5 Years Later: Obama-mania from the 2008 Presidential Election

Jubilation at the White House

jubiliation at the White House

Crowds gathered in front of the White House when news broke that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States — the first black American to hold office.Security officers at the White House had never seen such elation on election night. Throngs of young people chanted Obama’s name and banged on the south lawn fences.


obama wear

There was a Hustle Man
on every street corner peddling Obama paraphernalia: hats, buttons, scarves, pins. Obama-wear was hotter than Roc-a-wear in the days surrounding the election. On election day, Obama supporters proudly donned their vestiges to showcase who they cast their ballot for.

Hip-Hop Stumped Too

hip-hop stumps

The work that hip-hop acts contributed to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was unprecedented. Obama and Michelle are one generation removed from the birth of hip-hop, and courted one another when the genre really began to come into itself in the 1980’s. Barack and Michelle’s first movie outing was Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.Hip-hop’s heavy hitters, from Sean Combs, to music executive Kevin Liles, Jay-Z, his beau Beyonce, and Mary J. Blige went city to city to rouse young voters. They reminded Generation Y, particularly blacks and Hispanics, just how much power they had to change their own lives, by allowing people who looked like them to inhabit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Obama’s election would forever change society’s perception of their potential and culture.


The Youth

youth _obama

It was inarguably the first election where teenagers –even those who aren’t eligible to vote—had a vested interest and zeal for Barack Obama’s candidacy.Here, a 15-year-old Denver, Colo., student metaphorically cast her ballot by painting the letters O-B-A M-A on her face.

The First Family’s Entrance at the Victory Rally

first family_entrance victory rally

The First Family walk out to cheers at the victory rally in Grant Park, Chicago.

Barack and Michelle’s Love

obamas embrace

Barack and Michelle’s first embrace at the victory rally reverberated through black America. There was a collective sigh that black families would finally have a positive, healthy image of black love for all of America to see.

Change Gon’ Come

change has come cover

Obama’s short and effective campaign slogan resonated with Americans. The Daily News gave it a hat-tip the next day. newspaper used it.


Obama’s Family in Kenya

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Obama’s step-grandmother, half-sister, and uncle speak with reporters at their home in Kogelo, Kenya, the morning after election night.


Election Reaction in Times Square

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A crowd is fixated on the jumbotron in Times Square, New York City, as election results pour in.


Then and Now: Barack and His Eldest, Malia

malia _2election

Then, Malia was the precocious 10-year-old with her mom’s tall, lean, stature and her dad’s oval face.Now, Malia sits in VIP seats at Beyonce concerts, and puts her hair in styles that gives the President heart palpations. Lest we forget that she’s almost as tall as her mom and dad. Is the Ford Agency on line 2 in the East Wing of the White House?


Election Coverage in Great Britain

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Obama’s face is plastered on a variety of newspapers in Great Britain.

The Oprah Effect

oprah effect_election night

Back in 2006, when then-Sen. Barack Obama appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to promote his book, Dreams from My Father, Winfrey looked into his eyes and described how she saw loftier plans for her beloved senator. Call Winfrey a soothsayer, or a reincarnation of Ms. Cleo , because she told Obama that if he ever decided to throw his hat into the presidential ring, he should return to Harpo Studios to make the announcement.Obama didn’t, instead opting for a rally in Springfield, Chicago, where President Abraham Lincoln once delivered his historic speech, asking for the Union and the Confederacy to come together after the Civil War.Even still, Oprah went on to become one of Obama’s most visible surrogates. She stumped for him relentless, reaching a targeted audience, given her stay-at-home mom fanbase in Middle America.
Here, Winfrey is leaning on a man that she’s never met, at the victory rally in Grant Park.


Election Reaction in Paris, France

paris_election night

Who said President George W. Bush’s dismissiveness of the French in the months leading to the Iraq war forever thwarted U.S.-France relations?French fries were never changed to freedom fries, and here Parisians gather to celebrate Obama’s election.

