|‹ 2004 2012 › ›|
|United States presidential election, 2008|
|November 4, 2008|
|Nominee||Condoleeza Rice||Bill Richardson|
|Home state||California||New Mexico|
|Running mate||Richard Burr||Joe Biden|
|States carried||34||17 + D.C.|
President before election
George W. Bush
The United States presidential election of 2008 was held on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. It was the 56th consecutive quadrennial United States presidential election. Outgoing incumbent Republican President George W. Bush's policies and actions and the American public's desire for change were key issues throughout the campaign, and during the general election campaign, both major party candidates ran on a platform of change and reform in Washington. Domestic policy and the economy eventually emerged as the main themes in the last few months of the election campaign, particularly after the onset of the 2008 economic crisis.
Then incumbent Vice President Condoleeza Rice would win the election by a fair margin over Governor Bill Richardson and Senator Joe Biden. The Richardson camp would be plagued by several major gaffes and also there sloppy appeal to the economic issues. Unique aspects would hover over the election as Richardson became the first Hispanic presidential candidate and Rice became the first ever female and African-American President. Rice would take office on January 20th.
In 2004, President George W. Bush easily won reelection defeating the Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts and Reform nominee John Hagelin. After Republican pick ups in the House and Senate in the 2004 elections, Republicans held their control of both 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% after his reelection. Although Bush was reelected with a larger Electoral College margin than in 2000 but wasn't with an absolute majority (48.7%) of the popular vote, during his second term, Bush's approval rating was slowly declining as the Iraq War took some wrong turns (but it would be actually somewhat more successful than OTL) and Hurricane Katrina would devastate New Orleans and would show the faltering Administration, though the response was better than expected, it was still slow and was criticized.
By September 2006, Bush's approval ratings were below 40%, and the Democratic party appeared to have a clear advantage in the upcoming Congressional elections. The Republicans would keep the Senate in a surprise as the Democrats took the House. Bush's approval ratings continued to drop steadily throughout the rest of his term.
Democratic Party nomination
- Senator Barack Obama of Illinois
- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York
- Former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina
- Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico
- Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
- Senator Joe Biden of Delaware
- Former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska
- Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut
- Former Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa
Before the primaries
"Front-runner" status is dependent on the news agency reporting, and by October 2007, the consensus listed about three candidates as leading the pack after several debate performances. For example, CNN listed Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama as the Democratic front runners. The Washington Post 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 until January.
Two candidates, Clinton and Obama, raised over $20 million in the first three months of 2007. Edwards raised over $12 million and Richardson raised over $6 million. Hillary Clinton set the Democrat record for largest single day fund raising in a primary on June 30, 2007 while Barack Obama set the record for monthly fundraising during a primary with $55 million in February of 2008.
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 in second place, with John Edwards coming in first and Clinton a close third. This was not the best results but did shock some by the strong and very close second place finish by Obama in Iowa of all places, these results would ignite more support for the Edwards and Obama camps.
Edwards and Obama were gaining momentum but many with the support for Edwards in New Hampshire small, many would put there bets on Obama to pull off an upset over Clinton, which was struggling after a bad loss in Iowa and no real strategy in place for after the early primaries and caucuses. However, in a turning point for her campaign, Clinton's voice wavered with emotion in a public interview broadcast live on TV. By the end of that day, Clinton won the primary by 2% of the vote, contrary to the predictions of pollsters who had her as much as twelve points behind on the day of the primary itself.
South Carolina became to crowning state for the Edwards campaign after the Clinton camp had several gaffes that hurt there standing and Edwards fought with Obama for the state. Edwards won the state with only 2% over Obama but this effectively ended the Obama campaign as he would drop out soon after.
Super Tuesday saw numerous new endorsements from former Obama supporters flood to the Clinton and Edwards camps and this made it close.
Clinton won numerous states as she won big states like Illinois, New York and California but Edwards built up his delegates with many victories in the primaries/caucuses in the west and south and would vie for the mid-west against Clinton. The results had a slim Clinton lead and Edwards said that he wasn't dropping out and Obama hadn't officially endorsed anyone yet.
Louisiana, Washington, Nebraska, Hawaii, Wisconsin, U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia primaries and the Maine caucus all took place after Super Tuesday in February. Edwards and Clinton would trade blows with Edwards taking Louisiana, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Maine and Hawaii in an upset, Virginia and Maryland as Clinton won DC, Washington and the US Virgin Islands.
