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2008 United States presidential election in North Carolina

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The 2008 United States presidential election in North Carolina was part of the national event on November 4, 2008, throughout all 50 states and D.C.. In North Carolina, voters chose 15 representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

United States presidential election in North Carolina, 2008

← 2004 November 4, 2008 2012 →
  Obama portrait crop.jpg John McCain official portrait 2009.jpg
Nominee Barack Obama John McCain
Party Democratic Republican
Home state Illinois Arizona
Running mate Joe Biden Sarah Palin
Electoral vote 15 0
Popular vote 2,142,651 2,128,474
Percentage 49.70% 49.38%

North carolina presidential election results 2008.svg
County Results

President before election

George W. Bush
Republican

Elected President

Barack Obama
Democratic

North Carolina was won by Democratic nominee Barack Obama with a 0.32% margin of victory. Prior to the election, most news organizations considered the state as a toss-up, or swing state, but few truly believed Obama would win it.

Throughout the general election, the state was heavily targeted by both campaigns. A high turnout by African-American voters, bolstered by overwhelming support from younger voters were the major factors that helped deliver North Carolina's 15 electoral votes to Obama, making him the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the state in 32 years. Prior to 2008, the last Democratic candidate to win North Carolina was Jimmy Carter in 1976. Bill Clinton came within 20,000 votes of winning the state in 1992. As of the 2016 presidential election, this is the last time that the Democratic nominee carried North Carolina, as well as Jackson County, Hyde County, and Caswell County.

Contents

PrimariesEdit

CampaignEdit

PredictionsEdit

A total of 16 news organizations made state-by-state predictions of the election. Here are their last predictions before election day:

PollingEdit

Early on, McCain won almost every single pre-election poll. However, on September 23, Rasmussen Reports showed Obama leading in a poll for the first time. He won the poll 49% to 47%. After that, polls showed the state being a complete toss-up, as both McCain and Obama were winning many polls and no candidate was taking a consistent lead in the state. Commentators attributed the drastic turnaround in the state to the influence of voter unhappiness about the financial crisis and the effectiveness of heavy advertising and organizing to get out the vote by the Obama campaign in the fall election. The final three polls found a tie with both candidate at 49%, which was accurate compared to the results.[14]

FundraisingEdit

John McCain raised a total of $2,888,922 in the state. Barack Obama raised $8,569,866.[15]

Advertising and visitsEdit

Obama and his interest groups spent $15,178,674. McCain and his interest groups spent $7,137,289.[16] The Democratic ticket visited the state 12 times. The Republican ticket visited the state 8 times.[17]

AnalysisEdit

The winner was not certain even several days after the election, as thousands of provisional and absentee ballots were still being counted. However, when it became evident that McCain would need to win an improbable majority of these votes to overcome Obama's election night lead, the major news networks finally called the state's 15 electoral votes for Obama. North Carolina was the second-closest state in 2008; only in Missouri was the race closer.

Situated in the South, which has become a Republican stronghold in recent elections, North Carolina is an anomaly. While very Democratic at the local and state level, the last Democratic presidential nominee to win the Tar Heel State was Jimmy Carter in 1976; not even the Southern moderate populist Bill Clinton from Arkansas could win North Carolina.

Obama decided early on to campaign aggressively in the state. It paid off quickly; most polls from spring onward showed the race within single digits of difference between the candidates. He also dramatically outspent McCain in the state and had an extensive grassroots campaign of organizing to get out the vote. This was also one of the closest statewide contests of 2008, as Obama captured North Carolina just by 0.32 percent of the vote - a margin of only 14,177 votes out of 4.2 million statewide. Only in Missouri was the race closer, where McCain nipped Obama by less than 4,000 votes, a margin of 0.14 percent.

Republicans have traditionally done well in the western part of North Carolina that is a part of Appalachia, while Democrats are stronger in the urbanized east. When a Democrat wins in North Carolina, almost everything from Charlotte eastward is usually coated blue. Even when Democrats lose, they often still retain a number of counties in the industrial southeast (alongside Fayetteville), the African-American northeast, the fast-growing I-85 Corridor in the Piedmont, and sometimes the western Appalachian region next to Tennessee. For example, a map of Bill Clinton's narrow 1992 loss in North Carolina shows him narrowly winning all these regions.[18]

Obama did not take the traditional Democratic path to victory. Instead, his main margins came from the cities, where he did particularly well throughout the country. While Obama won only 33 of North Carolina's 100 counties, these counties contained more than half of the state's population.

