Republican Party presidential primaries, 2012

Republican Party presidential primaries, 2012
United States
January 3 to July 14, 2012

Candidate Mitt Romney Rick Santorum
Home state Massachusetts Pennsylvania
Delegate count 1,575 245
Contests won 42[1] 11[1]
Popular vote 10,031,336[2] 3,932,069[2]
Percentage 52.1% 20.4%

Candidate Ron Paul Newt Gingrich
Home state Texas Georgia
Delegate count 177 138
Contests won 1[1] 2[1]
Popular vote 2,095,795[2] 2,734,570[2]
Percentage 10.9% 14.2%

First place finishes by popular vote

  Mitt Romney (42)
  Rick Santorum (11)

  Newt Gingrich (2)
  Ron Paul (1)

First place finishes by delegate allocation

  Mitt Romney (45)
  Rick Santorum (6)

  Ron Paul (4)
  Newt Gingrich (2)

First place finishes by convention roll call

  Mitt Romney (53)

  Ron Paul (3)

Previous Republican nominee

John McCain

Republican nominee

Mitt Romney

The 2012 Republican presidential primaries were the selection processes in which voters of the Republican Party elected state delegations to the Republican National Convention. The national convention then selected its nominee to run for President of the United States in the 2012 presidential election. There were 2,286 delegates chosen,[3] and a candidate needed to accumulate 1,144 delegate votes at the convention to win the nomination.[4] The caucuses allocated delegates to the respective state delegations to the national convention, but the actual election of the delegates were, many times, at a later date. Delegates were elected in different ways that vary from state to state. They could be elected at local conventions, selected from slates submitted by the candidates, selected at committee meetings, or elected directly at the caucuses and primaries.

The primary contest began in 2011 with a fairly wide field. Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and the runner-up in the 2008 primaries, had been preparing to run for president ever since the 2008 election,[5] and was from early on the favorite to win the nomination. However, he lacked support from the party's conservative wing and the media narrative became: "Who will be the anti-Romney candidate?"[6] Several candidates rose in the polls throughout the year. However, the field was down to four candidates by February 2012: Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Congressman Ron Paul, former Governor Romney and former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum. It was the first presidential primary to be affected by a Supreme Court ruling that allowed unlimited independent expenditures to support or oppose candidates through super PACs.

Three different candidates won the first three contests. Santorum, who had been running a one-state campaign in Iowa, narrowly won in that state's caucuses by a handful of votes over Romney (who was thought to have won the caucuses before a recount). Romney won New Hampshire, but lost South Carolina to Gingrich. From there, Romney regained his momentum by winning the crucial state of Florida, while Santorum took his campaign national and carried three more states before Super Tuesday, while Romney carried seven states.

Super Tuesday primaries took place on March 6. With ten states voting and 391 delegates being allocated, it had less than half the potential impact of its 2008 predecessor. Romney carried six states and Santorum three, while Gingrich won his home state of Georgia. Twelve more events were held in March, including all of the territorial contests and the first local conventions that allocated delegates (Wyoming's county conventions). Santorum won Kansas and three Southern primaries, but was unable to make any significant gains on Romney, who maintained a solid lead over all other contenders after securing more than half of the delegates allocated in the month of March.

Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10, a week after losing Wisconsin and two other primaries to Romney. Gingrich followed suit on May 2, after the Republican National Committee (RNC) declared Romney the presumptive nominee on April 25 and put its resources behind him. On May 14, Paul announced that he would suspend funding the remaining primary contests and devote his resources to winning delegates at state conventions. He then won majorities in delegations of three states whose non-binding primaries had been in favor of other candidates.[7] On May 29, Romney reached the nominating threshold of 1,144 delegates by most projected counts following his primary win in Texas[8] and was congratulated by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus for "securing the delegates needed to be our party's official nominee at our convention in Tampa."[9] With his subsequent victories in California and several smaller states, Romney surpassed a majority of bound delegates on June 5.

Romney chose congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate but they went on to lose the general election to incumbent President Barack Obama.

Primaries and state conventions

Five states had delegate nomination rules which reversed the popular vote
States with a majority of their delegates still uncommitted in July, 2012
Candidate Most recent office Delegate
Hard Count
Soft Count
Candidacy Delegations with plurality[1]
Mitt Romney
Governor of Massachusetts

1,462 1,524 Secured nomination:
May 29, 2012

  AK, AS, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, D.C., FL, GU, HI, ID, IL, IN, KY  
Rick Santorum
  U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania  
234 261 Withdrew:
April 10, 2012
Ron Paul
U.S. Representative
for Texas's 14th

154 190 Lost nomination:
August 30, 2012
 Speaker of the United States
House of Representatives

137 142 Withdrew:
May 2, 2012

Timeline of the race

The primary contests took place from January 3 to July 14 and elected and allocated 2,286 voting delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in the week of August 27. To become the Republican Party's nominee for the 2012 presidential election a candidate needed a majority of 1,144 delegates to vote for him and plurality in five state delegations. The 2012 race was significantly different from earlier races. Many states switched from their old winner-take-all allocation to proportional allocation. Many remaining winner-take-all states allocated delegates to both the winner of each congressional district and the winner of the state. The change was made to prolong the race, giving lesser known candidates a chance and making it harder for a frontrunner to secure the majority early. It was also hoped that this change in the election system would energize the base of the party.[12][13]

Most of the candidates started their campaigns in mid-2011, but after the first two primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire, only four well-funded campaigns (Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul) remained for the Republican Party nomination; Gary Johnson had withdrawn to run on the Libertarian ticket, and Buddy Roemer sought the American Elect nomination. At the beginning of May, Gingrich and Santorum suspended their campaigns; Romney was widely reported as the presumptive nominee, with Paul the only other major candidate running an active campaign.

