win the Republican nomination for the 2008 U.S...

, Vermont
Vermont Republican primary, 2008
The 2008 Vermont Republican primary took place on March 4, 2008. Arizona Senator John McCain was the winner of the primary.- Results :* Candidate dropped out of the race before the primary- See also :...

, and Rhode Island
Rhode Island Republican primary, 2008
- Results :* Candidate dropped out of the race before March 4.- See also :* Republican Party presidential primaries, 2008* Rhode Island Democratic primary, 2008- References :...

, putting him over the top of the 1,191 delegates required to win the GOP nomination. Mike Huckabee then conceded the race to McCain, leaving Ron Paul, who had just 16 delegates, as his only remaining opponent.

Other nominations

Along with the Democratic and Republican parties, three other parties nominated candidates with ballot access in enough states to win the minimum 270 electoral votes needed to win the election. These were the Constitution Party
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

, the Green Party
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

, and the Libertarian Party
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

. In addition, independent candidate Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

 ran his own campaign.

The Constitution Party nominated writer, pastor, and conservative talk show host Chuck Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

 for President, and attorney Darrell Castle
Darrell Castle
Darrell Castle is an American political figure, activist and attorney from Memphis, Tennessee, and was the vice presidential candidate of the Constitution Party in the 2008 United States presidential election.-Early life and education:...

 of Tennessee for Vice President. While campaigning, Baldwin voiced his opposition to the Iraq war, the Sixteenth Amendment
Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states or basing it on Census results...

, Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade, , was a controversial landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court decided that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion,...

, the IRS
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue...

, and the Federal Reserve
Federal Reserve System
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking system of the United States. It was created on December 23, 1913 with the enactment of the Federal Reserve Act, largely in response to a series of financial panics, particularly a severe panic in 1907...

.

The Green Party nominated former Democratic Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

 of Georgia for President, and political activist Rosa Clemente
Rosa Clemente
Rosa Alicia Clemente is a United States community organizer, independent journalist and hip-hop activist. She was the vice presidential running mate of 2008 Green Party Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney in the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.Clemente was born and raised in South Bronx, New...

 from New York for Vice President. McKinney campaigned on a platform that supported single-payer universal health care
Single-payer health care
Single-payer health care is medical care funded from a single insurance pool, run by the state. Under a single-payer system, universal health care for an entire population can be financed from a pool to which many parties employees, employers, and the state have contributed...

, the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, reparations for African Americans, and the creation of a Department of Peace.

The Libertarian Party nominated former Republican Congressman Bob Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

 of Georgia for President, and his former rival for the Libertarian nomination Wayne Allyn Root
Wayne Allyn Root
Wayne Allyn Root is an American politician, entrepreneur, television and radio personality, author and political commentator. He was the 2008 Libertarian Party vice-presidential nominee. In June 2009 Richard Winger wrote he was the front runner for the 2012 Libertarian Presidential nomination...

 of Nevada, for Vice President. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barr advocated a reworking or abolishment of the income tax
Income tax in the United States
In the United States, a tax is imposed on income by the Federal, most states, and many local governments. The income tax is determined by applying a tax rate, which may increase as income increases, to taxable income as defined. Individuals and corporations are directly taxable, and estates and...

 and opposed the war in Iraq and the Patriot Act
USA PATRIOT Act
The USA PATRIOT Act is an Act of the U.S. Congress that was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2001...

.

Party conventions

  • April 23–26, 2008: 2008 Constitution Party National Convention
    Constitution Party National Convention
    Constitution Party National Convention is held by the United States Constitution Party every two to four years. To date, there have been five.-National Conventions:...

     held in Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

    .
  • May 23–26, 2008: 2008 Libertarian National Convention
    2008 Libertarian National Convention
    The 2008 Libertarian National Convention was held from May 22 to May 26, 2008 at the Sheraton Hotel in Denver, Colorado...

    , held in Denver, Colorado
    Denver, Colorado
    The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

    .
  • July 10–13, 2008: 2008 Green Party National Convention
    2008 Green National Convention
    The 2008 Green National Convention took place on July 10-14, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois at the Palmer House Hilton and Symphony Center. This served as both the venue for the Presidential Nominating Convention and the Annual Meeting of the Green Party of the United States.-Venues:The convention was...

    , held in Chicago, Illinois.
  • July 18–20, 2008: 2008 Reform Party
    Reform Party of the United States of America
    The Reform Party of the United States of America is a political party in the United States, founded in 1995 by Ross Perot...

     National Convention, held in Dallas, Texas
    Dallas, Texas
    Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

    .
  • August 25–28, 2008: 2008 Democratic National Convention
    2008 Democratic National Convention
    The United States 2008 Democratic National Convention was a quadrennial presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party where it adopted its national platform and officially nominated its candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. The convention was held in Denver,...

    , held in Denver, Colorado
    Denver, Colorado
    The City and County of Denver is the capital and the most populous city of the U.S. state of Colorado. Denver is a consolidated city-county, located in the South Platte River Valley on the western edge of the High Plains just east of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains...

    .
  • September 1–4, 2008: 2008 Republican National Convention
    2008 Republican National Convention
    The United States 2008 Republican National Convention took place at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from September 1, through September 4, 2008...

    , held in Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul, Minnesota
    Saint Paul is the capital and second-most populous city of the U.S. state of Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the east bank of the Mississippi River in the area surrounding its point of confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city...

    .

Notable characteristics

The 2008 election campaign brought several firsts in United States presidential election history. It was the first presidential election since 1952
United States presidential election, 1952
The United States presidential election of 1952 took place in an era when Cold War tension between the United States and the Soviet Union was escalating rapidly. In the United States Senate, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had become a national figure after chairing congressional...

 in which neither the incumbent
Incumbent
The incumbent, in politics, is the existing holder of a political office. This term is usually used in reference to elections, in which races can often be defined as being between an incumbent and non-incumbent. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential election, George W...

 president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election. In addition, John McCain became the second oldest (after Bob Dole) first-time presidential nominee in history when the Republicans nominated him in September 2008 (Ronald Reagan was 73 years, 6 months in 1984, for his second presidential nomination). McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

, was the first woman nominated for Vice President by the Republican Party. Barack Obama and 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
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 and Bob Dole
Bob Dole
Robert Joseph "Bob" Dole is an American attorney and politician. Dole represented Kansas in the United States Senate from 1969 to 1996, was Gerald Ford's Vice Presidential running mate in the 1976 presidential election, and was Senate Majority Leader from 1985 to 1987 and in 1995 and 1996...

 (23 years apart in age), who ran against each other in 1996
United States presidential election, 1996
The United States presidential election of 1996 was a contest between the Democratic national ticket of President Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and the Republican national ticket of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for President and former Housing Secretary Jack...

. The election would mark the first time that candidates from both major parties were born outside the continental United States with Barack Obama born in Hawaii and John McCain who was born in the Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone
The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

. Yet another first was that, for the first time in history, both major party nominees were sitting United States Senators.

