Nov. 5, 2008 — -- Truly historic wins in states that have long opted for Republican presidents helped seal Democrat Barack Obama's victory Tuesday night.
After early projected Obama wins in Ohio and Pennsylvania deflated John McCain's chances of winning the White House, Obama won the race for president with support from voters in battlegrounds like Virginia -- a state that has not gone to a Democrat since 1964.
"We're not about red and blue, we're not about black and white, we're all concerned about the future and want to move together to change our direction," David Axelrod, chief strategist for the Obama campaign, told ABC News early Tuesday night as the results began to pour in.
Close battleground races played out early Wednesday morning, with races in Indiana, North Carolina and Missouri still too close to project.
Still, of 15 other key battlegrounds, Obama won Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Iowa, Colorado and Nevada earlier and surpassed the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. McCain won the battlegrounds of North Dakota, Georgia, West Virginia and Montana but it was not enough to secure the presidency.
"No Democratic candidate has ever had a ground organization like Barack Obama," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos said Tuesday night.
Obama Makes History in Virginia
One by one Tuesday night, red states turned blue. But of those states, his win in Virginia was hugely significant.
Virginia's 13 electoral votes have gone to the Republican presidential candidate in every single election since 1964. But recent political choices in Virginia turned out to be a harbinger for Obama's win: In 2006, Democrat Jim Webb took down incumbent Republican Sen. George Allen in a hard-fought race that tipped the balance of power in the Senate to Democrats.
"I feel like we got a righteous wind at our backs here," Obama said last week in Leesburg, Va.
Virginia voters braved rainy weather and heavy turnout to cast their ballots Tuesday. It was a state in which preliminary exit polls revealed that 49 percent of voters were personally contacted by an Obama campaign worker, versus 37 percent contacted by the McCain campaign.
Voters in the Northern Virginia suburbs helped propel Obama to victory. In Fairfax County, Obama won 58-40 over McCain, in Loudoun County he won 52-46, and in Prince William County, he won 55-43. It was indeed thought that an influx of Demcrat voters into the areas just outside Washington, D.C. would be responsible for a shifting demographic.
Exit polls showed that Obama secured votes from working class Virginia voters, 62 percent of whom voted in his favor. Exit polls also showed that 27 percent of voters in Virginia said the race was at least a minor factor in determining their vote. Among those who said race was a factor, 95 percent of blacks voted for Obama while whites supported McCain 61-38 percent.
Early Losses Projected in Ohio, Pennsylvania Signaled Trouble for GOP
Early Obama wins projected in Ohio and Pennsylvania signaled that it would be difficult mathematically for the McCain campaign to secure the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House.
Obama won Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes, which McCain's campaign had specifically targeted as key to winning the race. Obama did so by doing better than John Kerry in 2004 in central and northern Pennsylvania, an Obama campaign staffer told ABC News' Jake Tapper.
Like voters throughout the nation, the majority of Pennsylvanians said in exit polls that they were very worried about the economy.
"The real surprise here is that John McCain did it as close as he did," Mark McKinnon, a media consultant to McCain in the primaries, told ABC News Tuesday night. "He made this race close, which was amazing, but when the economic meltdown happened, this race just sort of ran away from him."
Exit polls also revealed that Obama made inroads among white men and did well in the state among white women -- a demographic that NPR's senior political analyst Juan Williams said Tuesday on "Good Morning America" would be critical to McCain's effort.
"John McCain needs those women in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Missouri to come out in big numbers and support him and they've got to break his way if he has a chance today," Williams said.
In Ohio, Obama won the state's 20 electoral votes that proved so devastating in Kerry's loss in the 2004 presidential election. In doing so, Ohio voters continued their streak, selecting the winner in the 12th straight presidential race.
No Republican has ever won a presidential election without carrying the state, and Tuesday night was no exception. Since the last presidential election, there were indications Ohio voters had grown increasingly wary of Republican leadership. In 2006, the election of Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland ended a 16-year Republican hold on the governor's mansion and Democrats won races for U.S. Senate, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer.
How the Battlegrounds Fell
After spending millions of dollars and investing countless hours and energy in the battleground states, the presidential contenders raced through the most critical states of the 2008 race in the final days of the campaign.
Their final pushes topped off far more extensive efforts in the battlegrounds. The campaigns held a staggering number of events in those states since wrapping up their respective party nominations this spring and summer. According to ABC News' count, Ohio ranked first on that list, hosting 145 events between the two tickets through Nov. 4. Florida took a close second, with 113 events, and Pennsylvania ranked third with 101 events through Election Day.
In the end, the battlegrounds fell as follows:
Battlegrounds That Were Leaning Republican:
Georgia: 15 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: McCain
West Virginia: 5 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: McCain
North Dakota: 3 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: McCain
Montana: 3 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: McCain
Battlegrounds That Were Leaning Democrat:
Virginia: 13 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Pennsylvania: 21 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Wisconsin: 10 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
New Hampshire: 4 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Colorado: 9 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Minnesota: 10 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
New Mexico: 5 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Iowa: 7 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Nevada: 5 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Battlegrounds That Were Considered Tossups:
Ohio: 20 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Florida: 27 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Obama
Missouri: 11 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Too Close to Project
Indiana: 11 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner: Too Close to Project
North Carolina: 15 Electoral Votes, Projected Winner:Too Close to Project
All States Projected for Obama:
Pennsylvania, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Ohio, New Mexico, Iowa, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Florida, Nevada
All States Projected for McCain:
Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, North Dakota, Wyoming, Georgia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Utah, South Dakota, Idaho, Arizona, Alaska, Montana