2012 Presidential Election

The GOP Presidential nomination and Gov. Rick Perry's role in the race, plus a look at Congressional and Senate races from the perspective of Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Image courtesy of Google Books

Remembering the 2012 presidential election brings a slew of bipartisan memories – from Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks to Obama’s pre-election comment to Russian president Dimitri Medvedev that he would deal with the EU’s missile defense system after his would-be election. Dan Balz’ chronicled the election and spoke first-hand with candidates for his latest book, "Collision 2012: Obama vs. Romney and the Future of Elections in America." 

The book’s title reflects the clash between Democrats and Republicans – and between the 2008 election and the cutthroat 2012 Republican primary.

Ben Philpott, KUT News

Future presidential candidates from Texas may have to foot the bill for their own security on the campaign trail.

Gov. Rick Perry’s unsuccessful run at the White House last year cost taxpayers $3.7 million. And state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, said at a House committee meeting today that the cost of non-state-related security is a burden to Texans.

Update at 1:30 p.m. ET: The counting is done and as expected, President Obama and Vice President Biden collected all 332 Electoral College votes they earned on Election Day. Their Republican opponents, Mitt Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, received 206 votes each.

Since it takes 270 Electoral College votes to be elected, the president and vice president have indeed been returned to office.

Liang Shi

Though the election was called for President Barack Obama over a month ago, members of the Electoral College will officially cast their votes today.

Texas electors will meet to cast the state’s electoral votes this afternoon at the Capitol.Texas has 38 electoral votes – the second highest of any state, behind California – which were won by Mitt Romney. 

Each party selects 38 potential electors who promise to vote for that party’s candidate, should they win the state’s popular vote.  Because Mitt Romney won Texas, the 38 Republican electors will cast their votes for him today.

The 2012 presidential contenders will break bread at the White House on Thursday.

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney "will have a private lunch at the White House with President Obama in the Private Dining Room," the White House says in a statement sent to reporters. "It will be the first opportunity they have had to visit since the election. There will be no press coverage of the meeting."

A "return on investment" is a concept better known to Wall Street than to Washington. But after President Obama and the Democrats won most of the close elections last week there are questions about the seven- and eight-figure "investments" made by dozens of conservative donors.

During the election season, it was pretty common to hear about donors making "investments" in superPACs and other outside groups, rather than a "political contribution," perhaps because the phrase has a sort of taint to it.

Four days after the polls closed, Florida has announced that President Obama won the state's 29 electoral votes. As the AP writes:

"That gives the president a total of 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's 206. Florida officials said Obama had 50 percent of the vote to Romney's 49.1 percent, a margin of about 74,000 votes."

For as much criticism as pollsters endured in the run-up to Election Day, a look back shows many of them hit very close to the bull's-eye for the presidential race — but some did better than others.

Take the venerable Gallup. It had Mitt Romney at 49 percent and President Obama at 48 percent in a poll published Monday, a day before the voting. And when undecided voters were split up among candidates, Gallup put the figure at 50 percent Romney, 49 percent Obama.

"No-drama Obama" got emotional as he thanked his campaign staff this week in Chicago, and a video released Thursday of him tearing up is going viral.

The balloons have fallen, the bunting's down, and President Obama has been re-elected.

That means Mitt Romney has been defeated — and with him, many election aspects that we presumed to be true. (You know what they say about presume — it makes a pres out of u and me.)

Maybe it's because we're sailing into a new and uncharted century. Maybe it's because of climate change or polar shift or Mayan calendrical mayhem. But the presidential election of 2012 provided a highly unusual, if not unique, set of circumstances.

After a shaky few years, President Obama's health care legacy looks secure.

His health overhaul law barely made it through Congress and to his desk. Then there were the legal challenges, launched when the ink of his signature was barely dry, that were resolved by a surprising Supreme Court ruling in June.

If you were plugged into the polls, odds are nothing really surprised you about last night.

That's why one of the most dramatic moments of night had to be when GOP strategist and major fundraiser Karl Rove threw a bomb in the middle of the Fox News broadcast.

flickr.com/mattblaze

Williamson County released its unofficial elections totals early this morning, following a technical delay that required one of the voting machines to be read by a technician.