Tim Pawlenty presidential campaign, 2012 Thaddeus McCotter presidential campaign, 2012 Herman Cain presidential campaign, 2012 Gary Johnson presidential campaign, 2012 Gary Johnson presidential campaign, 2012 Michele Bachmann presidential campaign, 2012 Jon Huntsman presidential campaign, 2012 Rick Perry presidential campaign, 2012 Buddy Roemer presidential campaign, 2012 Buddy Roemer presidential campaign, 2012 Rick Santorum presidential campaign, 2012 Newt Gingrich presidential campaign, 2012 Ron Paul presidential campaign, 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign, 2012

Beginning (2011)

Tim Pawlenty (left) and Thaddeus McCotter (right) both dropped out early in the race.
Herman Cain suspended his campaign on December 3 after media reports of alleged sexual misconduct.

The 2008 Republican National Convention decided that the 2012 primary schedule generally would be subject to the same rules as the 2008 delegate selection contests,[14] but on August 6, 2010, the Republican National Committee (RNC) adopted new rules for the timing of elections, with 103 votes in favor out of 144.[15] Under this plan, allocation of delegates to the national convention were to be divided into three periods:[16]

Several states, most notably Florida, scheduled their allocating contests earlier than prescribed, and in response every traditional early state except Nevada pushed their contests back into January. As a result of their violation of RNC rules, these states were penalized with a loss of half their delegates, including voting right for RNC delegates. Despite having early caucuses, Iowa, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri were not penalized because their contests did not allocate national delegates.[17]

The start of the 2012 Republican race for president was shaped by the 13 presidential debates of 2011, which began on May 5. Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer, both former Governors, were left out of most of the debates, leading to complaints of bias.[18] On December 28, 2011, Johnson withdrew to seek the Libertarian Party nomination and on February 23, 2012, Roemer withdrew to seek the Reform Party and the Americans Elect nomination.

Two candidates from the 2008 presidential primaries, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, ran again in the 2012 primary campaign. Mitt Romney was the early frontrunner, and he maintained a careful, strategic campaign that centered on being an establishment candidate. In the summer of 2011, Romney had a lead in polls and the support of much of the Republican leadership and electorate.[19] However, his lead over the Republican field was precarious, and the entry of new candidates drew considerable media attention. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann started her campaign in June and surged in the polls after winning the Ames, Iowa, straw poll in August, knocking out former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, who both withdrew after their poor showings in the non-binding Straw Poll failed to revive their struggling campaigns. Bachmann's momentum was short-lived. The same day that the Ames Straw Poll was being held, Texas Governor Rick Perry was drafted by strong national Republican support. He performed strongly in polls, immediately becoming a serious contender, and soon displaced Bachmann as Romney's major opponent.[20] Perry in turn lost the momentum following poor performances in the September debates, and the third major opponent to Romney's lead, Herman Cain, surged after the sixth debate on September 22. In November, Cain's viability as a candidate was seriously jeopardized after several allegations of sexual harassment surfaced in the media. Although Cain denied the allegations, the fallout from the controversy forced him to suspend his campaign on December 3, 2011.

In November, as Herman Cain's campaign was stumbling, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich rose in the polls and asserted himself as the fourth major opponent to Romney.[21] Gingrich had come back from serious staff problems in his campaign just weeks after he had entered the race in May that had seemingly derailed his campaign for the nomination.[22] But in the weeks before the Iowa caucus, Gingrich's new-found lead began to quickly evaporate as super PACs sympathetic to Mitt Romney and others spent over $4.4 million in negative advertising targeting the former Speaker.[23][24] With Gingrich's support faltering, Ron Paul surged to the lead in Iowa.[25] Rick Santorum, who despite spending months traveling to all 99 counties in Iowa and holding some 381 town hall meetings, was polling in the single digits in Iowa as late as December 18.[26] However, in the final weeks of 2011, Santorum positioned himself as the prime opposition to Romney with his staunch socially conservative views.[27]

On the eve of the January 3, 2012 Iowa Caucus, the first real contest of the primary season, Paul, Santorum and Romney were all viewed as possible winners.

Early states (January to March)

Gary Johnson (left) withdrew on December 28 and Buddy Roemer (right) on February 23, both to run for nomination by other parties.

