Barack Obama Wins the Presidency: Election Night Highlights

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2008 WATCH:

Barack Obama arrives on stage at his election night victory rally at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.
Barack Obama arrives on stage at his election night victory rally at Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois.
Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty

Result Snapshot:

    FROM CBS NEWS

  • Barack Obama: 349, 52%
  • John McCain: 160, 47%
  • Senate:
    Democrats: 56, +5
    Republicans: 40
  • House:
    Democrats: 252, +17
    Republicans: 173

Election Day on the Campaign Trail….

  • November 4, 2008: Obama plans voting, basketball and quick trip to Indiana on Election Day … Hoping for upset, McCain to campaign in Colorado, New Mexico … Tiny New Hampshire towns go for Obama over McCain in Election Day’s first votes – AP, 11-4-08

Thousands watched the election results on giant TV screens in Times Square. (Photo: James Estrin/ The New York Times)

The Results: Presidential Race

  • BARACK OBAMA, DEMOCRAT: 349
    • California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Ohio, Oregon, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin,
  • JOHN MCCAIN, REPUBLICAN: 160
    • Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming.
  • Live Blogging Election Night – The NYT CaucusNYT

The Results: Senate

  • Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Joe Biden, D-Del., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Richard Durbin, D-Ill., John Kerry, D-Mass., Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., Kay Hagan, D-N.C., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Mark Warner, D-Va., Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Carl Levin, D-Mich., Jack Reed, D-R.I., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Max Baucus, D-Mont., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Mark Udall, D-Colo., Jim Risch, R-Idaho – AP
  • Live Blogging the House and Senate Races – The NYT CaucusNYT
  • Dems Snatch 4 GOP Seats In Senate Pickups In North Carolina, Virginia, New Hampshire And New Mexico Add To Dems’ Senate Advantage – CBS News, 11-4-08
  • Democrats expand their control of U.S. Senate – CTV/AP, 11-4-08
  • Democrats snag Va. Senate seat, seek more gains – AP, 11-4-08
  • Hagan Ousts Dole From North Carolina Senate Seat, Networks Say – Bloomberg

The Results: HOUSE

Senator Barack Obama took the stage in Grant Park in Chicago with his wife and daughters. (Photo: Damon Winter/The New York Times)

The Results: GOVERNORS

  • John Lynch, D-N.H., Jack Markell, D-Del., Jay Nixon, D-Mo., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Jon Huntsman, R-Utah, Brian Schweitzer, D-Mont. – AP
  • Dems Pick Up Governor Seat Missouri Flips To Democrat; 11 Governorships Were Up For Grabs – CBS News, 11-4-08

Doug Mills/The New York Times

Supporters of Senator Barack Obama cheered during a rally in Chicago on Tuesday as they heard that he won in Pennsylvania. More Photos >

In the News…

Final Remarks

President-elect Barack Obama speaking to 125,000 suppiorters in Chicago's Grant Park Nov 4, 2008

  • President-Elect Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech:, Download Mp3
    If there is anyone out there who still doubts America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of democracy, tonight is your answer. It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches, in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited for three hours, four hours – many for the first time in their lives – because they believed that this time must be different, and their voices could be that difference. At this defining moment, change has come to America.
    If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer. A new dawn of American leadership is at hand….
    …The greatest of a lifetime, two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century….
    There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face.
    You did it because you understand the enormity of the task ahead….
    The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there….
    This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Defeated Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain

  • John McCain’s Concession Speech Download Mp3
    My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly. A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Sen. Barack Obama to congratulate him.
    These are difficult times for our country and I pledged to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us in the many challenges we face. I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will.
    In a contest, as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my repect for his ability and his perseverence.
    But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hope of so many millions of Americans, who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president, is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.
    Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans, and believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that. It is natural to feel some disappointment, but tomorrow we must move beyond it and … get our country moving again. We fought as hard as we could. Though we fell short, the failure is mine, not yours.
    [Sarah Palin] is one of the best campaigners I have ever seen and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength.
    This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life.

McNew/Getty

John McCain concedes victory on stage with his wife Cindy McCain.

