United States presidential election, 2012
← 2004 November 6, 2012 2012 →

All 538 electoral votes of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout 53.5%
  Mitt Romney.jpeg Barack Obama portrait cropped.jpeg
Nominee Mitt Romney Barack Obama
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Massachusetts Illinois
Running mate Paul Ryan Joe Biden
Electoral vote 299 239
States carried 30 20 + DC
Popular vote 64,234,613 62,618,290
Percentage 49.1% 47.7%

2012 US presidential election results (American Destiny).svg

President before election

Barack Obama

Elected President

Mitt Romney

The United States presidential election of 2012 was the 57th quadrennial American presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. The Democratic nominee, incumbent President Barack Obama, and his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, were defeated for a second term, losing to the Republican nominee, former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney and his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Despite being the incumbent president, Obama was challenged by former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who managed to win the West Virginia primary. The Republican Party was more fractured; Mitt Romney was consistently competitive in the polls, but faced challenges from a number of more conservative contenders whose popularity each fluctuated, often besting Romney's. Romney effectively secured the nomination by early May as the economy improved, albeit at a persistently laggard rate. The campaign was marked by a sharp rise in fundraising, including from new nominally independent Super PACs. The campaigns focused heavily on domestic issues: debate centered largely around sound responses to the Great Recession in terms of economic recovery and job creation. Other issues included long-term federal budget issues, the future of social insurance programs, and the Affordable Care Act. Foreign policy was also discussed including the phase-out of the Iraq War, the size of and spending on the military, preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, and appropriate counteractions to terrorism.

Romney defeated Obama, winning both the popular vote and the electoral college, with 299 electoral votes to Obama's 239. Compared with his victory in 2008, Barack Obama lost the states of Indiana, North Carolina, Florida, Virginia, Ohio, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Nebraska's 2nd congressional district. Consequently, Obama became the first incumbent since George H. W. Bush in 1992 to lose reelection. 2012 also marked the first time since 1908 that the winning candidate failed to win Nevada.


Final poll closing times on Election Day.

  7 p.m. [00:00 UTC] (6)
  7:30 p.m. EST [00:30 UTC] (3)
  8 p.m. EST [01:00 UTC] (15+DC)
  8:30 p.m. EST [01:30 UTC] (1)
  9 p.m. EST [02:00 UTC] (15)
  10 p.m. EST [03:00 UTC] (4)
  11 p.m. EST [04:00 UTC] (5)
  1 a.m. EST [06:00 UTC] (1)

  • September–October 2012: Early voting begins in some states and continue as late as November 5.
  • November 6, 2012: Election Day; at around 12:30 a.m. EST, the networks call Colorado for Romney, projecting him the winner of the election.
  • November 7, 2012: Obama concedes the election to Romney at around 1:45 a.m. EST.
  • November 10, 2012: The electoral outcomes of all 50 states and the District of Columbia have been definitively projected (the electoral outcome in Iowa remained uncertain until November 10). Romney won 299 electoral votes while Obama won 239 electoral votes.
  • December 17, 2012: The Electoral College formally elects President-elect Romney and Vice President-elect Ryan.
  • January 3, 2013: The 113th Congress is sworn in.
  • January 4, 2013: Electoral votes are formally counted before a joint session of Congress. The election of President-elect Romney and Vice President-elect Ryan is certified.
  • January 20, 2013: President Romney and Vice President Ryan take the oaths of office; Romney's first presidential term begins at noon.
  • January 21, 2013: The inauguration ceremonies are held.

Electoral college changes

The 2010 Census changed the electoral vote apportionment for the presidential elections from 2012 to 2020 in the states listed below:

Changes in electoral vote apportionment (increases in green, decreases in orange) following the 2010 Census.

States won by Democrats
in 2000, 2004, and 2008

  • Illinois −1
  • Massachusetts −1
  • Michigan −1
  • New Jersey −1
  • New York −2
  • Pennsylvania −1
  • Washington +1

States won by Republicans
in 2000, 2004, and 2008

  • Arizona +1
  • Georgia +1
  • Louisiana −1
  • Missouri −1
  • South Carolina +1
  • Texas +4
  • Utah +1

Swing states

  • Florida (Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2000 and 2004) +2
  • Iowa (Democratic in 2000 and 2008, Republican in 2004) −1
  • Nevada (Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2000 and 2004) +1
  • Ohio (Democratic in 2008, Republican in 2000 and 2004) −2

The electoral map in 2008.

Changes in electoral vote apportionment following the 2010 census.

Eight states (Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington) gained votes due to reapportionment based on the 2010 Census. Ten states (Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) lost votes. This gave the Democratic Party a net loss of six electoral votes in states won by Democratic nominees in the previous three presidential elections, rendering the party a national total of 242 electoral votes. Conversely, the Republican Party achieved a net gain of six electoral votes in states won by Republican nominees in the previous three presidential elections, rendering the Republican Party a national total of 180 electoral votes.

