The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. Democratic Party nominee Senator Barack Obama and running mate Senator Joe Biden defeated Republican Party nominee Senator John McCain and running mate Governor Sarah Palin. Barack Obama became the first African American ever to be elected president of the United States, and Joe Biden became the first Roman Catholic ever elected vice president.
president, George W. Bush, of the Republican Party, was ineligible to be elected to a third term due to term limits in the Twenty-second Amendment to the United States Constitution. McCain secured the Republican nomination by March 2008, but the Democratic nomination was marked by a sharp contest between Obama and initial front-runner Senator Hillary Clinton, with Obama not securing the nomination until early June. Early campaigning had focused heavily on the Iraq War and the unpopularity of outgoing Republican President George W. Bush, but all candidates focused on domestic concerns as well, which grew more prominent as the economy experienced the onset of the Great Recession and a major financial crisis that peaked in September 2008.
Obama would go on to win a decisive victory over McCain, winning both the popular vote and the electoral college, with 365 electoral votes to McCain's 173; he received the largest percentage of the popular vote for a Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Obama's successes in obtaining a major party's nomination and winning the general election were both firsts for the African American community. Although Hillary Clinton did not win the Democratic nomination, she was the first woman to win a major American party's presidential primary for the purposes of delegate selection when she won the primary in New Hampshire on January 8. She later went on to win the Democratic nomination in 2016. She also was the first woman to be an American presidential candidate in every primary and caucus in every state. Similarly, Sarah Palin became the first woman to appear on a Republican presidential ticket, and the second woman overall to appear on a major party's presidential ticket (after Geraldine Ferraro in 1984).
Obama's total vote amount of 69.5 million votes is the highest amount ever won by a presidential candidate. The total of 131 million votes cast in the election represents over 43% of the total U.S. population, the highest share of any presidential election in U.S. history. This was also the first election in which neither candidate was born in the contiguous United States. Obama was born in Hawaii and McCain was born at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone.