Republican Party presidential primaries, 2012
The 2012 race to become the Republican Party nominee for President of the United States featured libertarian Congressman Ron Paul. Paul's anti-war, anti-Fed, pro-civil liberties views contrasted with the positions of the other candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann.
The presidential debates began in May 2011 and through 2011 Paul rose steadily in the polls, reaching 13% by December. The caucuses and primaries ran from January 2012 to July, with most of the delegates being selected in State conventions between April and June. Bachmann, Huntsman and Perry all quit in January. Santorum dropped out on 10 April, Gingrich dropped out on 2 May, and Paul announced on 14 May that he would not be campaigning in the 13 States that had not yet held their primary. In June, Paul conceded that he would not have enough delegates to win the nomination, and Romney was duly coronated at the Republican National Convention in August.
The Paul campaign was a spectacular success at spreading the message of liberty, peace, sound money and limited government to the masses, and there will no doubt be a new wave of people inspired by Paul who seek to learn more about liberty, Austrian economics and voluntarism. In 2008, Paul won 5.5% of the popular vote (highest was 25%) and had 15 delegate votes at the National Convention. In 2012, he won 10.9% (highest was 36%) and had 190 delegate votes at the National Convention. Liberty-minded Republicans also won senior positions in many State Republican Parties.
The Popular Vote
Each of the 50 States, 5 territories and the District of Columbia held a popular vote (either a caucus or primary, and either "open" or "closed") between 3 January and 14 July. In most cases, delegates that would go on to the RNC were not actually selected until months after the date of the popular vote. In most cases, the popular vote was a mere "beauty contest" bearing little relation to the final delegate allocation. Despite this, the results of the popular votes are important as a measure of support, to secure further funding.
The first popular vote was in Iowa on 3 January. It was a close race between Romney, Santorum and Paul. At first Romney was declared the winner, but this was changed to Santorum a few weeks later, with Paul third on 21%. It was a surprise victory for Santorum, who became the new "frontrunner" with Romney almost overnight as Paul continued to be ignored in the media. Michelle Bachmann quit after a disappointing result in Iowa.
The first primary was in New Hampshire on 10 January, which was a Romney stronghold. He won with 39% and Paul finished a solid second with 23%. John Huntsman and Rick Perry both dropped out after New Hampshire, leaving only Romney, Paul, Santorum and Gingrich in the race. South Carolina was a win for Gingrich as expected, with Paul coming in a disappointing fourth, and he could do no better in Florida. Paul came second in Minnesota, Maine and Washington, but was still without a win going into Super Tuesday. His largest percentage of the vote (except Virginia where only he and Romney were on the ballot) came in Maine with 36%.
There were hopes of victory for Paul in at least one of the popular votes on Super Tuesday, 6 March. But he could manage only second place in Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont and Virginia. The media were busy "projecting" how many delegates each candidate would win based on the results of the popular vote. They were predicting a clear majority for Romney and declaring the race all but over, even though at this point, hardly any RNC delegates had been selected. After Super Tuesday, the Paul campaign focused more on the "delegate strategy", which involved winning delegates in the caucus states disproportionately to the popular vote. Paul's supporters were told not to be discouraged by the results of the popular votes, but to instead wait for the State conventions.
Paul won the popular vote in the U.S. Virgin Islands territory on 10 March. He would win no other States, getting between 10% and 16% in most of them. Santorum dropped out on 10 April, Gingrich dropped out on 2 May, and Paul announced on 14 May that he would not be campaigning in the 13 States that had not yet held their popular vote.
Romney ended up with 52% of the popular vote, Santorum second with 20%, Gingrich third with 14%, and Paul fourth with 11%.
There were allegations of election fraud and voter fraud in many States.
Algorithmic Vote Flipping
There is evidence that some popular vote counts - including Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Ohio - were "flipped" to manipulate the results. The manipulation is all in favor of Romney, and mostly at the expense of Paul.
Details of this can be found in this document: Evidence of Algorithmic Vote Flipping in GOP Primary Elections
The Delegate Selection Process
The Republican nominee for President in 2012 was chosen in the week of 27 August in Tampa, Florida at the Republic National Convention (RNC). 2,286 voting delegates attended the event, representing each of the 50 States plus 5 territories and 1 district.