Obama's victory margin came largely by running up huge majorities in the I-85 Corridor, a developing megalopolis which is home to more than two-thirds of the state's population and casts almost 70 percent of the state's vote. The state's five largest counties--Mecklenburg (home to Charlotte) Wake (home to Raleigh), Guilford (home to Greensboro), Forsyth (home to Winston-Salem) and Durham (home to Durham)--are all located in this area, and Obama swept them all by 11 percentage points or more. In 1992, Bill Clinton had been able to win only Durham County by this margin; he narrowly lost Forsyth and Mecklenburg (the latter was where Obama had his biggest margin in the state). Ultimately, Obama's combined margin of 350,000 votes in these counties was too much for McCain to overcome.

McCain did well in the Charlotte suburbs, Appalachian foothills and mountain country; he carried all but four counties west of Winston-Salem. Aside from the I-85 Corridor, Obama's results were mediocre in the traditional Democratic base. He lost badly in Appalachia, mirroring the difficulties he had throughout this region. Obama won only three counties in this region, one of which was Buncombe County, home to Asheville, the largest city in the region and a destination for retirees from the North. In the Fayetteville area, he did as well as Al Gore (who had lost North Carolina by double digits).

Obama did not rely on the traditional Democratic base but rather a new coalition of city voters to win North Carolina. If he had not taken the five largest counties, Obama would have lost the state by a considerable margin; instead, he pulled off the narrowest victory by creating a unique coalition of voters. He particularly attracted highly affluent and educated migrants from the Northeast, who traditionally tend to vote Democratic; as well as African Americans, Hispanics (an increasing population in the state), and college students, voting blocs who had overwhelmingly supported him during the course of the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

During the same election, Democrats picked up a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina's 8th congressional district, where incumbent Republican Robin Hayes was ousted by Democrat Larry Kissell, a high school social studies teacher who almost toppled Hayes in 2006. Kissell received 55.38% of the vote while Hayes took in 44.62%, a 10.76-percent difference. Democrats held onto the Governor's Mansion; term-limited incumbent Democratic Governor Mike Easley was ineligible to seek a third term but Lieutenant Governor Beverly Perdue defeated Republican Pat McCrory, the incumbent mayor of Charlotte. Perdue received 50.23% of the vote while McCrory took 46.90%, with the remaining 2.86% going to Libertarian Michael Munger.

In a highly targeted U.S. Senate race, Democratic State Senator Kay Hagan defeated incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole by a wider-than-anticipated margin - by 8.47 points. Hagan received 52.65% while Dole took 44.18%. The race received widespread attention after the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) ran its notorious "Godless" ad that accused Hagan, a Sunday school teacher, of accepting money from atheists and accused her of being an atheist. The adverse reaction resulting from the ad was considered a major factor contributing to Dole's defeat. At the state level, Democrats increased their gains in the North Carolina General Assembly, picking up five seats in the North Carolina House of Representatives and one seat in the North Carolina Senate.

According to exit polls, more than 95% of African American voters cast ballots for Obama. This played a critical role in North Carolina, as 95% of the state's registered African-American voters turned out, with Obama carrying an unprecedented 100% of African-American women, as well as younger African Americans aged 18 to 29, according to exit polling. Comparatively, the overall turnout of voters statewide was 69%.[19]

ResultsEdit

United States presidential election in North Carolina, 2008
Party Candidate Running mate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Democratic Barack Obama Joe Biden 2,142,651 49.70% 15
Republican John McCain Sarah Palin 2,128,474 49.38% 0
Libertarian Bob Barr Wayne Allyn Root 25,722 0.60% 0
Write-ins Write-ins 12,292 0.29% 0
Independent Ralph Nader (Write-in) Matt Gonzalez 1,454 0.03% 0
Green Cynthia McKinney (Write-in) Rosa Clemente 158 0.00% 0
Others Others 38 0.00% 0
Totals 4,310,789 100.00% 15
Voter turnout (Voting age population) 63.0%

