Presidential Election On Wikipedia

2004 Flag of the United States 2012
United States presidential election, 2008
November 4, 2008
Nominee Barack Obama John McCain
Party Democratic Republican
Home state Illinois Arizona
Running mate Joe Biden Sarah Palin
United States presidential election, 2008
Electoral college votes per state for 2008. The winning candidate needs a majority of electoral votes: at least 270 out of a total of 538.

The United States presidential election of 2008, scheduled for Tuesday November 4, 2008 will be the 56th consecutive quadrennial United States presidential election and will select the President of the United States and Vice President of the United States.

The Republican Party has chosen John McCain, the senior United States Senator from Arizona as its nominee; Barack Obama, the junior United States Senator from Illinois, has been chosen as the nominee for the Democratic Party. The 2008 election is particularly notable because it is the first time in U.S. history that two sitting senators will run against each other for president, and because it is the first time an African American is a presidential nominee for a major party, as well as the first time both major candidates were born outside the continental United States – Hawaii for Obama and the Canal Zone in Panama for McCain. With African-American candidate Barack Obama, who is of mixed African and Caucasian parentage, as the Democratic Party nominee for President and John McCain’s selection of female Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican Party nominee for Vice-President, the eventual winning ticket is virtually assured of having a historic context. Barring unforeseen events, this will be the first time in American history in which a candidate on the winning ticket is either a woman or an African American.

The election will coincide with the 2008 Senate elections in thirty-three states, House of Representatives elections in all states, and gubernatorial elections in eleven states, as well as various state referendums and local elections. As in the 2004 presidential election, the allocation of electoral votes to each state will be based partly on the 2000 Census. The president-elect and vice president-elect are scheduled to be inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

No incumbents

The 2008 election marks the first time since the 1928 election in which neither an incumbent President nor an incumbent Vice President ran for their party’s nomination in the presidential election,[1] and the first time since the 1952 election that neither the incumbent President nor incumbent Vice President is a candidate in the general election. The incumbent President, George W. Bush, is serving his second term and is barred from running again by the term limits in the 22nd Amendment to the United States Constitution. Vice President Dick Cheney has chosen not to seek the presidency.

In the three previous two-term Presidential administrations—those of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton—the incumbent vice president has immediately thereafter run for president. Richard Nixon lost the 1960 election, George H. W. Bush won the 1988 election, and Al Gore lost the 2000 election.[2][3] From 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney frequently stated he would never run for President: “I will say just as hard as I possibly know how to say… If nominated, I will not run; if elected, I will not serve.”[4] The 2008 election is the first in which the Vice President is not a candidate for either the presidency or the vice presidency since Nelson Rockefeller in 1976.

Leading candidates are senators

The nominees for the major party nominations were both serving United States Senators: Republican candidate John McCain (Arizona) and Democratic candidate Barack Obama (Illinois). It is the first time in history that the two main opponents in the general election are both sitting Senators.[5] Therefore, it appears virtually certain that the 2008 election will mark the first time since the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960 that a sitting Senator will be elected President of the United States, and only the third time ever in American history, after John F. Kennedy and Warren G. Harding. Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden of Delaware, is also a sitting senator.

Leading candidates’ origins and age

Either candidate would become the first president born outside the Continental United States, as Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and McCain was born at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, a US naval base. A bipartisan legal review agreed that McCain is a natural-born citizen of the United States, a constitutional requirement to become president.[6] Obama, having a white mother and Kenyan father of the Luo ethnic group,[7] would be the first president to be black and to be biracial. McCain would be the first president from Arizona, while Obama would be the third president elected from Illinois, the first two being Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. The last candidates to run from these states were Adlai Stevenson (D) of Illinois, who ran and lost in 1952 and 1956, and Barry Goldwater (R) of Arizona, who ran and lost in 1964. While being elected from Illinois, Obama would become the first president from Hawaii, his home state by birth.