The number of voting delegates from each State, territory and district was calculated using a formula. Each State received 10 "at-large (AL)" delegate slots, plus 3 "Congressional District (CD)" delegates per congressional district, plus 3 "automatic / RNC" delegates for State Party officials, plus bonus delegates (either AL or CD) depending on "how Republican" the State is. Some states had 50% of their delegate allocation taken away due to breaking Party rules, such as moving the caucus / primary date earlier.
Each State selects delegates to fill it's allocation (plus alternates) according to rules of the local Republican State parties, and there are a wide variety of methods. A candidate must have a plurality in five State delegations in order to be on the first ballot at the national convention.
- Primary – a straight-forward vote for a candidate in a ballot box.
- Caucus – a longer process where local delegates are elected to go forward to higher level caucuses or the state convention.
- Open – where anyone can vote in the caucus / primary.
- Closed – where only registered Republicans can vote in the caucus / primary.
Delegate Election Type
- Convention – where delegates are voted on at Congressional District or State level conventions. Delegates may express their preferential candidate, or be elected as an uncommitted delegate.
- Direct Election – where instead of voting for a candidate at the contest, RNC delegates are directly elected at the contest.
- Slate – where candidates submit a slate of names of their supporters in advance of the contest, and names are chosen from those slates according to the results of the contest.
- Committee – where delegates are chosen by a committee according to the results of the contest.
Delegate Allocation Type
- Winner-takes-all – where the candidate with the highest number of votes in the contest is supposed to be awarded the entire delegation.
- Proportional – where the delegation is supposed to be divided up proportionately to the number of votes in the contest.
- Legally bound – where the delegates are supposedly legally bound to vote for the candidate they committed to vote for.
- Morally bound – where the delegates are legally free to vote with their conscience, but are considered morally bound to vote for the candidate they committed to vote for.
- Unbound – where the delegates are free to vote with their conscience.
For example, Massachusetts had 41 delegates assigned to it, of which 27 were CD delegates. These delegate slots were filled at CD conventions during April, using the proportional method. 11 AL delegates were chosen by committee on 19 June, also proportionally to the results of the popular vote, which was a closed primary and took place on 6 March. All these delegates were bound to vote for who they expressed a preference for when selected. The 3 automatic delegates were unbound. (Romney won the primary with 72% of the popular vote, with Paul third with 10%. However, Paul supporters ended up winning 17 of the delegate slots.)
January - March
The first delegates awarded in the 2012 race were from New Hampshire. They used the slate method, so delegates were chosen on the date of the primary, 10 January, from slates proportionally according to the primary result. Paul won 3 delegates, Romney 7 and Huntsman 2.
No more delegates were awarded for nearly two months. Each contest fought in that time was either a mere ‘beauty contest’ primary, or a caucus which was only the first stage in selecting delegates in that state.
In March, three more States held slate elections: Ohio, Tennessee, and Alabama. Santorum won Tennessee and Alabama. Romney won Ohio. The 5 U.S. territories all picked their candidates: Puerto Rico also held a slate election, the US Virgin Islands held a direct election, and the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa held State Conventions on the same day as their contests. Romney won all five territories. Also in March, Wyoming and Illinois selected some CDC delegates.
|Candidate||Delegate Supporters, |
End of March
The official count in the mainstream media at this time showed much higher totals. Their counts were mostly projections based on the contest results. As the contest results in many cases bear little resemblance to the number of supporters of each candidate in the eventual delegation, Romney’s total in the mainstream counts would go backwards at times in April and May, due to his failure to achieve as many delegates from State Conventions as the projections based on the contest results.
Paul had not won any contests so far, explaining his strategy was to secure delegates at the State Conventions that would come later, rather than to win the ‘beauty contests’.
The first State Convention in a caucus State was North Dakota on 1 April. In North Dakota, delegates are supposedly allocated proportionally according to the results of the caucus, which would have given Paul 8 delegates, Romney 7 and Santorum 11. However, Romney ended up winning with 20 delegates, leaving Santorum with 6 and Paul 2.
