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2008 Presidential Election: a Study in Contrasts

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The 2008 presidential election was a study in many contrasts:

The Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, was the first African-American candidate for a major presidential ticket. The Republican candidate, John McCain, was the oldest person to campaign for a first presidential term.

Both parties portrayed themselves as the agents of change. Both featured a mix of experience: Obama is a first-term Senator; his running mate, Joe Biden, is a long-serving Senator. McCain is also a long-serving Senator; his running mate, Sarah Palin, is a first-term governor.

The Democratic Party primary and caucus campaign was a prolonged, bruising affair that went down to the wire, with Obama finally prevailing over a very determined and experienced Hillary Clinton. The Republican Party primary campaign was over on Super Tuesday, with McCain winning the majority of the primaries that day and clinching the nomination very early on in the primary season.

Voters under 30 went for Obama much more than McCain, with the Democrats garnering two-thirds of that demographic. Obama won nearly all age groups. McCain won the majority of votes of those over 65.

The Obama campaign relied greatly on new technology, primarily the Internet and cell phones, to promote its message, organize its functions, and get out the vote. Both campaigns had large grass-roots organizations, full of volunteers all over the country, but the sheer magnitude of Obama's organization dwarfed that of McCain.


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