Also, if inaugurated on January 20, 2009, McCain would be the oldest U.S. president upon ascension to the presidency at age 72 years and 144 days,[8] and the second-oldest president to be inaugurated (Ronald Reagan was 73 years and 350 days old at his second inauguration).[9]

Barack Obama and John McCain are 24 years and 340 days apart in age. This is the largest age disparity between the two major party presidential candidates, surpassing Bill Clinton and Bob Dole (23 years and 28 days apart in age) who ran against each other in 1996.

This is also the first Presidential election since 1976, and only the fourth since the Civil War, in which none of the four nominees for President and Vice-President from the two major parties have ties of birth or political office to any of the three most populous states in the Union (New York, Texas, or California). Obama was born in Hawaii and represents Illinois, McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone and represents Arizona, Biden was born in Pennsylvania and represents Delaware, while Palin was born in Idaho and represents Alask

January 2008

Presidential and vice-presidential debates

Four debates have been announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates[40]

Democratic Party

Nominees for the Democratic Party:

Democratic National Convention Presidential vote, 2008
Candidate Votes Percentage
Barack Obama 1549 35.07%
Hillary Rodham Clinton 341.5 7.73%
Abstain 1 0%
Totals 2,527.0 57.20%

Obama was nominated by acclamation at the 2008 Democratic Convention. Part way through the roll call, former rival Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York motioned to suspend the rules of the roll call and nominate Obama by acclamation. This was done and the voting was not officially completed. Obama is also the nominee of the United Citizens Party in South Carolina.[57]

  • On August 23, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware was announced as Obama’s running mate via a text message to supporters. This was the first time in a presidential campaign where a text message was used for such an announcement.[58] Biden was nominated by voice vote at the convention.

Republican Party

Nominees for the Republican Party:

McCain was nominated by roll call at the 2008 Republican National Convention.

  • On August 29, Alaska’s youngest as well as its first female governor Sarah Palin was announced as McCain’s running mate[59] at a rally in Dayton, Ohio. She is the first female vice presidential pick on a major party ticket since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and the first in the history of the Republican Party.[60] Palin was nominated by acclamation at the convention.
Republican National Convention presidential vote, 2008
Candidate Votes Percentage
John McCain 2,343 98.45%
Ron Paul 15 0.63%
Mitt Romney 2 0.08%
Delegates that did not vote 20 0.84%
Totals 2,380 100.00%

Battleground states

Statewide opinion polling for the United States presidential election, 2008.      >10% Obama lead      4%–10% Obama lead      1%–4% Obama lead      Tie      1%–4% McCain lead      4%–10% McCain lead      >10% McCain lead

Statewide opinion polling for the United States presidential election, 2008.[64] >10% Obama lead 4%–10% Obama lead 1%–4% Obama lead Tie 1%–4% McCain lead 4%–10% McCain lead >10% McCain lead

Political experts have identified certain swing states where close votes might prove crucial to the outcome of the election.[65] These states may include, but are certainly not limited to:

