United States presidential election in Nevada, 2008

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United States presidential election in Nevada, 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 5 0
Popular vote 533,736 412,827
Percentage 55.2% 42.7%

Nevada presidential election results 2008.svg
County Results

President before election

George W. Bush

Elected President

Barack Obama

The 2008 United States presidential election in Nevada was part of the 2008 United States presidential election, which took place on November 4, 2008 throughout all 50 states and D.C.. Voters chose 5 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for President and Vice President.

Nevada was won by Democratic nominee Barack Obama with a 12.5% margin of victory. Both campaigns heavily campaigned here in 2008, as although Obama held a lead in the polls, it was not unreasonable to think that John McCain, a nationally prominent Senator from neighboring Arizona had a legitimate chance of having Nevada swing to his corner. Most news organization considered the state as Obama would win, or a blue state, but some still considered it as a swing state during the last week of the election.[1] In the past four presidential elections, the margin of victory has always been below 5 percentage points. George W. Bush carried Nevada twice in 2000 and 2004 while Bill Clinton won the Silver State both times as well in 1992 and 1996. With the anti-Republican sentiment growing nationwide and the fact that personally, McCain barely campaigned in Nevada, Nevada swung wildly into the Democratic column in 2008 as Barack Obama carried the state by 12.50 points over John McCain, receiving 55.15% of the total statewide vote to McCain's 42.65%. It was the first time since 1988 that the margin of victory was in double digits.




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


In the beginning of the general election, it was a dead heat. McCain did win several polls. However, since September 30, Obama swept every other poll taken in the state and tied one poll. The final 3 polls averaged 50% to 44% in favor of Obama.[15] On election day, Obama won the state with 55% and by a double digit margin of victory, a much better performance than polls showed.


John McCain raised a total of $1,980,771 in the state. Barack Obama raised $2,328,659.[16]

Advertising and visits[edit]

Obama and his interest groups spent $9,622,022. McCain and his interest groups spent $6,184,427.[17] Each campaign visited the state 7 times.[18]


Nevada is a swing state that has voted for the winner of every presidential election since 1912 with the sole exception of 1976 when the state voted for Republican Gerald Ford over Democrat Jimmy Carter. In 2008, McCain of neighboring Arizona was leading most polls taken March until the end of September (around the time of the 2008 financial crisis), when Obama of Illinois started taking a lead in almost every poll conducted from the beginning of October on, some of which in double-digits.[19] The subprime mortgage crisis hit Nevada hard, and McCain's statement that “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” undoubtedly hurt him in a state that was devastated by the economic meltdown.

When the actual 2008 election came, Obama carried the Silver State by a very safe margin of 12.50 percentage points, larger than most polls anticipated. This was due almost entirely to Obama winning the state's three largest jurisdictions: Clark County, home to Las Vegas; Washoe County, which contains Reno; and the independent city of Carson City,[20] which combine for 88% of Nevada’s total population. Hispanics also played a large role in Obama’s landslide victory. According to exit polling, they composed 15% of voters in Nevada and broke for Obama by a three-to-one margin.[21] With their support, Obama carried Washoe County by a comfortable 12-point margin and a somewhat narrower one-point margin in Carson City. These two areas hadn’t gone Democratic since Lyndon B. Johnson won them in 1964. Obama also won Clark County by double-digits, the first time a Democrat won the county by more than single-digits since 1964. McCain ran up huge margins in most of the more rural counties, which have been solidly Republican ever since Richard Nixon’s 1968 win.[22] However, it was not nearly enough to overcome his deficit in Clark, Washoe and Carson City. Indeed, Obama’s 122,000-vote margin in Clark County would have been enough by itself to carry the state, and Nevada voted more Democratic than the nation as a whole for the first time since 1960 and second since 1944.[23]

At the same time, Democrats picked up a U.S. House seat in Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, which is based in Clark County and consists of most of the Las Vegas suburbs. Democratic State Senator Dina Titus defeated incumbent Republican Jon Porter by 5.14 points with several third parties receiving a small but significant proportion of the total statewide vote. At the state level, Democrats picked up one seat in the Nevada Assembly and picked up two seats in the Nevada Senate, giving the Democrats control of both chambers of the Nevada Legislature for the first time in decades.