Santorum suspended his campaign on 10 April after a disappointing result in Wisconsin on 3 April, a slate state that awarded 33 to Romney, 9 to Santorum and 0 to Paul. Romney picked up 16 more delegates in the DC slate election on 3 April.
On 14 April, at the Colorado State Convention, Paul secured 13 delegates to Romney’s 16, more than doubling his secured delegate total so far. It was the first sign of success of Paul’s delegate strategy. Later Paul's total increased to 18 when 5 Santorum supporters defected to Paul, leaving Paul with a majority of delegates from the state. Paul was not able to pick up any of the at-large delegates from Wyoming on the same day, with 14 going to Romney.
Between 14 April and 28 April, many States elected CD delegates. Paul’s biggest success was in Minnesota, where he secured 20 of the 24 CD delegates, enough to secure him an overall majority in that State. He also secured 4 from Missouri and 5 from Pennsylvania, though well behind Romney with 12 and 26. Paul won 16 of 27 CDC delegates awarded in Massachusetts on 28 April, but he was unable to win any CD delegates in Georgia, Kansas, New York, or Mississippi.
There were high hopes for the Alaska State Convention on 28 April, and although a Paul supporter was chosen as the new Chair of the Alaska State Party, only 6 Paul supporters were elected as delegates, with 8 each for Romney and Santorum. Paul picked up 4 from Rhode Island and 1 from Maryland State Conventions, but was unable to win any from the Kansas or Delaware State Conventions, the Connecticut slate election, or the Florida committee. After a poor result in Delaware, Gingrich suspended his campaign on 2 May.
|Candidate||Delegate Supporters, |
End of April
On 6 May, Paul’s delegate strategy showed just how successful it could be. He won 21 of the 24 delegates in Maine, and 22 of the 28 delegate slots in Nevada. He had now won four states, although the majority of the delegates of Nevada are supposedly bound to vote for Romney on the first ballot at the RNC.
This momentum was carried into the State Conventions of Arizona and Oklahoma on 12 May. Both these Conventions ended in dispute, with Paul supporters claiming victories that were not recognised by the establishment Republicans. On 14 May, Ron Paul announced that he was stop actively campaigning in the States that had not yet held their contests, to focus on getting delegates elected in State conventions. The announcement may have been made as a response to the events in Arizona and Oklahoma.
There were six State Conventions on 19 May. Paul won 13 of the 16 at-large delegates in Minnesota, giving him a resounding victory with 33 of the 40 total delegates from that State. Paul won 8 in Michigan and 2 in Vermont, well behind Romney with 22 and 15. Paul was not able to win any delegates from South Carolina, and did not pick up any of the at-large delegates from Georgia or Mississippi.
Virginia elected CD delegates on 19 May, and Paul won 17 of 33, with Romney winning 16. Paul did not get any delegates from the direct election in West Virginia on 8 May, or from the New York Committee of 23 May. He did pick up 3 delegates from Hawaii, third behind Romney with 9 and Santorum with 5.
Paul now had 167 secured delegates, or 13% of the total allocated so far.
|Candidate||Delegate Supporters, |
End of May
On 2 June, Paul won the majority of delegates from Louisiana: 27 of 46. The Convention was controversial and the results were disputed. On 21 August, a deal was reached that resulted in Ron Paul having 17 delegates and Romney winning the state with 29.
Paul majorities expected from the State Conventions in Missouri and Washington also on 2 June did not materialize. Paul was not able to secure any of the at-large delegates in Missouri, and won only 5 of 43 delegates from Washington. The next day at the North Carolina State Convention, Paul picked up 7 delegates to Romney's 39.
In the slate elections of California and South Dakota and the direct election in New Jersey on 5 June, Romney won a clean sweep of delegates, effectively guaranteeing that the majority of delegates to the Republican National Convention support him.
On 6 June, Ron Paul sent out an email to supporters explaining that he will not have enough delegates to win the nomination.
Late June / July
Paul picked up 18 more delegates at the Texas State Convention on 9 June, though Romney won with 108. Romney won a clean sweep in the Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky State Conventions on the same day. The 12 CD delegates of Arkansas were also elected on 9 June and 6 of them are Paul supporters. On 10 June, the 13 at-large delegates in Pennsylvania went to Romney supporters following appointment by Committee.