One of the most talked about firsts in this election was Obama's possible, and then actual, nomination by the Democratic Party. On August 28, 2008, when Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination for President, he became the first African American to be nominated for President by a major political party. The television audiences for both McCain's and Obama's acceptance speeches broke records, according to Nielsen ratings
Nielsen Ratings
Nielsen ratings are the audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States...

.

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. (Obama's early and strong opposition to the war helped him stand out against the other Democratic candidates during the primaries, as well as stand out to a war-weary electorate during the general campaign). Though McCain meant it as a peacetime presence like the United States maintained in Germany and Japan after World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, his statement that the United States could be in Iraq for as much as the next 50 to 100 years would prove costly. Obama used it against him as part of his strategy to tie him to the unpopular President Bush.

John McCain's support for the troop 'surge' employed by General David Petraeus
David Petraeus
David Howell Petraeus is the current Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, sworn in on September 6, 2011. Prior to his assuming the directorship of the CIA, Petraeus was a four-star general serving over 37 years in the United States Army. His last assignments in the Army were as commander...

, 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.

Bush's unpopularity

George W. Bush had become increasingly unpopular by the beginning of 2008. Polls consistently showed that only twenty to thirty percent of the American public approved of his job performance. In March 2008, Bush endorsed McCain at the White House, but Bush did not make a single appearance for McCain during the campaign. Bush appeared at the 2008 GOP convention only through a live video broadcast. He chose not to appear in person due to disaster events in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike
Hurricane Ike was the second-costliest hurricane ever to make landfall in the United States, the costliest hurricane ever to impact Cuba and the second most active hurricane to reach the Canadian mainland in the Great Lakes Region after Hurricane Hazel in 1954...

. 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 countered by pointing 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 congressional voting records supported this for the years Bush was in office.

Change vs. experience

Before the Democratic primaries had even begun, the dichotomy of change versus experience had already become a common theme in the presidential campaign, with Senator Hillary Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton is the 67th United States Secretary of State, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. She was a United States Senator for New York from 2001 to 2009. As the wife of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, she was the First Lady of the...

 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
Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, 2008
New York junior Senator and former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton had expressed interest in the 2008 United States presidential election since at least October 2002, drawing media speculation on whether she would become a candidate. No woman has ever won the nomination of a major party in the...

, aides for Clinton were already planning to position her as the 'change' candidate, as strategist Mark Penn
Mark Penn
Mark J. Penn , is the worldwide CEO of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller and president of the polling firm Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates. In September 2007, he released a book titled Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes, which examines small trends sweeping...

 made clear in an October 2006 memo titled "The Plan." In his presidential run announcement, Obama framed his candidacy by emphasizing that "Washington must change." 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. Exit polls on Super Tuesday
Super Tuesday
In the United States, Super Tuesday, in general, refers to the Tuesday in February or March of a presidential election year when the greatest number of states hold primary elections to select delegates to national conventions at which each party's presidential candidates are officially nominated...

 found that 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. 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. Advantages for McCain and Obama on experience and the ability to bring change, respectively, remained steady through the November 4 election. However, 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, 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
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 to be his running mate. Palin had been governor only since 2006, and before 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
2008 Republican National Convention
The United States 2008 Republican National Convention took place at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, Minnesota, from September 1, through September 4, 2008...

, a group that was initially lukewarm toward McCain's candidacy. 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. Because of Palin's conservative views, there was also concern that she would alienate independents and moderates, two groups that pundits observed McCain would need to win the election.

The economy

Polls taken in the last few months of the presidential campaign and exit polls conducted on Election Day showed the economy as the top concern for voters. In the fall of 2008, many news sources were reporting that the economy was suffering its most serious downturn since the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. 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." 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, the day of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy
Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers
Lehman Brothers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008. The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers remains the largest bankruptcy filing in U.S...

, 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." 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. 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 Congress' lack of immediate action on the bill. His ineffectiveness in the negotiations and his reversal in decision to attend the debates were 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
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

, and McCain all voting for the measure.

All 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 sound bites of all of these "missteps" were played repeatedly on national television, most pundits and analysts agree that the actual financial crisis and economic conditions caused McCain's large drop in support in mid-September and severely damaged his campaign.

Debates

The Commission on Presidential Debates
Commission on Presidential Debates
The Commission on Presidential Debates began in 1987 by the Democratic and Republican parties to establish the way that presidential election debates are run between candidates for President of the United States...

 announced four debates:
  • September 26: The first presidential debate took place at the University of Mississippi
    University of Mississippi
    The University of Mississippi, also known as Ole Miss, is a public, coeducational research university located in Oxford, Mississippi. Founded in 1844, the school is composed of the main campus in Oxford, four branch campuses located in Booneville, Grenada, Tupelo, and Southaven as well as the...

    . 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
    Jim Lehrer
    James Charles "Jim" Lehrer is an American journalist and the executive editor and former news anchor for PBS NewsHour on PBS, known for his role as a frequent debate moderator during elections...

     of PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

    , introduced the topics.
  • October 2: The vice-presidential debate was hosted at Washington University in St. Louis
    Washington University in St. Louis
    Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university located in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1853, and named for George Washington, the university has students and faculty from all fifty U.S. states and more than 110 nations...

    , and was moderated by Gwen Ifill
    Gwen Ifill
    Gwendolyn L. "Gwen" Ifill is an American journalist, television newscaster and author. She is the managing editor and moderator of Washington Week and a senior correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, both of which air on PBS. She is a political analyst, and moderated the 2004 and 2008 Vice...

     of PBS.
  • October 7: The second presidential debate took place at Belmont University
    Belmont University
    Belmont University is a private, coeducational, liberal arts university located in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. It is the largest Christian university in Tennessee and the second largest private university in the state, behind nearby Vanderbilt University.-Belmont Mansion:Belmont Mansion...

    . It was a town meeting format debate moderated by NBC News
    NBC News
    NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

     anchor Tom Brokaw
    Tom Brokaw
    Thomas John "Tom" Brokaw is an American television journalist and author best known as the anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News from 1982 to 2004. He is the author of The Greatest Generation and other books and the recipient of numerous awards and honors...

    , 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
    Hofstra University
    Hofstra University is a private, nonsectarian institution of higher learning located in the Village of Hempstead, New York, United States, about east of New York City: less than an hour away by train or car...

    . It focused on domestic and economic policy. Like the first presidential debate, it was formatted into segments, with moderator Bob Schieffer
    Bob Schieffer
    Bob Lloyd Schieffer is an American television journalist who has been with CBS News since 1969, serving 23 years as anchor on the Saturday edition of CBS Evening News from 1973 to 1996; chief Washington correspondent since 1982, moderator of the Sunday public affairs show Face the Nation since...

     introducing the topics.


Another debate was sponsored by the Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 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
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

, Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

, and Chuck Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

 agreed to attend. Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is an American progressive broadcast journalist, syndicated columnist, investigative reporter and author. Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, an independent global news program broadcast daily on radio, television and the internet.-Early life:Goodman was born in Bay Shore, New York...

, principal host of Democracy Now!
Democracy Now!
Democracy Now! and its staff have received several journalism awards, including the Gracie Award from American Women in Radio & Television; the George Polk Award for its 1998 radio documentary Drilling and Killing: Chevron and Nigeria's Oil Dictatorship, on the Chevron Corporation and the deaths of...

