United States presidential election in North Carolina, 2008

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United States presidential election in North Carolina, 2008
North Carolina
2004 ←
November 4, 2008
→ 2012

  Obama portrait crop.jpg John McCain official portrait with alternative background.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 by Shaded County, 2008.svg

County Results
  Obama—70-80%
  Obama—60-70%
  Obama—50-60%
  McCain—<50%
  McCain—50-60%
  McCain—60-70%
  McCain—70-80%

President before election

George W. Bush
Republican

Elected President

Barack Obama
Democratic

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.

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.

Only 1 of the 18 news/ political organizations listed here correctly predicted the result, an Obama victory. Throughout the general election, the state was heavily targeted by both campaigns. It was one of three Southern states (along with Florida and Virginia) that voted for Obama in 2008. 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.

Primaries[edit]

Campaign[edit]

Predictions[edit]

A total of 17 news organizations made state by state predictions of the election. Here are their last predictions before election day:

  1. D.C. Political Report: Republican[1]
  2. Cook Political Report: Toss-Up[2]
  3. Takeaway: Toss-Up[3]
  4. Election Projection: Leaning McCain[4]
  5. Electoral-vote.com: Leaning Democrat[5]
  6. Washington Post: Toss-Up[6]
  7. Politico: Leaning McCain[7]
  8. Real Clear Politics: Toss-Up[8]
  9. FiveThirtyEight.com: Toss-Up[6]
  10. CQ Politics: Toss-Up[9]
  11. New York Times: Toss-Up[10]
  12. CNN: Toss-Up[11]
  13. NPR: Leaning McCain[6]
  14. MSNBC: Toss-Up[6]
  15. Fox News: Toss-Up[12]
  16. Associated Press: Toss-Up[13]
  17. Rasmussen Reports: Toss-Up[14]

Polling[edit]

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.[15]

Fundraising[edit]

John McCain raised a total of $2,888,922 in the state. Barack Obama raised $8,569,866.[16]

Advertising and visits[edit]

Obama and his interest groups spent $15,178,674. McCain and his interest groups spent $7,137,289.[17] The Democratic ticket visited the state 12 times. The Republican ticket visited the state 8 times.[18]

Analysis[edit]

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.[19]

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 35 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%.[20]

Results[edit]

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 breakdown[edit]

By county[edit]