(Electoral College votes in parentheses)
  • Colorado: (9) The Centennial State is holding its second Democratic National Convention in Denver after 100 years. The election of Ken Salazar, a Hispanic-American to the U.S. Senate; Bill Ritter to the Governorship in 2006 and a U.S. House seat pick-up in 2006 made it a prized apple for the Democrats, prompting DNC Chairman Howard Dean to claim that the West holds the key to victory in 2008, which effectively made Denver the location of the Convention. A strong Hispanic-American concentration and the attention brought to bear on such issues as immigration reform, labor union support and minimum wage have made this a possible Democratic state. Recent polls show Colorado as a toss-up.[66]
  • Florida: (27) The key player in 2000, whose votes went narrowly to George W. Bush, making him the effective winner. Experts agree that the winner of Florida will have a significant advantage towards advancing to the White House. Florida has trended toward the Republican Party since 2000. For Democrats, the vote of the elderly is seen as a potential boon, due to the party’s traditional stance on Medicare and Social Security (two key components of winning the elderly vote), while Republicans have an advantage with their stance on tax cuts and values issues. The Hispanic and African American populations in Florida could also give the Democrats an edge in a close race. For Republicans, the business attention of tax cuts and Cuban-American attention has made it a strong contender. Current polls show McCain with a slight average lead in Florida.[67]
  • Indiana: (11) The state has not voted for a Democratic Presidential Nominee since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but a poll shows a generic Democrat leading a generic Republican in the Presidential election 37%-32%.[68] Another poll by the Indianapolis Star showed the War in Iraq and the sluggish economy to be the biggest issues among Hoosiers. Also, the poll found that a Democratic ticket featuring Indiana Senator Evan Bayh might have boosted the possibility of Indiana switching alliances.[69] Current polls show Indiana as a pure toss-up.[70] In 2006, Democrats won three house seats here. Also in 2006, Democrats gained control of the Indiana House.
  • Michigan: (17) The Great Lakes State has been a fairly safe bet for the Democrats in recent decades, giving its substantial electoral votes to Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry. However, with each election, the margin of victory has narrowed, opening a window for the Republicans. Populism and a historically strong labor movement have dominated the state and given Democrats an advantage, but Republicans have gained ground in advancing tax cuts and other social issues appealing to “Reagan Democrats“. A population exodus from Democratic Detroit has made the conservative Republican west more influential. Still, Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm was soundly re-elected in 2006 despite the state having the highest unemployment rate in the country on her watch. Current polls show Michigan with a slight Obama lead.[71]
  • Missouri: (11) The Show Me State has been long been dubbed the bellwether for the nation because historically it has correlated very closely with the national Zeitgeist – with the single exception of 1956, Missouri has supported the winner of every Presidential election since 1904. The home state of President Harry Truman leans slightly Republican, and granted its 11 electoral votes to Bush in both 2000 and 2004. Despite the relative strength of Republicans in this Midwestern state, it has a strong penchant for advancing populist causes such as stem cell research and universal health care. In 2006, Missouri elected its first female U.S. Senator in Democrat Claire McCaskill. Moreover, the national mood souring over the war in Iraq and a contentious gubernatorial election with a Democratic favorite in Jay Nixon make this state a strong possibility for the Democrats. Current polls show John McCain with a slight average lead in Missouri.[72]
  • Montana: (3) Polls in Montana have consistently shown a competitive race between Barack Obama and John McCain.[73] While Big Sky Country is normally safe Republican territory in presidential elections, Barack Obama’s appeal to more libertarian-minded Republicans has eroded some of McCain’s support in the Mountain West and Great Plains states. Montana currently has a popular Democratic governor and two Democratic U.S. Senators, all of whom could be helpful in drumming up support for Obama.
  • Nevada: (5) Although Nevada has historically leaned Republican, the high concentration of labor unions and Hispanic-American votes make it a potential battleground state. (Its 2006 Gubernatorial election was particularly competitive, and Republican Jim Gibbons won only by a slim margin.) The Las Vegas metropolitan area with its dramatic increase in population has become an attractive destination for Democratic campaign resources, and Republicans are buoyed by the strong disapproval ratings of Gibbons (29% approval rating as of March 2007) and Bush (34% approval rating as of March 2007).[74] Furthermore, Nevada has, with the single exception of 1976, been won by the victor of every US Presidential election since 1912, a record which makes it a secondary bellwether state. A current poll shows McCain with a slight lead in Nevada.[75]
  • New Hampshire: (4) Once very reliably Republican, New Hampshire became a swing state in the 1990s. Republicans still have somewhat of an edge in statewide elections, however the Democrats took control of the state legislature and both Congressional seats in 2006. The New Hampshire Republican Party tends to be more socially liberal than the national party, and as a result their behavior in national elections is harder to determine. New Hampshire was the only state in the nation that went for Bush in 2000 and then for Kerry in 2004, although by narrow margins both times. Current polls show New Hampshire with a slight Obama lead.[76]
