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2012 Presidential Election

Electoral College and Popular Vote Results


President Barack Obama wins the 2012 presidential election

President Barack Obama waves to supports after winning the 2012 presidential election on Nov. 6, 2012.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images News

Democrat Barack Obama won a second term as president of the United States in the 2012 presidential election, held on Nov. 6 of that year. Obama enjoyed a decisive victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the Electoral College results, but won a much narrower margin in the popular vote.

Electoral Vote Results in 2012

Obama won 303 electoral votes to Romney's 206 electoral votes, at last count. The president was likely to pick up 29 more electoral votes when officials in Florida finished counting, giving him a total of 332 electoral votes.

Obama won nearly all of the major battleground states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania, both of which offered large prizes in the Electoral College sweepstakes. A candidate needs only 270 elector votes to win the presidency.

Electoral Vote Results in 2008

Obama's victory in the 2012 presidential election was not as large as his Electoral College margin in 2008, when he won his first term in the White House. The former U.S. senator from Illinois won 365 electoral votes to Republican presidential nominee John McCain's 173 electoral votes. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, picked up two states in 2012 that Obama won in 2008: Indiana and North Carolina.

Popular Vote Results in 2012

Obama won the national popular vote by more than 2 percentage points, a relatively large margin considering most presidential contests in modern history have been closer. The president won about 60.5 million votes or 50.4 percent of the popular vote. Romney won 57.7 million votes or 48.1 percent of the popular vote.

Popular Vote Results in 2008

Obama's margin of victory in the popular vote was less in 2012 than it was in 2008. During his first campaign Obama won 69.5 million votes or 52.9 percent to McCain's 59.9 million votes or 45.7 percent.

Key Issues

The most important issue in the 2012 presidential election was, without question, the economy. The campaign took place over 18 months of a poor economic recovery in the wake of The Great Recession. At the time of the November election in 2012, the national unemployment rate was nearly 8 percent.

In exit polls conducted by The Associated Press, voters overwhelmingly said the believed Obama was better equipped to fix the economy, which about 40 percent of voters said had begun to improve over the president's first term. The exit polls found that Americans largely blamed former President George W. Bush instead of Obama for the country's economic problems.

Many voters felt Romney's wealth made him incapable of understanding or relating to the struggle facing middle-class Americans. More than half of voters said Romney would show favortism toward the wealthiest Americans.

Third Party Candidates

Obama and Romney were not the only candidates running in the 2012 presidential election. The most visible third-party candidate in 2012 was Libertarian Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico. Another third-party candidate who was able get on ballots across the country was Jill Stein of the Green Party. Stein was a physician from Massachusetts.

Important Moments

One of the most important moments in the 2012 presidential election was the first of three debates between Obama and Romney. Many political analysts credited Romney's strong performance, and Obama's lackluster one, with reviving the challenger's campaign heading into the final weeks of the race.


Two of the most widely covered controversies in the 2012 president election centered on less-the-elegant comments from both candidates.

Romney, who was trying to escape Obama's portrayal of him as a wealthy and insensitive capitalist, was caught on videotape complaining about Americans who rely on government services.

"... there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them.
"These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people--I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Obama, meantime, was forced to defend remarks that suggested small business owners who founded and built up their businesses "didn't build that" on their own. Republicans seized on the comment and portrayed Obama as an advocate for big government.

Said Obama: "If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen."

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