Following poll closures last night, one of the iVotronic machines at a Williamson County precinct malfunctioned and election administrators at the precinct were unable to access the results from that machine. Administrators called a technician to obtain the results from the machine. 

"The backlight went out on one of our voting machines and so the election judge couldn't see the screen in order to get it properly closed. And so we had a technician that had come down from Dallas to repair the machine so that we could get the votes counted from that machine," Connie Watson, Public Affairs Manager for Williamson County, says.

Transcript of President Obama's victory speech in Chicago. Source: Federal News Service

Editor's Note: NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future.

(Cheers, applause.)

AUDIENCE MEMBERS: (Chanting.) Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

Transcript of Mitt Romney's concession speech in the presidential race in Boston. Source: Federal News Service

Editor's Note: NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future.

(Cheers, applause.)

MITT ROMNEY: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you so very much. Thank you. (Cheers, applause.) Thank you. Thank you.

The euphoria of Barack Obama's supporters on election night four years ago was replaced Tuesday by relief, as the incumbent president won a second term over Republican Mitt Romney in an effort powered more by organization than by ideas.

To retain the White House, Obama managed to overcome the handicap of an economy just finding its footing after a devastating recession, and an unemployment rate higher than it's been under any president seeking re-election since Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression.

Americans elected Barack Obama to a second term Tuesday, with the president capturing or on the verge of winning all of the key states that had been at the center of his hard-fought campaign against Republican Mitt Romney.

"Whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you," Obama said early Wednesday at a speech before thousands of supporters in Chicago. "I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president.

**Refresh this page often for the latest updates.**

A quick head's up on what this is. The Battleground is an aggregation of NPR member stations' content produced during election night. It's curated by the staff at NPR Digital Services, including Eric Athas, Teresa Gorman, Will Snyder, Kim Perry and Erin Teare Martin. The list of participating stations and states is posted at the bottom.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

In the last presidential election, the iPhone 3G was the hottest phone on the market, and there were just a few million people on Twitter. Now almost half of American adults own smartphones and more than 500 million use Twitter. So let's check out what they're saying about voting lines! We'll be trawling the internet and adding new info here. 

As the voting day has progressed, we've seen some reports of irregularities.. Throughout the day, we'll be surveying our reporters and other news organizations and keep track of significant irregularities in this post.

So far, the big problem has been long lines. Some voters have had to wait hours in line to cast their ballot in battleground states like Florida and Virginia and those affected by Superstorm Sandy like New York.

We'll start with Florida:

For Republicans itching to regain control of the Senate, Tuesday's election presents a rare opportunity. Only 10 GOP incumbents are on the ballot, compared with nearly two dozen Democrats and independents who caucus with them.

That means the magic number for Republicans is low. They need only a net gain of three or four seats to take over the Senate — and, assuming they keep the U.S. House of Representatives, consolidate their influence on Capitol Hill. Democrats need to pick up 25 seats to seize the House, a goal that political analysts consider all but out of reach.

KUHF

A recent Gallup survey found 40 percent of voters nationwide claim to be independent. That's several points higher than those who identify as staunch Democrats or Republicans. Linda Wilson is among those independents.

"I've always considered voting a straight-party ticket to be pretty lazy."

The 52-year-old Houston paralegal describes her independence in terms that may sound familiar.

"I tend to be somewhat fiscally conservative, and somewhat socially liberal."

She says there are good candidates and bad candidates in both major parties. But she admits to leaning more Democratic lately over issues like healthcare, education, and economic assistance.

Matt Largey, KUT News

Election Day is here and hundreds of thousands are expected to head to the polls in Travis County. More than 237,000 Travis County voters cast a ballot during early voting—that's a little over 37 percent of registered voters. Traditional voting patterns show that half of registered voters don't vote until Election Day.

More Texans than ever before are registered to vote in this election—13.64 million people. Presidential elections typically bring more voters to the polls. In 2008, more than 402,000 Travis County residents voted in the presidential election.

