United States presidential election in Michigan, 2008

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United States presidential election in Michigan, 2008
← 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 17 0
Popular vote 2,867,680 2,044,405
Percentage 57.4% 40.9%

Michigan presidential election results 2008.svg
County Results

President before election

George W. Bush

Elected President

Barack Obama

The 2008 United States presidential election in Michigan took place on November 4, 2008. It was part of the 2008 United States presidential election which happened throughout all 50 states and D.C.. Voters chose 17 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.

Michigan was won by Democratic nominee Barack Obama by a 16.5% margin of victory. Early on, the state was heavily targeted as a swing state. However, Obama started to pull away in the polls during the last few months, causing McCain to stop campaigning there. Prior to the election, all 17 news organizations considered this a state Obama would win, or otherwise considered as a safe blue state. The Great Lakes State has leaned Democratic, as it voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in every election from 1992 until 2016, when Donald Trump carried the state. In the end, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama won Michigan by a larger-than-expected margin of victory: 57.33% - 40.89%. This is the highest Democratic margin of victory since LBJ in 1964. Obama won 45 of the 75 counties.




There were 17 news organizations who made state by state predictions of the election. Here are their last predictions before election day:

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


Very early on, polling was tight as Obama was having a difficult time getting support from the pessimistic state. Since September 21, Obama swept all the polls taken from the state. The final 3 polls averaged Obama leading 54% to 40%.[15]


John McCain raised a total of $4,330,872 in the state. Barack Obama raised $7,299,275.[16]

Advertising and visits[edit]

Obama and his interest groups spent $12,995,614. McCain and his interest group spent $13,332,086.[17] The Democratic ticket visited the state 10 times to McCain's 9 times.[18]


Michigan had not supported a Republican for president since 1988, and would not do so until 2016. However, the Republicans have attempted to carry the state's 17 electoral votes in the past few elections, and the margin of victory has decreased every year from 1996 to 2004. This year Republican presidential nominee John McCain put an early effort into winning Michigan, hoping to convert blue-collar voters disaffected by Obama's unfamiliarity as a liberal African-American from Chicago. Macomb County, a populous blue-collar suburb of Detroit, was a large target.

A major problem for the Obama Campaign was the 2008 Michigan Democratic Primary. Obama removed his name from the ballot after state officials moved up the primary in violation of party rules. As a result, Hillary Rodham Clinton won the state with 55%. This led to the McCain Campaign focusing heavily on winning Michigan in the general election. In May 2008, McCain was leading in a Rasmussen poll with 45% to 44%.[19] After the September financial crisis, however, McCain's general campaign fell into trouble. Polls showed Michigan, a state especially affected by the economy, turning away from McCain. Voters blamed Republicans for the crisis. In early October, with polls showing him falling further behind Obama, McCain pulled out of the state, essentially ceding it to Obama.[20] This was widely publicized, and more than likely contributed to Obama's landslide victory.

On Election Day, Barack Obama won by a double-digit margin of 16%. The state was called for Obama almost as soon as the polls closed. In Wayne County, home to Detroit, Obama piled up a 3-1 margin. Democratic strongholds Washtenaw County (home to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan), Ingham County (home to Lansing and Michigan State) and Genesee County (home to Flint) gave Obama 65-70% of the vote. Macomb County, which McCain had focused so intensely on, voted Democratic by a comfortable margin of 9%. Oakland County, once a bastion of suburban conservatism, went for Obama by 15 points. Republican support in the state collapsed; McCain was only able to win two counties with margins of more than 10,000 votes.[21] This result signified continued evidence of Michigan's Democratic tilt, anchored by the heavily Democratic cities of Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Flint. A Democrat can lose every other part of Michigan and still cling to victory by running up the votes in the aforementioned cities, as was the case with John Kerry in 2004.

At the same time as Obama swept the state, Democrats made more gains in Michigan. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Carl Levin was reelected with 62.65% of the vote over Republican Jack Hoogendyk's 33.84%. Democrats also picked up two U.S. House seats in Michigan in the 7th District and the 9th District, with Mark Schauer and Gary Peters knocking off Tim Walberg and Joe Knollenberg, respectively. This gave Democrats the majority in Michigan's U.S. House delegation. In addition, Democrats picked up nine seats in the Michigan House of Representatives.

