(...) In the first election of the 21st century decided by the end of Election Day, Democratic Senator Barack Obama was elected President, beating Republican Senator John McCain. Obama, 47, is the United States of America's first black president. Despite his race, despite his being a liberal Midwestern Senator running with an east coast Democratic Senator, despite running against an incredibly well-respected and admired Republican with great independent voter appeal (at least back in the day), Obama took it decisively.
It was a good year for Democrats, what with the economy melting down and the last dying breaths of the miserable presidency of universally despised Republican president George W. Bush, but it did look, for minute, like it might be another close one. If, for example, Hillary Clinton had won the Democratic nomination, as it was predicted she would last year, we probably would've seen a repeat of the "50+1" strategy of fighting the election only in two or three "swing states" (Kerry states + Ohio = victory!), and probably another 49/48 popular vote split. But Obama fought in "red states" like Indiana and much of the mountainous southwest. The map expanded, and stupid Ohio and Florida were justifiably stripped of a great deal of their terrible importance. Obama finally won with more than 50 percent of the popular vote, the first time a Democrat managed that feat in a generation.
Obama ended up a much stronger candidate than even his early partisans could've predicted, with a calm, intelligent, cool demeanor. That demeanor got him labeled a stuffy egghead early on, especially when contrasted with Hillary Clinton's newfound fiery populism, but in a time of great upheaval, "appearing presidential" suddenly looked good. And he looked presidential in three debates, while his opponent, John McCain, sputtered and shouted and, in Joe Biden's memorable words, "lurched" around the stage of the town hall.

Text by Pareene.
Image: (c) Jana Kohl and Robert Sebree,
used with permission from (c) holder.