Barack Obama

Democratic nominee

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama, 2012 portrait crop.jpg
This article is part of
a series about
Barack Obama

Barack Obama's signature

The 2012 Democratic presidential primaries and caucuses were the process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 U.S. presidential election. President Barack Obama won the Democratic Party nomination by securing more than the required 2,383 delegates on April 3, 2012 after a series of primary elections and caucuses. He was formally nominated by the 2012 Democratic National Convention on September 5, 2012, in Charlotte, North Carolina.[1]

Primary race overview

The general expectation was that, with President Barack Obama having the advantage of incumbency and being the only viable candidate running, the race would be merely pro forma. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders reportedly considered challenging Obama in the primaries but decided not to run after then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid talked him out of it.[2]

Several of the lesser-known candidates made efforts to raise visibility. Some Occupy movement activists made an attempt to take over the Iowa caucuses,[3] and got about 2% of the vote for Uncommitted. With nine minor candidates on the ballot in New Hampshire, there was a debate at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire on December 19, 2011,[4] in which seven candidates participated. Pro-life activist Randall Terry bought time on television in order to show graphic commercials denouncing abortion.[5]

Three candidates – other than Obama – who had been on the ballot in New Hampshire were also on the ballot in Missouri. One such candidate, Randall Terry, attempted to air graphic TV commercials during Super Bowl XLIV, but was met with resistance from various TV stations[6][7] in some locations. The Democratic National Committee also tried to stop the ads by claiming that Terry was not a legitimate Democratic candidate even though he was legally on the ballot.[8]

A number of partisans of Barack Obama citizenship conspiracy theories, challenging the legitimacy of Obama's birthright citizenship, attempted to have the President's name removed from the Georgia primary ballot. A state administrative judge upheld a subpoena, which was ignored by the President and his staff.[9] In February 2012, the activists' legal challenge was rejected by a Georgia state law judge and by the Secretary of State of Georgia, and Obama remained listed on the primary ballot.[10][11]

On May 8, 2012, Keith Russell Judd, an inmate serving a 17.5-year sentence, won 41% of the primary vote in West Virginia against incumbent Barack Obama, a higher percentage of the vote in one state than any other primary opponent of Obama had hitherto achieved in 2012.[12][13] Shortly thereafter, attorney John Wolfe, Jr. won 42% of the primary vote in Arkansas after widespread speculation that Wolfe could possibly pull off an upset of the state.[14]

Challengers to President Obama only qualified for the ballot in eight states – New Hampshire, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Alaska – while a ninth (Ohio) was going to have Randall Terry on the ballot, but removed his name before the ballots were printed. Randall Terry also attempted to contest the Kansas caucus, but was denied a spot on the caucus ballot after the state's Democratic Party determined that he didn't meet the requirements.[15]

Darcy Richardson suspended his bid for the nomination on April 28, 2012. He still appeared on the ballot in Texas and was an eligible write-in candidate in California after suspending his campaign.[16]

Four states canceled their respective Democratic primaries altogether, citing Obama being the only candidate to qualify on their respective ballot: Connecticut,[17] Delaware,[18] New York,[19] and Virginia.[20]

Despite the limited opposition and ultimately receiving 100% of the pledged delegates, Obama's total percentage of the national popular primary vote was the lowest of any incumbent since the contested 1992 election when George H. W. Bush was challenged by Pat Buchanan.


Obama was on the ballot in all states, where he ran mostly unopposed. In addition to Obama, the following table lists those candidates that attained ballot status in at least one state,[21] as well as those states that listed "Uncommitted"[22] or "No Preference"[23] as an option:

Candidate Votes Delegates States on ballot
"Uncommitted" or "No Preference" 426,336 72 9 (AL, DC, KY, MA, MD, MI, MO, MT, NC, RI, TN)
John Wolfe, Jr. 117,033 0 (23) 5 (AR, LA, MO, NH, TX)
Darcy Richardson 109,764 0 5 (LA, MO, NH, OK, TX)
Keith Russell Judd[24] 73,138 0 (1) 1 (WV)
Bob Ely 29,947 0 4 (LA, NH, OK, TX)
Randall Terry 22,734 0 (7) 4 (AK, MO, NH, OK)
Jim Rogers 15,535 0 (3) 1 (OK)
Ed Cowan 945 0 1 (NH)
Vermin Supreme 833 0 1 (NH)
John D. Haywood 423 0 1 (NH)
Craig Freis 400 0 1 (NH)
Cornelius Edward O'Connor 266 0 1 (NH)
Edward T. O'Donnell 222 0 1 (NH)
Bob Greene 213 0 1 (NH)
Scott W. Stey 155 0 1 (NH)
Aldous C. Tyler 106 0 1 (NH)

Counties carried

Democratic presidential primary results by county, 2012.svg

     Barack Obama       John Wolfe Jr.       Keith Russell Judd       Bob Ely        Randall Terry
     Jim Rogers       Uncommitted       Tie        No votes/information available

Candidates gallery