2008 United States presidential election in Rhode Island

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2008 United States presidential election in Rhode Island

← 2004 November 4, 2008 2012 →
Turnout66.9%[1] Increase 4.8 pp
  Obama portrait crop.jpg John McCain official portrait 2009.jpg
Nominee Barack Obama John McCain
Party Democratic Republican
Home state Illinois Arizona
Running mate Joe Biden Sarah Palin
Electoral vote 4 0
Popular vote 296,571 165,391
Percentage 62.86% 35.06%

Rhode Island presidential election results 2008.svg
County Results

President before election

George W. Bush

Elected President

Barack Obama

The 2008 United States presidential election in Rhode Island took place on November 4, 2008, and was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 4 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Rhode Island was won by Democratic nominee Barack Obama with a 27.8% margin of victory. Prior to the election, all 17 news organizations considered this a state Obama would win, or otherwise considered as a safe blue state. The last time a Republican carried this state or any county in the state was in 1984, when Ronald Reagan won with about 52% of the vote, largely due to the support of Reagan Democrats.




There were 16 news organizations which made state-by-state predictions of the election. Their last predictions before election day were:


Obama won every single pre-election poll, and each by a double-digit margin of victory. The final 3 polls averaged Obama leading with 51% to 33%.[15]


John McCain raised a total of $345,472 in the state. Barack Obama raised $1,563,410.[16]

Advertising and visits[edit]

Obama and his interest groups spent $671,623. McCain spent nothing.[17] The Democratic ticket visited the state once, while the Republican ticket didn't visit the state at all.[18]


Rhode Island historically voted Republican until 1908, but has supported Democrats all but seven times in the 24 elections that have followed. In 1980, Rhode Island was one of only six states to vote against Ronald Reagan. Reagan did carry Rhode Island in his 49-state victory in 1984—only the third time since Eisenhower that a Republican carried the state. However, Reagan's 3.6 percent margin was his second-closest in the nation, ahead of only his 2.8 percent margin in Massachusetts. Despite George H. W. Bush aggressively contesting the state in 1988, Michael Dukakis won it by a fairly convincing 13 points, his best performance. The state has not been seriously contested since then, often giving Democratic candidates their biggest margins. It was Bill Clinton's second-best state in 1996 (behind only Massachusetts) and Al Gore's best state in 2000. In 2004, Rhode Island gave John Kerry more than a 20-percentage-point margin of victory (the third-highest of any state), with 59.4% of its vote. All but three of Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns voted for the Democratic candidate. The only exceptions were East Greenwich, West Greenwich and Scituate.

This pattern continued in 2008. Rhode Island gave Barack Obama a 27.80-percent margin of victory with 62.86% of its vote. Every single county in Rhode Island, along with Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Hawaii, voted for Obama in 2008. Obama also won both congressional districts and 38 of the state's 39 towns. Scituate was the only town carried by McCain, and only narrowly. Ralph Nader had one of his best performances here in 2008 obtaining over 1% of the vote.

Having some of the highest taxes in the nation, Rhode Island is considered to be a liberal bastion. In addition, Rhode Island has abolished capital punishment, making it one of 15 states that have done so. Rhode Island abolished the death penalty very early, just after Michigan (the first state to abolish it), and carried out its last execution in the 1840s. Rhode Island is one of two states in which prostitution is legal, provided it takes place indoors, though there have been recent efforts to change this.

During the same election, incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Jack Reed was soundly reelected over Republican Jack Tingle in a landslide three-to-one margin. Reed received 73.40% of the vote while Tingle took in 26.60%. At the state level, Democrats picked up nine seats in the Rhode Island House of Representatives to augment their supermajority in that chamber.


2008 United States presidential election in Rhode Island
Party Candidate Running mate Votes Percentage Electoral votes
Democratic Barack Obama Joe Biden 296,571 62.86% 4
Republican John McCain Sarah Palin 165,391 35.06% 0
Independent Ralph Nader Matt Gonzalez 4,829 1.02% 0
Write-ins Write-ins 1,511 0.32% 0
Libertarian Bob Barr Wayne Allyn Root 1,382 0.29% 0
Green Cynthia McKinney Rosa Clemente 797 0.17% 0
Constitution Chuck Baldwin Darrell Castle 675 0.14% 0
Others Others 610 0.13% 0
Totals 471,766 100.00% 4
Voter turnout (Voting age population) 58.7%

Results breakdown[edit]

By county[edit]

County Obama% Obama# McCain% McCain# Others% Others#
Providence 66% 167,442 32% 81,010 2% 5,178
Bristol 62% 16,162 36% 9,260 2% 483
Newport 61% 25,479 37% 15,717 2% 801
Washington 59% 39,082 39% 25,624 2% 1,454
Kent 58% 48,406 40% 33,780 2% 1,888

By congressional district[edit]

Barack Obama carried both of Rhode Island’s two congressional districts.

District McCain Obama Representative
1st 33.28% 65.10% Patrick J. Kennedy
2nd 37.02% 61.28% James Langevin


Technically the voters of Rhode Island cast their ballots for electors: representatives to the Electoral College. Rhode Island is allocated 4 electors because it has 2 congressional districts and 2 senators. All candidates who appear on the ballot or qualify to receive write-in votes must submit a list of 4 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 4 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.[19] 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.

The following were the members of the Electoral College from the state. All 4 were pledged to Barack Obama and Joe Biden:[20]

  1. Maryellen Goodwin
  2. Charlene Lima
  3. John McConnell
  4. Mark Weiner


  1. ^ This figure is calculated by dividing the total number of votes cast in 2008 (469,767) by an estimate of the number of registered voters in Rhode Island in 2008 (701,307).
    • For the number of votes cast, see "Official 2008 Presidential General Election Results". Rhode Island Board of Elections. November 17, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
    • For the estimated number of registered voters, see "Eligible Voter October 4, 2008" (PDF). Rhode Island Board of Elections. October 4, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  2. ^ D.C.'s Political Report: The complete source for campaign summaries
  3. ^ Presidential Archived May 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Adnaan (2008-09-20). "Track the Electoral College vote predictions". The Takeaway. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-14.
  5. ^ Electoral-vote.com: President, Senate, House Updated Daily
  6. ^ a b c d Based on Takeaway
  7. ^ POLITICO's 2008 Swing State Map - POLITICO.com
  8. ^ http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/maps/obama_vs_mccain/?map=5
  9. ^ http://innovation.cq.com/prezMap08/ Archived June 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Nagourney, Adam; Zeleny, Jeff; Carter, Shan (2008-11-04). "The Electoral Map: Key States". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  11. ^ "October – 2008 – CNN Political Ticker - CNN.com Blogs". CNN. October 31, 2008. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  12. ^ "Winning The Electoral College". Fox News. April 27, 2010.
  13. ^ roadto270
  14. ^ Election 2008: Electoral College Update - Rasmussen Reports™
  15. ^ http://uselectionatlas.org/POLLS/PRESIDENT/2008/pollsa.php?fips=44
  16. ^ http://www.fec.gov/DisclosureSearch/MapAppState.do?stateName=RI&cand_id=P00000001 Archived January 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Map: Campaign Ad Spending - Election Center 2008 from CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  18. ^ "Map: Campaign Candidate Visits - Election Center 2008 from CNN.com". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
  19. ^ "Electoral College". California Secretary of State. Archived from the original on October 30, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-01.
  20. ^ U. S. Electoral College 2008 Election - Certificates

See also[edit]