The very first state to hold it's popular vote, Iowa, was originally said to have been won by Romney, but two weeks after the vote, Santorum was declared the winner. But no Iowa 28 delegates were actually chosen until 16 June. At the Iowa State Convention, Ron Paul secured 23 of the 28 delegates, winning an overwhelming majority.
Also on 16 June, New Mexico, Montana and Virginia held their State conventions. Paul picked up 6 in New Mexico and none in Montana, with Romney winning both states. Virginia were choosing 16 at-large delegates to go with the 33 CD delegates already chosen. Paul and Romney shared them equally with 8 each, meaning Paul won the State overall, with 25 delegates to Romney's 24.
Massachusetts held their State convention on 19 June, with Romney securing 13 delegates to Paul's 1, giving Romney the overall victory in that state, with 24 delegates to Paul's 17. Idaho, Oregon and Arkansas held their State conventions on 23 June, with Paul picking up 3 in Oregon and adding 4 more to his total in Arkansas, but Romney won all three states.
Utah (uniquely) held their state convention prior to their popular vote. 40 delegates were selected back on 21 April, to be bound to the winner of the popular vote on 26 June. By this time, Romney was uncontested in the popular vote and won all the delegates. Nebraska was the last state to hold it's State convention, on 14 July. Romney won with 32 delegates to Paul's 4.
|Candidate||Delegate Supporters, |
End of July
Delegate Count Prior To The RNC
This table is an estimate of the numbers of supporters for each candidate among the delegates chosen by each State for the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida in August 2012.
- It assumes that the delegates chosen, whether by state convention, slate, direct election, or committee, did not switched their allegiance between the date of the state convention, slate, direct election or committee, and the RNC.
- It ignores the issue of "bound" delegates altogether; some delegates may be "bound" in some sense to a candidate they do not support, as in Massachusetts and Virginia, where all delegates are bound to Romney, although most of them support Paul.
- Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich dropped out of the race during the delegate selection process, and instructed their delegates to vote for Romney. In this table, their supporters are counted in their columns, and not Romney's. Delegates supporting other candidates (e.g. Jon Huntsman and Michelle Bachmann) are counted under Uncommitted.
- The States are listed in the order in which they held their caucus / primary.
- Dark pink indicates the winner of that state. Pink denotes second place. Uncommitted delegates are excluded.
|State||RNC Delegates, Estimate of Support||Total Delegates||State Convention Date||References|
|South Carolina||0||2||0||23||0||25||19 May|||
|Florida||0||50||0||0||0||50||Committee 28 April|||
|Arizona||29||29||12 May (disputed)|||
|North Dakota||2||20||6||0||0||28||1 April|||
|Oklahoma||43||43||11-12 May (disputed)|||
|Northern Mariana Islands||0||9||0||0||0||9||10 March|||
|US Virgin Islands||1||7||0||0||1||9||Direct Election|||
|American Samoa||0||9||0||0||0||9||13 March|||
|Louisiana||17||29||0||0||0||46||2 June, Deal 21 Aug|||
|District of Columbia||0||16||0||0||3||19||Slate|||
|New York||0||94||0||1||0||95||22-23 May|||
|Rhode Island||4||15||0||0||0||19||Direct Election|||
|North Carolina||7||39||5||4||0||55||3 June|
|West Virginia||0||24||2||0||5||31||Direct Election|
|New Jersey||0||50||0||0||0||50||Direct Election|
|New Mexico||6||15||2||0||0||23||16 June|||
|Utah||0||40||0||0||0||40||21 April / 26 June (Primary)|
The Republican National Convention, August 2012
Going into the RNC, Ron Paul was believed to have a plurality of delegate supporters in six states: Colorado, Minnesota, Maine, Nevada, Iowa and Virginia. This was believed to be enough to nominate him from the floor, so that he would join Mitt Romney on the ballot. In the days before the convention, the RNC had attempted to increase the number of plurality states required for such a nomination from five to ten, but the rule change was not passed.
At the beginning of the convention, the RNC successfully passed a rule change that would allow Mitt Romney to strip his opponents’ delegates of their status and replace them with alternates of his choosing.