In 2012 there were 13 state contests before Super Tuesday, seven caucuses and 5 primaries. Missouri had a nonbinding straw poll in the form of a primary. Santorum spent months in Iowa, traveling to all 99 counties and holding some 381 town hall meetings.[28] This one state campaign succeeded when he tied with Romney in the Iowa Caucuses on January 3. This first in the nation caucus propelled him into a national campaign while it ended Michele Bachmann's campaign. On the night of the caucuses, Romney was reported the winner of Iowa by only eight votes over Santorum,[29] but after the results were certified, Santorum was declared the winner, beating Romney by 34 votes, despite the results from 8 districts being lost.[30][31] Newt Gingrich said after Iowa that his positive campaign had been a weakness, and had allowed his rivals to gain the upper hand through negative attacks paid by super PACs supporting them.[32]

Mitt Romney easily won the next contest, New Hampshire, his win seen as a given. Romney had persistently shown popularity in that state, but rivals were intensely fighting for a second-place finish there.[33] Jon Huntsman, Jr., a moderate, had staked his candidacy on New Hampshire and invested heavily in at least a strong second place showing, but after 150 campaign events in the state he ended third after Paul. Both he and Rick Perry dropped out of the race shortly before voting day in South Carolina and the two delegates allocated to Huntsman became unbound.[34]

Romney was expected to virtually clinch the nomination with a win in South Carolina, but Gingrich, from neighboring Georgia, waged an aggressive and successful campaign winning all but one of the state's congressional districts.[35] The Gingrich victory in South Carolina, together with two strong debate performances, gave him a second surge, opening the race to a longer and more unpredictable campaign.

Romney did regain some of his momentum in the next two weeks and won the Florida primary and the Nevada caucuses. However, the race shifted again on February 7, when Santorum swept all three Midwestern states voting that day. By doing so he made a case for himself as the 'Not-Romney' candidate and disrupted Romney's narrative as the unstoppable frontrunner.[36]

Following his victories on February 7, Santorum received a huge boost in momentum as conservatives seeking an alternative to Romney began leaving Gingrich for Santorum. Numerous polls taken after Santorum's victories showed him either leading Romney nationally or close behind.[37][38][39][40][41] To regain momentum Romney shelved his "no straw polls" policy and actively campaigned to win the CPAC straw poll, which he won with 38 percent to Santorum's 31 percent.[42] He also campaigned in Maine, beating Ron Paul by only three percentage points.

Regaining momentum Romney won the remaining four states. The candidates campaigned heavily in Michigan, and even though Romney won the state vote, he won only 7 out of 14 congressional districts, the rest going to Santorum. The allocation of two at-large delegates in the state was before the election was reported to be given proportionally. After the election Michigan GOP officials announced there had been an error in the memo published and that the two delegates would be given to the winner, sparking accusations of Romney rigging the results from Santorum's team.[43] After thirteen contests the GOP field for the presidential nomination was still wide open.

Michele Bachmann suspended her campaign on January 4 after ending up sixth in the Iowa caucus.
Jon Huntsman, Jr. invested heavily in New Hampshire. After finishing third, he suspended his campaign on January 16.
Rick Perry suspended his campaign on January 19 after getting fifth place in Iowa and last in New Hampshire.
% Can show a plurality of delegates
% Straw poll won, but can not show a plurality of delegates
Early states results
Candidates: Newt
Delegates won 24 98 233 38 0 2 0
Popular vote 990,989
States won 1 3 7 0 0 0 0
Districts won (Delegate awarding only) 6 9 10 9 0 0 0
Jan. 3 Iowa 13% (0 delegates) 21% (22 delegates) 25% (6 delegates) 25% (0 delegates) 10% (0 delegates) 1% (0 delegates) 5% (0 delegates)
Jan. 10 New Hampshire 9% (0 delegates)
23% (3 delegates)
39% (7 delegates) 9% (0 delegates) 1% (0 delegates) 17% (2 delegates)
Jan. 21 South Carolina 40% (23 delegates) 13% (0 delegates) 28% (2 delegates) 17% (0 delegates)
Jan. 31 Florida 32% (0 delegates) 7% (0 delegates) 46% (50 delegates) 13% (0 delegates)
Feb. 4 Nevada 21% (0 delegates) 19% (8 delegates) 50% (20 delegates) 10% (0 delegates)
Feb. 7 Colorado 13% (0 delegates) 12% (0 delegates) 35% (13 delegates) 40% (6 delegates)
Missouri 0% (1 delegate) 12% (4 delegates) 25% (31 delegates) 55% (13 delegates)
Minnesota 11% (0 delegates) 27% (32 delegates) 17% (1 delegate) 45% (2 delegates)
Feb. 4–11 Maine 6% (0 delegates) 36% (20 delegates) 38% (2 delegates) 18% (0 delegates)
Feb. 28 Arizona 16% (0 delegates) 8% (3 delegates) 47% (26 delegates) 27% (0 delegates)
Michigan 7% (0 delegates) 12% (0 delegates) 41% (16 delegates) 38% (14 delegates)
Feb. 11–29 Wyoming 8% (0 delegates) 21% (1 delegate) 39% (22 delegates) 32% (2 delegates)
Mar. 3 Washington 10% (0 delegates) 25% (5 delegates) 38% (37 delegates) 24% (1 delegate)

† The state did not allocate any delegates at its primary election, they were elected later.

