|Hail to the Chief?|
|Persons of interest|
“”By the power invested in me by this giant bald bird, the president shall not be the shiniest of two turds!
 Major issues
 The economy
 The wars
Contrary to virtually every election in the last 60 years, the Republicans were unlikely to attack their opponent for being "soft on national security." The reason being that Obama's foreign policy was one of the most popular aspects of his presidency with major victories such as the killing of Osama bin Laden. Combined with the increasing dislike of the Afghanistan War in the public and its future end date, foreign policy was not a major issue, unlike previous elections.
 God, guns, and gays
Social issues are often more important when the economy is healthy, and white Christians can go back to telling other people how to live. Romney, a former social liberal, once claimed to be more for gay rights than Ted Kennedy but later edged himself to the right on social issues.
 Health care
The major provisions of Obamacare would not come into effect until 2014 and a major SCOTUS case that could help define how people view his strength as a president, ultimately upheld the law in a 5-4 descision.
At the same time, Republican nominee Mitt Romney remained infamous for passing a very similar type of health care reform previously while governor of Massachusetts. During the health care debates of 2009-2010, he strongly advocated for such a system to be instated nationally, making it difficult for him to attack the President's own health care plan. Of course, this didn't stop Romney from criticizing Obama's health care reforms and hoping nobody noticed.
44th President of the USA
|Advantages: The sitting President; charismatic and eloquent; extremely strong fundraising; had an unparalleled field operation in 2008; issued the order to kill Osama bin Laden; Sizable numbers of Republicans prefer Obama to the alternative, as do ordinary voters. An improving economy.|
|Disadvantages: Obama's historically mixed approval ratings returned once the bump that came from the killing of bin Laden subsided. While Obama's popularity increased around February 2012, public opinion was volatile, especially given the tentative nature of the economic recovery. Obama disappointed many left-wing supporters with such policies as keeping the prison at Guantanamo Bay open, re-signing PATRIOT, a controversial drone warfare program, and also by lacking the Jedi powers that would have been necessary to make the Republican bloc in the Senate not filibuster any bill to create anything resembling universal health care. He couldn't rely again on his 2008 campaign tactics, and was primarily judged on the state of what has been a remarkably sluggish economy.|
 Primary challengers
No notable Democrats came forth to challenge Obama for the nomination, although anti-abortionist Randall Terry, formerly active in the Constitution Party and who had also run for office as a Republican, entered the Democratic primaries against Obama mainly in order to run graphic pro-life ads. He ran strongest in Oklahoma and carried several counties. Likewise, a handful of other obscure primary candidates had strong showings and carried a number of counties in Arkansas, Louisiana, and West Virginia. "None of the above" ran strongly in Alabama and Kentucky. But those are all states where Obama is unpopular among some rank-and-file Democrats, many of whom are social conservatives, and there were no serious threats to his renomination.
Age: 67, appears 40 thanks to hair dye.
Former governor of Massachusetts
|Advantages: He had some appeal to moderates and independents, and it was hoped that he could put Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, major states that the Republicans have not won in decades, into play. He had significant experience in both business and as Massachusetts governor. Had access to substantial funding both because of his own wealth and the support of super-PACs, and had been outraising Obama's campaign for quite some time. VP choice Paul Ryan was meant to bring over disaffected conservatives due to his "experience" with economic policy.|
|Disadvantages: He was too moderate for many Republicans, particularly in the existing political climate. He had flip-flopped on several key conservative issues (notably abortion), and his Mormon faith somewhat also hurt him with the Religious Right. His state health care plan for Massachusetts ("Romneycare") looked an awful lot like "Obamacare." He was derided by some as a man who "looks like the guy who laid you off" (and his company, Bain Capital, a typical private equity firm, actually did "downsize" many employees at its targets). Massachusetts ranked poorly in job creation during his time as Governor.
No one actually liked him, although his programmers have learned well how to simulate human emotion. Given that (unlike previous GOP candidates) he had not focused a large part of his campaign on foreign policy, he changed his position multiple times on social issues, and it was difficult for him to attack the President on health care, much of his campaign relied on the assumption that the economy would stay stagnant. Because of how complex the economy is, this essentially left his campaign up to chance.