Half of the Ron Paul delegates from Maine were replaced with delegates who would vote for Romney, meaning Romney had a plurality in Maine instead of Paul. The motion to replace them was passed on a dubious roll call vote and resulted in chants of “Seat Them Now!” as the Paul delegates from Maine were being escorted out. Romney supporters were instructed to chant “U-S-A!” in an attempt to drown out the calls for the Maine delegation to be seated.
The Ron Paul delegates from Nevada and Virginia were bound to vote for Romney on the first ballot. The delegates from Nevada ignored their binding and voted for Paul anyway. The delegates from Virginia, along with Paul delegates in other states including Massachusetts and New Mexico, voted for Romney as they were bound to do. Despite this, Nevada delegates nominated Paul from the floor by submitting petitions from six states: Nevada, Minnesota, Iowa, Alaska, Virgin Islands and Oregon. The nomination was ignored.
During the roll call, the votes called out for Ron Paul were not repeated by the announcer, who only mentioned Romney’s number, even in the three states that Ron Paul won: Nevada, Minnesota and Iowa. It was left to the Ron Paul supporters to call out Ron Paul’s numbers. Ron Paul ended up with 190 of the 202 non-Romney votes - just short of 10% of the overall delegates. This is a massive improvement on 2008, when he got just 15 delegate votes.
Video from the Convention can be found here: RNC Sham 2012.
|Candidate||RNC Delegate Votes||%|
Roll Call Vote
|N. Mariana Islands||9||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||9|
|Virgin Islands, U.S.||8||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||9|
- Ron Paul 2012 Wins Iowa & Minnesota Delegates, Demonstrating Possible Path to White House - "RP will not get less than half"
- Reality Check 5:32 "Those 13 slots are Ron Paul delegates"
- Ron Paul Wins Iowa Delegate Majority
- NH Delegates Names List
- South Carolina at The Green Papers - "Each congressional district delegate ... shall be bound during the first ballot .... However, if the candidate to which a delegate is bound falls below 30% of the vote on the first ballot, that delegate automatically is released before the second ballot"
- Dispute over whether delegates are to be assigned winner-takes-all or proportionally.
- Ron Paul wins majority of delegates from Maine GOP
- Breaking! The Patriots of Nevada Deliver. Ron Paul delegates Win 25 of 28 Seats to Republican National Convention!
- Green Papers Colorado
- Colorado further evidence Ron Paul will challenge Romney in Tampa - "13 unpledged delegates, including me, will vote for Ron Paul. 1 for Santorum."
- Seems to me like Ron Paul Won Colorado....
- "I'm a delegate from MN... 1 of our RNC delegates is a confirmed Dr. Paul supporter"
- Ron Paul Wins Minnesota Delegates by a Landslide
- Rep. Paul supporters elected to half of Minnesota GOP convention delegation
- Minnesota at The Green Papers - "No Delegate to the Republican National Convention shall be bound by party rules or by state law to cast his/her vote for a particular candidate on any ballot at the convention except that the state convention may bind the Delegates whom it elects to the National Convention of the Republican Party on the first ballot to vote for a candidate for the office of President of the United States, unless they be released by said candidate."
- Actually, Ron Paul Is Secretly Winning A Lot More Delegates Than You Think - "Paul took 20 of the 40 delegates awarded (in Mo)"
- MOGOP releases unofficial results of the Congressional District Conventions
- Missouri at The Green Papers - "National Convention delegates are bound on the first ballot unless released by the candidate."
- Maine at The Green Papers
- Arizona at The Green Papers - "Each delegate to the national convention shall use his best efforts at the convention for the party's presidential nominee candidate who received the greatest number of votes in the presidential preference election ... until the candidate releases the delegate ... withdraws from the race or until one convention nominating ballot"
- Michigan at The Green Papers - "Delegates are bound to their Presidential preference from the start of the nominating process through the end of the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. Delegates may not amend their Preference unless released from that commitment."
- Ron Paul Decisively Wins Minnesota and Carries Delegates in Multiple Other States
- Wyoming at Green Papers
- Ron Paul 2012 Wins Majority Of Washington Delegates To Convention, Other States Expected To Follow - "RP has locked up at least half"
- Alaska at The Green Papers - "After the second round of balloting ... if the Candidate to which the Delegate is pledged is the candidate receiving the fewest number of votes ..., the Delegate is no longer required to support that candidate. If a ... delegate ... pledged to a ... Presidential Candidate who is no longer a candidate for the Republican Nomination for President as of the date of the National Convention, that delegate ... shall be deemed non-pledged."
