The 2008 U.S. presidential election was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. The election took place on November 4, 2008, and was a contest between Democrat Barack Obama and Republic John McCain. The 2008 election was the first since 1952 in which neither major party’s presidential nominee was the incumbent president or the incumbent vice president.
At the time, Barack Obama was a junior U.S. senator from Illinois. The Democratic primaries were a fierce competition between Obama and Senator Hilary Clinton. Clinton became the first woman to win a major party’s presidential primary after winning the New Hampshire primary. After a long battle for the nomination, Obama was victorious in the end and secured the Democratic nomination in June 2008. Obama chose Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. Senator John McCain’s competition for the Republic nomination included former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, among others. McCain secured the nomination relatively quickly in March 2008. McCain sought to be the oldest elected president in U.S. history and chose Sarah Palin as his running mate, who would have become the first woman vice president in U.S. history.
Early in the campaign, the Iraq War and President Bush’s unpopularity were popular topics. During the general campaign, McCain attempted to portray Obama as inexperienced and naive, someone who would be too friendly with anti-American regimes such as those in Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela. Simultaneously, Obama campaigned on the theme that “Washington must change.” Obama’s campaign also tied McCain to President Bush at almost every opportunity, who was regarded as one of the most unpopular modern presidents. Throughout the campaign, Obama faced attacks for being a Muslim despite being a practicing Christian. This led to his campaign making a website to, “Fight the Smears.”
The 2008 financial crisis, which peaked in September, greatly affected the presidential campaign. This shifted the focus of the campaign to domestic policy and the economy. McCain made the decision to pause his campaign, which ultimately backfired as voters saw the move as erratic. On November 4, 2008, the American people voted for their next president.
Barack Obama won the following states in the election:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
John McCain won the following states:
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
In the 2008 election, nine states changed their allegiance from the 2004 election. These included Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. Each of these states voted Republican in the 2004 election but voted for Obama in the 2008 election. Voter turnout was the highest it had been in four decades.
Barack Obama won by a considerable margin, receiving 69,456,897 popular votes while John McCain received 59,934,814 popular votes. Obama had received more votes than any candidate in history. When the selected electors from each of the 50 states and D.C. voted on December 15, 2008, Obama received 365 votes over McCain’s 173. Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States on January 20, 2009. He became the first African American president in U.S. history.