2008 United States presidential election (McCain '08)

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2008 United States presidential election

← 2004 November 4, 2008 2012 →

538 members of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout 61.6% Increase 1.5 pp

Nominee John McCain Barack Obama
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Arizona Illinois
Running mate Tim Pawlenty John Edwards
Electoral vote 294 244
States carried 30 20 + DC
Popular vote 66,514,014 62,932,825
Percentage 50.7% 47.9%

Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by McCain/Pawlenty, blue denotes those won by Obama/Edwards.
Numbers indicate electoral votes cast by each state and the District of Columbia.

President before election

George W. Bush

Elected President

John McCain

The 2008 United States presidential election was the 56th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. The Republican ticket of John McCain, the senior senator from Arizona, and Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota, defeated the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama, the junior senator from Illinois, and John Edwards, the senior senator from North Carolina. McCain became the first Vietnam veteran to be elected president, as well as the oldest person elected president, while Obama was the first African-American to be nominated for president by a major party.

For much of the campaign season, Obama lead McCain by five to eight points, excluding McCain's boost following the 2008 Republican National Convention. It would not be until October 3, when Senator John Edwards' extramarital affair was revealed to the public. Most voters reacted negatively when this came to light, and public opinion turned against the Democratic ticket rapidly when it became public knowledge that this had happened while Edwards' wife was suffering from terminal cancer. Edwards, at first, attempted to deny the affair, but less than a week later, confessed that the affair did happen. Both Democrats and Republicans called on Edwards to drop out from the race, but with most ballots already printed and less than a month remaining until Election Day, this could only be done symbolically. Days after Edwards confessed to his affair, the Obama campaign decided to scrap Edwards' name from all advertisements and campaign materials, and stopped all further appearances of Edwards on the campaign trail. Up until the last week of campaigning, the margin between Obama and McCain had inverted, with McCain leading in most polls throughout October. As Election Day neared, polls narrowed again (largely due to the Obama campaign recovering from Edwards and Bush's overwhelming unpopularity), showing a tightening race between both candidates.

In the end, John McCain managed to win 294 electoral votes and a little under 51% of the popular vote. Obama conceded at 1:00 AM EST, after the state of Pennsylvania had been called for McCain, a state that had not gone Republican since 1988.


By State

States/districts won by McCain/Pawlenty
States/districts won by Obama/Edwards
At-large results (for states that split electoral votes)
John McCain
Barack Obama
Ralph Nader
Bob Barr
Chuck Baldwin
Cynthia McKinney
Others Margin Total votes
State/district EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % EV # % #
Alabama 9 X 65.32% 9 X 33.74% -

Note: Maine and Nebraska each allow for their electoral votes to be split between candidates. In both states, two electoral votes are awarded to the winner of the statewide race and one electoral vote is awarded to the winner of each congressional district.[1][2]

Close States

By State

Less than 1%

  • Pennsylvania – 0.18%
  • Iowa – 0.54%

1% to 5%

  • Colorado – 1.04%