2008 United States presidential election in Alaska

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United States presidential election in Alaska, 2008

← 2004 November 4, 2008 2012 →
  John McCain official portrait 2009.jpg Obama portrait crop.jpg
Nominee John McCain Barack Obama
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Arizona Illinois
Running mate Sarah Palin Joe Biden
Electoral vote 3 0
Popular vote 193,841 123,594
Percentage 59.42% 37.89%

Alaska presidential election results 2008.svg
Borough & Census Area Results

President before election

George W. Bush

Elected President

Barack Obama

The 2008 United States presidential election in Alaska took place on November 4, 2008, as part of the 2008 United States presidential election held throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Voters chose 3 electors, or representatives to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Alaska was won by Republican nominee John McCain with a 21.5% margin of victory. Prior to the election, all 17 news organizations considered this a state McCain would win, or otherwise considered as a safe red state. Democratic nominee Barack Obama did, however, perform better in 2008 than Democratic nominee John Kerry did in 2004.

The presence of popular Governor Sarah Palin on the ticket as the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee appeared to help. The McCain-Palin ticket received just a slightly smaller percentage of Alaskan votes than did Bush-Cheney in 2004 despite the nation's swinging Democrat by nearly 5% (48.3% to 52.9%). Polls from April until August indeed showed John McCain with a slim lead, with one poll taken in early August showing Obama five points ahead. However, from when Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate on August 29, polls showed John McCain consistently ahead. RealClearPolitics gave the state an average of 55.8% for McCain, compared to 41.3% for Obama.




There were 16 news organizations who made state-by-state predictions of the election. Here are their last predictions before election day:


Opinion polls consistently showed John McCain to be leading Barack Obama. From April until August they showed John McCain with a slim lead, with one poll taken in early August showing Obama five points ahead. However, from when Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate on August 29, polls showed John McCain consistently ahead. RealClearPolitics gave the state an average of 55.8% for McCain, compared to 41.3% for Obama.[14]


Barack Obama raised $977,438. John McCain raised $321,101.[15]

Advertising and visits[edit]

Obama spent $134,686. McCain and his interest groups spent just $1,836.[16] The Democratic ticket didn't visit the state. Alaskan native Sarah Palin campaigned just once in the state during the fall election.[17]


At the time of the election, Alaska had a Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor (Sarah Palin and Sean Parnell, respectively) and was represented in both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives solely by Republicans (U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, who was defeated for reelection in 2008 by the former Democratic Mayor of Anchorage Mark Begich, and U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, and U.S. Representative Don Young). At the time of the election, Republicans held a majority in the Alaska House of Representatives whereas a coalition of Democrats and moderate Republicans controlled the Alaska Senate. Furthermore, since becoming a state in 1959, Alaska has voted for the Republican nominee in every presidential election with the exception of 1964 when the Last Frontier voted for president Lyndon B. Johnson in his 44-state landslide.

Early in the campaign, Obama actually bought some advertising in Alaska, apparently thinking that Libertarian Bob Barr could hold down McCain's numbers; Alaska has a history of supporting third-party candidates.[18] Also, several polls in the early summer of 2008 showed the race within single digits (with one poll from Alaska pollster Hays Research showing Obama with a five-point lead).[19]

While McCain would have been favored to win Alaska in any event, Palin's addition to the ticket ended any realistic chance of Obama carrying it. At the time, Palin was one of the most popular governors in the nation. At the same time, Representative Young was reelected to an 18th term by a narrow margin over Democrat Ethan Berkowitz in a highly contested U.S. House race--only the fifth time he had faced a close contest. Stevens, who was convicted earlier in the year on seven felony charges (though the conviction was subsequently vacated due to prosecutorial misconduct), was narrowly ousted by Begich. In the state legislature, Democrats picked up one seat in the State House and two members of the Coalition broke away and went back to their respective parties.


Party Candidate Running mate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Republican John McCain Sarah Palin 193,841 59.42% 3
Democratic Barack Obama Joe Biden 123,594 37.89% 0
Independent Ralph Nader Matt Gonzalez 3,783 1.16% 0
Alaskan Independence Chuck Baldwin Darrell Castle 1,660 0.51% 0
Libertarian Bob Barr Wayne Allyn Root 1,589 0.49% 0
Independent Write-in candidates 1,730 0.53% 0
Invalid or blank votes 1,144 0.35%
Totals 327,341 100.00% 3
Voter turnout 66.03%

Results breakdown[edit]

By congressional district[edit]

Due to the state's low population, only one congressional district is allocated. This district is called an at-large district because it covers the entire state, and thus is equivalent to the statewide election results.

District McCain Obama Representative
At-large 59.4% 37.9% Don Young


Robert Brodie as a member of the Alaska Redistricting Board in April 2011.

Technically the voters of Alaska cast their ballots for electors--representatives to the Electoral College. Alaska is allocated 3 electors because it has 1 congressional districts and 2 senators. All candidates who appear on the ballot or qualify to receive write-in votes must submit a list of 3 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 3 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.[21] 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 capitals.

The following were the members of the Electoral College from the state. All 3 were pledged to John McCain and Sarah Palin:[22]

  1. Roy Burkhart
  2. Hope Nelson
  3. Robert Brodie


  1. ^ D.C.'s Political Report: The complete source for campaign summaries
  2. ^ Presidential | The Cook Political Report Archived May 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Vote 2008 - The Takeaway - Track the Electoral College vote predictions Archived April 22, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Electoral-vote.com: President, Senate, House Updated Daily
  5. ^ a b c d Based on Takeaway
  6. ^ POLITICO's 2008 Swing State Map - POLITICO.com
  7. ^ RealClearPolitics - Electoral Map
  8. ^ CQ Politics | CQ Presidential Election Maps, 2008 Archived September 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "Electoral College Map". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  10. ^ "October – 2008 – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  11. ^ "Winning the Electoral College". Fox News. April 27, 2010.
  12. ^ roadto270
  13. ^ Election 2008: Electoral College Update - Rasmussen Reports™
  14. ^ "Alaska: McCain vs. Obama". RealClearPolitics. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  15. ^ "Presidential Campaign Finance: AK Contributions to All Candidates by 3 digit Zip Code". Federal Election Commission. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  16. ^ "Map: Campaign Ad Spending - Election Center 2008 from CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  17. ^ "Map: Campaign Candidate Visits - Election Center 2008 from CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  18. ^ Todd, Chuck and Gawiser, Sheldon. How Barack Obama Won. New York City: Vintage, 2009.
  19. ^ Alaska polling data from Pollster.com
  20. ^ "Official General Election Results" (HTML). State of Alaska: Division of Elections. 2008-12-03. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
  21. ^ "Electoral College". California Secretary of State. Archived from the original on October 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  22. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 6, 2008. Retrieved November 7, 2008.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

See also[edit]