Who Were the Major Presidential Candidates in 2008?


Quick Answer

The major presidential candidates in 2008 were Senator Barack Obama of the Democratic Party and Senator John McCain of the Republican Party. Their running mates were Senator Joe Biden and Governor Sarah Palin, respectively. The Obama-Biden ticket won the election by nearly 200 electoral votes; it also received about 53 percent of the popular vote.

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At the time of the election, Barack Obama was a first-term senator from the state of Illinois. He was just 47 years old. He defeated Democratic challengers including Biden, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator John Edwards, among others, to obtain the nomination.

John McCain was a senator from the state of Arizona with substantial political experience and a veteran's background. He was 72 years of age at the time of the election. He defeated Republican challengers including Palin, Governor Mitt Romney, Governor Mike Huckabee and New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani to obtain the party's nomination.

Obama eventually won decisively over McCain. The 53 percent of the popular vote that he received was the largest percentage of the popular vote in favor of a Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. His victory made Obama the first African American to win either a major party's nomination or the general election.

Many political commentators and analysts attributed Obama's success in the 2008 election to his successful mobilization of the young adult demographic through leveraging social media. The 2008 election saw the highest voter turnout in approximately four decades.

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