(CNN) - From an historic presidential election to a wealth of political scandals, 2008 has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Here's a look back at some of the top political stories of the year.
From a junior senator from Illinois to the next president of the United States, Barack Obama broke down barriers and inspired an unprecedented grassroots movement in 2008.
He defeated one of the most powerful families in politics to get the Democratic nomination, and easily took down long-time Sen. John McCain in the general election.
Obama's campaign was marked by his eloquent speeches, passionate supporters and worldwide fanfare for the Democratic candidate.
The Democrat's ground team helped him smash fundraising records and sail into the White House, making him the first African American to win the presidency.
Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, Joe Lieberman - they were considered the front-runners for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket. But, in one of the biggest surprises of the year, John McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.
The first-term governor went from obscurity to superstar fame overnight. She energized the Republican base and brought record crowds to McCain's campaign events.