Adding insult to injury, he had conspicuous bank accounts in several tax havens and was sitting upon years of tax returns. While he did release summaries of the other years, none of these disclosed his effective tax rates, a major sticking point against his campaign. While VP nominees usually "balance out" a ticket (like a fiscal conservative running with a religious conservative), Ryan spelled doom for votes in (at least) Florida as he was a former Randroid and wasn't particularly known for his social conservatism either. His proposal to voucherize Medicare wasn't popular across the political spectrum; Romney's plan for Medicare was nearly identical as well.
 The GOP race
For a more complete analysis of the campaign to choose a Republican "candidate," see here.
While Romney never really captured the hearts of the Republican faithful, the rather lackluster nature of the other candidates, combined with Romney's massive war chest, meant that his eventual triumph was never in doubt. Starting sometime in the summer of 2011, a number of fundamentalist candidates enjoyed each a few weeks of being the frontrunner and the "not-Romney" of the moment, but whether it was Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich or Rick Santorum, none of them were able to topple Romney's campaign. Of the challengers, Ron Paul, with a fervent base of followers largely disconnected from the GOP orthodoxy, remained in the running the longest, officially suspending his contesting of the remaining primaries on May 14, 2012.
 Other parties and independents
 Theoretically could have won (ballot access to over 270 electoral votes)
- Gary Johnson - official nominee. Former Republican governor of New Mexico.
- Jill Stein - official nominee. Physician.
There were several candidates attempting to win the Americans Elect nomination which was to have been conducted entirely online. On May 15, 2012, Americans Elect announced they were declining to nominate anyone, declaring no candidate had met the threshold for support.
 Have ballot access to fewer than 270 electoral votes
- Virgil Goode - official nominee. Former U.S. Congressman from Virginia, who was in Congress as a Democrat, an independent, and lastly a Republican. What was yet another party switch to him?
- Jack Fellure - official nominee. Topping the list of reasons why you should have voted for Jack Fellure is "My Presidential Campaign Platform is the Authorized 1611 King James Bible. God Almighty wrote that Book as the supreme constitution and absolute authority..." and you know you don't want to read any more.
 Assorted oddities
- Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, running on his own Justice Party ticket.
- Roseanne Barr, entertainer, was the nominee of the California-based Peace and Freedom Party with activist Cindy Sheehan as her running mate.
- The Reform Party-nominated Andre Barnett, a candidate no one has ever heard of from a party nobody remembers anymore.
- Depending on your state, you could have seen candidates on the ballot from the Socialist Party USA (Stewart Alexander), the Party for Socialism and Liberation (Peta Lindsay), the Socialist Workers Party (James Harris), the Socialist Equality Party (Jerry White), and the Freedom Socialist Party (Stephen Durham); as was usual with such dust-ups between the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea, nobody cared.
- The Communist Party USA, as per their policy since the Soviet Union stopped their funding, refused to run a candidate and endorsed Obama.
- BallotPedia - Lists every issue and candidate for all national and state elections. Provides links to any article or editorial on a topic, links to polls, links to official sites, etc.
- Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat editions.
- Voter preferences by education - Look familiar?
- A Republican and Democratic strategist's take on who would win Florida. Telling, eh?
- Top Conspiracy Theories of 2012, The New Yorker
- ↑ 2012: The Rap Battle
- ↑ The Right Freaks Out As GOP Poll Finds 20% Of Republicans May Vote For Obama
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Mitt Romney Shows Record Shortfall in Personal Popularity, ABC
- ↑ Obama’s Re-Election Chances Rise With Signs Economy Improving. Bloomberg Businessweek
- ↑ Anti-abortion activist announces run against Obama, CNN
- ↑ Romney's July fundraising outpaces Obama's. Washington Post
- ↑ Did Mitt Romney's Massachusetts rank 47th in job creation?, PolitiFact
- ↑ Called it!
- ↑ Medicare Voucher Plan Remains Unpopular, Pew Research Center
- ↑ Romney’s Threat to Big Bird Sows Confusion Abroad, and Feeds It at Home, The New York Times
- ↑ Americans Elect Without a Candidate, Politico