, moderated. It was broadcast on cable by C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

 and on the Internet by Break-the-Matrix.

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 were 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). In January 2007, Federal Election Commission Chairman Michael E. Toner
Michael E. Toner
Michael E. Toner, American attorney and political appointee, specialized in election law, and currently employed by Wiley Rein LLP where he co-chairs the Election Law & Government Ethics Practice. He formerly served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission , the regulatory body that...

 estimated that the 2008 race would be a $1 billion election, and that to be taken seriously, a candidate would have needed to raise at least $100 million by the end of 2007.

Although he had said he would not be running for president, published reports in 2007 indicated that billionaire and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg
Michael Rubens Bloomberg is the current Mayor of New York City. With a net worth of $19.5 billion in 2011, he is also the 12th-richest person in the United States...

 had been considering a presidential bid as an independent with up to $1 billion of his own fortune to finance it. Bloomberg ultimately ended this speculation by unequivocally stating that he would not run.

With the increase in money expenditures, many candidates did not use the public financing system funded by the presidential election campaign fund checkoff
Presidential election campaign fund checkoff
The presidential election campaign fund checkoff appears on US income tax return forms as the question Do you want $3 of your federal tax to go to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund?...

. John McCain, Tom Tancredo, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden qualified for and elected to take public funds throughout the primary process. Major Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 chose not to participate in the public financing system.

Internet campaigns

Howard Dean
Howard Dean
Howard Brush Dean III is an American politician and physician from Vermont. He served six terms as the 79th Governor of Vermont and ran unsuccessfully for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. He was chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009. Although his U.S...

 collected large contributions through 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
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

, MySpace
MySpace
Myspace is a social networking service owned by Specific Media LLC and pop star Justin Timberlake. Myspace launched in August 2003 and is headquartered in Beverly Hills, California. In August 2011, Myspace had 33.1 million unique U.S. visitors....

, and Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

.

Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama created a broad popular 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.

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.

Anonymous and semi-anonymous smear campaign
Smear campaign
A smear campaign, smear tactic or simply smear is a metaphor for activity that can harm an individual or group's reputation by conflation with a stigmatized group...

s, traditionally done with fliers and push calling
Push poll
A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze...

, also spread to the Internet. Organizations specializing in the production and distribution of viral
Viral video
A viral video is one that becomes popular through the process of Internet sharing, typically through video sharing websites, social media and email...

 material, such as Brave New Films
Brave New Films
Brave New Films is a media company founded by filmmaker Robert Greenwald. Viral videos produced by Brave New Films have been widely circulated on the internet, during the 2008 United States presidential election campaign, and generally disparage Republican candidate John McCain and other prominent...

, emerged; such organizations have been said to be having a growing influence on American politics.

Expense summary

According to required campaign filings as reported by the Federal Election Commission
Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency that was founded in 1975 by the United States Congress to regulate the campaign finance legislation in the United States. It was created in a provision of the 1975 amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act...

 (FEC), 148 candidates for all parties collectively raised $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
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

)
$532,946,511 $513,557,218 69,498,215 $7.39
John McCain (R
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

)
$379,006,485 $346,666,422 59,948,240 $5.78
Ralph Nader (I) $4,496,180 $4,187,628 738,720 $5.67
Bob Barr (L
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

)
$1,383,681 $1,345,202 523,713 $2.57
Chuck Baldwin (C
Constitution Party (United States)
The Constitution Party is a paleoconservative political party in the United States. It was founded as the U.S. Taxpayers' Party by Howard Philips in 1991. Phillips was the party's candidate in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 presidential elections...

)
$261,673 $234,309 199,437 $1.17
Cynthia McKinney (G
Green Party (United States)
The Green Party of the United States is a nationally recognized political party which officially formed in 1991. It is a voluntary association of state green parties. Prior to national formation, many state affiliates had already formed and were recognized by other state parties...

)
$240,130 $238,968 161,680 $1.48
Excludes spending by independent expenditure concerns.
Source: Federal Election Commission

Race

An October 17–20, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed among registered voters 2% said race made them more likely to vote for Barack Obama and 4% said it made them less likely to vote for Barack Obama. Those not sure how it swayed them were 2%, and race was not a major factor in the other 92% (margin of error was ± 2.9).

A July 18–21, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 20% of African American registered voters and 8% of white registered voters considered race the single most important factor when voting (margin of error was ± 3.1). This percentage increased in both groups from previous polls.

A June 6–9, 2008 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that 17% were enthusiastic about Obama being the first African American President, 70% were comfortable or indifferent, and 13% had reservations or were uncomfortable (margin of error was ± 3.1).

Controversies

Some pre-election controversies in the election revolved around challenges to voter registration
Voter registration
Voter registration is the requirement in some democracies for citizens and residents to check in with some central registry specifically for the purpose of being allowed to vote in elections. An effort to get people to register is known as a voter registration drive.-Centralized/compulsory vs...

 lists, involving techniques such as caging lists alleged to constitute voter suppression
Voter suppression
Voter suppression is a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing people from exercising their right to vote. It is distinguished from political campaigning in that campaigning attempts to change likely voting behavior by changing the opinions of potential voters...

.

Allegations of voter list purges using unlawful criteria caused controversy in at least six swing states: Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 and North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

. On October 5, 2008 the Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 Lt. Governor of Montana, John Bohlinger
John Bohlinger
John Bohlinger, Jr. is the current Lieutenant Governor of Montana. Bohlinger for lieutenant governor ran as a Republican on a bipartisan ticket headed by Democrat Brian Schweitzer...

, accused the Montana Republican Party of vote caging to purge 6,000 voters from three counties which trend Democratic. Allegations arose in Michigan that the Republican Party planned to challenge the eligibility of voters based on lists of foreclosed homes. The campaign of Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 presidential nominee Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 filed a lawsuit challenging this. The House Judiciary Committee
United States House Committee on the Judiciary
The U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, also called the House Judiciary Committee, is a standing committee of the United States House of Representatives. It is charged with overseeing the administration of justice within the federal courts, administrative agencies and Federal law enforcement...

 wrote to the Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 requesting an investigation.

Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 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 service members. According to federal law, absentee ballots must be mailed to troops in foreign countries at least 45 days before 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.

Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

's 173,000 residents are U.S. citizens, and must obey U.S. laws passed in Washington, yet they have neither a voting member of Congress, nor votes in the Electoral College. Since 1980, they have held a straw poll for president at the same time as the U.S. national elections. In 2007, Guam's legislature voted to move the straw poll up to September to draw attention to the choices of Guam's population and their continued disfranchisement, but the governor vetoed the bill. Obama won the 2008 Guam straw poll with 20,120 votes to McCain's 11,940.

Libertarian
Libertarian Party (United States)
The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The political platform of the Libertarian Party reflects its brand of libertarianism, favoring minimally regulated, laissez-faire markets, strong civil liberties, minimally regulated migration...

 candidate Bob Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

 filed a lawsuit in Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 to have Obama and McCain removed from the ballot in that state. 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 candidate at the time of the deadline had been confirmed as the candidate for their respective parties. The Texas Supreme Court
Texas Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Texas is the court of last resort for non-criminal matters in the state of Texas. A different court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, is the court of last resort for criminal matters.The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices...

 dismissed the lawsuit without explanation.

In Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, identified by both parties as a key state, allegations surfaced from both Republicans and Democrats that individuals from out of state were moving to the state temporarily and attempting to vote despite not meeting the state's requirement of permanent residency for more than 29 days. The Franklin County Board of Elections referred 55 cases of possible voting irregularities to the local prosecutor. Three groups attracted particular notice: 'Vote from Home,' 'Vote Today Ohio,' and 'Drop Everything and Come to Ohio.' Vote from Home attracted the most attention when thirteen of the group's members moved to the same location in eastern Columbus. Members of the group organized by Marc Gustafson, including several Marshall
Marshall Scholarship
The Marshall Scholarship, a postgraduate scholarships available to Americans, was created by the Parliament of the United Kingdom when the Marshall Aid Commemoration Act was passed in 1953. The scholarships serve as a living gift to the United States of America in recognition of the post-World War...

 and Rhodes
Rhodes Scholarship
The Rhodes Scholarship, named after Cecil Rhodes, is an international postgraduate award for study at the University of Oxford. It was the first large-scale programme of international scholarships, and is widely considered the "world's most prestigious scholarship" by many public sources such as...

 scholars studying at Oxford University, settled with Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien to have their challenged ballots withdrawn. The Obama campaign and others alleged that members of the McCain campaign had also voted without properly establishing residency. Since 1953, only six people in Ohio have gone to prison for illegal voting.

Ayers controversy

A controversy arose regarding Obama's contact with Bill Ayers
Bill Ayers
William Charles "Bill" Ayers is an American elementary education theorist and a former leader in the movement that opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960s activism as well as his current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction...

, a Professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 at the University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago, or UIC, is a state-funded public research university located in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Its campus is in the Near West Side community area, near the Chicago Loop...

, and a former leader of the Weather Underground
Weatherman (organization)
Weatherman, known colloquially as the Weathermen and later the Weather Underground Organization , was an American radical left organization. It originated in 1969 as a faction of Students for a Democratic Society composed for the most part of the national office leadership of SDS and their...

, a radical left
Far left
Far left, also known as the revolutionary left, radical left and extreme left are terms which refer to the highest degree of leftist positions among left-wing politics...

 organization in the 1970s. Investigations by The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

,
CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

, and other news organizations concluded that Obama does not have a close relationship with Ayers. Ayers served on two nonprofit boards with Obama. Both Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn
Bernardine Dohrn
Bernardine Rae Dohrn is a former leader of the American anti-Vietnam War radical organization, Weather Underground. She is an Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law and the immediate past Director of Northwestern's Children and Family Justice Center...

, hosted a gathering at their home in 1995, where Alice Palmer
Alice Palmer (Illinois politician)
Alice J. Palmer is an American educator and former Democratic member of the Illinois Senate. Known as a longtime progressive activist, Palmer represented the state's 13th senate district from June 6, 1991 until January 8, 1997...

 introduced Obama as her chosen successor in the Illinois State Senate.

The matter was initially raised by Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity
Sean Hannity is an American radio and television host, author, and conservative political commentator. He is the host of The Sean Hannity Show, a nationally syndicated talk radio show that airs throughout the United States on Premiere Radio Networks. Hannity also hosts a cable news show, Hannity,...

 and other hosts on conservative
American conservatism
Conservatism in the United States has played an important role in American politics since the 1950s. Historian Gregory Schneider identifies several constants in American conservatism: respect for tradition, support of republicanism, preservation of "the rule of law and the Christian religion", and...

 talk radio programs, and then by moderator George Stephanopoulos
George Stephanopoulos
George Robert Stephanopoulos is an American television journalist and a former political advisor.Stephanopoulos is most well known as the chief political correspondent for ABC News – the news division of the broadcast television network ABC – and a co-anchor of ABC News's morning news...

 during a debate between Clinton and Obama in April 2008. In October 2008, the matter was mentioned in attack ad
Attack ad
In political campaigns, an attack ad is an advertisement whose message is meant as a personal attack against another candidate or political party...

s, robocalls, mass mailings, and campaign speeches by Republican presidential candidate John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

 and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

 as an issue in the general election campaign. Obama has condemned Ayers' past, and stated that he does not have a close association with him.

Allegations of media bias

Significant criticism was leveled at media outlets' coverage of the presidential election season. At the February debate, Tim Russert
Tim Russert
Timothy John "Tim" Russert was an American television journalist and lawyer who appeared for more than 16 years as the longest-serving moderator of NBC's Meet the Press. He was a senior vice president at NBC News, Washington bureau chief and also hosted the eponymous CNBC/MSNBC weekend interview...

 of NBC News
NBC News
NBC News is the news division of American television network NBC. It first started broadcasting in February 21, 1940. NBC Nightly News has aired from Studio 3B, located on floors 3 of the NBC Studios is the headquarters of the GE Building forms the centerpiece of 30th Rockefeller Center it is...

 was criticized for what some perceived as disproportionately tough questioning of Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton. Among the questions, Russert had asked Clinton, but not Obama, to provide the name of the new Russian President (Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

). This was later parodied on Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live is a live American late-night television sketch comedy and variety show developed by Lorne Michaels and Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title of NBC's Saturday Night.The show's sketches often parody contemporary American culture...

. In October 2007, liberal commentators accused Russert of harassing Clinton over the issue of supporting drivers' licenses for illegal immigrants.

On April 16, ABC News
ABC News
ABC News is the news gathering and broadcasting division of American broadcast television network ABC, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company...

 hosted a debate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

. Moderators Charles Gibson
Charles Gibson
Charles deWolf "Charlie" Gibson is a former American broadcast television anchor and journalist. He was a host of Good Morning America from 1987 to 1998 and 1999 to 2006 and anchor of World News with Charles Gibson from 2006 to 2009....

 and George Stephanopoulos
George Stephanopoulos
George Robert Stephanopoulos is an American television journalist and a former political advisor.Stephanopoulos is most well known as the chief political correspondent for ABC News – the news division of the broadcast television network ABC – and a co-anchor of ABC News's morning news...

 were criticized by viewers, blog
Blog
A blog is a type of website or part of a website supposed to be updated with new content from time to time. Blogs are usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in...

gers and media critics for the poor quality of their questions. 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
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 more than a decade ago, and Senator Obama's not wearing an American flag pin. The moderators focused on campaign gaffes and some believed they focused too much on Obama. Stephanopoulos defended their performance, saying "Senator Obama was the front-runner" and the questions were "not inappropriate or irrelevant at all."

