The 2008 United States presidential election in Florida took place on November 4, 2008, and was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 27 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.
Florida was won by Democratic nominee Barack Obama by a 2.8% margin of victory. Prior to the election, most news organizations considered this a toss-up, or swing state, as it was heavily targeted by both campaigns. Despite the fact that polls showed McCain in the lead throughout much of 2008, Obama took the momentum in the two months before Election Day. Obama ended up winning the state with 51% of the vote, including wins in four counties that Bush won in 2004.
|United States presidential election in Florida, 2008|
Republican George W. Bush of Texas carried The Sunshine State by a convincing margin of 5% in 2004 against Democrat John Kerry, a much greater margin than in 2000 when Bush controversially won the state's 25 electoral votes against Democrat Al Gore of Tennessee by 537 votes.
Early polls showed Barack Obama faring poorly in Florida. Barack Obama did not campaign there during the primary season and argued against seating its delegates for the Democratic convention, unfavorable media attention. Moreover, Florida's demographics did not favor him. A haven for retirees, Florida lacked many of the younger voters who passionately supported the Democratic nominee. Thus, in early 2008, opinion polling showed Republican John McCain leading most polls, sometimes by double digits.
Near the end of September, however, when the financial crisis of 2008 became a more potent election issue, Obama proceeded to take the lead in most of the polls. Florida was especially hard hit by the economic shock. It was a hotspot of new homebuilding and suffered tremendously from the subprime lending collapse. In addition, the state was full of retirees depending on 401ks; these were badly hurt by the stock market's fall.
There were 16 news organizations which made state-by-state predictions of the election. Here are their last predictions before election day:
The 3 poll averages showed McCain leading throughout most of the presidential election season, until the very last month of October. The final 3 polls had Obama leading 49% to 48% with undecided voters to decide the election.
McCain raised $14,826,093. Obama raised $19,963,592.
Obama won the state and its 27 electoral votes on Election Day by a margin of about 2.82%. Obama held a consistent lead for most of the night as returns came in, but the networks avoided calling the state for Obama until the conservative northwestern portion, most of which is in the Central Time Zone, began reporting its returns.
Obama's win in the state can be attributed to, according to exit polling, winning 96% of the African-American vote, 57% of Latino voters, and 52% among Independents.
Big wins in the Orlando and Tampa Bay areas, where George W. Bush won in 2004, contributed to Obama's victory. In the former, Obama carried Orange County (which includes Orlando) by 19 points - the best margin for a Democratic candidate in 64 years. Before Al Gore and John Kerry narrowly won it, Orange County hadn't supported a Democratic presidential nominee since Franklin D. Roosevelt's last run for president in 1944. Obama also carried Osceola County near Orlando by a 20-point margin (Bush won it in 2004 52%-47%). His strong performance in Central Florida more than likely helped the Democrats win two U.S. House seats in that region.
In the Tampa Bay region, Obama carried Hillsborough County, home to Tampa, by a 7-point margin. Obama also won Pinellas County, home to St. Petersburg, by a 53%-45% margin. Bush had narrowly carried the county by about 0.1% in 2004.
Like most Democratic candidates, Obama dominated South Florida, winning Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties by comfortable margins. The vote from Miami-Dade came in very late in the evening, stopping the major networks from calling the state for Obama earlier in the evening, although Obama maintained a lead of at least 125,000 votes from the moment polls closed in the state.
On the other hand, John McCain kept the state relatively close, losing by far less than his national average. In northern Florida, a Republican stronghold, McCain won the majority of counties by double-digit landslides. Along the panhandle, McCain routinely took over 70% of the vote. Obama won only a handful of counties - most home to major colleges. Moreover, McCain improved on George Bush's performance in large parts of northern Florida - something he achieved in very few other areas of the country. Obama's sole accomplishment involved Duval County (Jacksonville), where he narrowed George Bush's 61,580-vote victory to a far smaller 7,919 margin. Duval County has only supported a Democrat for president once since 1952, when Jimmy Carter carried it in 1976.
In addition, McCain was able to do well along the I-4 corridor in central Florida. This heavily populated, "swingy" region often determines which candidate wins in Florida's statewide elections. In 2008, the Republican candidate won the majority of counties, including heavily populated areas such as Brevard County. However, McCain's poor showing in Orlando severely hurt his position in central Florida.
Democrats also picked up two seats from Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrat Alan Grayson defeated incumbent Republican Ric Keller for Florida's 8th Congressional District seat while Democrat Suzanne Kosmas ousted incumbent Republican Tom Feeney for Florida's 24th Congressional District seat. Republicans, however, were successful at winning back Republican Mark Foley's old congressional seat in Florida's 16th Congressional District seat when Tom Rooney defeated Democratic incumbent Tim Mahoney by a comfortable margin. At the state level, Democrats picked up two seats in the Florida House of Representatives as well.
|United States presidential election in Florida, 2008|
|Green||Cynthia A. McKinney||2,887||0.03%||0|
|America's Independent||Alan Keyes||2,550||0.03%||0|
|Socialism and Liberation||Gloria LaRiva||1,516||0.02%||0|
|Boston Tea||Charles Jay||797||0.01%||0|
|Socialist Workers||Roger Calero||533||0.01%||0|
|Objectivist||Thomas R. Stevens||419||0.00%||0|
|Independent||None of these candidates||23||0.00%||0|
|Voter turnout (Voting age population)||75.0%|
|Barack Hussein Obama II
|John Sidney McCain III
|Total votes cast|
Despite the fact that Barack Obama won the popular vote and the state's 27 electoral votes, John McCain carried 15 congressional districts in Florida, including one district occupied by a Democrat. Obama carried 10 congressional districts, including three districts occupied by Republicans.
|8th||46.77%||52.47%||Ric Keller (110th Congress)|
|Alan Grayson (111th Congress)|
|14th||56.76%||42.28%||Connie Mack IV|
|16th||51.80%||47.11%||Tim Mahoney (110th Congress)|
|Tom Rooney (111th Congress)|
|20th||35.99%||63.25%||Debbie Wasserman Schultz|
|24th||50.47%||48.52%||Tom Feeney (110th Congress)|
|Suzanne Kosmas (111th Congress)|
Technically the voters of Florida cast their ballots for electors: representatives to the Electoral College. Florida is allocated 27 electors because it has 25 congressional districts and 2 senators. All candidates who appear on the ballot or qualify to receive write-in votes must submit a list of 27 electors, who pledge to vote for their candidate and his or her running mate. Whoever wins the majority of votes in the state is awarded all 27 electoral votes. Their chosen electors then vote for president and vice president. Although electors are pledged to their candidate and running mate, they are not obligated to vote for them. An elector who votes for someone other than his or her candidate is known as a faithless elector.
The electors of each state and the District of Columbia met on December 15, 2008, to cast their votes for president and vice president. The Electoral College itself never meets as one body. Instead the electors from each state and the District of Columbia met in their respective capitols.
State results of the 2008 United States presidential election