By Jueseppi B.
|Presidential election results map
Blue denotes states/districts won by Obama/Biden
Red denotes those won by Romney/Ryan
Numbers indicate electoral votes allotted to the winner of each state
The United States presidential election of 2012 was the 57th quadrennial presidential election and took place on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. The Democratic nominee, President Barack Obama, and his running mate, Vice President Joe Biden, were elected to a second term. Their major challengers were the Republican nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Four major debates were held during the last weeks of the campaign: three presidential and one vice-presidential. Issues debated included the economy and jobs, the national deficit, social policy, immigration and foreign policy. Although most major media outlets insisted the election was too close to predict a winner in advance, analysts using statistical models, bookmakers and betting markets had President Obama as a clear favorite to win.
On November 6, by around 11:15 PM EST, most major television networks projected the winners would be Obama and Biden. At about 1:00 AM EST (6:00 AM GMT) on November 7, Romney conceded the election to President Obama, just as the polls in Alaska were closing. As of November 10, the electoral outcomes of all 50 states and the District of Columbia had been definitively projected, with final vote counts still outstanding in some states. President Obama carried all the states and districts (among states that allocate electoral votes by district) he had won in the 2008 election except North Carolina, Indiana and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district.
State changes to voter registration and electoral rules
In 2011, several state legislatures enacted new laws, particularly related to voter identification and electoral process, that were attacked by the Democratic Party as attempts to suppress voting among its supporters and to improve the Republican Party’s presidential prospects. For some time, Republican supporters have been trying to make an issue of voter fraud, although their allegations have been repeatedly disproved. Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee, and West Virginia state legislatures approved measures to shorten early voting periods.
Florida and Iowa barred all felons from voting. Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin 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. President 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 disfranchised most blacks from voting and excluded them from the political process for more than six decades. Clinton said the moves would effectively disfranchise core voter blocs that trend liberal, including college students, Blacks, and Latinos. Rolling Stone magazine criticized the American Legislative Exchange Council 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. Republicans claim they are trying to cut down on “voter fraud”, although it has not been documented as a significant problem in any state.
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.
Early voting in some of the states began in September or October and continued as late as November 5. The election will proceed as follows:
- November 6, 2012 – Election Day.
- December 17, 2012 – Electoral College will formally elect a President and Vice President.
- January 3, 2013 – The 113th Congress is sworn in.
- January 6, 2013 – Electoral votes are formally counted before a joint session of Congress.
- January 20, 2013 – Oaths of office are taken by the President and Vice President; the new presidential term starts at noon.
- January 21, 2013 – Inauguration Day (as the 20th falls on a Sunday).
The first results available were from Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, with 5 votes for Obama and 5 for Romney, and from Hart’s Location, New Hampshire, with 23 votes for Obama, nine for Romney, and one for Gary Johnson. Both towns vote at midnight each election, and results are available shortly thereafter. Additional results became available after the polls closed, beginning at 7 PM Eastern Time.
There were several firsts this election. For the first time, a sitting President voted early. For the first time, candidates spent over $1 billion in advertising. Total cost in all campaigns was close to $5.8 billion, about $50/voter. Two astronauts on the International Space Station voted from space using ballots which were transmitted to them over the weekend.
For the first time, voters in New Jersey were permitted to vote using e-mail. Election officials were not prepared for the 15 minutes it took to validate each request. As a result, they extended e-mail voting until Friday, November 9.
Obamas and Bidens embrace following television announcement of result.
The election of 2012 was the first in U.S. history in which both major party candidates received more than 60 million votes. It also marks the first time since 1820 that three consecutive American presidents have achieved reelection, as well as the first time since 1944 and Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s last re-election that a Democratic presidential candidate has succeeded in winning a majority of the popular vote in two consecutive elections.
Only three candidates of the modern Democratic party have secured a majority of the popular vote in consecutive elections: Andrew Jackson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Obama. Before Obama in 2012, Ronald Reagan was the last president to win 50% or more of the popular vote in consecutive presidential elections.
Obama is the only one of the three sitting U.S. senators to have been elected president who later won reelection; the others, Warren G. Harding and John F. Kennedy, died in office during their first terms. However, Obama became the only President in United States history elected to a second term with a smaller number of both electoral and popular votes than his first victory.
Indiana, North Carolina, and Nebraska’s 2nd congressional district are the only electoral votes Obama won in the 2008 election that he did not win in 2012. Obama is the only other Democrat besides Bill Clinton to win an election without carrying the state of North Carolina.
Third-party voting was not significant in the outcome, but Gary Johnson’s 1.2 million votes set an all-time Libertarian Party record, and his 0.99% of the popular vote is the second-best showing for a Libertarian in a presidential election, trailing only Ed Clark‘s 1.06% in 1980. Collectively, third-party candidates earned about 1.7% of the popular vote, the highest since receiving 3.75% in the 2000 election.
After the networks called Ohio for Barack Obama, Mitt Romney was at first reluctant to concede the race, as many counties in Ohio were still outstanding. Once Colorado was called for the President, however, in tandem with Obama’s apparent lead in Florida, Romney realized he had lost and conceded.
Despite public polling suggesting Romney was behind in the swing states, his campaign said they were genuinely surprised by the loss, having believed that public polling was oversampling Democrats. One factor was a disorganization in getting voters to the polls, in Project ORCA. The Romney campaign had already set up a transition website, and had scheduled and purchased a fireworks display to celebrate in case he won the election
Financial markets, the media and other countries’ political leaderships reacted with both positive and mixed messages. Most world leaders congratulated and praised Barack Obama on his re-election victory; however, Venezuela and some other states had tempered reactions; Pakistan commented that Romney’s defeat madePakistan-United States relations more safe. Notably, international reactions came from Kenya, where Sarah Obama led the celebration. Stock markets fell noticeably after the President’s re-election, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average, NASDAQ and the S&P 500 each declining over two percent the day after the election.
Reasons given for the sharp drop were the potential “fiscal cliff” looming over the United States, because of a split Congress; in addition, speculators are hedging on differences between the Executive and the House of Representatives as a result of differing political control of each institution. There are also renewed concerns about Europe’s debt crisis following warnings given by the European Central Bank‘s President
President Obama’s Election Night Victory Speech – November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois
President Obama: “I’m Really Proud of All of You.”