Historians’ Comments

  • Gil Troy on Obama’s Victory:
    Barack Obama’s ease in beating John McCain should not obscure the magnitude of this achievement. A one-term Senator who just a few years ago described himself as a skinny guy with a funny name, his election as President of the United States demonstrates tremendous political talent, an American generosity of spirit that is rarely recognized these days, especially abroad, and that necessary ingredient in all greatness – good luck….
    It is hard to view either without being wowed by Obama’s compelling, healing, nationalist vision.
    Obama’s victory also reflects America’s transformation from a divided, racist country as recently as the 1960s, and a much more magnanimous, equal, open country today. The greatest concern about Obama from the start was not that he was black, but that he was too green – inexperienced. In choosing Obama in such numbers Americans showed that most judged him not as a black man but as the best man for the job.
    Sealing the deal for Obama was tremendous luck. He was blessed by Hillary Clinton’s incompetent campaign along with John McCain’s erratic search for a strategy. And America’s misfortune was Obama’s good fortune – when the markets tanked in September, Obama’s campaign soared.
    In the classic Robert Redford movie, “The Candidate,” a young, good-looking, come-from-nowhere reformer upsets an older, more experienced pol. The movie ends with the question now facing Barack Obama, as the euphoria of the election dissipates and America’s sobering economic, military, diplomatic, and social challenges intensify: “what do we do now?”
  • Peniel Joseph “Sen. Obama Projected to Win the Presidency”: “The Republicans are bearing the fruit of the Southern strategy that was hatched in 1968,” historian Peniel Joseph said on the NewsHour Tuesday night. “That strategy worked brilliantly in the presidential election of 1972. Now, Barack Obama is running a national campaign probably since the first time in 1964.” – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Peniel Joseph “Obama Earns a Slim Win in GOP Stronghold of Virginia”: Some of Obama’s success in the state has been attributed to an influx of professionals to Northern Virginia’s D.C. suburbs, “which has turned it into more of a swing state,” historian Peniel Joseph told the NewsHour. “Virginia, really the cradle of the confederacy,” Joseph said. “When we think about Virginia going to the first African American candidate, it really speaks to the way in which this realignment is happening.” – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith “Obama Earns a Slim Win in GOP Stronghold of Virginia”: Historian Richard Norton Smith agreed the results reflect a fundamental change in how politicians should view the state. “If Republicans want to take Virginia back, they better stop talking about the ‘real Virginia.'” Norton Smith said. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Michael Beschloss, Richard Norton Smith & Peniel Joseph: PBS Newhour with Jim Lehrer History’s View: Historians evaluate how the 2008 election may go down in the history books and its place in the shaping of American politic – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • John Hinshaw “The morning after: Half of us will be disappointed”: John Hinshaw, a historian at Lebanon Valley College in central Pennsylvania, sees a couple things that could dictate the aftermath of Election Day — one aggravating and one mitigating. He says that many people profess after the fact to have voted for the winner even if they didn’t, thus leavening the strong reaction.
    But if voters perceive unfairness, which can happen in both thin margins and landslides, that can be a serious problem. “People can say, ‘It’s not my president. It’s your president,'” he says. “And that’s the kind of stuff that can really weaken nation-states.” – AP, 11-2-08
  • Peniel Joseph “Number of Battleground States Too Close to Call”: “I think Indiana is a big surprise. George Bush won Indiana by 31 points over John Kerry. Indiana probably has to be as rock solid of a red state in the last 44 years as we’ve seen,” said historian Peniel Joseph on the NewsHour. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith “Number of Battleground States Too Close to Call”: Historian Richard Norton Smith added that the lack of results is still telling. “The fact that Virginia, Indiana and North Carolina are too close to call – that tells you that the Democrats, both presidential and Congressional, are poaching on traditionally Republican terrain,” North Smith said. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith “Historians Weigh in on Public’s Energy, Key States”: The potential for record numbers of voters in this year’s election reflects a level of public interest that may be unprecedented, said historian Richard Norton Smith. With a number of traditionally Republican states in play for either ticket and an almost-certain shift in the balance of power in the U.S. Congress, this year’s election is “a history in the making,” he said.
    “This could be the end of a 40-year cycle of conservative domination of American politics,” said Norton Smith….
    Norton Smith feels that while Democrats are expected to seize control of many formerly Republican seats in the Senate and House of Representatives, the electorate in conservative states will still control local politics.