Ohio and Texas
On March 4, Hillary Clinton carried Ohio and Rhode Island in the Democratic primaries; some considered these wins, a surprise upset, although she led in the polling averages in both states. Edwards would ultimately become the star of the night as he carried both the Texas primary and caucus and in an upset, Ohio.
As the Clinton campaign lagged and was said to be crippled after there of an almost for sure win in Ohio, only one state held a primary in April. This was Pennsylvania, on April 22 and Edwards would hammer at Clinton all the way to the 22nd. Clinton lost in the biggest upset for her campaign as John Edwards took the primary. Clinton would say that she was still in it to win but her chances were severely crippled after this.
North Carolina and Indiana
On May 6, North Carolina and Indiana held their Democratic presidential primaries. Clinton and Edwards campaigned aggressively in both states before the voting took place; both candidates acknowledged the importance of these primaries and said they were turning point states. Polling had shown Edwards by a large margin in North Carolina and a small margin leading in Indiana/ However, in the actual results, Edwards outperformed the polls by several points in both states, winning by a larger margin than expected in North Carolina and winning by only about three points in Indiana. After these primaries, it became very improbable, if not virtually impossible, for Clinton to win the nomination; Indiana had been the light that barely kept her campaign alive for the most part. Although she said she was still in the race for the nomination, many said that Edwards was basically the presumptive nominee already as Obama endorsed him and gave his full support shortly before the May 6th Primaries.
Florida and Michigan
During late 2007, both 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; however, 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 and Michigan, 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 from Michigan (though 40% voted uncommitted in Michigan) as Edwards surprisingly won Florida over Clinton.
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, John Edwards did not win enough delegates to secure the nomination until June 3 at which he won both South Dakota and Montana, after a 17-month-long campaign against Hillary Clinton. Edwards had a wide lead in the number of states won, while Clinton had won majorities in several of the larger states. Because Democratic state delegate contests were decided by a form of proportional representation and popular vote numbers were close between Clinton and Edwards, the contest for the nomination continued into June 2008. By May, Clinton claimed a lead in the popular vote, but the Associated Press found her numbers accurate only in one close scenario.
In June, after the last of the primaries had taken place, Edwards secured the Democratic nomination for President, with the help of multiple super delegate endorsements. (Most of the super delegates had refused to cast their votes until the primaries were completed.) 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 Edwards on June 7. She pledged her full support to the presumptive nominee and vowed to do everything she could to help him get elected.
To try to win more support from the Clinton faction and to heal the wounds, John Edwards would pick Governor Bill Richardson as his VP. This was applauded by Clinton and other Democrats.
After the nomination in Denver, Colorado, reports would burst out that Edwards had had an affair with a filmmaker and supporter of his campaign Rielle Hunter and soon the reports destroyed the Edwards/Richardson camp's support. The final blow to Edwards came when the paternity testing of Hunter's "love child" turned out to be his, this destroyed the campaign and had major Democrats calling for Edwards to step down from the ticket and to have an emergency Convention to choose the new nominee. Edwards gave a tearful speech and said he was dropping himself from the ticket.
The Democrats would hold an emergency convention to choose their new nominee. Most of the buzz was over Richardson or Clinton for the nomination but a surprise came when Clinton said that she wouldn't accept. The nomination would go to Bill Richardson who would decide to bolster national security support with his pick of Joe Biden for VP.
Republican Party Nomination
The Republican Primaries would be an easy affair seen by many as Vice President Rice led in a number of states, with the only real challenge coming from Paul though his strongest support came from the west, which had only a small number of delegates. Hunter would barely win Wyoming in a slim margin over Rice and Paul in the low profile caucus. Rice won every primary except Montana and North Dakota for Super Tuesday. Paul continued his campaign as Rice locked up the nomination easily.
- Vice President Condoleeza Rice of California
- Representative Ron Paul of Texas
- Representative Tom Tancredo of Colorado
- Representative Duncan Hunter of California
Reform Party Nomination
The Reform Party would nominate the Nader/McEnulty ticket officially in New York City with polls showing the ticket at only 3% in support. The Reform Party would back numerous ballots that were put in numerous states of Ron Paul as an candidates, these faithless tickets s they were called would be allied unofficially to the Reform Party as Paul has given his endorsement to all major third party candidates.
