Election 2012

The Race for President and Congress

On the ballot in Election 2012 are President Barack Obama, each of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and a third of the 100-member U.S. Senate. The major issues in Election 2012 are job creation and the economy, although conservative presidential and congressional candidates made social issues such as abortion and contraception part of their platforms.

Table of Contents

  • The Presidential Candidates
  • President Barack Obama
  • Mitt Romney
  • Rick Santorum
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Ron Paul
  • Key Issues in Election 2012
  • Election and Voting Info
  • Key Congressional Races

Presidential Race

President Barack Obama speaks to supporters at a campaign rally at Ohio State University on May 5, 2012
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The Democratic Incumbent

Barack Obama
President Barack Obama is seeking re-election to a second term in the White House. Pool / Getty Images News

The former U.S. senator from Illinois is seeking a second term in the White House, but must convince an electorate that has been battered by a poor economy and high unemployment. His signature legislative accomplishment, the reform of the nation's health care system, was met with skepticism among voters and the target of state attorneys general who claimed its individual mandate is unconstitutional. More »

Republican Candidates

Mitt Romney
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Mario Tama / Getty Images News

The former Massachusetts governor was widely expected to capture the Republican presidential nomination easily and early in the primary season. But he faltered on his way to the party convention because many Republican voters questioned his credentials as a conservative. He also didn't win the nomination earlier, many felt, because of the Republican Party's new delegate rules. His wife Ann Romney also came under fire during the primaries. More »

Rick Santorum
Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. Mario Tama / Getty Images News

The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania was a hit among Tea Party conservatives and evangelical voters who briefly held the frontrunner status. But his campaign lacked organization and money. His name did not appear on the ballot in some states. He abandoned his campaign in April 2012 after running out of money and caring for his 3-year-old daughter Bella, who was born with a rare genetic condition. More »

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich
Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich. Mario Tama / Getty Images News

The former U.S. House speaker and conservative firebrand led the Republican revolution in the mid-1990s. But his campaign struggled to gain traction in most of the primaries and caucuses in the primary battle in 2012.

Ron Paul

Ron Paul
Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul. Alex Wong / Getty Images News

The congressman from Texas is popular among libertarians and young voters, and his campaign strategy focused on delegates, not popular vote totals. Still, that was not nearly enough to get him close to the nomination.

Key Issues in the 2012 Presidential Race

  • Gay Marriage: Obama announced he supports allowing same-sex couples to marry, drawing a clear distinction between himself and Romney and earning the president the symbolic label of "first gay president."
  • Endorsements: Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin and Chris Christie were some of the most coveted endorsements of the 2012 Republican presidential battle. Find out who they backed during the primaries and whether it really mattered at all.
  • Wealth: How much each presidential was worth became an issue, particularly in the Republican primary when Romney's substantial net worth was used to portray him as being out of touch with blue-collar voters. The front-runner for the GOP nomination was also criticized for being less than transparent in releasing his tax returns to the public.
  • Economy: Election 2012 was supposed to be about one thing: jobs, jobs, jobs. Read about plans put forth to create those jobs by Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, President Obama and the other candidates.
  • Abortion & Contraception: Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Republican primary was the emergence of social issues, particularly birth control, as dominant issues. The candidate who capitalized the most was clearly Santorum, whose credentials as a social conservative went unquestioned. Find out where the former U.S. senator stands on those important issues.
  • Immigration: President Obama struggled to achieve substantive immigration reform in his first term, and has promised to work toward that goal if voters award him four more years in the White House. Obama's prospective Republican challengers have their own and in some cases very different ideas on immigration reform.
  • Foreign Policy: President Obama's record on foreign policy during his first term has been described as a mixture of multilateralism and bold action. Santorum, meantime, has campaigned on foreign policy experience gained during his tenure as a U.S. senator. Romney's positions, meantime, are strikingly similar to those held by Obama.
  • Online Piracy: Lawmakers were debating legislation that would give the federal government broad new powers to crack down on foreign websites that distribute pirated movies, music and other products. A pair of bills, SOPA and PIPA, generated lots of controversy.
  • Keystone Pipeline: The controversial plan to build a $7 billion pipeline to carry oil from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries became part of the Election 2012 debate, particularly when it came to how many jobs the project would really create.
  • Taxing Millionaires: President Obama and Republicans in Congress differed over the so-called Buffett Rule, a plan outlined in the State of the Union address to raise taxes on Americans who earn more than $1 million a year but pay a smaller portion of their earnings to the government than do middle-class workers. The two sides managed to reach a measure of accord on reducing the payroll tax.

Election and Voting Information

Key Congressional Races

U.S. Senate

  • Key Races: There are 33 seats up for grabs in Election 2012. Democrats controlled the upper chamber of Congress heading into the election, but Republicans were hoping to wrest it back and hold majorities in both the House and Senate. Here's a state-by-state breakdown of important U.S. Senate contests.