Results breakdownEdit

By countyEdit

County Obama% Obama# McCain% McCain# Others% Others# Total
Alamance County 44.91% 28,590 54.19% 34,501 0.90% 576 63,667
Alexander County 29.96% 5,153 68.31% 11,747 1.73% 297 17,197
Alleghany County 38.40% 2,017 59.35% 3,117 2.25% 118 5,252
Anson County 60.34% 6,293 38.99% 4,067 0.67% 70 10,430
Ashe County 37.31% 4,861 60.53% 7,885 2.16% 281 13,027
Avery County 27.51% 2,163 71.43% 5,617 1.07% 84 7,864
Beaufort County 41.06% 9,426 58.53% 13,437 0.42% 96 22,959
Bertie County 65.03% 6,248 34.74% 3,338 0.23% 22 9,608
Bladen County 50.71% 7,846 48.67% 7,530 0.61% 95 15,471
Brunswick County 40.56% 21,280 58.44% 30,662 1.00% 524 52,466
Buncombe County 56.33% 69,415 42.39% 52,236 1.29% 1,585 123,236
Burke County 39.71% 14,623 59.10% 21,766 1.19% 440 36,829
Cabarrus County 40.48% 31,191 58.84% 45,340 0.68% 524 77,055
Caldwell County 34.35% 12,007 64.08% 22,397 1.57% 548 34,952
Camden County 33.14% 1,587 65.11% 3,118 1.75% 84 4,789
Carteret County 32.32% 11,079 66.70% 22,868 0.98% 336 34,283
Caswell County 50.84% 5,466 48.15% 5,177 1.01% 109 10,752
Catawba County 36.91% 25,535 61.93% 42,843 1.16% 802 69,180
Chatham County 54.34% 17,783 44.59% 14,591 1.07% 350 32,724
Cherokee County 29.99% 3,748 68.74% 8,591 1.26% 158 12,497
Chowan County 48.99% 3,652 50.32% 3,751 0.68% 51 7,454
Clay County 31.33% 1,731 66.82% 3,692 1.85% 102 5,525
Cleveland County 39.60% 17,274 59.49% 25,950 0.90% 394 43,618
Columbus County 45.63% 11,088 53.49% 12,998 0.87% 212 24,298
Craven County 42.44% 17,335 56.71% 23,163 0.84% 345 40,843
Cumberland County 58.55% 73,926 40.87% 51,596 0.58% 731 126,253
Currituck County 33.58% 3,685 65.23% 7,159 1.19% 131 10,975
Dare County 44.07% 7,760 54.63% 9,621 1.30% 229 17,610
Davidson County 32.61% 22,192 66.32% 45,135 1.07% 729 68,056
Davie County 30.27% 6,102 68.69% 13,846 1.04% 209 20,157
Duplin County 44.98% 8,866 54.45% 10,734 0.57% 112 19,712
Durham County 75.53% 102,237 23.67% 32,040 0.80% 1,088 135,365
Edgecombe County 67.14% 17,365 32.54% 8,416 0.32% 82 25,863
Forsyth County 54.85% 90,712 44.32% 73,304 0.83% 1,374 165,390
Franklin County 49.17% 13,022 49.77% 13,183 1.06% 281 26,486
Gaston County 37.21% 31,247 62.18% 52,220 0.61% 511 83,978
Gates County 52.20% 2,827 47.01% 2,546 0.79% 43 5,416
Graham County 30.33% 1,265 67.71% 2,824 1.97% 82 4,171
Granville County 52.91% 13,010 46.26% 11,373 0.83% 204 24,587
Greene County 46.78% 3,774 52.78% 4,258 0.43% 35 8,067
Guilford County 58.75% 141,680 40.44% 97,511 0.81% 1,952 241,143
Halifax County 63.73% 15,726 35.93% 8,867 0.34% 83 24,676
Harnett County 41.12% 16,519 58.03% 23,311 0.85% 341 40,171
Haywood County 45.36% 12,724 53.12% 14,902 1.52% 427 28,053
Henderson County 38.90% 20,062 59.93% 30,903 1.17% 602 51,567
Hertford County 70.49% 7,479 29.06% 3,083 0.45% 48 10,610
Hoke County 59.16% 9,133 40.14% 6,197 0.69% 107 15,437
Hyde County 50.12% 1,225 49.22% 1,203 0.65% 16 2,444
Iredell County 37.33% 27,201 61.72% 44,979 0.96% 696 72,876