Super Tuesday (March 6)

Main article: Super Tuesday, 2012
The ten Super Tuesday states

Super Tuesday 2012 took place March 6 when the most simultaneous state presidential primary elections was held in the United States. This election cycle's edition of Super Tuesday, where 17.1 percent of all delegates was allocated, was considerably smaller than the 2008 edition, where 41.5 percent of all delegates was allocated (twenty-one states with 901 delegates).[44] In 2012 delegates were allocated in primaries in seven states and their sixty five congressional districts together with binding caucuses in two states.[45]

North Dakota did not allocate any delegates at their caucuses, but had a consultative straw poll that the NDGOP leadership was required to use as a basic for making a party recommended slate of delegates. The persons on this slate was elected delegates at the April 1 state convention. According to Santorum and Paul supporters the slate was not as required based on the straw poll, but gave Romney a large majority of the delegates. The elected delegates have stated that they will divide up in such a way they reflect the caucus result, even if that means to vote for a candidate other than the one they support.[46]

Romney secured more than half of the delegates available on Super Tuesday but did not secure his status as the inevitable nominee. Gingrich pursued a "southern strategy", winning his home state of Georgia, and even though Santorum carried 3 states, he did not win them with a large enough margin to secure his status as the Not-Romney candidate. In the weeks leading up to March 6, both Gingrich and Santorum experienced ballot problems. The biggest issue was failing to appear on the Virginia primary ballot, leaving that race to Romney and Paul.[47] With only two candidates on the ballot, Paul won 40 percent of the votes and carried one of Virginia's eleven congressional districts.[48]

Santorum had also failed to submit full or any delegate slates in nine of Ohio's congressional districts[49] making him unable to win all delegates in those districts. The state became the big battleground of Super Tuesday and its delegates were split between Romney and Santorum, who won three congressional districts where he didn't have a full slate. This created four unallocated delegates, whose status was to be determined later. But Santorum suspended his campaign before the meeting in the Ohio GOP central committee deciding on the delegates took place and Romney dropped the dispute on May 4 in the interest of party unity.[50]

Super Tuesday results
Candidates: Newt
Delegates won 79 15 221 101
Popular vote 836,903
States won 1 0 7 2
Districts won (Delegate awarding only) 12 1 34 18
Alaska 14% (3 delegates) 24% (6 delegates) 33% (8 delegates) 29% (7 delegates)
Georgia 47% (54 delegates) 6% (0 delegates) 26% (19 delegates) 20% (3 delegates)
Idaho 2% (0 delegates) 18% (0 delegates) 62% (32 delegates) 18% (0 delegates)
Massachusetts 5% (0 delegates) 10% (0 delegates) 72% (38 delegates) 12% (0 delegates)
North Dakota 8% (0 delegates) 28% (2 delegates) 24% (20 delegates) 40% (6 delegates)
Ohio 15% (0 delegates) 9% (0 delegates) 38% (25 delegates) 37% (38 delegates)
Oklahoma 27% (13 delegates) 10% (0 delegates) 28% (13 delegates) 34% (14 delegates)
Tennessee 24% (9 delegates) 9% (0 delegates) 28% (14 delegates) 37% (29 delegates)
Vermont 8% (0 delegates) 25% (4 delegates) 40% (9 delegates) 24% (4 delegates)
Virginia 0% (0 delegates) 40% (3 delegates) 60% (43 delegates) 0% (0 delegates)


Mitt Romney on the campaign trail.

After Super Tuesday all five territories had their contests. Puerto Rico held a primary and the four smaller insular areas (Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa and U.S. Virgin Islands) had convention style caucuses where no straw polls were taken, therefore our table does not show popular vote percentages in these rows but the number of delegates committed to each candidate. Romney secured all but two delegates from the territories. Of the six selected delegates from the Virgin Islands, one was elected as uncommitted, and another bound to Paul. On the Virgin Islands every caucus goer had six votes that he or her could cast for six different delegates. Every person wanting to be a delegate needed to pledge to a candidate or declare to be 'uncommitted' before the voting started. The six persons with the most votes became National Convention delegates. Only four persons ran as delegates pledge to Romney and they all got elected. The persons that ran as delegates pledge to Paul got a plurality of the votes, but only one of them was elected.

Missouri began its process of selecting national delegates with its caucuses from March 17 to April 10. The February primary was non-binding and as such nothing more than a non-binding strawpoll. Santorum won The Louisiana delegation securing 10 delegates for himself, but the election process for the major part of the delegates started at the caucuses on April 28.

As the first state with non-binding caucuses Wyoming elected delegates in the week of March 5. At the county conventions one delegate was elected as uncommitted,[51] while eight delegates was committed to Romney, two to Santorum and one to Paul.

By winning three primaries in the South, Santorum disrupted Gingrich's "Southern Strategy" and took the lead as the 'Not-Romney' candidate.[52] Gingrich won one congressional district and secured only 25 delegates in March. Three days after the Louisiana primary he announced a new "National Convention strategy", which includes laying off one-third of the campaign staff and spending less time on the road campaigning.[53] He was at this point running out of money, having more campaign debt than cash on hand.

Romney maintained a solid lead over all other contenders by securing more than half of the delegates allocated or elected in the month of March. He carried all five territories and two states. And even though he did not secure the nomination in March he continued to be the clear and strong front-runner.

Santorum cruised to victory in Louisiana on March 24, reinforcing the narrative of the race thus far that the underdog Santorum could take the fight to the much more deep-pocketed and organized Romney.[54]

