Alternative History
‹ 2004 2008 Presidential Election (President Paul) 2012 › ›
United States presidential election, 2008
November 4, 2008
Ron Paul President Hillary Clinton
Nominee Ron Paul Hillary Clinton
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Texas New York
Running mate Bob Barr Howard Dean
Electoral vote 279 259
States carried 30 20 + D.C
Popular vote 37,344,122 35,188,772
Percentage 49.5% 48.6%
US Electoral College 2008 President Paul
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Paul/Barr (30), Blue denotes those won by Clinton/Dean (20+D.C.).
President before election
George W. Bush
Elected President
Ron Paul

The United States presidential election of 2008 was held on Tuesday November 4, 2008 to elect the 44th president of the United States of America. It was the 56th quadrennial election for President and Vice President. George W. Bush, the incumbent President, was vacating the position after serving the maximum two terms allowed by the Twenty-second Amendment. Representative Ron Paul of Texas won the Republican nomination, while the Democrats nominated Hillary Rodham Clinton, Junior Senator from New York and former First Lady, and the first female nominee for a major party ticket. Paul eventually emerged victorious after narrowly defeating Clinton by 20 electoral votes.


In 2004, President George W. Bush narrowly won reelection defeating the Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. After Republican pickups in the House and Senate in the 2004 elections, Republicans held their control of both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government.

Bush's approval ratings had been slowly declining from their high point of almost 90% after 9/11, and they were barely 50% after his reelection. Although Bush was reelected with a larger Electoral College margin than in 2000 and an absolute majority (50.7%) of the popular vote, during his second term, Bush's approval rating dropped more quickly, with the Iraq war and the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 being most detrimental to the public's perception of his job performance.

By September 2006, Bush's approval ratings were below 40%, and the Democratic party appeared to have a clear advantage in the upcoming Congressional elections. Additionally, Democrats pulled out several surprise victories in Congress and gained the majority in both houses. Bush's approval ratings continued to drop steadily throughout the rest of his term.

Republican Nomination[]

Not only was 2008 the first election since 1952 that neither the incumbent president nor the incumbent vice president was a candidate in the general election, but it was also the first time since the 1928 that neither sought his party's nomination for president. Since term limits absolutely prevented Bush from seeking the nomination and being a candidate, the unique aspect was vice-president Cheney's decision not to seek the Republican nomination.

Republican Candidates[]

  • Sam Brownback of Kansas
  • Rudy Giuliani of New York
  • Mike Huckabee of Arkansas
  • Ron Paul of Texas
  • Fred Thompson of Tennessee
  • Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin
  • John McCain of Arizona
  • Mitt Romney of Massachusetts
  • Duncan Hunter of California
  • Tom Tancredo of Colorado

Before the primaries[]

In the third quarter of 2007, the top four GOP (Republican) fund raisers were Romney, Giuliani, Thompson, and Ron Paul. MSNBC's Chuck Todd christened Giuliani and John McCain the front runners after the second Republican presidential debate in early 2007.

Early primaries/caucuses[]

Huckabee, after winning in Iowa, had little money and hoped for a third-place finish in New Hampshire. John McCain eventually displaced Rudy Giuliani and Romney as the front-runner in New Hampshire with Ron Paul placing a strong second. McCain staged a turnaround victory, having been written off by the pundits and polling in single digits less than a month before the race. In Wyoming Paul came out on top after easily defeating both McCain and Romney there. The momentum from Paul's victory in Wyoming led to Paul's second upset three days later after he won the Nevada caucus. In South Carolina Huckabee, despite running out of cash managed to achieve victory over McCain after Ron Paul managed to siphon off enough votes from McCain to give the contest to Huckabee.The Michigan and Florida primaries were split in Michigan Romney emerged victorious with Paul coming in second. In Florida McCain pulled off a win over Romney who came in second and Giuliani who came in third. Huckabee and Paul came in both fourth and fifth respectively.

Super Tuesday[]

In February, before Super Tuesday, the California primary took place after John McCain was endorsed by Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani (who had dropped out of the race following the Florida primary). This gave him a significant boost in the state. Despite this, polls showed McCain trailing Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee in many states.

On Super Tuesday McCain won California and several other large states while Paul with the support of black,Hispanic and youth voters manged to handily win the Rocky Mountain states,Great Plains and a handful of north eastern and western states. Huckabee secured comfortable wins throughout the south due to strong support from evangelical Christians. Romney performed poorly on Super Tuesday, only managing to carry Massachusetts and the heavily Mormon state of Utah.

