The U.S. Presidential Election and the Economy

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News photographers in 2008 confronted the power of hope and the inevitability of change through two epics events: an unprecedented presidential campaign and the fall of the U.S. economy.

The subprime mortgage crisis, caused by a staggering rise in mortgage delinquencies and foreclosures, reached a tipping point with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. The result was a global financial crisis that sent governments worldwide scrambling to provide banks and investment institutions with enough capital to stave off economic collapse. The Troubled Assets Relief Program in the U.S., however, could not prevent the stock market from dropping below 7,000, unemployment from rising to 7.2 percent, or financial giants like Washington Mutual from going out of business.

The economic crisis created a platform for an historic U.S. presidential election between Barack Obama, a young, charismatic African American Democrat calling for change, and Republican John McCain, a seasoned prisoner-of-war Senator who touted toughness. Obama’s rally cry of "Yes We Can" ultimately drowned out McCain’s pledge to put "Country First." In November, Americans elected their first black president while Californians voted to ban same-sex marriage in their state.