State changes to voter registration and electoral rules

In 2011, several state legislatures passed new voting laws, especially pertaining to voter identification, with the stated purpose of combating voter fraud; the laws were attacked, however, by the Democratic Party as attempts to suppress voting among its supporters and to improve the Republican Party's presidential prospects. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia's state legislatures approved measures to shorten early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all felons from voting. Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas state legislatures passed laws requiring voters to have government-issued IDs before they could cast their ballots. This meant, typically, that people without driver's licenses or passports had to gain new forms of ID. Obama, the NAACP, and the Democratic Party fought against many of the new state laws. Former President Bill Clinton denounced them, saying, "There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today". He was referring to Jim Crow laws passed in southern states near the turn of the twentieth century that disenfranchised most blacks from voting and excluded them from the political process for more than six decades. Clinton said the moves would effectively disenfranchise core voter blocs that trend liberal, including college students, Blacks, and Latinos. Rolling Stone magazine criticized the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for lobbying in states to bring about these laws, to "solve" a problem that does not exist. The Obama campaign fought against the Ohio law, pushing for a petition and statewide referendum to repeal it in time for the 2012 election.

In addition, the Pennsylvania legislature proposed a plan to change its representation in the electoral college from the traditional winner-take-all model to a district-by-district model. As the governorship and both houses of its legislature were Republican-controlled, the move was viewed by some as an attempt to reduce Democratic chances.


Democratic Party

Main articles: Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2012 and 2012 Democratic National Convention


Barack Obama (blue) and Mike Gravel (green)

Despite being an incumbent President, Barack Obama was challenged by former U.S. Senator and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Gravel. Obama's reelection campaign mostly ignored Gravel's candidacy, however after a close loss an upset victory by Gravel in the Alaska caucus and the West Virginia primary, the President began touring states where Gravel was competitive. By May, President Obama secured the amount of delegates required to become the presumptive nominee.


U.S. Democratic Party logo (transparent).svg
Democratic Party ticket, 2012
Barack Obama Joe Biden
for President for Vice President
Obama portrait crop.jpg
Joe Biden official portrait crop.jpg
President of the United States
Vice President of the United States

Republican Party

Main article Republican Party presidential primaries, 2012


Candidates with considerable name recognition who entered the race for the Republican presidential nomination in the early stages of the primary campaign included Representative and former Libertarian nominee Ron Paul, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who co-chaired John McCain's campaign in 2008, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the runner-up for the nomination in the 2008 cycle, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.

The first debate took place on May 5, 2011, in Greenville, South Carolina, with businessman Herman Cain, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum participating. Another debate took place a month later, with Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, and Rep. Michele Bachmann participating, and Gary Johnson excluded. A total of thirteen debates were held before the Iowa caucuses.

The first major event of the campaign was the Ames Straw Poll, which took place in Iowa on August 13, 2011. Michele Bachmann won the straw poll (this ultimately proved to be the acme of her campaign). Pawlenty withdrew from the race after a poor showing in the straw poll, as did Thaddeus McCotter, the only candidate among those who qualified for the ballot who was refused entrance into the debate.

It became clear at around this point in the nomination process that while Romney was considered to be the likely nominee by the Republican establishment, a large segment of the conservative primary electorate found him to be too moderate for their political views. As a result, a number of potential "anti-Romney" candidates were put forward, including businessman Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, and Texas Governor Rick Perry, the last of whom decided to run in August 2011. Perry did poorly in the debates, however, and Herman Cain and then Newt Gingrich came into the fore in October and November.

Due to a number of scandals, Cain withdrew just before the end of the year, after having gotten on the ballot in several states. Around the same time, Johnson, who had been able to get into only one other debate, withdrew to seek the Libertarian Party nomination.

Governor Romney managed to draw out a narrow victory in Iowa, with Congressman Ron Paul, Senator Rick Santorum, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich close behind. Newt Gingrich won South Carolina by a surprisingly large margin, and Romney won again in New Hampshire.

A number of candidates dropped out at this point in the nomination process. Santorum withdrew after losing in to Romney in Iowa, Bachmann withdrew after finishing sixth in the Iowa caucuses, Huntsman withdrew after coming in third in New Hampshire, and Perry withdrew when polls showed him drawing low numbers in South Carolina.

File:Romney 2011 Paradise Valley, AZ rally.jpg

Mitt Romney on the campaign trail

Romney began to dominate the field, with Speaker Gingrich now running as the "anti-Romney" candidate. Gingrich's efforts to derail Romney were futile, and Romney won all of the other contests between South Carolina and the Super Tuesday contests.

The Super Tuesday primaries took place on March 6. Romney carried all but one of the states, with Gingrich won only in his home state of Georgia. Throughout the rest of March, 266 delegates were allocated in 12 events, including the territorial contests and the first local conventions that allocated delegates (Wyoming's county conventions). With Romney winning state after state, Newt Gingrich officially suspended his campaign on March 24, 2012. As a result, Mitt Romney was declared the presumptive nominee.