Here are six things you should know if you're headed to the polls today:

1. Registered Travis County Voters Can Vote Anywhere in the County:

For this election, Travis County Commissioners approved vote centers. That means registered voters can forget about their precincts and cast a ballot anywhere in the county with a 'vote here' sign. These places include schools and libraries along with locations used for early voting such as grocery stores.

Flickr user Images of Money, bit.ly/LeSsiT

Here’s an eye-opening number: The total spending by candidates, political parties and Super PACs on this year’s presidential and congressional elections will be just shy of $6 billion. 

So say money-in-politics watchdogs The Center for Responsive Politics. A report on its OpenSecrets blog predicts combined spending for the 2012 elections is on track to exceed its already astronomical prediction of $5.8 billion.

While the CRP notes that direct spending on the presidential election is actually down slightly from 2008 (going from $2.8 million last cycle to an estimated $2.6 million), spending by congressional candidates is up, as is the wave of Super PAC spending and advocacy advertisements funded in the wake of the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” decision allowing corporate contributions.

“What remains unknown – and may never fully be accounted for – is how much money secretive ‘shadow money’ organizations spent, with some investing massive sums on ads, but also on unreported and purportedly ‘non-political’ activities, as the election neared,” the CRP writes.

As Eyder said earlier, "it's almost over."

The campaign, that is.

But if you haven't had enough of it all yet, here's are three places to go if you're looking for tips on what to watch for and when to watch for it.

It's almost over. We're just hours from Election Day 2012, which means President Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney are blitzing the battleground states in the final day of campaigning.

Here's ABC News with the schedule:

Good morning. This weekend’s week cold front will lead to highs in the lower 80s, along with a chance for some isolated thunderstorms in the region, according to the National Weather Service. Here’s a look at some stories KUT News has been working on.

"Now let’s get into the big change for this presidential election. You probably know that during early voting you can stop anywhere with a 'Vote Here' sign – usually at a grocery store or other high-traffic public location.

Travis County has decided to adopt that strategy on Election Day. 'You can vote at any one of the polling places that are designated' within Travis County, said County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir."

Voters should also know the state’s contested Photo ID requirement is not in effect this election –  a voter registration card, copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, or other government document showing your name and address are all acceptable forms of ID.

"If Prop 4, the 8-2-1 plan, were to pass, the City Council would presumably be drawing Austin’s new districts. But Prop 3, the 10-1 plan, provides for a redistricting commission. The commission would have 14 members; three auditors would randomly select eight people from a pool of candidates, and those eight would then pick the remaining six, ensuring that they are diverse in race, ethnicity, geography and gender.

Some redistricting commissions in the country have been accused of drawing maps for political gain or with cronyism in mind. Others, like those in San Diego and Minneapolis, have been commended for keeping politics away from the process."

With Election Day just two days away, the presidential campaigns of Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney are spending the final hours criss-crossing the swing states trying to get their supporters to the polls.

Update 6:15 p.m. EDT:

flickr.com/athrasher

Update 2 (Nov. 5): Early voting is over in Austin, but on Election Day (Nov. 6) Austin voters can cast ballots at any polling place in Travis County.

Update (Nov. 2): Today is the last day to cast a ballot during early voting. Most early voting locations are open until 7 p.m. but the "Mega Voting Site" at Highland Mall will be open until 9 p.m.

So far, more than 202,000 Travis County voters have cast a ballot—that’s about 32 percent of registered voters.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Capital Metro is offering free rides on all buses and the MetroRail throughout the day on Election Day to help people get to the polls.

On Election Day, Travis County voters do not have to cast a ballot at their precinct but can vote at any polling location in the county.

(Revised @ 12 p.m. ET)

The final monthly jobs report before Tuesday's general election contained something for both President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney to work into their closing arguments to voters.

For Obama, it was the news that the economy in October created significantly more jobs — 171,000 — than many economists had forecast. And the Labor Department revised upward the job numbers for September and August, suggesting even more underlying strength in the economy than earlier appeared to be the case.

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