Election Road 2008

Halie Noble

The election of 2008 is one for the history books; two unconventional nominees and a country more desperate for a change than ever before. How did an African-American with little experience and an odd name beat out the American war hero with decades in congress? The answer: his message of change.

Barack Obama’s campaign was unique in every aspect, including his grass-roots methods. In the beginning Obama knew that Hillary Clinton would have strong support which meant that he would have to work hard to get the majority’s support. While Clinton was flying alone in private jets and staying in presidential suites, Obama rested up in motels in rural areas of battle ground states.

Obama planned to take advantage of America’s disillusionment with the current administration, but more so with politics as a whole. Obama knew he had skill for making change seem unthreatening and inviting to the masses and he used that skill to make the people really believe he was a change they could believe in.

When it came to John McCain, he and Obama were complete opposites. McCain was an American war hero with an amazing POW story, whereas Obama was a community advisor with two years in the US senate. While McCain let his emotions get the best of him in speeches, Obama stayed calm and collected. Compared to Obama, whose speeches were arguably one of his best selling points, McCain’s words fell flat.

Because Obama is against negative campaigning, his only response to the famous celebrity ad was to defend himself against the claims. Many voters found this form of politics to be refreshing. However, the McCain campaign argued that Obama’s defenses subtly hinted at McCain being racist. This caused a great amount of heat and rejection towards McCain’s belief until both sides determined that it was time to get back to the issues.

September, two months before the election, the polls had the two candidates at a near tie. Then Lehman Brothers collapsed and it was time for Obama to surge forward. Watching McCain give a speech in Arizona, Obama staffers heard McCain state that “the fundamentals of the economy are strong,” and the democrats had their angle. Later that night, Obama was able to state that his opponent was out of touch with the current state, and, once again, it was “time for a change.”

Then the economy took another blow as President Bush called for a 700 billion dollar bailout, “which could buy 438 pounds of rice for every person in Africa” (Sun Sentinel), Obama took another poll lead. The economy stayed the main issue from then until election night, and Obama went into November 4 with a six percent lead in the nationwide polls.

In the end, Obama won with 96 more electoral votes than he needed and a seven percent lead in the popular vote. The large electoral victory came with the help of several unexpected states including Virginia, Indiana, and Colorado; all of which had strong red state histories. Obama led with 66 percent of voters ages 18-29 years, where McCain won voters ages 65 and older with 53 percent of their votes. Any lead McCain had in one spectrum was over shadowed by a lead Obama had in another.

The votes were cast and counted, with less controversy than previous years, and the American people spoke clearly. Barack Obama was a change they could believe in. America holds its collective breath waiting to see what changes will happen come January and hope that Obama is all he promised to be.