Jackson County 51.89% 8,671 46.64% 7,793 1.47% 246 16,710
Johnston County 37.69% 26,475 61.45% 43,164 0.85% 600 70,239
Jones County 45.44% 2,364 53.95% 2,807 0.62% 32 5,203
Lee County 45.38% 10,703 53.65% 12,652 0.97% 229 23,584
Lenoir County 49.54% 13,157 50.01% 13,281 0.44% 118 26,556
Lincoln County 32.71% 11,674 66.02% 23,561 1.27% 454 35,689
Macon County 38.47% 6,603 59.78% 10,262 1.75% 301 17,166
Madison County 48.43% 5,011 50.01% 5,175 1.56% 161 10,347
Martin County 52.13% 6,488 47.51% 5,914 0.36% 45 12,447
McDowell County 35.84% 6,514 62.62% 11,382 1.55% 281 18,177
Mecklenburg County 61.83% 252,642 37.43% 152,957 0.74% 3,011 408,610
Mitchell County 28.46% 2,220 70.14% 5,472 1.40% 109 7,801
Montgomery County 43.78% 4,870 55.06% 6,125 1.16% 129 11,124
Moore County 38.89% 17,534 60.25% 27,165 0.86% 390 45,089
Nash County 49.00% 23,013 50.38% 23,660 0.62% 291 46,964
New Hanover County 48.80% 48,588 50.22% 50,004 0.98% 976 99,568
Northampton County 65.03% 6,893 34.55% 3,662 0.42% 44 10,599
Onslow County 38.85% 19,296 60.29% 29,942 0.86% 426 49,664
Orange County 71.83% 53,712 27.05% 20,226 1.12% 838 74,776
Pamlico County 42.22% 2,820 57.02% 3,809 0.76% 51 6,680
Pasquotank County 56.44% 10,170 42.84% 7,720 0.72% 130 18,020
Pender County 41.71% 9,832 57.34% 13,517 0.95% 224 23,573
Perquimans County 42.57% 2,761 56.65% 3,674 0.79% 51 6,486
Person County 45.28% 8,410 53.88% 10,007 0.84% 156 18,573
Pitt County 53.99% 39,763 45.39% 33,429 0.62% 456 73,648
Polk County 41.63% 4,394 56.71% 5,986 1.67% 176 10,556
Randolph County 28.23% 16,280 70.49% 40,644 1.27% 735 57,659
Richmond County 50.21% 9,586 48.80% 9,316 1.00% 190 19,092
Robeson County 56.44% 22,315 42.70% 16,883 0.87% 343 39,541
Rockingham County 42.22% 16,730 56.62% 22,435 1.16% 458 39,623
Rowan County 37.98% 23,272 60.85% 37,284 1.17% 718 61,274
Rutherford County 33.62% 9,595 65.29% 18,631 1.09% 310 28,536
Sampson County 45.43% 11,753 53.93% 13,952 0.63% 164 25,869
Scotland County 57.33% 8,105 42.24% 5,972 0.43% 61 14,138
Stanly County 31.14% 8,815 67.80% 19,193 1.06% 299 28,307
Stokes County 31.66% 6,816 66.58% 14,335 1.76% 380 21,531
Surry County 35.50% 10,399 63.41% 18,574 1.09% 320 29,293
Swain County 48.40% 2,803 50.01% 2,896 1.59% 92 5,791
Transylvania County 43.04% 7,203 55.57% 9,299 1.39% 233 16,735
Tyrrell County 48.82% 932 50.29% 960 0.89% 17 1,909
Union County 36.22% 31,038 62.88% 53,882 0.91% 777 85,697
Vance County 63.02% 13,095 36.50% 7,584 0.48% 99 20,778
Wake County 56.92% 247,914 42.08% 183,291 1.00% 4,353 435,558
Warren County 68.68% 6,663 30.84% 2,992 0.47% 46 9,701
Washington County 58.01% 3,734 41.43% 2,667 0.56% 36 6,437
Watauga County 51.31% 14,513 47.03% 13,303 1.66% 470 28,286
Wayne County 45.41% 22,507 54.07% 26,800 0.52% 259 49,566
Wilkes County 30.09% 8,889 68.21% 20,152 1.70% 502 29,543
Wilson County 51.64% 19,754 47.93% 18,338 0.43% 164 38,256
Yadkin County 26.37% 4,501 72.39% 12,355 1.24% 211 17,067
Yancey County 46.19% 4,470 51.89% 5,021 1.92% 186 9,677