Mid-March results
Candidates: Newt
Delegates won 25 7 223 112
Popular vote 311,230
States won 0 0 7 3
Districts won (Delegate awarding only) 1 0 20 14
Mar. 10 Kansas 14% (0 delegates) 13% (0 delegates) 21% (7 delegates) 51% (33 delegates)
Guam 0% (0 delegates) 0% (0 delegates) 96% (9 delegates) 0% (0 delegates)
N. Mariana Islands 3% (0 delegates) 3% (0 delegates) 87% (6 delegates) 6% (0 delegates)
U.S. Virgin Islands 5% (0 delegates) 29% (1 delegate) 27% (7 delegates) 6%
Mar. 13 Alabama 29% (12 delegates) 5% (0 delegates) 29% (10 delegates) 35% (17 delegates)
Hawaii 11% (0 delegates) 19% (3 delegates) 45% (9 delegates) 25% (5 delegates)
Mississippi 31% (12 delegates) 4% (0 delegates) 31% (14 delegates) 33% (13 delegates)
American Samoa (0 delegates) (0 delegates) (9 delegates) (0 delegates)
Mar. 18 Puerto Rico 2% (0 delegates) 1% (0 delegates) 83% (20 delegates) 8% (0 delegates)
Mar. 20 Illinois 8% (0 delegates) 9% (0 delegates) 47% (42 delegates) 35% (12 delegates)
Mar. 24 Louisiana 16% 6% 27% 49%

† The state did not allocate any delegates at its primary election, they were elected later.


Rick Santorum suspended his campaign on April 10 after losing the Wisconsin primary
Newt Gingrich scaled down his campaign on March 27 after losing the Louisiana primary and suspended it on May 2 after losing the Delaware primary

In the last days of March, Romney received many endorsements as party leaders and establishment Republicans started to unite behind him.[55] Most notable were the endorsement of former president George H. W. Bush[56] and the endorsement of Paul Ryan, U.S. representative from Wisconsin and Chairman of the House Committee on the Budget.[57]

Ryan, and U.S. Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson, campaigned with Romney before the April 3 primaries.[58] The Super PACs supporting Romney also helped him to win the state using more than 3 million USD, almost four times more than spend by the Super PAC supporting Santorum in Wisconsin.[59] Santorum only won three districts in Wisconsin with Romney winning the other five and all eight districts in Maryland along with the federal District of Columbia where Santorum was not even on the ballot.[60]

With momentum building for Romney, Santorum interrupted campaigning (as did Romney) for the Easter holiday to give his campaign staff a chance to be with their families. He used the opportunity to meet with "movement conservatives" to strategize.[61] Former Family Research Council chief Gary Bauer, who was present at the sit-down with Santorum, called it a strategy meeting.[62] Four days later, on April 10, 2012, Rick Santorum suspended his campaign without endorsing any other candidate.[63] He was at this point running out of money, having more campaign debt than cash on hand. Santorum won eleven contests (six states that allocated delegates and five non-binding caucus states) and forty-two delegate allocating congressional districts. More than 3.2 million people voted for him and he secured a total of 202 delegates before suspending his campaign. He can show a plurality in six states and that secures him the opportunity of a place on the first ballot nominating the Republican candidate for president at the National Convention.

With Santorum suspending his campaign, Gingrich saw a new hope of reasserting himself as the conservative alternative to Romney. His campaign had been scaling down since his March 24 defeat in the Louisiana primary and was $4.3 million in debt by the end of March.[64] But now it began concentrating on the Delaware primary hoping a win there would be a game changer.[65] The Adelson family that had already supported Gingrich heavily through the "Winning Our Future" super PAC gave another $5 million in late march bringing the PAC's cash on hand up to $5.8 million.[66] But even with all the resources of the Gingrich campaign concentrated in Delaware he still lost the state with 29.4 percent to Romney. On May 2 he officially suspended his campaign.[67] Gingrich won two contest (South Carolina and Georgia) nineteen delegate allocating congressional districts. More than 2.4 million people voted for him and he secured a total of 131 delegates before suspending his campaign. He could only show plurality in two states and was therefore not going to appear on the first ballot nominating the Republican candidate for president at the National Convention.

Four states that didn't allocate delegates at their earlier caucuses had conventions in April. At the Wyoming state convention (April 12–14), just after Santorum had suspended his campaign, the state delegates united behind Romney and all 14 at-large delegates pledged to him. The same did not happen the same weekend at Colorado's state and district conventions. Santorum and Paul supporters came together to form the "Conservative Unity Slate" in an attempt to stop all the National Convention delegates from Colorado from supporting Romney. However, Romney won a narrow plurality in the state delegation despite this opposing slate.[68] Missouri had its district conventions a week after (April 21). Santorum had carried every county at the nonbinding primary in February and many of his supporters threw their support to Romney who got half of the delegates. Paul won one out of the eight district conventions.[69] Minnesota's district conventions were spread out over most of April and they were all but one won by Paul who secured a plurality in the state delegation even before the state convention in May.

Romney won all eight primaries of the month and on April 25 the RNC declared Romney the presumptive nominee, putting resources behind him.[70]

April results
Candidates: Newt
Delegates won 3 9 258 12
Popular vote 191,778
States won 0 0 8 0
Districts won (Delegate awarding only) 0 0 51 1
Apr. 3 Washington D.C. 11% 12% 70%
Maryland 11% 10% 49% 29%
Wisconsin 6% 12% 43% 38%
Apr. 24 Connecticut 10% 13% 67% 7%
Delaware 27% 11% 56% 6%
New York 13% 15% 63% 9%
Pennsylvania 10% 13% 58% 19%
Rhode Island 6% 24% 63% 6%


Ron Paul won a plurality of delegates at several state conventions even though he did not win the popular vote in those states

On May 2, 2012, Newt Gingrich "mothballed" his campaign saying that a second term of president Obama would be disastrous. Gingrich mentioned Republican front-runner Mitt Romney during his press speech, but did not endorse him. He intended to officially endorse Mr. Romney at a "to-be-scheduled event" featuring both Republican leaders. "Today I am suspending the campaign, but suspending the campaign does not mean suspending citizenship," Gingrich said, with his wife Callista at his side.[71][72]

