Obama's campaign was historic for reasons beyond his skin color. He raised more money than any other candidate in U.S. history, and had to first defeat Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was the party's early favorite to win the Democratic nomination.
Voters from a broad swath of America's diverse ethnic enclaves and economic communities celebrated Obama's win Tuesday night, particularly those in the African-American community.
Thousand's flocked to Chicago's Grant Park to await the election results. In Harlem and Times Square in New York, Americans took to the streets to celebrate. There was particular jubilation among black Americans.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson was seen crying in Grant Park when election results were announced.
African-Americans poured into the streets of Washington, D.C., waving flags, honking car horns and setting off fireworks.
"I've been an Obama supporter from the beginning," said Sophie Logothetis, an elementary school history teacher who waited an hour to get into Grant Park, "and I just had to be here."
In Harlem, Jeff Mann, a 51-year-old construction worker said, "You can't be anything but joyful. Obama is going to change the world," said Jeff Mann, 51, a construction worker in Harlem.
Crucial to Obama's victory was winning all of the states that Democrat John Kerry won four years ago and the flipping of Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, Florida and Nevada, states that all voted Republican in 2004.
Obama, 47, the son of a black man from Kenya and white woman from Kansas, served just two years in U.S. Senate before declaring his candidacy and ultimately taking on one of the most experienced politicians in the United States.
A moderate conservative who tried to emphasize his credentials as a maverick and distance himself from an unpopular president, McCain, 72, was unable to motivate his base and overcome his associations with Republican incumbent President Bush.
Obama built a coalition grounded on a base of near unanimous support from black voters, who made up 13 percent of the national vote. Obama also won nearly 70 percent of the vote of Hispanics. While John McCain was able to win white voters by 54-44 percent, Obama made inroads with them as well.
Voters shifted to the Democratic Party in this election, with Republican turnout falling to its lowest point since 1980.
By almost every quantifiable measure -- from the $640 million Obama raised in the month of October to the nearly $1 billion the campaigns have spent combined to 9 million newly registered voters -- records have been shattered.
Yet another record may fall once the number of voters is tallied. Turnout was heavy throughout the day and could surpass previous voting turnout records. The existing records were set in 2004 when more than 122 million Americans went to the polls, and in 1960 when 64 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
Each of the candidates was a dark horse who pundits predicted would never make it past the first weeks of their parties' respective primaries. Obama ultimately beat out Clinton for the nomination, the first glimmer of future success.