As of 2017, this is the last election in which Delta County, Clare County, St. Clair County, Benzie County, Lenawee County, Cass County, Iosco County, Alpena County, Gladwin County, Mason County, Menominee County, Ogemaw County, Ontonagon County, Presque Isle County, Schoolcraft County,Gratiot County, Alger County, Arenac County, Kent County, Jackson County, Berrien County, Clinton County, Iron County, Leelanau County, and Oceana County voted for the Democratic candidate.


United States presidential election in Michigan, 2008
Party Candidate Running mate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Democratic Barack Obama Joe Biden 2,872,579 57.33% 17
Republican John McCain Sarah Palin 2,048,639 40.89% 0
Natural Law Ralph Nader Matt Gonzalez 33,085 0.66% 0
Libertarian Bob Barr Wayne Allyn Root 23,716 0.47% 0
Constitution Chuck Baldwin Darrell Castle 14,685 0.29% 0
Green Cynthia McKinney Rosa Clemente 8,892 0.18% 0
Write-Ins Write-Ins 8,533 0.17% 0
Totals 5,010,129 100.00% 17
Voter turnout (Voting age population) 66.9%

Results breakdown[edit]

By county[edit]

Barack Obama won 46 Michigan counties compared to 37 for John McCain. The largest county with a very close winning margin was a 49.3% vs. 48.8% plurality for Obama in Kent County.[22]

By congressional district[edit]

Barack Obama carried 12 congressional districts in Michigan, including four districts held by Republicans.

District McCain Obama Representative
1st 48.11% 49.93% Bart Stupak
2nd 50.85% 47.50% Peter Hoekstra
3rd 49.43% 48.84% Vern Ehlers
4th 48.19% 50.09% Dave Camp
5th 34.71% 63.67% Dale Kildee
6th 44.18% 54.12% Fred Upton
7th 46.50% 51.73% Tim Walberg (110th Congress)
Mark Schauer (111th Congress)
8th 45.72% 52.58% Mike Rogers
9th 42.83% 55.79% Joe Knollenberg (110th Congress)
Gary Peters (111th Congress)
10th 49.85% 48.23% Candice Miller
11th 44.56% 53.78% Thaddeus McCotter
12th 33.23% 65.05% Sander Levin
13th 14.47% 84.71% Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick
14th 13.45% 85.77% John Conyers Jr.
15th 32.48% 65.80% John Dingell


Technically the voters of Michigan cast their ballots for electors: representatives to the Electoral College. Michigan is allocated 17 electors because it has 15 congressional districts and 2 senators. All candidates who appear on the ballot or qualify to receive write-in votes must submit a list of 17 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 17 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.[23] 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 17 were pledged to Obama and Biden:

  1. Brenda Abbey
  2. Dallas Dean
  3. Ida DeHaas
  4. Ron Gettelfinger
  5. James Hoffa
  6. Kenneth Paul Jenkins
  7. Harry Kalogerakos
  8. Jessica Mistak
  9. Arturo Reyes
  10. Griffin Rivers
  11. Gary Shepherd
  12. Roger Short
  13. Arthur Shy
  14. Richard West
  15. Whitney Randall Wolcott
  16. David Woodward
  17. Charlene Yarbrough


  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. ^ 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 Archived October 29, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ "Electoral College Map". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  11. ^ "October – 2008 – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs". CNN. Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  12. ^ "Winning the Electoral College". Fox News. 2010-04-27. 
  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 2010-05-26. 
  18. ^ "Map: Campaign Candidate Visits - Election Center 2008 from CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved 2010-05-26. 
  19. ^ http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/michigan/election_2008_michigan_presidential_election
  20. ^ "McCain pulling out of Michigan - Yahoo! News". Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  21. ^ "Election Results 2008". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 3, 2004. Retrieved 2009-04-05. 
  22. ^ Dave Leip. "2008 Presidential General Election Data Graphs - Michigan". Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 2016-09-02. 
  23. ^ "Electoral College". California Secretary of State. Archived from the original on October 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 

See also[edit]