    “The fact is, if the Democrats pick up 20 or 25 or even 30 seats tonight, most of those, the overwhelming number of those, are going to be in red states, they’ll be on Republican turf,” Norton Smith said. “So one of the great ironies that has thus far escaped media attention is that a significantly more Democratic House of Representatives in particular might not be more automatically liberal, it might in fact be more diverse or more conservative at least in terms of the Democratic majority.” – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Peniel Joseph “Historians Weigh in on Public’s Energy, Key States”: Black studies professor Peniel Joseph says this year’s public interest mirrors the excitement of past elections. With Sen. Barack Obama vying to be the country’s first black president and Gov. Sarah Palin aimed at the vice presidency, Joseph is reminded of other important firsts in American history, such as the election of John F. Kennedy over Richard Nixon in 1960. “Kennedy’s the first Irish-Catholic and the only Irish Catholic president in the history of the United States. People don’t remember, but there was really a prejudice against Catholics, and people thought if Kennedy became president, he’d be taking his marching orders from the Pope and the Vatican in Rome, so it’s very interesting and that was really an issue during the primary,” Joseph said….
    “Indiana is really sort of the heartland of America — so for Obama to be in contention in Indiana and Indiana to be a kind of toss-up state – that’s very surprising,” Joseph said. – PBS Newshour, 11-4-08
  • Richard Norton Smith “The undeniably exciting aura of ’08″: “In the spring of 1933 the most popular song in the country was ‘Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,'” said presidential historian Richard Norton Smith. “Its appeal was attributed in some quarters to mass relief over the departure of Herbert Hoover from the White House.” “I am not equating the incumbent with Hoover,” Smith said. “What I am suggesting is a sense of new possibilities, as well as institutional renewal, that comes with any inauguration — a sense, ironically, heightened this time around by the very contrast with the outgoing and incoming president.” – Politico, 11-3-08
  • Alan Brinkley “The undeniably exciting aura of ’08″: “I think for many people, certainly for African-Americans and certainly for other people who yearn for a kind of final conciliation of our racial history, this is a sort of extraordinary moment, and an unimagined moment,” said Alan Brinkley, a historian of American politics and the provost of Columbia University…
    There was a “kind of zany quality of the campaign, especially for the McCain campaign, [which] at a moment like this really is unprecedented,” said Brinkley. “There’s never been anything quite like this.” – Politico, 11-3-08
  • Al Felzenberg “The undeniably exciting aura of ’08″: “I think you have to acknowledge, in the case of Obama, an event of tremendous historic significance,” said presidential historian Al Felzenberg, the author of a book on rating the presidents. “In the span of my lifetime, not even that, the span of a generation, we have gone from a period when African-American Nobel Laureates and congressional Medal of Honor winners could not walk into restaurants in parts of this country and order a hamburger to a time when an African-American is being seriously considered for the presidency of the United States.” On the other hand, he said, “The McCain campaign has lent itself to the dramatic gesture: the flying back to Washington, threatening to cancel the debate, sometimes changing themes.”
    “Clearly the economic worries have caused people to think in a very dramatic way that we may be ending an era, that we may be on the end of a certain run and on the beginning of something else,” Felzenberg said. – Politico, 11-3-08
  • Gil Troy “History Past Presidential Elections Far Nastier” “2008 was downright mild,” compared to some of the tactics employed in the past, said Gil Troy, professor of U.S. History at McGill University in Montreal…
    “Elections have frequently been intense dust ups — American politics is rough and tumble,” said Troy.
    “John McCain to his credit refused to raise the Jeremiah Wright issue, because he feared making racial waves. Barack Obama very cleverly deemed every attack against him, no matter how mild, a smear, and this helped put the Republicans on the defensive and raise the bar,” Troy said.
    “Americans are always searching for the golden age in the past, which I believe never existed,” said Troy.
    “[During] each campaign we idealize the previous ones and express deep disappointment with the [candidates] we have to choose from and the methods they use,” he said, “not realizing that the reason why they use those methods is because the harsh tactics work on us!” – Live Science, 11-4-08

Senator John MCCain waves to supporters in Phoenix. (Photo: Todd Heisler/The New York Times)
Damon Winter/The New York Times

On The Campaign Trail…

  • THE DEMOCRATS:
    Barack Obama talks to voters in the Indianapolis area before joining supporters at Grant Park in Chicago.
    Joe Biden votes in Wilmington, Del., and stops in Richmond, Va., before joining Obama in Chicago.
  • THE REPUBLICANS:
    John McCain holds a rally in Grand Junction, Colo., and hosts an election-night party at a hotel in Phoenix.
    Sarah Palin votes in Wasilla, Alaska, before joining McCain in Phoenix.
  • John McCain makes last-minute appeal for votes I feel the momentum. I feel it, you feel it, and we’re going to win the election…..
    Things are looking good, but it’s very early. Then you’ve got to move west, my friends, and we’ve got to win New Mexico.

Senator Barack Obama with his wife, Michelle, and Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. with his wife, Jill, in Chicago on Tuesday night. More Photos >

A women in Chicago yelled “Thank you God,” as CNN announced that Senator Barack Obama had won the election. (Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

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1 Comment

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