On May 7, 2012, after Romney visited him, Santorum urged his supporters to back Romney's campaign and said, "You can be sure that I will work with the governor to help him in this task to ensure he has a strong team that will support him in his conservative policy initiatives."[73] "We both agree that President Obama must be defeated," Santorum, 53, said in a e-mailed statement last night, "[Romney] clearly understands that having pro-family initiatives are not only the morally and economically right thing to do, but that the family is the basic building block of our society."[74]

On May 14, Paul announced that he would halt campaigning in states that had not yet at that point held their primaries, citing a lack of money needed to do so. Instead, the Paul campaign sought more delegates in state conventions in states that already held primaries.[75]

Continuing on May 15, Romney won the primaries in Oregon and Nebraska with Paul second in Oregon and Santorum second in Nebraska.[76] On May 22, Romney swept Kentucky and Arkansas primaries.[77][78] He claimed to have exceeded the nominating threshold in Texas, May 29.[79] In fourth, Ron Paul worked behind the scenes to secure delegates in local caucuses following state primary elections. He later surpassed Gingrich, but not Santorum, behind front-runner Romney.


On June 5, California, New Jersey, South Dakota, and New Mexico added 264 delegates to the Romney count, bringing his total to 1,480 pledged delegates, exceeding the requisite 1,144 delegates for nomination at the Republican National Convention.[80] Despite this, the following week 123 mostly Paul-aligned delegates, currently legally bound to support Romney at the convention, brought an ongoing federal lawsuit against the RNC and its chairman to instead be able to vote "in accordance with the free exercise of their conscience."[81][82] Paul adviser Jesse Benton commented, "We have nothing to do with it and do not support it."[83]

Also in June, the three remaining states voting in primaries, Utah, Nebraska, and Montana, added the final 101 delegates to attend the Republican National Convention.


On Saturday, July 14, the Nebraska State Republican Convention selected 32 at-large delegates to the Republican National Convention. In addition, three party leaders attend: Nebraska’s National Committeeman, Nebraska’s National Committeewoman, and chairman of the Nebraska Republican Party, who are unpledged delegates by virtue of their position. The prospective delegates indicated their presidential preference (and were bound to vote for that candidate for the first two ballots at the Republican National Convention). This was the last state Republican convention[84] and Romney garnered support of 30 Nebraska delegates; and Ron Paul, the support of two Nebraska delegates.[85][86][87]

All 2,286 delegates were to be finalized before the vote at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, August 27–31.[88]


The Tampa Bay Times Forum hosted the 2012 Republican National Convention.

On August 11, 2012, Romney announced the selection of Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice-presidential running mate. In front of the battleship USS Wisconsin in Virginia, Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell introduced Romney to make his announcement to a cheering and supportive crowd. The announcement came two weeks before the Republican National Convention and led immediately into a bus tour to battleground states.[89][90]

Ron Paul led a rally in Tampa Bay, Florida, on Sunday, the day before the Republican National Convention was to begin. "No matter the outcome of the national convention, Constitutional Conservatism will benefit the nation", a Paul spokesperson said.[91]

Leading into the national convention, preliminary delegate counts {soft, firm} were: Romney{1,545, 1,399}; Paul{173,100}; Santorum{248,251}; Gingrich{142,143}; Others{1,3}; Available{147,63}; and Uncommitted{30,327}. These totals changed as delegates switched their support to Romney or Paul at the convention.[92] A simple majority of 1,144 delegate votes were needed to win nomination.

Within the first hours of convention, each state declared their delegation vote to the nation—Romney won the nomination with 2,061 delegate votes.[93] Other candidates, including Bachmann, Santorum, and mainly Ron Paul, garnered 202 votes, with 23 delegates abstaining. The Romney-Ryan ticket was formalized.

The final official votes for the Republican nominees for president and vice president took place at the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida—the three-day convention from Tuesday, August 28, to Thursday, August 30. The 2012 Democratic National Convention followed in the first week of September in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Schedule and process

The primary elections took place from January 3 to July 14 and allocated and elected 2,286 voting delegates and 2,125 alternate delegates in 56 delegations to the 2012 Republican National Convention in the week of August 27.[94]

The total base number of delegates allocated to each of the 50 U.S. states is 10 at-large delegates, plus 3 delegates per congressional district. In addition, fixed numbers of at-large delegates are allocated to Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands under the party's delegate selection rules.[95] States are awarded bonus delegates based on the following factors:

The two Republican National Committee members from each state and territory and the chairperson of the state's Republican Party are delegates unless the state is penalized for violating the RNC's scheduling rules. The individual states decide whether these delegates are bound or unbound.

A candidate must have a plurality in five state delegations in order to be on the first ballot at national convention. For the purposes of these primaries, the five territories and D.C. are counted as states (Rule 27). This five-state rule is Rule No. 40 of the rules of the Republican Party as adopted by the 2008 Republican National Convention and amended by the Republican National Committee on August 6, 2010.[11] It is the rule outlining the way the convention will nominate the Republican candidate for president.

