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.
- 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
States won by Republicans
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.
- Main articles: Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2012 and 2012 Democratic National Convention
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.
Democratic Party ticket, 2012
|Barack Obama||Joe Biden|
|for President||for Vice President|
President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
- 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.
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.
|Mitt Romney||Paul Ryan|
|for President||for Vice President|
| 70th Governor of Massachusetts|
| U.S. Representative from Wisconsin|
- Ron Paul, U.S. Representative from Texas (ended active campaigning on May 14, 2012; endorsed Gary Johnson continued to seek delegates from earlier primaries).
- Fred Karger, Political consultant and gay rights activist from California (withdrew June 29, 2012).
- Newt Gingrich, former U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, from Georgia (withdrew on May 2, 2012, and endorsed Mitt Romney)
- Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania (withdrew on April 10, 2012, and endorsed Mitt Romney)
- Buddy Roemer, former governor of Louisiana (withdrew on February 22, 2012, to run for the nominations of Americans Elect and the Reform Party, then endorsed Gary Johnson)
- Rick Perry, Governor of Texas (withdrew on January 19, 2012, and endorsed Newt Gingrich, then Mitt Romney after Gingrich withdrew)
- Jon Huntsman, Jr., former U.S. ambassador to China and former governor of Utah (withdrew on January 16, 2012, and endorsed Mitt Romney)
- Michele Bachmann, U.S. Representative from Minnesota (withdrew on January 4, 2012, and endorsed Mitt Romney)
- Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico (withdrew on December 28, 2011, to run for the nomination of the Libertarian Party, endorsed Ron Paul)
- Herman Cain, businessman from Georgia (withdrew on December 3, 2011, and endorsed Newt Gingrich, then Mitt Romney after Gingrich withdrew)
- Thaddeus McCotter, U.S. Representative from Michigan (withdrew on September 22, 2011, and endorsed Mitt Romney)
- Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota (withdrew on August 14, 2011, and endorsed Mitt Romney)
Third party and other nominations
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.
- Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. Vice-presidential nominee: Jim Gray, retired state court judge, from California
- Jill Stein, medical doctor from Massachusetts. Vice-presidential nominee: Cheri Honkala, social organizer, from Pennsylvania.
- Virgil Goode, former Representative from Virginia. Vice-presidential nominee: Jim Clymer from Pennsylvania
- Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City and founding member of the Justice Party, from Utah. Vice-presidential nominee: Luis J. Rodriguez from California.
|State|| Barack Obama|
| Mitt Romney|
| Electoral Votes|
- AZ-1 (open)
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