  • New Mexico: (5) New Mexico has been long eschewed as a nominal state, but that thinking has changed dramatically. With elections being heavily contested and victories being decided by two or three states, New Mexico has become one of the centers of political fighting. In 2000, Gore won by a razor-thin margin and in 2004, Bush won by a small, yet safe margin. These results have made experts conclude that New Mexico’s five electoral votes, even though small in calculation, could tip the balance. New Mexico’s large Hispanic and Native American populations tend to vote Democrat, and could be the key for a Democratic candidate in a close race. Its penchant for populist streaks have made it an attraction for the Democrats, and Governor Bill Richardson was a contender for the 2008 nomination, and had been widely speculated as a vice presidential candidate.
  • North Carolina: (15) Like neighboring Virginia, North Carolina is undergoing somewhat of an identity shift. A burgeoning high-tech industry and fast-growing cities have brought swaths of transplants to the Tarheel State, many of whom have taken their Democratic voting habits with them. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Dole‘s increasingly competitive re-election bid exemplifies the changing political winds in her state. North Carolina’s governorship is also up for election this year and currently leaning Democratic. Whether these down-ballot races will affect Obama and McCain’s performance, or vice-versa, remains to be seen.
  • North Dakota: (3) Like the other Great Plains states, North Dakota’s voting history in presidential elections is staunchly Republican. The last Democrat to find success there was Lyndon Johnson forty-four years ago. But Barack Obama took a lead over John McCain in the state in late August after being just a few points behind for several months. North Dakota, along with neighboring Montana, is expected to be part of the Obama campaign’s “Western Strategy” of winning over independents and anti-war Republicans in the Mountain West and Great Plains.
  • Ohio: (20) “I think 2008 is very likely to be a hotly contested race in Ohio,” stated Eric Rademacher, director of the University of Cincinnati‘s Ohio Poll, for the Cincinnati Enquirer.[77] Its 20 electoral votes were critical to President Bush’s reelection in 2004, and their tally was close enough to be contested. In 2006, Ohio voters elected Democrats Ted Strickland and Sherrod Brown for Governor and U.S. Senator, respectively. The Republicans have never won the presidency without winning Ohio. Current polls show McCain with a slight average lead in Ohio.[78]
  • Pennsylvania: (21) Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro A. Cortés stated on March 17, 2007, that “The commonwealth’s large number of electoral college votes and diverse population make Pennsylvania a key battleground state.”[79] Pennsylvania has leaned Democratic since 1992, giving its electoral votes to Bill Clinton (1992 and 1996), Gore (2000) and Kerry (2004). President Bush visited the state more than 40 times during his 2004 campaign.[80] Current polls show Barack Obama with a sizable lead in Pennsylvania.[81]
  • Virginia: (13) No Democratic presidential candidate has won Virginia since Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory in 1964, and it was the only Southern state that went Republican in 1976. Virginia is no longer as reliably Republican as it once was, as evidenced by Democrat Tim Kaine‘s winning the Governor’s Mansion in 2005, Jim Webb‘s narrow victory in the 2006 Senate race against incumbent Republican George Allen, and in the 2007 when the Democrats reached a majority in the State Senate election. Additionally, Northern Virginia, the fastest-growing region in the state also is part of the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area the second highest income metropolitan area in the country, tends to lean Democratic. Virginia also has a large African American population, which could benefit a Democratic candidate in a close race. Unique political timing may come into play in Virginia in 2008, as popular former governor and Democrat Mark Warner is running for the Senate in 2008 for the seat of retiring Senator John Warner (no relation). His popularity (and widely-expected victory in November) could be a significant asset to the Democratic presidential candidate in Virginia. This notion is supported by a September 2007 Rasmussen Reports poll in which Mark Warner leads former Republican governor Jim Gilmore 54% to 34%. Current polls show Virginia as a pure toss-up.[82]
  • Wisconsin: (10) Among the closest states in the nation, Wisconsin very narrowly went to Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. These two results were much closer than the results in prior elections, so it could be possible Wisconsin is trending Republican in presidential elections, though John Kerry won by a slightly larger margin than Gore in 2000. Current polls show Barack Obama with a sizable lead in Wisconsin.[83]
Individual congressional districts
  • Maine, 2nd Congressional District (1): The Second Congressional District is more competitive than the state at-large or the First Congressional District, which are safely Democratic.
  • Nebraska, 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts (1 each): Although Nebraska has not voted for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and is not expected to this time around, Nebraska’s rules regarding electoral votes allow for a split in the electoral vote. Since 1991, two of Nebraska’s five electoral votes are awarded based on the winner of the statewide election while the other three go to the highest vote-getter in each of the state’s three congressional districts. Although possible, a split in the electoral vote has not occurred in any election. However, a poll was recently published showing Obama within striking distance of McCain in two of the congressional districts with McCain leading solidly in the 3rd Congressional District and statewide.[84]

