The 2012 US presidential election saw Barack Obama of the Democrats take on the Republican Mitt Romney. It was the 57th presidential election in the country’s history.
Obama, the incumbent President going into the election, which took place on 6 November, faced no real opposition in securing the Democratic nomination, with Vice President Joe Biden named as his running mate. Romney, meanwhile, had to fight off challenges from various notable figures in the party – including former Libertarian nominee Ron Paul and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty – to eventually claim the Republican nomination.
As is often the case, the election campaign was hard fought and the results hinged on what are known as the swing states – those with no clear, presupposed affiliation with one party or the other.
During the voting there was a turnout of 58.2 per cent of eligible voters. In the end Obama ran out the victor, winning both the popular and electoral vote.
Obama received 51.06 per cent of the popular vote to Romney’s 47.2 per cent, but it is the electoral vote – decided by the members of the Electoral College – that ultimately decides. The electors are chosen by the popular vote of each state and are almost always loyal to a particular presidential and vice presidential candidate, except in Maine and Nebraska, which operate on a ‘winner takes it all basis’. At present a candidate needs 270 electoral votes to win the election – in 2012 Obama received 332 of the electoral votes, with Romney getting the remaining 206.
For the most part there was little surprise when the results came in. The Republicans (blue) received most of the votes in the mid and southern states, with the Democrats (red) taking the west coast and the north-east.
Crucially however, in the all important swing states, Obama proved more successful. In the four states where the margin of victory was under five per cent (or 75 electoral votes), the man standing for re-election won three. These were: Florida (by 0.88 per cent), Ohio (2.98 per cent), and Virginia (3.87 per cent). Romney and the Republicans won North Carolina by 2.04 per cent.
Meanwhile, in those states where the winning margin was between five and 10 per cent Obama won nine to Romney’s four. These states were: Colorado (5.37 per cent), Pennsylvania (5.39 per cent), New Hampshire (5.58 per cent), Iowa (5.81 per cent), Nevada (6.68 per cent), Wisconsin (6.94 per cent), Minnesota (7.69 per cent), Maine’s 2nd Congressional District (8.56 per cent) and Michigan (9.50 per cent); Romney won Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District (7.16 per cent), Georgia (7.82 per cent), Arizona (9.06 per cent) and Missouri (9.38 per cent).
In what was always likely to come down to a dozen or so key states, Obama excelled. Of particular importance was winning Florida, which has become the most hotly contested state between the two parties in recent times, demonstrated by the fact the result was decided by less than one per cent either way.
Ultimately, Obama and the Democrats secured a convincing victory, winning both the popular and electoral vote. In the results Obama also became the first candidate to secure at least 51 per cent of the popular vote in two elections since Dwight Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956. Romney, meanwhile, became the first candidate to lose his home seat since Al Gore lost the state of Texas to Republican George W Bush in 2000, although Romney lost by 23 per cent, the worst margin since John Fremont in 1856.
"2012 US Presidential Election Results". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.