The 2008 United States presidential election in Arizona took place on November 4, 2008, and was part of the 2008 United States presidential election. Voters chose 10 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.
Arizona was won by Republican nominee John McCain with an 8.48% margin of victory, McCain had served as United States Senator from Arizona since 1987. Prior to the election, sixteen of seventeen news organizations considered this a state McCain would win, or otherwise considered as a red state. It was the home state of John McCain and until 2020, had only been carried by a Democrat once since 1948. However, polls taken near Election Day in 2008 showed Democrat Barack Obama closer than expected to winning the state. McCain carried all but four of the state's 15 counties. This was the last presidential election that a Republican would win his home state until Donald Trump won his newly appointed home state of Florida in 2020. This is also closer than any of McCain's statewide Senate races. Obama became the first Democrat to win the White House without winning Greenlee County since Arizona statehood in 1912.
Twelve years later, Democratic nominee for President Joe Biden, who was running as the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2008, won the state of Arizona, partially from the endorsement of Cindy McCain, the widow of John McCain.
There were 16 news organizations who made state-by-state predictions of the election. Here are their last predictions before election day:
|D.C. Political Report||Likely R|
|Cook Political Report||Lean R|
|The Takeaway||Lean R|
|Washington Post||Lean R|
|CQ Politics||Lean R|
|The New York Times||Solid R|
|Fox News||Likely R|
|Associated Press||Likely R|
|Rasmussen Reports||Safe R|
Opinion polls taken from February through to October 2008 showed McCain leading Obama by margins of between 1% and 21%. The final RealClearPolitics average gave the state an average of 53.8% for McCain, compared to 45.0% for Obama.
John McCain raised $7,448,622. Barack Obama raised $5,491,056.
Obama and his interest groups spent $1,510,900 in the state. McCain and his interest groups spent just $751. The Democratic ticket did not visit the state. Arizona native John McCain visited the state 5 times in the election campaign.
Arizona has long been a Republican-dominated state. At the time, it was represented in the Senate by two Republicans (John McCain and Jon Kyl). It has only supported a Democrat for president once in the last 60 years, when Bill Clinton carried it in 1996. In addition, both the Arizona Senate and Arizona House of Representatives are controlled by Republicans. However, the Governor was Democrat Janet Napolitano, and both parties held four House seats each before the election.
Arizona was McCain's home state and gave its 10 electoral votes to its favorite son. However, he won just under 54% of the vote. By comparison, he'd been reelected in 2004 with 77% of the vote, one of the largest margins of victory for a statewide race in Arizona history. This led to speculation that the race would have been far closer without McCain on the ballot. One major factor is the growing Hispanic vote in the state, a voting bloc that tends to favor the Democrats, although both George W. Bush and John McCain held moderate positions on illegal immigration.
Arizona politics are dominated by Maricopa and Pima counties, home to Phoenix and Tucson respectively. Between them, these two counties cast almost three-fourths of the state's vote and elect a substantial majority of the legislature. Maricopa County, a Republican stronghold since 1948, gave McCain an 11-point victory. This alone was more than enough to make up for Obama's narrow victory in Democratic-leaning Tucson. McCain also did well elsewhere throughout the state, winning the more sparsely populated counties by double digits.
The election also saw Republicans making gains in the state legislature, as the GOP picked up one seat in the State Senate and three seats in the State House. The Democrats, however, managed to win the open seat in Arizona's 1st congressional district, with former state representative Ann Kirkpatrick cruising to victory over Republican Sydney Hay, giving the Democrats a majority of the state's House seats for the first time in 60 years.
|Party||Candidate||Running mate||Votes||Percentage||Electoral votes|
|Republican||John McCain||Sarah Palin||1,230,111||53.39%||10|
|Democratic||Barack Obama||Joe Biden||1,034,707||44.91%||0|
|Libertarian||Bob Barr||Wayne Allyn Root||12,555||0.54%||0|
|Independent||Ralph Nader||Matt Gonzalez||11,301||0.49%||0|
|Green||Cynthia McKinney||Rosa Clemente||3,406||0.15%||0|
|Constitution||Chuck Baldwin (write-in)||Darrell Castle||1,371||0.06%||0|
|Independent||Charles Jay (write-in)||Barry Hess||16||0.00%||0|
|Independent||Jonathan Allen (write-in)||Jeffrey Stath||8||0.00%||0|
|Invalid or blank votes||27,376||1.18%||--|
|County||John Sidney McCain
|Barack Hussein Obama
|Robert Laurence Barr Jr.
|Cynthia Ann McKinney
|Total ballots||Total eligible
McCain won a majority of the vote in six of Arizona's eight congressional districts, while Obama won two. McCain won two districts (AZ-08 and AZ-05) represented by Democrats (Gabrielle Giffords and Harry Mitchell, respectively), and one other (AZ-01) represented by a Republican at the time but which voted for a Democrat (Ann Kirkpatrick) in the simultaneous U.S. House elections. Both districts Obama carried are represented by Democrats.
|1st||54.42%||44.25%||Rick Renzi (110th Congress)|
|Ann Kirkpatrick (111th Congress)|
Technically the voters of Arizona cast their ballots for electors: representatives to the Electoral College. Arizona is allocated 10 electors because it has 8 congressional districts and 2 senators. All candidates who appear on the ballot or qualify to receive write-in votes must submit a list of 10 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 10 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.