By congressional districtEdit

Despite Barack Obama winning North Carolina, John McCain carried seven of the state's 13 congressional districts, including two districts represented by Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

District McCain Obama Representative
1st 37.11% 62.44% G.K. Butterfield
2nd 47.29% 51.91% Bob Etheridge
3rd 61.37% 37.83% Walter B. Jones
4th 36.32% 62.70% David Price
5th 60.83% 37.91% Virginia Foxx
6th 62.76% 36.20% Howard Coble
7th 52.35% 46.79% Mike McIntyre
8th 46.68% 52.56% Robin Hayes (110th Congress)
Larry Kissell (111th Congress)
9th 54.46% 44.75% Sue Wilkins Myrick
10th 63.11% 35.74% Patrick T. McHenry
11th 52.12% 46.50% Heath Shuler
12th 28.93% 70.42% Mel Watt
13th 40.38% 58.70% Brad Miller

ElectorsEdit

Technically the voters of North Carolina cast their ballots for electors: representatives to the Electoral College. North Carolina is allocated 15 electors because it has 13 congressional districts and 2 senators. All candidates who appear on the ballot or qualify to receive write-in votes must submit a list of 15 electors, who pledge to vote for their candidate and his or her running mate. Whoever wins the majority of votes in the state is awarded all 15 electoral votes. Their chosen electors then vote for president and vice president. Although electors are pledged to their candidate and running mate, they are not obligated to vote for them.[20] An elector who votes for someone other than his or her candidate is known as a faithless elector.

The electors of each state and the District of Columbia met on December 15, 2008, to cast their votes for president and vice president. The Electoral College itself never meets as one body. Instead the electors from each state and the District of Columbia met in their respective capitols.

The following were the members of the Electoral College from the state. All 15 were pledged to Barack Obama and Joe Biden:[21]

  1. Janice Cole
  2. Louise Sewell
  3. Virginia Tillett
  4. Linda Gunter
  5. Timothy Futrelle
  6. Wayne Abraham
  7. Armin Ancis
  8. Wendy Wood
  9. Michael Cognac
  10. Dan DeHart
  11. Harley Caldwell
  12. Samuel Spencer
  13. Patricia Hawkins
  14. Sid Crawford
  15. Kara Hollingsworth

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ D.C.'s Political Report: The complete source for campaign summaries
  2. ^ Presidential | The Cook Political Report Archived May 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Adnaan (2008-09-20). "Track the Electoral College vote predictions". The Takeaway. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-14.
  4. ^ Electoral-vote.com: President, Senate, House Updated Daily
  5. ^ a b c d Based on Takeaway
  6. ^ POLITICO's 2008 Swing State Map - POLITICO.com
  7. ^ RealClearPolitics - Electoral Map
  8. ^ CQ Politics | CQ Presidential Election Maps, 2008 Archived October 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Electoral College Map". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  10. ^ "October – 2008 – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  11. ^ "Winning the Electoral College". Fox News. April 27, 2010.
  12. ^ roadto270
  13. ^ Election 2008: Electoral College Update - Rasmussen Reports™
  14. ^ Election 2008 Polls - Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections
  15. ^ Presidential Campaign Finance
  16. ^ "Map: Campaign Ad Spending - Election Center 2008 from CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  17. ^ "Map: Campaign Candidate Visits - Election Center 2008 from CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  18. ^ "Election Results 2008". New York Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-12.
  19. ^ "How Black Democrats won North Carolina and the Election: Massive Turnout, Week of November 13–19, 2008". The Wilmington Journal. 2008-11-24.
  20. ^ "Electoral College". California Secretary of State. Archived from the original on October 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  21. ^ North Carolina Certificate of Ascertainment, page 1 of 3.. National Archives and Record Administration.

See alsoEdit