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Why Red States Turned Blue in 2008 - Indiana and Iowa


Why Red States Turned Blue in 2008 - Indiana and Iowa

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally at American Legion Mall October 23, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Democrat Barack Obama won crucial presidential election wins in Indiana and Iowa, both predominantly white states that voted for Bush in 2004, due to a coalition of new and younger voters, those worried about the economy, and women... and due to an energized get-out-the-vote effort.

Barack Obama narrowly won Indiana by a margin of 50% (1,367,503 votes) to 49% (1,341,667 votes) for John McCain.

Obama is the first Democrat to win Indiana's presidential race since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

"First-time voters, blacks, voters worried about the economy and more than a few Republicans helped Barack Obama eke out a narrow win in Indiana" reported the Indianapolis Star.

The newspaper dubbed the Democratic drive, "... an unprecedented grass-roots effort by the Obama campaign, which opened 44 offices in the state; hired 210 paid staff; and enlisted 80,000 volunteers, including 50,000 who went door to door and made calls in the final week of the campaign."

Per MSNBC exit polls, Obama's Indiana victory was based on:

  • Women, who comprised 53% of voters (52%)
  • Voters under age 30, who comprised 19% of voters (63%)
  • Black voters, who comprised 9% of voters (90%)
  • Voters citing CHANGE as a top priority, who comprised 32% of voters (90%)

With 91% of its voters white, Iowa resoundingly voted for Obama 54% (818,172 votes) over 45% (677,449 votes) for McCain.

Iowa held the first primary, which was a surprise victory by Obama. In response, Obama delivered one of his most impassioned speeches and developed a special rapport with Iowans. (See Obama's Stirring Iowa Primary Victory Speech.)

Per MSNBC exit polls, Obama drew unusually strongly in Iowa from:

  • Voters age 50 to 64, who comprised 28% of voters (54%)
  • White women, who comprised 49% of voters (53%)
  • Catholic voters, who comprised 26% of voters (59%)
  • White non-college graduates, who comprised 54% of voters (52%)

The majority of Iowans who cited these as their top issue voted for Obama:

  • The economy, comprised 61% iof voters (54%)
  • The Iraq War, comprised 11% of voters (68%)
  • Health care, comprised 9% of voters (65%)

Wrote the Des Moines Register, "Barack Obama carried Iowa decisively by winning the state's urban areas by wide margins and cutting into some of the state's vast Republican-leaning areas.. Obama dominated in the state's larger cities, widening Kerry's margins over Bush in urban counties.

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