The 2008 election when it all boils down, was really a numbers game. On the night of November 4th, so many numbers from exit polls and Electoral College results were being thrown around that it must have seemed like a math class for both Senator John McCain and President-elect Barack Obama. Fortunately for Obama, he aced the test.
The change which has been promised by Obama for so many months was seen in the polling booths more than any other place. In order to understand how history was made on election night, one must simply look to the numbers of the exit polls.<
The first important numbers to understand are the popular vote.With only one state yet to call their race, Obama has won the popular vote over McCain 64,447,886 to 56,753,025 representing 53 percent of voters. These votes equaled 364 electoral votes for Obama to McCain’s 163.The way in which Obama received this many votes seems simple enough but upon looking at the demographics of voters the results tell more of a story.
Overall, Obama received 49 percent of the male vote compared to 48 percent for McCain. Obama also won 56 percent of the female vote compared to 43 percent for McCain. McCain though received a majority of both the white male and female vote beating Obama among men 57 percent-41 percent and among women 53 percent-46 percent.
Where Obama was able to possibly win the election was in high turnouts among minority and youth voters. Obama won 95 percent of the African American vote as well as 67 percent of the Latino vote and 62 percent of the Asian vote.
Obama was also able to win the generational gaps, winning among all age groups except those above 65. Obama won 66 percent of voters aged 18-29 and for the first time in history this may have been a deciding factor in who became the president. Among voters 30-44 and 45-64 Obama commanded 52 percent and 50 percent of the vote. McCain though was able to win 53 percent of voters over 65 who chose to go with the more experienced McCain.
Other telling areas where Obama was able to win victories over McCain was in the education of voters. Obama held a majority amongst all voters with any form of education from those without a high school degree to those with postgraduate education. McCain though was very close to victory among college graduates and those with some college with Obama winning only 50 percent of college graduates and 51 percent of those with some college.
The other important area where Obama was able to win a victory was among independent voters. Both candidates were vying for the independent vote, but Obama was able to win 52 percent – 44 percent over McCain.
How was Obama able to organize such a wide range of support in order to win a victory on November 4th?
“I believe this victory started with the well funded and structured infrastructure of Obama’s campaign,” said Dr. Fred Opie associate professor of history and director of the African Diaspora program at Marist College. “He used technology to appeal to youth and also did not make race a factor instead focusing on the pressing issues which were on people’s minds like the war, tax cuts, and health care. These things transcended the generations and ultimately gave the election to Obama.”