Mr. Country First

john mccain_election night_2

When some of Sen. John McCain’s supporters used racial remarks to denounce Obama at Republication pep rallies, McCain reminded a few of them of what type of person Barack Obama was: a decent man, and more importantly, an American, that McCain just so happened to have policy disagreements with. 
Political observers describe his selection of Sarah Palin as a Hail Mary pass to lure the female vote and re-energize his limp campaign, since the Obama train could not be stopped. And then there was that time when he suspended his campaign to tend to the nation’s financial woes. Overall, it was a miracle that the once dead-in-the-water Arizona Senator even made it onto the general ticket as the GOP candidate. He executed a respectable campaign at a time when some people in his party — ahem, the Tea people — wanted him to exploit the nation’s fears about Obama’s race. McCain rose above that, but didn’t quite rise above Obama in the polls. Obama beat him 365 to 173 in the electoral votes. McCain lost Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and even North Carolina.

Election Coverage in Indonesia

indonesia_election night

Here, a man in Indonesia looks at a local paper’s coverage of the election results. Barack spent a portion of his childhood in the Southeast Asian country

The Obama-Biden Ticket

the bidens

It was Joe Biden’s job to reassure the Blue Dog Democrats in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other swing states that they could trust Obama, and that he would strive to fix the economic calamities left over by Bush 43.
Joey did just that and much more.
He kept his gaffes to a minimum, and was the warm, gregarious presence that the Obama campaign needed to assure folks that this historic transition would be harmonious.

Sarah “The Barracuda” Palin

sarah palin _election night

The difference between a hockey mom and a pit-bull? Lipstick—then Gov. Sarah Palin told the audience at the Republican National Convention in 2008. She was determined to lend a voice to domesticated moms who didn’t quite understand the going-on’s and procedures of Washington — including perhaps, how foreign policy with Russia worked. Even still, she rose to stardom and emerged as a leading figure of the rightist parts of the Republican Party.Palin’s sweet Alaskan charm, eye-winks and homely accent were memorable antics, and fodder for good ol’ SNL fun. Here she waves to the audience, after her running mate, Sen. John McCain, delivered his concession speech. Rumor has it that Palin was hoping to give a concession speech as well. But McCain aides put a stop to that…quickly.

The First Ladies

first ladies_election night

Mrs. Obama described how she and Jill Biden clicked instantly upon meeting. They would get giddy thinking of all the fun activities they could plan for Obama’s kids and Jill’s grandkids while on the campaign trail.

Election Coverage in India

indian man_election night

An Indian Sikh reads about the election in Amritsar, India.

Rev. Jesse Jackson

jesse jackson _election night

Jesse Jackson and President Obama’s relationship hit a bump on the road during the campaign when Jackson, who hadn’t realized that his microphone was still on, made a crude remark about how Obama addressed black Americans.The civil rights icon shed tears at Grant Park during Obama’s victory speech. Perhaps he was thinking about his 1960’s civil rights efforts alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Or, the way his heart raced when King had been shot on that Memphis hotel balcony? Whatever the thought, Jackson was overcome by emotion, as he looked at a stage that he and his ilk had set two decades prior. As I watched tears pour out of his eyes, I always hoped that Michelle would have looked into Jackson’s eyes, and mouthed, Thank you.

Then and Now: Obama and Sasha Obama

sasha_election night

This is a long cry from the young lady who walked out on the stage after her dad’s victory speech on election night in 2012, and reminded him to turn around and wave to the supporters behind him.Sasha Obama had a high squeaky voice in 2008. Now, she’s making silly faces in her smartphone alongside her sister at her dad’s second inauguration in 2013.

Election Reaction in Denver Colorado

denver_election night

Obama supporters cheer in Denver, Colorado.

Celebrations in the Nation’s Capital

dc celebrations

After the election results poured in, the young people in Washington, D.C., were ghost-riding the whip — like it was an E-40 concert. Onlookers loved the vehicular antics.


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