RULE NO. 40: Nominations

(a) In making the nominations for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States and voting thereon, the roll of the states shall be called separately in each case; provided, however, that if there is only one candidate for nomination for Vice President of the United States who has demonstrated the support required by paragraph (b) of this rule, a motion to nominate for such office by acclamation shall be in order and no calling of the roll with respect to such office shall be required.
(b) Each candidate for nomination for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States shall demonstrate the support of a plurality of the delegates from each of five (5) or more states, severally, prior to the presentation of the name of that candidate for nomination.
(c) The total time of the nominating speech and seconding speeches for any candidate for nomination for President of the United States or Vice President of the United States shall not exceed fifteen (15) minutes.
(d) When at the close of a roll call any candidate for nomination for President of the United States or Vice President of the United States has received a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the convention, the chairman of the convention shall declare that the candidate has been nominated.
(e) If no candidate shall have received such majority, the chairman of the convention shall direct the roll of the states be called again and shall repeat the calling of the roll until a candidate shall have received a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the convention.

The primary election table below shows how and when the National Convention delegates are allocated and elected. This means it does not include straw polls, primary or other kinds. And it do not include the dates for different local conventions where delegates are already allocated are elected.[96][97]

RNC Party Leaders
AL State At-Large
CD Congressional District
U Unbound delegates
B Bound delegates
G Newt Gingrich
P Ron Paul
R Mitt Romney
S Rick Santorum
Un Uncommitted

This is a sortable table — links provide quick paths to more information on the different state primaries:

Primary schedule

Delegate counts during the primaries. This is not the convention roll call and does not included the 117 unbound RNC delegates.

State Delegation (only voting delegates)AllocationElection (CD)Election (AL)Secured delegates
Jan 3Iowa3131228280Caucus (closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)Jun 16ConventionJun 16Committee021103
Jan 10New Hampshire#012012210Primary (open)ProportionalN/AN/AN/AJan 10Slate03702
Jan 21South Carolina#0111425025Primary (open)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allAprilConventionMay 19Convention23020
Jan 31Florida#050050050Primary (closed)Winner-take-allN/AN/AN/ATBDCommittee00500
Feb 4Nevada325028028Caucus (closed) ProportionalN/AN/AN/AMay 6Convention08200
Feb 7Colorado31221361620Caucus (closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)Apr 13ConventionApr 14Convention0214614
Minnesota3132440535Caucus (open)(No allocation)(No allocation)Apr 21ConventionMay 19Convention032122
Feb 28Arizona#029029029Primary (closed)Winner-take-allN/AN/AN/AMay 12Convention00290
Michigan#0228301416Primary (open)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allMay 19ConventionMay 19Convention06240
Feb 29Wyoming3141229425Caucus (closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)Mar 10ConventionbApr 14Convention012221
Mar 3Maine315624240Caucus (closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)May 6ConventionMay 6Convention02100
Washington3103043340Caucus (closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)Jun 2ConventionJun 2Convention05341
Mar 6Alaska324027324Caucus (closed)ProportionalN/AN/AN/AApr 28Convention2688
Georgia3314276076Primary (open)ProportionalProportionalApr 14ConventionMay 19Convention520213
Idaho329032032Caucus (closed)Winner-take-allN/AN/AN/AJun 23Convention00320
Massachusetts3112741338Primary (semi-closed)ProportionalProportionalApr 28ConventionJun 19Committee00380
North Dakotag325028028Caucus (closed)(No allocation)N/AN/AN/AApr 1Convention28711
Ohio3154866363aPrimary (semi-closed)ProportionalWinner-take-allMar 6SlatecMar 6Slate003825
Oklahoma3251543340Primary (closed)ProportionalProportionalApr 21ConventionMay 12Convention1301314
Tennessee3282758355Primary (open)ProportionalProportionalMar 6SlateMar 6Slated901729
Vermont311317017Primary (open)ProportionalWinner-take-allMay 19ConventionMay 19Convention0494
Virginia3133349346Primary (open)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allTBDConventionJun 16Convention03430
Mar 10Kansas3251240040Caucus (closed)ProportionalWinner-take-allApr 23ConventionApr 28Committee00733
Guam360990Caucus (closed)(No allocation)N/AN/AN/AMar 10Convention0060
North. Mariana Is.360990Caucus (closed)(No allocation)N/AN/AN/AMar 10Convention0060
U.S Virgin Islands360954Caucus (closed)(No allocation)N/AN/AN/AMar 10Direct Elec.0150
Mar 13Alabama3262150347Primary (open)ProportionalProportionalMar 13SlateMar 13Slate1301222
American Samoa360936Caucus (open)(No allocation)N/AN/AN/AMar 13Convention0060
Hawaii311620317Caucus (closed)ProportionalProportionalTBDCommitteeTBDCommittee0395
Mississippi3251240337Primary (open)ProportionalProportionalApr 28ConventionMay 19Convention1201213
Mar 18Puerto Rico320023320Primary (open)Winner-take-allN/AN/AN/AMar 18Slate00200
Mar 20Illinois31254691554aPrimary (semi-closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)Mar 20Direct Elec.Jun 9Convention00421212
Mar 24Missouri3252452349Caucus (semi-closed) (No allocation)(No allocation)Apr 21ConventionJun 2Convention143113
Apr 3Maryland3102437037Primary (closed)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allApr 3SlateApr 28Convention00370
Washington D.C.316019316Primary (closed)Winner-take-allN/AN/AN/AApr 3Slate00160
Wisconsin3152442042Primary (open)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allApr 3SlateApr 3Slate00339
Apr 24Connecticut3101528325Primary (closed)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allApr 24SlateApr 24Slate00250
Delaware311317017Primary (closed)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allApr 28ConventionApr 28Convention00170
New York3345895392Primary (closed)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allApr 24SlateMay 23Committee00920
Pennsylvania31059a72720Primary (closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)Apr 24Direct Elec.Jun 10Committee3526332
Rhode Island301619316Primary (semi-closed)N/AProportionalApr 24Direct Elec.N/AN/A04120
Apr 28Louisiana32518463115Caucus (closed)e(No allocation)(No allocation)Jun 2ConventionJun 2Convention0171610
May 8North Carolina352055352Primary (semi-closed)ProportionalN/AN/AN/AJun 3Convention46366
Indiana31627461927Primary (open)(No allocation)Winner-take-allJun 9ConventionJun 9Convention0027016
West Virginia319931328Primary (semi-closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)May 8Direct Elec.May 8Direct Elec.002224
May 15Oregon325028325Primary (closed)ProportionalN/AN/AN/AJun 23Convention13183
May 22Arkansas3211236333Primary (open)ProportionalWinner-take-allJun 9ConventionJun 23Committee00330
Kentucky3241845342Primary (closed)ProportionalProportionalMay 19ConventionJun 9Convention00420
May 29Texas34410815510145Primary (open)ProportionalProportionalJun 9ConventionJun 9Convention718108127
Jun 5California3101591723169Primary (closed)Winner-take-allWinner-take-allJun 5SlateJun 5Slate001690
New Jersey347050050Primary (semi-closed)Winner-take-allN/AN/AN/AJun 5Direct Elec.00500
New Mexico320023320Primary (closed)ProportionalN/AN/AN/AJun 16Convention00200
South Dakota325028325Primary (closed)ProportionalN/AN/AN/AJun 5Slate00250
Jun 10Nebraska323935332Caucus (closed)(No allocation)(No allocation)Jul 14ConventionJul 14Convention02300
Jun 16Montana323026260Caucus (closed)f(No allocation)N/AN/AN/AJun 16Convention000023
Jun 26Utah337040040Primary (semi-closed)Winner-take-allN/AN/AN/AApr 21Convention00400
Total1531,1031,0302,2863581,928 1421661,439248176