County Obama% Obama# McCain% McCain# Total
Alamance 45.3% 28,590 54.7% 34,501 63,091
Alexander 30.5% 5,153 69.5% 11,747 16,900
Alleghany 39.3% 2,017 60.7% 3,117 5,134
Anson 60.7% 6,293 39.3% 4,067 10,360
Ashe 38.1% 4,861 61.9% 7,885 12,746
Avery 27.8% 2,163 72.2% 5,617 7,780
Beaufort 41.2% 9,426 58.8% 13,437 22,863
Bertie 65.2% 6,248 34.8% 3,338 9,586
Bladen 51.0% 7,846 49.0% 7,530 15,376
Brunswick 41.0% 21,280 59.0% 30,662 51,942
Buncombe 57.1% 69,415 42.9% 52,236 121,651
Burke 40.2% 14,623 59.8% 21,766 36,389
Cabarrus 40.8% 31,191 59.2% 45,340 76,531
Caldwell 34.9% 12,007 65.1% 22,397 34,404
Camden 33.7% 1,587 66.3% 3,118 4,705
Carteret 32.6% 11,079 67.4% 22,868 33,947
Caswell 51.4% 5,466 48.6% 5,177 10,643
Catawba 37.3% 25,535 62.7% 42,843 68,378
Chatham 54.9% 17,783 45.1% 14,591 32,374
Cherokee 30.4% 3,748 69.6% 8,591 12,339
Chowan 49.3% 3,652 50.7% 3,751 7,403
Clay 31.9% 1,731 68.1% 3,692 5,423
Cleveland 40.0% 17,274 60.0% 25,950 43,224
Columbus 46.0% 11,088 54.0% 12,998 24,086
Craven 42.8% 17,335 57.2% 23,163 40,498
Cumberland 58.9% 73,926 41.1% 51,596 125,522
Currituck 34.0% 3,685 66.0% 7,159 10,844
Dare 44.6% 7,760 55.4% 9,621 17,381
Davidson 33.0% 22,192 67.0% 45,135 67,327
Davie 30.6% 6,102 69.4% 13,846 19,948
Duplin 45.2% 8,866 54.8% 10,734 19,600
Durham 76.1% 102,237 23.9% 32,040 134,277
Edgecombe 67.4% 17,365 32.6% 8,416 25,781
Forsyth 55.3% 90,712 44.7% 73,304 164,016
Franklin 49.7% 13,022 50.3% 13,183 26,205
Gaston 37.4% 31,247 62.6% 52,220 83,467
Gates 52.6% 2,827 47.4% 2,546 5,373
Graham 30.9% 1,265 69.1% 2,824 4,089
Granville 53.4% 13,010 46.6% 11,373 24,383
Greene 47.0% 3,774 53.0% 4,258 8,032
Guilford 59.2% 141,680 40.8% 97,511 239,191
Halifax 63.9% 15,726 36.1% 8,867 24,593
Harnett 41.5% 16,519 58.5% 23,311 39,830
Haywood 46.1% 12,724 53.9% 14,902 27,626
Henderson 39.4% 20,062 60.6% 30,903 50,965
Hertford 70.8% 7,479 29.2% 3,083 10,562
Hoke 59.6% 9,133 40.4% 6,197 15,330
Hyde 50.5% 1,225 49.5% 1,203 2,428
Iredell 37.7% 27,201 62.3% 44,979 72,180
Jackson 52.7% 8,671 47.3% 7,793 16,464
Johnston 38.0% 26,475 62.0% 43,164 69,639
Jones 45.7% 2,364 54.3% 2,807 5,171
Lee 45.8% 10,703 54.2% 12,652 23,355
Lenoir 49.8% 13,157 50.2% 13,281 26,438
Lincoln 33.1% 11,674 66.9% 23,561 35,235
Macon 39.2% 6,603 60.8% 10,262 16,865
Madison 49.2% 5,011 50.8% 5,175 10,186
Martin 52.3% 6,488 47.7% 5,914 12,402
McDowell 36.4% 6,514 63.6% 11,382 17,896
Mecklenburg 62.3% 252,642 37.7% 152,957 405,599
Mitchell 28.9% 2,220 71.1% 5,472 7,692
Montgomery 44.3% 4,870 55.7% 6,125 10,995
Moore 39.2% 17,534 60.8% 27,165 44,699
Nash 49.3% 23,013 50.7% 23,660 46,673
New Hanover 49.3% 48,588 50.7% 50,004 98,592
Northampton 65.3% 6,893 34.7% 3,662 10,555
Onslow 39.2% 19,296 60.8% 29,942 49,238
Orange 72.6% 53,712 27.4% 20,226 73,938
Pamlico 42.5% 2,820 57.5% 3,809 6,629
Pasquotank 56.8% 10,170 43.2% 7,720 17,890
Pender 42.1% 9,832 57.9% 13,517 23,349
Perquimans 42.9% 2,761 57.1% 3,674 6,435
Person 45.7% 8,410 54.3% 10,007 18,417
Pitt 54.3% 39,763 45.7% 33,429 73,192
Polk 42.3% 4,394 57.7% 5,986 10,380
Randolph 28.6% 16,280 71.4% 40,644 56,924
Richmond 50.7% 9,586 49.3% 9,316 18,902
Robeson 56.9% 22,315 43.1% 16,883 39,198
Rockingham 42.7% 16,730 57.3% 22,435 39,165
Rowan 38.4% 23,272 61.6% 37,284 60,556
Rutherford 34.0% 9,595 66.0% 18,631 28,226
Sampson 45.7% 11,753 54.3% 13,952 25,705
Scotland 57.6% 8,105 42.4% 5,972 14,077
Stanly 31.5% 8,815 68.5% 19,193 28,008
Stokes 32.2% 6,816 67.8% 14,335 21,151
Surry 35.9% 10,399 64.1% 18,574 28,973
Swain 49.2% 2,803 50.8% 2,896 5,699
Transylvania 43.6% 7,203 56.4% 9,299 16,502
Tyrrell 49.3% 932 50.7% 960 1,892
Union 36.5% 31,038 63.5% 53,882 84,920
Vance 63.3% 13,095 36.7% 7,584 20,679
Wake 57.5% 247,914 42.5% 183,291 431,205
Warren 69.0% 6,663 31.0% 2,992 9,655
Washington 58.3% 3,734 41.7% 2,667 6,401
Watauga 52.2% 14,513 47.8% 13,303 27,816
Wayne 45.6% 22,507 54.4% 26,800 49,307
Wilkes 30.6% 8,889 69.4% 20,152 29,041
Wilson 51.9% 19,754 48.1% 18,338 38,092
Yadkin 26.7% 4,501 73.3% 12,355 16,856
Yancey 47.1% 4,470 52.9% 5,021 9,491

Source: http://elections.nytimes.com/2008/results/states/president/north-carolina.html

By congressional district[edit]

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

Electors[edit]

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.[21] 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:[22]

  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

References[edit]

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

See also[edit]

United States Senate election in North Carolina, 2008