The United States of America president is elected through a popular and electoral vote. The popular vote is cast by all willing adult registered voters throughout the country. The voters also choose the electors who will vote in the Electoral College on the day of the presidential general election. Not all states though participate in the Electoral College. The system does not cater to citizens in United States territories like Guam, Puerto Rico, and United States Virgin Islands (Kuroda, p. 14).
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The quadrennial United States presidential election was held on November 4, 2008, where Democratic candidate senator Barrack Obama defeated the Republican candidate senator John McCain based on popular votes as well as the projected electoral vote. Their running mates were Delaware senator Joe Biden and the Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. The electoral vote will be held on December 15, 2008, where the selected electors from fifty states will elect a president and the vice president. 2008 was historic in many ways. It was the first time that an African American was elected president, the first time two sitting senators competed, the first time the Republican vice presidential candidate was a woman, the second time both the winning presidential and vice-presidential candidates were active senators, and the first time that the elected vice president was Roman catholic. Barack Obama and Senator McCain also recorded the largest age disparity between presidential candidates (Feldman, p. 2).
By American standards, the voter turnout was a record high estimated to be more than 131 million votes which is more than 62% of the total. Senator Barack Obama won 365 projected electoral votes with Senator McCain taking 176. Senator Obama or president-elect if you like, took 68,800,158 (52.8%) of the popular vote while McCain trailed with 59,607,254 (45.8%). There are several factors that propelled the Illinois senator to a convincing victory. The economic turmoil and antipathy to the current president George Bush played a major role in making the voters fearful of an extended Republican Party administration. More than half of the voters said the economy was in very poor condition and had their concern about the direction the economy will take. Out of ten voters polled, eight admitted that the current economic crisis would hurt their family’s finances. Senator Obama was far more successful in convincing voters that he was better placed to get things back on track than his colleague John McCain was. As he put it in his own words, ‘we don’t want four more years of the last eight years. The widespread negative feelings towards the incumbent president and his policies were a major problem for senator McCain and a big plus for the Democratic candidate. Senator Obama did not make it better for McCain by repeatedly saying that the Republican candidate voted 90% on policies the Bush way. President elects Obama got more than sixty percent of the votes of the people who said the economy was poor and those who said it would hurt their families. The senator faired well among voters of every financial class, the poor as well as the wealthy. For those with incomes less than $50,000, Obama won 60% of their vote, those earning at least $100,000; he ran even with the Republican and beat senator McCain among those earning more than $200,000 (Jones, p. 1).
Senator Obama was weak though on the National Security front, where McCain got 54% compared to Obama’s 43%. However, this group, whose main focus was terrorism, only constituted 25% of all voters. Senator Obama also received a major boost from African-Americans and Hispanic voters recording 95% and more than 65% from both groups respectively. Another factor that contributed to Obama’s victory is his resourceful and dedicated campaign team. Senator Obama and his campaign team were smart enough not to accept public financing after realizing that he was making fundraising records throughout his campaigns. Senator McCain accepted public financing, agreeing to spending limits and by this giving Obama an edge (Jones, p. 1).
California resoundingly embraced Obama’s message for change and voted overwhelmingly for him. Residents poured into the streets to celebrate Senator Obama’s historic win especially in the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles. One of the propositions that attracted the most attention in the California elections was proposition eight which covered the issue of gay marriage. The proposition sought to legalize gay marriage in the state of California but was voted down. One factor attributed to its fall was perhaps the effect that black and Hispanic voters had on the voting outcome. The California Supreme Court is set to hear the many challenges coming up against proposition eight. Gay legal groups filed a petition on 5th November requesting the Supreme Court to overturn the voters’ decision. This was seen as a sign that gay rights were this time sidelined. A rally was even held by gay rights activists in West Hollywood to protest the outcome. Californian residents decided to outlaw gay marriages by more than 52%, overturning a Supreme Court decision that allowed gay couples to wed. Proposition eight attracted huge debate and money too with a whopping 73 million dollars being spent by both opposing and proposing sides. The decision creates uncertainty for those who have already wed and is bad news to those who hoped to. Proposition four, a ballot measure requiring parents to be notified before doctors perform an abortion on a minor was rejected. More than 52% of the voters rejected the proposition.