In an op-ed
Op-ed
An op-ed, abbreviated from opposite the editorial page , is a newspaper article that expresses the opinions of a named writer who is usually unaffiliated with the newspaper's editorial board...

 published on 2008 April 27 in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

,
Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Edwards
Elizabeth Anania Edwards was an American attorney, a best-selling author and a health care activist. She was married to John Edwards, the former U.S...

 wrote that the media covered much more of "the rancor of the campaign" and "amount of money spent" than "the candidates' priorities, policies and principles." Author Erica Jong
Erica Jong
Erica Jong is an American author and teacher best known for her fiction and poetry.-Career:A 1963 graduate of Barnard College, and with an M.A...

 commented that "our press has become a sea of triviality, meanness and irrelevant chatter." A Gallup poll released on May 29, 2008 also estimated that more Americans felt the media was being harder on Hillary Clinton than they were towards Barack Obama.

The Project for Excellence in Journalism
Project for Excellence in Journalism
The Project for Excellence in Journalism is a non-profit research organization in the US that uses empirical methods to evaluate and study the performance of the press. It asserts that it is "non partisan, non ideological and non political"...

 and Harvard University's
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 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 January 1 through March 9, 2008. The study found that Obama received 69% favorable coverage and Clinton received 67%, compared to only 43% favorable media coverage of McCain. Another study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs
Center for Media and Public Affairs
The Center for Media and Public Affairs is a self-described nonpartisan and nonprofit research and educational organization that is affiliated with George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. It was founded in 1985 by political scientists Dr. S. Robert Lichter and his ex-wife, the late Dr....

 at George Mason University
George Mason University
George Mason University is a public university based in unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, United States, south of and adjacent to the city of Fairfax. Additional campuses are located nearby in Arlington County, Prince William County, and Loudoun County...

 found the media coverage of Obama to be 72% negative from June 8 to July 21 compared to 57% negative for McCain. An October 29 study found 29% of stories about Obama to be negative, compared to 57% of stories about McCain being negative.

An October 22, 2008 Pew Research Center
Pew Research Center
The Pew Research Center is an American think tank organization based in Washington, D.C. that provides information on issues, attitudes and trends shaping the United States and the world. The Center and its projects receive funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1990, Donald S...

 poll estimated 70% of registered voters believed journalists wanted Barack Obama to win the election, as opposed to 9% for John McCain. Another Pew survey, conducted after the election, 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.

Election results

Election Day

November 4, 2008 was Election Day
Election Day (United States)
Election Day in the United States is the day set by law for the general elections of public officials. It occurs on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The earliest possible date is November 2 and the latest possible date is November 8...

 in 50 states and the District of Columbia; it was the last of 21 consecutive election days in Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, which abolished the voting booth in 1998. The majority of states allowed early voting, with all states allowing some form of absentee voting. Voters cast votes for listed presidential candidates but were actually selecting their state's slate of Electoral College electors.

A McCain victory quickly became improbable as Obama amassed early wins in Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 (his home state), the Northeast
Northeastern United States
The Northeastern United States is a region of the United States as defined by the United States Census Bureau.-Composition:The region comprises nine states: the New England states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont; and the Mid-Atlantic states of New...

 and the critical battleground states of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 (which no Republican has ever been elected President without winning) and Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 by 9:20 PM. Obama won the entire Northeast by comfortable margins and the Great Lakes
Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...

 states of Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

, Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

 and Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 by double digits. McCain managed to hold on to traditionally Republican states like North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

, South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

, Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

, and Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 (his home state). McCain, unlike Bush in 2000 and 2004, failed to receive all the southern states: Obama won Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Obama also won the hotly contested states of Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

 and New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, which Al Gore
Al Gore
Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. served as the 45th Vice President of the United States , under President Bill Clinton. He was the Democratic Party's nominee for President in the 2000 U.S. presidential election....

 had won in 2000 and George W. Bush in 2004. Also, for only the second time since 1940 (1964 being the other), Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

 went Democratic. CNN
CNN
Cable News Network is a U.S. cable news channel founded in 1980 by Ted Turner. Upon its launch, CNN was the first channel to provide 24-hour television news coverage, and the first all-news television channel in the United States...

 and Fox News called Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 for Obama shortly before 11pm, leaving him only 50 electoral votes shy of victory with only six West Coast
West Coast of the United States
West Coast or Pacific Coast are terms for the westernmost coastal states of the United States. The term most often refers to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Although not part of the contiguous United States, Alaska and Hawaii do border the Pacific Ocean but can't be included in...

 states (California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Washington, Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, Alaska, and Hawaii) still voting. All American networks called the election in favor of Obama at 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time as the polls closed on the West Coast. Obama was immediately declared the winner in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

, Washington, and Hawaii, McCain won Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

, and the Electoral College totals were updated to 297 for Obama and 146 for McCain (270 are needed to win). McCain gave a concession speech half an hour later in his home state of Arizona. President-elect Obama appeared just before midnight Eastern Time on November 5 in Grant Park
Grant Park (Chicago)
Grant Park, with between the downtown Chicago Loop and Lake Michigan, offers many different attractions in its large open space. The park is generally flat. It is also crossed by large boulevards and even a bed of sunken railroad tracks...

, Chicago, in front of a crowd of 250,000 people to deliver his victory speech
Barack Obama election victory speech, 2008
Following his victory in the United States presidential election, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama gave his victory speech at Grant Park in his home city of Chicago, Illinois, on November 5, 2008, before an estimated crowd of 240,000...

.
Following Obama's speech, spontaneous street parties broke out in cities across the United States including Philadelphia, Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

, Las Vegas
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Nevada and is also the county seat of Clark County, Nevada. Las Vegas is an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. The city bills itself as The Entertainment Capital of the World, and is famous...

, Miami, Chicago, Columbus
Columbus, Ohio
Columbus is the capital of and the largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio. The broader metropolitan area encompasses several counties and is the third largest in Ohio behind those of Cleveland and Cincinnati. Columbus is the third largest city in the American Midwest, and the fifteenth largest city...

, Detroit, Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

, Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

, Portland
Portland, Oregon
Portland is a city located in the Pacific Northwest, near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers in the U.S. state of Oregon. As of the 2010 Census, it had a population of 583,776, making it the 29th most populous city in the United States...

, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

, San Francisco, Denver, Atlanta, Madison
Madison, Wisconsin
Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison....

, and New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and around the world in London; Bonn
Bonn
Bonn is the 19th largest city in Germany. Located in the Cologne/Bonn Region, about 25 kilometres south of Cologne on the river Rhine in the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, it was the capital of West Germany from 1949 to 1990 and the official seat of government of united Germany from 1990 to 1999....

; Berlin; Obama, Japan; Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

; Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

; Sydney; and Nairobi
Nairobi
Nairobi is the capital and largest city of Kenya. The city and its surrounding area also forms the Nairobi County. The name "Nairobi" comes from the Maasai phrase Enkare Nyirobi, which translates to "the place of cool waters". However, it is popularly known as the "Green City in the Sun" and is...

.

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
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

, and the western states of Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 and Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

. All of these states had been carried by Bush in 2004
United States presidential election, 2004
The United States presidential election of 2004 was the United States' 55th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 2004. Republican Party candidate and incumbent President George W. Bush defeated Democratic Party candidate John Kerry, the then-junior U.S. Senator...