United States presidential election in Nevada, 2008
Party Candidate Running mate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Democratic Barack Obama Joe Biden 533,736 55.15% 5
Republican John McCain Sarah Palin 412,827 42.65% 0
None of these Candidates None of these Candidates 6,267 0.65% 0
Independent Ralph Nader Matt Gonzalez 6,150 0.64% 0
Libertarian Bob Barr Wayne Allyn Root 4,263 0.44% 0
Constitution Chuck Baldwin Darrell Castle 3,194 0.33% 0
Green Cynthia McKinney Rosa Clemente 1,411 0.15% 0
Totals 967,848 100.00% 5
Voter turnout (Voting age population) 49.7%

Results breakdown[edit]

By county[edit]

County[24] McCain # McCain % Obama # Obama %
Carson City 11,419 48.2% 11,623 49.1%
Churchill 6,832 64.4% 3,494 33.0%
Clark 257,078 39.5% 380,765 58.5%
Douglas 14,648 56.6% 10,672 41.2%
Elko 10,969 68.5% 4,541 28.4%
Esmeralda 303 69.0% 104 23.7%
Eureka 564 75.7% 144 19.3%
Humboldt 3,586 63.3% 1,909 33.7%
Lander 1,466 69.7% 577 27.5%
Lincoln 1,498 71.1% 518 24.6%
Lyon 12,154 57.6% 8,405 39.8%
Mineral 1,131 49.0% 1,082 46.9%
Nye 9,537 54.5% 7,226 41.3%
Pershing 1,075 58.6% 673 36.7%
Storey 1,247 51.6% 1,102 45.6%
Washoe 76,880 42.6% 99,671 55.3%
White Pine 2,440 63.5% 1,230 32.0%

By congressional district[edit]

Barack Obama carried two of the state’s three congressional districts both held by Democrats while John McCain carried the one and only congressional district held by a Republican.

District McCain Obama Representative
1st 34.25% 63.68% Shelley Berkley
2nd 48.79% 48.76% Dean Heller
3rd 42.59% 55.35% Jon Porter (110th Congress)
Dina Titus (111th Congress)


Technically the voters of Nevada cast their ballots for electors: representatives to the Electoral College. Nevada is allocated 5 electors because it has 3 congressional districts and 2 senators. All candidates who appear on the ballot or qualify to receive write-in votes must submit a list of 5 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 5 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.[25] 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 5 were pledged to Barack Obama and Joe Biden:[26]

  1. Maggie Carlton
  2. Tahis Castro
  3. Ruby Duncan
  4. Ron Hibble
  5. Theresa Navarro


  1. ^ a b Vote 2008 - The Takeaway - Track the Electoral College vote predictions Archived April 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ D.C.'s Political Report: The complete source for campaign summaries
  3. ^ Presidential | The Cook Political Report Archived May 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  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. ^ "RealClearPolitics - Election 2008 - Nevada". Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  20. ^ "CNN Election Center 2008 - Nevada Results". Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  21. ^ Cost, Jay; Sean Trende (2009-01-18). "Election Review, Part 3: The West". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved 2009-04-19. 
  22. ^ Sullivan, Robert David; ‘How the Red and Blue Map Evolved Over the Past Century’; America Magazine in The National Catholic Review; June 29, 2016
  23. ^ Counting the Votes; Nevada
  24. ^ "CNN Election Center 2008 - Nevada County Results". Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  25. ^ "Electoral College". California Secretary of State. Archived from the original on October 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  26. ^ http://www.rgj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200881215045

See also[edit]