- Ralph Nader, 2004 VP nominee from Connecticut
- Frank McEnulty, Businessman from California
General Election Campaign
The unpopular war in Iraq was an major issue before the economic crisis hit the nation. Vice President Rice was an supporter of the war and outline the success such as the Surge as the grounds of creating an Middle Eastern Democracy. Richardson supported what Edwards had, he was against the war and called for quick withdrawal from Iraq. The Rice campaign attacked Richardson soon after the emergency nomination. They would attack Richardson on foreign policy in general after Biden made several gaffes at which he said that "Richardson would be faced with an international challenge and would fail and ruin the nation". Everyone was shocked by this, including Richardson but tried to shake it off but the taint lingered as he never really touched on the issue as Rice did.
Entering 2008, George W. Bush was very unpopular, with polls consistently showing his percentage support from the American public in the twenties and thirties. In March 2008, Rice was endorsed by Bush at the White House, but Bush only made one appearance for the Rice Campaign. Richardson released ads against Rice about her being linked to the unpopular president and tried to tear into hear, even though her own support and approval as Vice President was fairly high. These blows "bounced" off the Rice campaign.
The "New America" vs Leadership
During when Edwards was the nominee, his speeches of an "New America" touched with many Americans and the Richardson/Biden camp took this up after the emergency nomination and ran with it. The Rice campaign took up the mantle of strong leadership and a strong nation to counter the "New America" rhetoric and Leadership for the most part led until the economic crisis hit as Richardson took advantage of this and was able to gain several points in support.
Polls taken in the last few months of the presidential campaign as well as 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. During this period Bill Richardson's election prospects fell with several politically costly comments about the economy.
Richardson made gaffes saying that the "fundamentals of the economy were sound" and then said that there "was tremendous turmoil on Wall Street". These gaffes had the Rice campaign not saying very much until September 18th, when Rice rolled out her plans to deal with the economy, this roll out attracted support. This would send the Richardson in a frenzy as they had been attacked about only talked platitudes about the economy and Richardson's own roll out was quite sloppy.
Results by state
|1||Washington||Richardson / Biden||11|
|2||Oregon||Richardson / Biden||7|
|3||California||Richardson / Biden||55|
|4||Arizona||Rice / Burr||10|
|5||Nevada||Rice / Burr||5|
|6||New Mexico||Richardson / Biden||5|
|7||Colorado||Rice / Burr||9|
|8||Utah||Rice / Burr||5|
|9||Idaho||Rice / Burr||4|
|10||Montana||Rice / Burr||3|
|11||Wyoming||Rice / Burr||3|
|12||North Dakota||Rice / Burr||3|
|13||South Dakota||Rice / Burr||3|
|14||Nebraska||Rice / Burr||5|
|15||Kansas||Rice / Burr||6|
|16||Oklahoma||Rice / Burr||7|
|17||Texas||Rice / Burr||34|
|18||Liberia||Rice / Burr||
|18||Louisiana||Rice / Burr||9|
|19||Arkansas||Rice / Burr||6|
|20||Mississippi||Rice / Burr||6|
|21||Alabama||Rice / Burr||9|
|22||Georgia||Rice / Burr||15|
|23||Florida||Rice / Burr||27|
|24||South Carolina||Rice / Burr||8|
|25||North Carolina||Rice / Burr||15|
|26||Virginia||Rice / Burr||13|
|27||Tennessee||Rice / Burr||11|
|28||Kentucky||Rice / Burr||8|
|29||West Virginia||Rice / Burr||5|
|30||Ohio||Rice / Burr||20|
|31||Indiana||Rice / Burr||11|
|32||Illinois||Richardson / Biden||21|
|33||Michigan||Reagan / Bush||17|
|34||Wisconsin||Richardson / Biden||10|
|35||Minnesota||Rice / Burr||10|
|36||Iowa||Rice / Burr||7|
|37||Maine||Richardson / Biden||4|
|38||Vermont||Richardson / Biden||3|
|39||New Hampshire||Rice / Burr||4|
|40||Massachusetts||Richardson / Biden||12|
|41||Rhode Island||Richardson / Biden||4|
|42||Connecticut||Richardson / Biden||7|
|43||New York||Richardson / Biden||31|
|44||Pennsylvania||Rice / Burr||21|
|45||New Jersey||Richardson / Biden||15|
|46||Delaware||Richardson / Biden||3|
|47||Maryland||Richardson / Biden||10|
|48||Missouri||Rice / Burr||11|
|49||Alaska||Rice / Burr||3|
|50||Hawaii||Richardson / Biden||4|
|51||Washington D.C.||Richardson / Biden||3|
|52||Puerto Rico||Rice / Burr||7|