. North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and the bellwether
Missouri bellwether
The Missouri bellwether is a political phenomenon that notes that the state of Missouri voted for the winner in all but two U.S. Presidential election since 1904 . While states like Ohio, Iowa, Nevada, and New Mexico have been arguably stronger indicators of political trends in recent years,...

 state of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 remained undecided for several days. Eventually Obama was declared the winner in North Carolina and McCain in Missouri, with Obama pulling out a rare win in Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district encompasses the core of the Omaha metropolitan area. It includes all of Douglas County, which includes Omaha, and the urbanized areas of Sarpy County...

. This put the projected electoral vote count at 365 for Obama and 173 for McCain. Obama's victories in the populous swing states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia contributed to his decisive win. The presidential electors cast their ballots for President and Vice President, and Congress tallied these votes on January 8, 2009.

Nationwide results

Popular vote totals are from the official Federal Election Commission report. Congress certified the electoral vote totals on January 8, 2009.









Turnout

The voter turnout
Voter turnout
Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election . After increasing for many decades, there has been a trend of decreasing voter turnout in most established democracies since the 1960s...

 for this election was broadly predicted to be high by American standards, and a record number of votes were cast. The final tally of total votes counted was 131.3 million, compared to 122.3 million in 2004 (which also boasted the highest record since 1968
United States presidential election, 1968
The United States presidential election of 1968 was the 46th quadrennial United States presidential election. Coming four years after Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson won in a historic landslide, it saw Johnson forced out of the race and Republican Richard Nixon elected...

, after which the voting age
Voting age
A voting age is a minimum age established by law that a person must attain to be eligible to vote in a public election.The vast majority of countries in the world have established a voting age. Most governments consider that those of any age lower than the chosen threshold lack the necessary...

 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
United States presidential election, 1960
The United States presidential election of 1960 was the 44th American presidential election, held on November 8, 1960, for the term beginning January 20, 1961, and ending January 20, 1965. The incumbent president, Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower, was not eligible to run again. The Republican Party...

. 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.

American University
American University
American University is a private, Methodist, liberal arts, and research university in Washington, D.C. The university was chartered by an Act of Congress on December 5, 1892 as "The American University", which was approved by President Benjamin Harrison on February 24, 1893...

'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. That report was the basis for some news articles that indicated voter turnout failed to meet expectations. When the remaining votes were counted after the release of the report, the total number of votes cast in the presidential election was raised to 131.2 million, which surpassed the American University report's preliminary estimate of 126.5 to 128.5 million voters by a factor of between 2% and 4%.

The election saw increased participation from African-Americans. African Americans made up 11.1% of the electorate in 2004, versus 13.0% in 2008. 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. 74% of North Carolina's registered African American voters turned out, as opposed to 69% of North Carolinians in general, with Obama carrying 100% (with rounding) of African American females and African Americans age 18 to 29, according to exit polling. This was the case in Virginia as well where much higher turnout among African Americans propelled Obama to victory in the former Republican stronghold. Even in southern states where Obama was unsuccessful, such as Georgia and Mississippi, due to large African American turnout he was much more competitive than John Kerry in 2004.

State results

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 and 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. Four states, Georgia, Illinois, New York, and Ohio, have since amended the popular vote results. The updated Georgia results, Illinois results, New York results, and Ohio results are included here.
States/districts won by Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

/Biden
Joe Biden
Joseph Robinette "Joe" Biden, Jr. is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, serving under President Barack Obama...

States/districts won by McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

/Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...


State Electors Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

Nader
Ralph Nader
Ralph Nader is an American political activist, as well as an author, lecturer, and attorney. Areas of particular concern to Nader include consumer protection, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and democratic government....

Barr
Bob Barr
Robert Laurence "Bob" Barr, Jr. is a former federal prosecutorand a former member of the United States House of Representatives. He represented Georgia's 7th congressional district as a Republican from 1995 to 2003. Barr attained national prominence as one of the leaders of the impeachment of...

Baldwin
Chuck Baldwin
Charles Obadiah "Chuck" Baldwin is an American politician and founder-pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. He was the presidential nominee of the Constitution Party for the 2008 U.S. presidential election and had previously been its nominee for U.S. vice president in 2004...

McKinney
Cynthia McKinney
Cynthia Ann McKinney is a former US Congresswoman and a member of the Green Party since 2007. As a member of the Democratic Party, she served six terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives. In 2008, the Green Party nominated McKinney for President of the United States...

OthersObama % margin
Alabama
United States presidential election in Alabama, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Alabama took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 9 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

9 813,479 1,266,546 6,788 4,991 4,310 3,705 -21.58
Alaska
United States presidential election in Alaska, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Alaska took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 123,594 193,841 3,783 1,589 1,660 1,730 -21.54
Arizona
United States presidential election in Arizona, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Arizona took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

10 1,034,707 1,230,111 11,301 12,555 1,371 3,406 24 -8.48
Arkansas
United States presidential election in Arkansas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Arkansas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

6 422,310 638,017 12,882 4,776 4,023 3,470 1,139 -19.85
California
United States presidential election in California, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in California took place on November 4, 2008 in California as part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 55 electors, the most out of any of the 50 states, to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President....

55 8,274,473 5,011,781 108,381 67,582 3,145 38,774 57,764 24.03
Colorado
United States presidential election in Colorado, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Colorado took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 9 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

9 1,288,576 1,073,589 13,350 10,897 6,233 2,822 5,894 8.95
Connecticut
United States presidential election in Connecticut, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Connecticut took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

7 997,772 629,428 19,162 311 90 29 22.37
Delaware
United States presidential election in Delaware, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Delaware took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 255,459 152,374 2,401 1,109 626 385 58 24.98
District of Columbia
United States presidential election in the District of Columbia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in the District of Columbia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 245,800 17,367 958 590 1,138 85.92
Florida
United States presidential election in Florida, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Florida took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 27 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

27 4,282,074 4,045,624 28,124 17,218 7,915 2,887 6,902 2.81
Georgia
United States presidential election in Georgia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Georgia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 15 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

15 1,844,123 2,048,759 1,158 28,731 1,402 250 63 -5.20
Hawaii
United States presidential election in Hawaii, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Hawaii took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 325,871 120,566 3,825 1,314 1,013 979 45.26
Idaho
United States presidential election in Idaho, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Idaho took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 4 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

4 236,440 403,012 7,175 3,658 4,747 -25.30
Illinois
United States presidential election in Illinois, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Illinois took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 21 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

21 3,419,348 2,031,179 30,948 19,642 8,256 11,838 1,160 25.11
Indiana
United States presidential election in Indiana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Indiana took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,374,039 1,345,648 909 29,257 1,024 87 90 1.03
Iowa
United States presidential election in Iowa, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Iowa took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 828,940 682,379 8,014 4,590 4,445 1,423 7,332 9.53
Kansas
United States presidential election in Kansas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Kansas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 6 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

6 514,765 699,655 10,527 6,706 4,148 35 36 -14.92
Kentucky
United States presidential election in Kentucky, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Kentucky took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 8 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

8 751,985 1,048,462 15,378 5,989 4,694 -16.22
Louisiana
United States presidential election in Louisiana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Louisiana which took place on November 4, 2008 was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose nine representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.Louisiana was won by...