The potential battleground states listed above control a total of 159 electoral votes. Of the states that are not normally expected to be competitive, 178 electoral votes (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming) are generally inclined to go to the Republican party, while 201 (California, Connecticut, D.C., Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington) are typically expected to go to the Democrats. However, even some of these states may become competitive as the election progresses, and the selection of each party’s vice presidential nominee could put a previously uncompetitive state or region into play. Similarly, states that are currently considered to be potential battlegrounds may become “safe” for one party as the election progresses. As well, because of Maine and Nebraska‘s unique rules regarding the electoral votes it is possible that the vote may be different throughout the districts but not throughout the State.

Charts of polling data in battleground states

Updated August 20, 2008

Florida

data

In Florida, from February to mid-May 2008, McCain held a steady lead in the polls. From mid-May to mid-June, the candidates were virtually tied. Polling conducted since mid-June shows McCain in the lead in most polls, and Obama ahead in some polls. The number of undecided voters has generally been decreasing from an average of about 15% down to an average of about 5% to 10% in recent polling.[85]

Indiana

data

In Indiana, from February 2008 until early May 2008, McCain’s 9% lead in the polls was reduced to a tie. The candidates were tied in polls conducted in late June. A recent poll shows McCain with a 6% lead over Obama. During this period, undecided voters made up an average of about 7% to 11% of the total.[86]

Michigan

data

In Michigan, from February 2008 to mid-May, Obama and McCain were very close in the polls. From mid-May to early July, Obama was ahead by as much as 10%, but Obama’s lead has recently decreased to about 3% to 4%. The number of undecided voters has generally been decreasing from an average of about 15% down to an average of about 10% in recent polling.[87]

Missouri

data

In Missouri, from February 2008 to present, McCain had steadily led in the polls. His lead was the greatest in March. The polls closed to within a few percentage points from mid-May to early July, and McCain is beginning to pull away again in recent polling, currently showing an average lead of about 5% to 10%. The number of undecided voters has generally been decreasing from an average of over 10% down to an average of about 7% to 8% in recent polling.[88]

Ohio

data

In Ohio, from February 2008 until mid-April 2008, McCain’s held a slight 2% to 3% lead in the polls. From mid-April to mid-July, Obama held a 3% to 4% lead in the polls. Recent polls show McCain pulling ahead of Obama. The number of undecided voters has generally been decreasing from an average of about 15% down to an average of about 10% in recent polling.[89]

Pennsylvania

data

In Pennsylvania, from February 2008 until mid-April 2008, the candidates moved back and forth between leading and lagging in the polls. Since mid-April, polls show Obama with a lead averaging about 7% to 8%. The number of undecided voters has generally been decreasing from an average of about 15% down to an average of about 10% in recent polling.[90]

Virginia

data

In Virginia, from February 2008 until mid-May 2008, McCain held a lead in the polls averaging about 6%. From mid-May to present, Obama and McCain are basically tied. During this period, undecided voters made up an average of about 5% to 11% of the total.[91]

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