On August 28, 2012, delegates at the Republican National Convention officially named Romney the party's presidential nominee. Romney formally accepted the delegates' nomination on August 30, 2012.


Republican Party (United States)
Republican Party ticket, 2012
Mitt Romney Paul Ryan
for President for Vice President
Mitt Romney by Gage Skidmore 8.jpg
70th Governor of Massachusetts
U.S. Representative from Wisconsin

Withdrawn candidates

Template:Main article

Third party and other nominations

Template:Main article

Four other parties nominated candidates that had ballot access or write-in access to at least 270 electoral votes, the minimum number of votes needed in the 2012 election to win the presidency through a majority of the electoral college.

Libertarian Party

Template:Main article

Green Party

Template:Main article

Constitution Party

Template:Main article

Justice Party

Template:Main article

Candidates gallery


2012 Presidential Election by County (American Destiny).png

By state

State Barack Obama
Mitt Romney
Electoral Votes
Alabama 34.94% 64.11% 9
Alaska 36.39% 49.2% 3
Arizona 40.95% 58.05% 11
Arkansas 33.81% 64.01% 6
California 57.44% 40.63% 55
Colorado 48.54% 49.95% 9
Connecticut 54.70% 45.29% 7
Delaware 60.8% 35.6% 0.2% 3
Florida 52.6% 45.5% 29
Georgia 48.4% 48.1% 0.5% 16
Hawaii 70.3% 29.1% 4
Idaho 29.2% 56.0% 9.7% 4
Illinois 57.9% 37.5% 0.3% 20
Indiana 45.0% 52.1% 11
Iowa 51.8% 45.6% 0.8% 6
Kansas 41% 53%
Kentucky 37% 60%
Louisiana 41% 54%
Maine 55% 43%
Maryland 61% 31%
Massachusetts 63% 30%
Michigan 52% 45%
Minnesota 54% 43%
Missouri 47% 50%
Mississippi 44% 51%
Montana 41% 54%
Nebraska 40% 54%
Nevada 53% 43%
New Hampshire 52% 45%
New Jersey 61% 38%
New Mexico 54% 37%
New York 62% 36%
North Carolina 50% 47%
North Dakota 39% 57%
Ohio 51% 47%
Oklahoma 32% 64%
Oregon 56% 38%
Pennsylvania 51% 46%
Rhode Island 60% 37%
South Carolina 45% 53%
South Dakota 37% 56%
Tennessee 39% 56%
Texas 47% 50%
Utah 30.2% 33.9% 34.8% 6
Vermont 66% 30%
Virginia 52% 43%
Washington 58% 36%
West Virginia 27% 67%
Wisconsin 51% 46%
Wyoming 24% 66%


2012 House

GOP pickups

  • AZ-1 (open)
  • AZ-2
  • MA-6
  • NY-1
  • NY-21
  • NC-7
  • UT-4

GOP holds

  • CA-7
  • CA-26
  • CA-36
  • CA-52
  • FL-18
  • IL-10
  • IL-17
  • NH-1
  • NY-18
  • NY-24
  • TX-23
  • "Mitt Romney announces bid to be US president in 2012", BBC. June 2, 2011
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Gardini, Fausto. "The Demise of the Luxemburger Gazette". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Shear, Michael (May 11, 2011) "Video: Gingrich Announces for President", The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2011.
  • Montopoli, Brian (May 2, 2012) "Newt Gingrich suspends presidential campaign", CBS News. Retrieved May 2, 2012.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite newsTemplate:Dead link
  • Template:Cite news
  • Gardini, Fausto. "The Demise of the Luxemburger Gazette". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • "Huntsman's sly web strategy", The Hill. May 11, 2011.
  • "Jon Huntsman: My Mormonism is 'tough to define'", Politico. May 12, 2011.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Green, Joshua (May 21, 2011) "Herman Cain Makes It Official", The Atlantic. Retrieved May 21, 2011.
  • Creed, Ryan (May 21, 2011) "Herman Cain, Former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, Announces His Candidacy", ABC News. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Gardini, Fausto. "The Demise of the Luxemburger Gazette". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Template:Cite news
  • Gardini, Fausto. "The Demise of the Luxemburger Gazette". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Gardini, Fausto. "The Demise of the Luxemburger Gazette". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  • Steinmetz, Katy (July 11, 2012) "The Green Team: Jill Stein's Third-Party Bid to Shake Up 2012", Time.com. Retrieved July 11, 2012.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Gardini, Fausto. "The Demise of the Luxemburger Gazette". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  • Template:Cite news
  • Gardini, Fausto. "The Demise of the Luxemburger Gazette". Archived from the original on 2006-02-08. Retrieved on 2006-07-23.
  • Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.