Profile: Barack Obama
Age: 49 (Aug 4, 1961)
Current Occupation: President of the United States
Previous Occupation: Junior Senator for Illinois
Years Served as Senator: 3
Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Education: Occidental College; Colombia University
(Political Science with International Relations BA);
Harvard Law School (Juris Doctor)
Spouse: Michelle Obama
August 23 2008 – Obama chooses Biden as his running
August 26 – Obama confirmed as Democratic Party
September 26 – October 15 – Presidential Debates.
4 November – Barack Obama becomes the President-
elect of the United States of America.
How He Won - Fundraising
Obama’s campaign did not use Matching Funds which
would have restricted his spending. He privately financed
all of his campaign.
Using Matching Funds would have limited Obama to
$84.1mn between the convention and polling day.
He raised more in the first quarter of 2008 than any other
candidate ever. A total of $133,549,000.
Most of the donations to his party were small donations of
up to $200. Another broken record.
His campaign made use of the internet as a primary source
Obama’s campaign also outspent the McCain campaign
significantly due to Matching Funds
How He Won – Dubya
By 2008 Bush had become one of the least popular
Presidents in the history of the USA with approval ratings
of about 27%.
The Obama campaign linked McCain to Bush whenever
and wherever possible. E.g. During the first debate Obama
mentioned Bush 21 times.
Obama highlighted his opposition to unpopular Bush era
policies and decisions such as Iraq and the economy.
The Obama campaign also referenced figures from
Congressional Quarterly showing McCain voting for 90%
of all Bush’s bills between 2000 and 2007.
How He Won – Hope & Change
Obama’s campaign focused on hope and change as its
key themes. E.g. Iconic Obama poster with “Hope”
Obama linked McCain as “more of the same” whilst
positioning himself as the candidate of “change”.
Obama’s rhetoric centred on bipartisanship in
Congress and raising its approval ratings which
garnered him more support than McCain.
Argued in favour of change as opposed to experience,
the McCain argument.
How He Won - Campaign
The Obama campaign was very well organised and made
much more use of new media – the internet – than
Obama’s campaign centred on bringing groups of many
ethnicities, ideology and ages together through his
The Obama campaign had so much money that it could
advertise anywhere, everywhere and as many times as it
Made reference to Biden’s experience in the Senate and
Foreign Policy – Obama’s weakest policy area – whilst
emphasising Palin’s inexperience in everything.
How He Won – Palin Effect
Centred media attention and campaigns on Palin’s
inexperience and her “I can see Russia from my house”
Hypothetical fears of McCain becoming incapacitated
during his term and Palin then stepping in scared
Controversies surrounding Palin such as her
daughter’s pregnancy seriously damaged McCain’s
campaign and strengthened Obama’s.
During the VP debate Biden came across as the more
statesman-like and better equipped candidate for the
How He Won – Two term
Only twice since the Civil War has the electorate voted
in a President from the same party as the President
who has just completed two terms.
Last person to do the above was George H. W. Bush.
McCain not helped by George W. Bush’s unpopularity.
The Republican Party had left the US and the economy
is dire straights. A record budget deficit and a
seemingly unwinnable war did not play well for
Therefore chances of McCain succeeding were low.
Visual – Where He Won
Results – Electoral College votes vs.
Popular vote Electoral College Votes per
Votes per Candidate
Electoral College Votes
Obama McCain Obama McCain