- Ron Paul's Alaska payback "A Paul supporter was voted in as the new GOP chairman Saturday at the state convention"
- Ron Paul's supporters stir up Alaska GOP convention
- Idaho at The Green Papers - "Delegates shall be obliged on the first ballot to vote for the candidate who nominated them. Delegates committed to a withdrawn candidate become uncommitted."
- Massachussets at The Green Papers - All delegates bound to Romney on 1st ballot. Reports indicate that 16 delegates support Paul, 10 support Romney, and 1 is unknown
- State GOP’s caucus picks leave Romney slate slighted - "Less than half of Romney’s 27 chosen delegates won"
- The Green Papers North Dakota Republican - "Apportionment on the first ballot shall be strictly voluntary. The delegates remain free to vote their conscience on all balloting."
- Ohio at The Green Papers - "These delegates are morally but not legally bound to any candidate."
- Oklahoma at The Green Papers - "Delegates are bound until released. If that candidate withdraws, delegates vote for any candidate of their choice."
- Video of Oklahoma District Convention - It is unclear who was chosen as delegates at the CDC on 14 April.
- Oklahoma Republicans elect delegates to national convention - "Who the 25 state convention delegates will represent will be determined later"
- GOP Establishment makes a mockery of the democratic process in Oklahoma - "Preliminary estimates are that Congressman Paul captured 95% of the Oklahoma delegates. This was an amazing feat and a political coup of epic proportions."
- At the National Convention, delegates are bound for at least 2 ballots.
- Vermont at The Green Papers - "Delegates ... to the Republican National Convention shall be bound in the first ballot .... Delegates ... shall be released if their candidate is not placed into nomination ... or officially withdraws."
- DP Comment
- Ron Paul backers' plan: Transform the GOP "Stearns says Paul supporters have won 15 of the 24 congressional delegate spots decided in Virginia so far."
- Ron Paul Wins 21 of 25 Iowa Delegates and 21 Out of Virginia!
- Kansas at The Green Papers
- Northern Mariana Islands at The Green Papers - "All of the Commonwealth's National Convention delegates attend the convention as unpledged delegates."
- http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P12/VI-R US Virgin Islands at The Green Papers - "Candidates that declare as being pledged shall ... have promised, if elected, to vote for such declared candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States on the first ballot."]
- Guam at The Green Papers "With 207 of the 215 registered Republicans in Guam present, Romney won with a unanimous show of hands. While Guam's 9 delegates are technically unpledged they are all Romney supporters."
- Hawaii at The Green Papers - "Delegates bound on the first ballot."
- http://www.ronpaulforums.com/showthread.php?377449-Mississippi-Convention&p=4440883&viewfull=1#post4440883 "We did not get any of the delegates"
- American Samoa at The Green Papers - "Delegates are unbound."
- Ron Paul supporters dominate Louisiana's Republican presidential caucuses - "111 of the 150 (74%) delegates and 61 of the 72(85%) alternates elected to the State Convention appear to be supporters of Ron Paul", "Paul is guaranteed at least 17 of the 46 delegates to the convention"
- http://www.dailypaul.com/250036/17-paul-delegates-seated-from-louisiana Deal Struck in Louisiana - 27 Paul delegates becomes 17
- Maryland at The Green Papers - "All 37 delegates are bound to Romney for the first 2 ballots."
- Email from Collins Bailey - One RP Supporter
- 16 delegates are BOUND, the 3 RNC delegates are NOT BOUND
- New York at The Green Papers
- Pennsylvania at The Green Papers
- Actually, Ron Paul Is Secretly Winning A Lot More Delegates Than You Think
- Rhode Island at The Green Papers
- Actually, Ron Paul Is Secretly Winning A Lot More Delegates Than You Think
- Indiana at The Green Papers
- Ron Paul surprise in Arkansas!
- Inside the New Mexico state GOP convention
- After-Action Report – Montana GOP Convention
- 2:50 into this video