The 2008 Presidential Election
The 2008 U.S. presidential election was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. Barack Obama, the junior U.S. senator from Illinois, was nominated as the Democratic candidate while John McCain, the senior U.S. senator from Arizona, was nominated as the Republican candidate. Joe Biden, U.S. senator from Delaware, was later chosen as Obama's running mate. Meanwhile, Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, was chosen as McCain's running mate. Barack Obama won the election by a historic majority vote .
Obama Taking Oath of Office
After winning the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama was sworn into office on January 20, 2009.
The 2008 presidential election was exceptional in many ways. It was the first U.S. presidential election in which an African American was elected president, having also been the first African American to be nominated by a major party. Obama also received the highest number of votes in the history of U.S. presidential elections. In addition, the 2008 presidential election was the first time that both major party candidates were sitting U.S. senators. The election was also characterized by high levels of public interest and engagement. Social media sites joined traditional forms of campaign activity to generate increased election interest.
Stances and Campaign Strategy
Obama's overwhelming presidential win can be attributed to many factors. His strong opposition to the war in Iraq was a view embraced by many Americans. Meanwhile, McCain supported the war; his statement that the U.S. could be in Iraq for the next 50 to 100 years proved costly, even though it was intended as a peacetime presence. Obama was more successful than McCain in separating himself from the unpopular George W. Bush administration. The downturn in the economy provided an additional boost to the Obama campaign after McCain made comments that portrayed him as out of touch with the average American and the economic plight of the nation. The use of social media websites was another factor better handled by the Obama campaign, and one that appealed to many young voters.
In general, the Obama campaign was much more adept at emphasizing the change and experience Obama would bring to the presidency, and distancing itself from the Bush administration, than was the McCain campaign. The Obama campaign also emphasized the experience Hillary Clinton would carry as Secretary of State. Meanwhile the McCain campaign introduced Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate hoping to balance McCain's more extensive experience with the potential of a relatively unknown politician. However, Palin was often painted by the media as lacking knowledge on key issues. Although Palin appealed to the conservative base of the GOP, there remained the fear that her conservative views would alienate moderates and independents.
The 2008 U.S. presidential election took place on November 4, 2008. While John McCain won the majority vote in traditionally Republican states and in his home state of Arizona, Barack Obama's wins in his home state of Illinois, the Northeast, and the swing states of Ohio and Pennsylvania precluded a McCain victory. Obama also won some of the southern states and the contested states of Iowa and New Mexico. The projected electoral vote count came to 365 for Obama and 173 for McCain.