# These states are penalized for breaking RNC schedule guidelines. The penalty cuts the delegation number in half and removes voting privileges from the party leader delegates.
These states are binding their party leader (RNC) delegates to the primary result.
a Delegates are morally, but not legally, bound to a candidate.
b Wyoming has only one congressional district, so the 12 CD delegates are elected in the 23 counties that are paired together.
c Ohio Republican central committee will decided how to allocate the four unallocated delegates in April.
d Tennessee Republican central committee selects the 14 AL delegates.
e Louisiana allocated 15 bound delegates proportional in a March 24 primary election.
f Montana's caucus is its convention. The delegates to this caucus are selected by the counties' central committees at least 10 days before the date of state convention.
g North Dakota's delegation meets before the National Convention to voluntarily divide the whole delegation according to the its caucus result.

Delegate changes at the convention

Some of the state delegations made and announced their final decisions on Tuesday, the first full day of the Republican National Convention.

Santorum and Gingrich released their delegates and encouraged them to vote for Romney,[99][100] but Paul did not; his campaign instead tried to secure more delegate votes during the convention, and carried a dispute over Louisiana's delegates into the convention. Ron Paul later compromised to get 17 of Louisiana's delegates.[101] Montana withheld announcing their support—Paul had hoped Montana would swing to him on the convention floor. However, just before the convention, the 26 Montana delegates united behind Romney.[102]

Candidate Office Home state Popular vote[103] States – first place States – second place States – third place
Former Governor Massachusetts 9,947,433 37
Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Territories: American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia
Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee
Territories: U.S. Virgin Islands
Alabama, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Dakota
Former U.S. Senator Pennsylvania 3,816,110 11
Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee
Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Territories: Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico
Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington
Territories: U.S. Virgin Islands
Former U.S. House Speaker Georgia 2,689,771 2
Georgia, South Carolina
Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada
Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee
US Capital: District of Columbia
U.S. Representative Texas 2,017,957 0
Territories: U.S. Virgin Islands
Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington
US Capital: District of Columbia
Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Hawaii, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Territories: Northern Mariana Islands
Former Governor Utah 83,173 0 0 1
New Hampshire
Governor Texas 42,251 0 0 0
U.S. Representative Minnesota 35,089 0 0 0
Former Governor Louisiana 33,212 0 0 0
None Georgia 13,538 0 0 0
Former Governor New Mexico 4,286 0 0 0

Counties carried

2012 Republican primary results by county (exceptions: North Dakota – legislative districts, Louisiana – parishes, Alaska, Washington, D.C. – at-large)

  Mitt Romney
  Ron Paul

  Rick Santorum
  Newt Gingrich

  Rick Perry
  No recorded votes

Margin of victory

2012 Republican primary results by county (exceptions: North Dakota – legislative districts, Louisiana – parishes, Alaska, Washington, D.C. – at-large)

Convention roll call

2012 Republican primary results by convention roll call.

  Mitt Romney
  Ron Paul
  Rick Santorum

  Jon Huntsman
  Michele Bachmann

  Buddy Roemer
  Abstained or unknown

See also


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