9 782,989 1,148,275 6,997 2,581 9,187 10,732 -18.63
Maine
United States presidential election in Maine, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Maine took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Maine is one of two states in the U.S...

2* 421,923 295,273 10,636 251 177 2,900 431 17.32
ME 1st Dist.
Maine's 1st congressional district
Maine's 1st congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Maine. The geographically smaller of the two congressional districts in the state, the district covers the southern coastal area of the state. The district consists of all of Cumberland, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc,...

1 232,145 144,604 5,263 1,362 252 22.82
ME 2nd Dist.
Maine's 2nd congressional district
Maine's 2nd congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Maine. Covering , it comprises nearly 80% of the state. It is the largest district east of the Mississippi River and the 24th-largest overall. The district consists of all of the state north of the Portland and...

1 189,778 150,669 5,373 1,538 179 11.25
Maryland
United States presidential election in Maryland, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Maryland took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,629,467 959,862 14,713 9,842 3,760 4,747 9,205 25.44
Massachusetts
United States presidential election in Massachusetts, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Massachusetts took place on November 4, 2008 in Massachusetts as in all 50 states and D.C., as part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

12 1,904,097 1,108,854 28,841 13,189 4,971 6,550 14,483 25.81
Michigan
United States presidential election in Michigan, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Michigan took place on November 4, 2008. It was part of the 2008 United States presidential election which happened throughout all 50 states and D.C....

17 2,872,579 2,048,639 33,085 23,716 14,685 8,892 170 16.44
Minnesota
United States presidential election in Minnesota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Minnesota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,573,354 1,275,409 30,152 9,174 6,787 5,174 10,319 10.24
Mississippi
United States presidential election in Mississippi, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Mississippi took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

6 554,662 724,597 4,011 2,529 2,551 1,034 481 -13.17
Missouri
United States presidential election in Missouri, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Missouri was held on November 4, 2008, and was part of the 2008 United States presidential election, which took place throughout all 50 states and D.C....

11 1,441,911 1,445,814 17,813 11,386 8,201 80 -0.13
Montana
United States presidential election in Montana, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Montana took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 231,667 242,763 3,686 1,355 143 23 10,638 -2.38
Nebraska
United States presidential election in Nebraska, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Nebraska took place on November 4, 2008 as part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President. However, this state is one of the two states of the U.S...

2* 333,319 452,979 5,406 2,740 2,972 1,028 2,837 -14.93
NE 1st Dist.
Nebraska's 1st congressional district
Nebraska's 1st congressional district seat encompasses most of the eastern quarter of the state. It includes the state capital, Lincoln, Fremont, Norfolk, Beatrice and South Sioux City. It is currently held by Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican. George W. Bush received 63% of the vote in this district...

1 121,468 148,179 1,970 929 1,019 393 -9.75
NE 2nd Dist.
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district
Nebraska's 2nd congressional district encompasses the core of the Omaha metropolitan area. It includes all of Douglas County, which includes Omaha, and the urbanized areas of Sarpy County...

1 138,752 135,439 1,621 1,007 604 321 1.19
NE 3rd Dist.
Nebraska's 3rd congressional district
Nebraska's 3rd congressional district seat encompasses the western three-fourths of the state; it is one of the largest non-at-large Congressional districts in the country, covering nearly , two time zones and 68.5 counties. It includes Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings, North Platte, Scottsbluff and...

1 73,099 169,361 1,815 804 1,349 314 -39.01
Nevada
United States presidential election in Nevada, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Nevada was part of the 2008 United States presidential election, which took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C.. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 533,736 412,827 6,150 4,263 3,194 1,411 6,267 12.49
New Hampshire
United States presidential election in New Hampshire, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Hampshire took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 384,826 316,534 3,503 2,217 226 40 3,624 9.61
New Jersey
United States presidential election in New Jersey, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Jersey took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

15 2,215,422 1,613,207 21,298 8,441 3,956 3,636 2,277 15.53
New Mexico
United States presidential election in New Mexico, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New Mexico took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 472,422 346,832 5,327 2,428 1,597 1,552 15.13
New York
United States presidential election in New York, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in New York took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 31 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

31 4,804,701 2,752,728 41,248 19,595 634 12,801 8,936 26.86
North Carolina
United States presidential election in North Carolina, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in North Carolina took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

15 2,142,651 2,128,474 1,448 25,722 158 13,942 0.33
North Dakota
United States presidential election in North Dakota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in North Dakota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 141,278 168,601 4,189 1,354 1,199 -8.65
Ohio
United States presidential election in Ohio, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Ohio took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 20 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

20 2,940,044 2,677,820 42,337 19,917 12,565 8,518 7,149 4.58
Oklahoma
United States presidential election in Oklahoma, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Oklahoma took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 502,496 960,165 -31.29
Oregon
United States presidential election in Oregon, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Oregon took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 7 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

7 1,037,291 738,475 18,614 7,635 7,693 4,543 13,613 16.35
Pennsylvania
United States presidential election in Pennsylvania, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Pennsylvania took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

21 3,276,363 2,655,885 42,977 19,912 1,092 10.31
Rhode Island
United States presidential election in Rhode Island, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Rhode Island took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

4 296,571 165,391 4,829 1,382 675 797 122 27.81
South Carolina
United States presidential election in South Carolina, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in South Carolina took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

8 862,449 1,034,896 5,053 7,283 6,827 4,461 -8.98
South Dakota
United States presidential election in South Dakota, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in South Dakota took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 170,924 203,054 4,267 1,835 1,895 -8.41
Tennessee
United States presidential election in Tennessee, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Tennessee took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,087,437 1,479,178 11,560 8,547 8,191 2,499 2,337 -15.06
Texas
United States presidential election in Texas, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Texas took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 34 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

34 3,528,633 4,479,328 5,440 56,116 5,395 831 2,781 -11.76
Utah
United States presidential election in Utah, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Utah took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

5 327,670 596,030 8,416 6,966 12,012 982 294 -28.02
Vermont
United States presidential election in Vermont, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Vermont took place on November 4, 2008 concurrent with the federal election in all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

3 219,262 98,974 3,339 1,067 500 66 1,904 37.01
Virginia
United States presidential election in Virginia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Virginia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 13 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

13 1,959,532 1,725,005 11,483 11,067 7,474 2,344 6,355 6.30
Washington
United States presidential election in Washington, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Washington took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 11 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

11 1,750,848 1,229,216 29,489 12,728 9,432 3,819 1,346 17.08
West Virginia
United States presidential election in West Virginia, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in West Virginia took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election...

5 303,857 397,466 7,219 2,465 2,355 89 -13.09
Wisconsin
United States presidential election in Wisconsin, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Wisconsin took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

10 1,677,211 1,262,393 17,605 8,858 5,072 4,216 8,062 13.90
Wyoming
United States presidential election in Wyoming, 2008
The 2008 United States presidential election in Wyoming took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C., which was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 3 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice...

