Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States—the first time an African-American has won the nation's highest office and the rare occasion where a newcomer to national politics has captured the White House on his first try.
Obama easily won the 270 electoral votes needed for victory. He held all the states won by Democrat John Kerry in 2004, including the megastates of New York and California, but also carried several swing states that went Republican four years ago, including Ohio, Florida, Virginia, and New Mexico. His opponent, Republican Senator John McCain conceded defeat in a speech to supporters in Arizona.
Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois, will become the fifth youngest president ever, at 47. He was propelled by a huge public desire for change and deep anxiety about the ongoing economic crisis. Obama also capitalized on the intense unpopularity of President Bush by tying GOP nominee John McCain to Bush's Republican policies, especially on the economy.
In early September, the race seemed very close as many voters expressed concern about Obama's inexperience, especially on national-security issues, and his liberal views. But the meltdown on Wall Street and in the financial markets changed the dynamic. Voters decided that McCain's conservative approach had been tried and it failed. And they opted for the newcomer who advocated more activist government and has pledged a relentless commitment to improving the life of the middle class.
The campaign was historic in several ways. Not only did it result in the election of a black president in a country that has a history of slavery and segregation; it also resulted in the election of the second Catholic on a major-party ticket in Vice President-elect Joe Biden of Delaware. (The first Catholic was President John F. Kennedy, elected in 1960.) Further, the campaign featured the first woman vice presidential candidate for the GOP in Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
And the initial analysis of exit polls indicated that young people, African-Americans, and new voters turned out in huge numbers.
- Click here for the latest election results.