This story was written by Melissa Appel, The Battalion
History was made Tuesday when the presidential election ended in a landslide victory for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., the first black president in U.S. history.
The Electoral College named the senator from Illinois president-elect with 338 and at least 26 states and he Distric of Columbia at press time, defeating his opponent, Sen. John McCain, by 160.
The 2008 election was historic for more reasons than electing the first minority president. The election brought out a large number of first-time voters, who chose Obama by a 3-1 margin. One in five of first-time voters were black, one in five were Hispanic and two-thirds were under the age of 30.
Voter polls in the days preceding the election had predicted Obama as the winner, but there were still some nerves Tuesday night because political experts had predicted upsets in battleground states that could have gone either way. One of these was Pennsylvania, home state of Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden. The state went blue, giving Obama 21 electoral votes. The last time Pennsylvania went red was 1988.
Obama ran on a platform based on "change." His central ideas included offering tax cuts to middle class Americans, investing more money in alternative fuel and energy research and creating a national health care system.
"I hope [Obama] will help us develop alternative energy to get us through this crisis," said Banks Miller, a Texas A&M freshman biology major.
Although the issues debated between Obama and McCain were plentiful, political experts and citizens concentrated on the economic policies of the candidates as a pivotal factor in their decision.
"All polls show that the economy is the most important issue in the 2008 election," said Texas A&M history professor Terry Anderson. "McCain has worked his entire career to deregulate the economy, like Bush and Phil Gramm. The result of this are that the banks were regulating themselves, meaning no regulation at all, and you can see what happens to the national economy if there is no federal oversight: the October crash. Obama will bring common sense regulation back to the economy and renew American and world confidence, vital for economic recovery."
Obama said the first issue he will tackle will be straightening out the economy.
The popular election of Obama as president, though, does not represent that the entire country is behind his economic ideals.
"The fundamentals of economics show that when the economy is in jeopardy, you need to increase consumer spending," said sophomore business major Greg McDuffie. "If [Obama] levies more taxes on America's greatest spenders, then the pain will trickle down. Mr. Obama claims that trickle-down economics does not work, but he must realize that his tax plan will trickle down to the so-called 'middle class' of his, thus nullifying any of the handouts he has planned."
The hope of change Obama promised during his campaign is radiating from his supporters as they look to the president-elect for improvements within American policies and beyond American borders.
"An Obama presidency will change our relations with the world and get it back to U.S. participation in dialogue with our traditional allies, end Bush unilateralism and begin the withdrawal from Iraq that the prime minister and people of Iraq want," Anderson said.
Although some McCain supporters claimed that Obama did not have the experience necessary to be the leader of the free world, some citizens and students feel that this, too, represents one of his strengths.
"I think his greatest strength is he's idealistic and hopefully won't just support special interests like a lot of politicins do," Miller said.
Obama will be sworn in as the 44th president of the U.S. on Jan. 20, 2009.