3 82,868 164,958 2,525 1,594 1,192 1,521 -32.24
U.S. Total 538 69,498,215 59,948,240 738,720 523,713 199,437 161,680 226,979 7.26

Close states/districts

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 0.14%
  2. North Carolina 0.32%
  3. Indiana 1.04%
  4. Nebraska's 2nd congressional district 1.19%
  5. Montana 2.25%
  6. Florida 2.82%
  7. Ohio 4.59%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 5% but less than 10% (64 electoral votes):
  1. Georgia 5.21%
  2. Virginia 6.29%
  3. South Dakota 8.41%
  4. Arizona 8.52%
  5. North Dakota 8.63%
  6. Colorado 8.95%
  7. South Carolina 8.97%
  8. Iowa 9.54%
  9. New Hampshire 9.65%
  10. Pennsylvania 9.69%
  11. Nebraska's 1st congressional district 9.77%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 10% but less than 15%:
  1. Minnesota 10.24%
  2. Texas 11.76%
  3. Nevada 12.5%
  4. West Virginia 12.69%
  5. Mississippi 13.18%
  6. Wisconsin 13.91%
  7. Kansas 14.93%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 15% but less than 20%:
  1. Tennessee 15.06%
  2. New Mexico 15.13%
  3. New Jersey 15.57%
  4. Kentucky 16.22%
  5. Oregon 16.35%
  6. Michigan 16.45%
  7. Maine 17%
  8. Washington 17.17%
  9. Louisiana 18.63%
  10. Arkansas 19.86%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 20% but less than 25%:
  1. Alaska 21.53%
  2. Alabama 21.58%
  3. Connecticut 22.37%
  4. California 24.06%


States/districts where margin of victory was more than 25% but less than 50%:
  1. Delaware 25.02%
  2. Illinois 25.12%
  3. Idaho 25.34%
  4. Maryland 25.45%
  5. Massachusetts 25.81%
  6. New York 26.85%
  7. Rhode Island 27.8%
  8. Utah 28.03%
  9. Oklahoma 31.3%
  10. Wyoming 32.24%
  11. Vermont 37.01%
  12. Hawaii 45.27%

Ballot access

Presidential ticket Party Ballot access
Ballot access
Ballot access rules, called nomination rules outside the United States, regulate the conditions under which a candidate or political party is either entitled to stand for election or to appear on voters' ballots...

Votes
Obama / Biden Democratic 50+DC
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

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 37 199,314
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. All six candidates appeared on the ballot for a majority of the voters, while the 17 other listed candidates were available to no more than 30% of the voters.

The following nine candidates (and/or parties) had ballot listing and/or write-in status in more than one state:
  • Alan Keyes
    Alan Keyes
    Alan Lee Keyes is an American conservative political activist, author, former diplomat, and perennial candidate for public office. A doctoral graduate of Harvard University, Keyes began his diplomatic career in the U.S...

     (America's Independent Party
    America's Independent Party
    America's Party, originally known as America's Independent Party, is a conservative American political party formed in 2008 by supporters of Alan Keyes as an alternative to the Republican, Democratic and other parties....

    ) 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
    Ron Paul
    Ronald Ernest "Ron" Paul is an American physician, author and United States Congressman who is seeking to be the Republican Party candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Paul represents Texas's 14th congressional district, which covers an area south and southwest of Houston that includes...

     received 41,905 votes; listed in Louisiana (Louisiana Taxpayers) and in Montana (Constitution), with write-in status in California.
  • Róger Calero
    Róger Calero
    Róger Calero is a Nicaraguan American journalist and one of the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party. He was SWP candidate for President of the United States in 2004 and 2008, and for the United States Senate in New York in 2006....

     (Socialist Workers Party
    Socialist Workers Party (United States)
    The Socialist Workers Party is a far-left political organization in the United States. The group places a priority on "solidarity work" to aid strikes and is strongly supportive of Cuba...

    ) 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 Party
    Socialist Party USA
    The Socialist Party USA is a multi-tendency democratic-socialist party in the United States. The party states that it is the rightful continuation and successor to the tradition of the Socialist Party of America, which had lasted from 1901 to 1972.The party is officially committed to left-wing...

    , see Brian Moore presidential campaign, 2008
    Brian Moore presidential campaign, 2008
    Brian Patrick Moore, a local politician from California, announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 19, 2007. The same month he was declared the nominee of the Socialist Party USA for the 2008 presidential election...

    ) received 6,566 votes; listed in eight states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and 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
    Party for Socialism and Liberation
    The Party for Socialism and Liberation is a Marxist-Leninist political party in the United States. It was originally created as the result of a split within the ranks of Workers World Party , although their political line is nearly identical. The San Francisco branch as well as several other...

    ) received 6,808 votes nationally; listed in 12 states: Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • Charles Jay
    Charles Jay
    Charles Jay was the Presidential nominee of the United States Boston Tea Party in the 2008 United States presidential election. He was the presidential nominee of the Personal Choice Party in the 2004 election, achieving ballot status in Utah, and received 946 votes in the general election, coming...

     (Boston Tea Party
    Boston Tea Party (political party)
    The Boston Tea Party is a U.S. political party named after the Boston Tea Party of 1773. Its ideology is libertarian.A group of former Libertarian Party members founded the party in 2006...

    ) 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
    Objectivist Party
    The Objectivist Party is a political party in the United States that seeks to promote Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism in the political realm. The party was formed on February 2, 2008 by Thomas Stevens; the date was chosen to coincide with Rand's birthday....

    ) received 755 votes; listed in Colorado and Florida.
  • Gene Amondson
    Gene Amondson
    Gene Amondson, was a landscape painter, woodcarver, Christian minister and prohibition activist who was the 2004 US presidential candidate for one faction of the Prohibition Party and the nominee of the unified party in 2008.Amondson was known for his anti-Alcohol activism and reenactments of...

     (Prohibition
    Prohibition Party
    The Prohibition Party is a political party in the United States best known for its historic opposition to the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages. It is the oldest existing third party in the US. The party was an integral part of the temperance movement...

    ) 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
    Frank McEnulty
    Frank Edward McEnulty is an American businessperson and politician. In the 2008 presidential election, he was both the Vice Presidential nominee of the Reform Party of the United States of America and the presidential nominee of the New American Independent Party. His running mate was Bobby...

     (New American Independent) - Colorado (listed as unaffiliated); 828 votes.
  • Jeffrey Wamboldt (We the People
    We the People Foundation
    We the People Foundation for Constitutional Education, Inc. also known as We the People Foundation is a non-profit education and research organization in Queensbury, New York with the declared mission "to protect and defend individual Rights as guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States."...

    ) - 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
    Ted Weill
    Theodore "Ted" Weill was the nominee for President of the United States of the Reform Party of the United States of America in the 2008 election...

     (Reform
    Reform Party of the United States of America
    The Reform Party of the United States of America is a political party in the United States, founded in 1995 by Ross Perot...

    ) - Mississippi; 481 votes.
  • Bradford Lyttle
    Bradford Lyttle
    Bradford Lyttle is a prominent pacifist and peace activist, and organizer with the Committee for Non-Violent Action of several major campaigns against militarism, including "Omaha Action", against land-based nuclear missiles ; "Polaris Action" against submarine-based nuclear missiles ; t