After Super Tuesday[]

A few days after Super Tuesday, Mitt Romney suspended his presidential campaign and endorsed McCain, leaving Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul as the only major challengers of McCain in the remaining Republican primaries. When Louisiana, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Washington held primaries in February after Super Tuesday, McCain picked up a win in Washington but lost Kansas and Wisconsin to Paul as well as Louisiana to Huckabee. The Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico closed February for the Republicans with Ron Paul securing victories in both contests.

Throughout the end of February Paul's campaign continued to gain momentum after eight straight wins over Huckabee and McCain. Further more Paul began to collect disaffected Democrats who had supported Obama. After Super Tuesday, McCain only managed to win the Virginia primary.

Texas and Ohio[]

With Paul's campaign beginning to gain momentum several primary's were held in the states of Texas,Ohio,Vermont and Rhode Island. When the results came in Paul easily won his home state of Texas (both primary and caucus) and Ohio and Vermont due to Huckabee bleeding votes from McCain. McCain eventually won the state of Rhode Island by a closer margin than expected.

Five days after the primaries in all four states Huckabee, despite calls to end his campaign won the state of Mississippi.


In early April all three candidates raced to Pennsylvania to campaign in the last large state of the nomination campaign. When the results came in Paul emerged victorious winning Pennsylvania by six points. Despite his victory Paul did not officially receive enough delegates to clinch the Republican nomination.

North Carolina and Indiana[]

With Paul just short of the number of delegates needed to win the Republican nomination, the three remaining candidates began campaigning in the states of North Carolina and Indiana. After several weeks of campaigning polls showed Huckabee leading in both states. On election night Huckabee won Indiana by 6% and North Carolina by 3% respectively. Despite a third place finish in both states Paul received enough delegates to win the Republican nomination. The next day both McCain and Huckabee suspended their campaigns.

Democratic Nomination[]

Democratic Candidates[]

  • Senator Joe Biden of Delaware
  • Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut
  • Senator and former first lady of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York
  • Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico
  • Senator Barack Obama of Illinois
  • Congressman and former Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich of Ohio

Before the Primaries[]

Front-runner" status is dependent on the news agency reporting, and by October 2007, the consensus listed about three candidates as leading the pack after several debate performances. For example, CNN listed Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama as the Democratic front runners. The Washington Post listed Clinton, Edwards and Obama as the front-runners, "leading in polls and fundraising and well ahead of the other major candidates". Clinton led in nearly all nationwide opinion polling until January.

Two candidates, Clinton and Obama, raised over $20 million in the first three months of 2007. Edwards raised over $12 million and Richardson raised over $6 million. Hillary Clinton set the Democratic record for largest single day fund raising in a primary on June 30, 2007 while Barack Obama set the record for monthly fundraising during a primary with $55 million in February of 2008.

Early Primaries/Caucasus[]

At the start of the year, support for Barack Obama began rising in the polls, almost passing Clinton for first place in Iowa; Obama ended up winning the Iowa caucus, with John Edwards coming in second and Clinton a close third.

Obama was now despite his Iowa win, trailing in New Hampshire, and the Clinton campaign was reacting after a bad loss in Iowa and building a real strategy in place for after the early primaries and caucuses. In a turning point for her campaign, Clinton's voice wavered with emotion in a public interview broadcast live on TV. By the end of that day, Clinton won the primary by 2% of the vote, contrary to the predictions of pollsters who had her as much as twelve points behind on the day of the primary itself.

Super Tuesday[]

On February 3 on the UCLA campus, celebrities Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and Stevie Wonder, among others, made appearances to show support for Barack Obama in a rally led by Michelle Obama. Obama trailed in the California polling by an average of 6.0%; he ended up losing the state by 8.3%. Some analysts cited a large Latino turnout that voted for Clinton as the deciding factor. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver, endorsed Obama.

Super Tuesday occurred on February 5, 2008, during which the largest-ever number of simultaneous state primary elections was held. Super Tuesday ended leaving Clinton in the lead, with Obama amounting 716 delegates to Clinton's 965 from the 23 states that held Democratic primaries. Clinton's success was credited mostly on the rise of Ron Paul and the decision of most Democratic voters to pick the safe candidate.