Skip to main content

Looking back at 2012: The who, where, and how many for voters in Minnesota

GoMN takes a look at how many people voted, whom they voted for, and where the ballots were cast in 2012.
  • Author:
  • Updated:

At this time in 2012, Minnesotans were given the option of four more years under Barack Obama, or a government led by Mitt Romney.

It seems like ages ago, but GoMN revisited that election – looking for clues as to what to expect when people cast their votes on Tuesday.

The issues at the time

So what was on our minds at the time?

Prior to the 2012 election, the Los Angeles Times reported one of the main issues was the sluggish economy, and how each candidate's economic plans would impact the deficit. Also, whether to extend or end the federal tax cuts that went into effect under previous President George W. Bush, which were due to expire at the end of 2012.

Then there was what to do with Iran and its nuclear facilities, reported. The Obama administration later struck a contentious deal with the country in 2016, in which Iran agreed to reduce and furlough its nuclear capabilities in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

And in an argument that has continued into this election, The Guardian reports Obama's landmark Affordable Care Act was a bone of contention, with Romney vowing to repeal large sections of it.

How Minnesota voted

Unsurprisingly, given Minnesota's recent voting history, Obama won the state with 52.8 percent of the vote to Romney's 45.1 percent. Nationally, Obama won the popular vote by 3,9 percent.

Third-party candidates didn't get much of a look, with Libertarian Gary Johnson getting 1.2 percent and the Green Party's Jill Stein 0.4 percent.

Breakdown by counties

Republicans vs. Democratic counties

Out of the 87 counties in Minnesota, Mitt Romney won 59 of them with Obama only carrying 28.

Unfortunately for the Republican candidate, the Obama counties included the more densely populated Hennepin, Ramsey and St. Louis counties – which gave the Democrat the edge overall.

Romney's wins in the less populated counties highlight the typical divide seen during presidential elections, when urban areas tend to lean Democrat and rural counties veer Republican.

The most Democratic counties

Here are the five counties where Obama won the highest proportion of the vote in 2012:

  • Ramsey County: 66.6 percent for Obama, 31.2 percent for Romney. (184,936 votes to 86,799)
  • St. Louis County: 63.7 perent for Obama, 34.1 percent for Romney. (74,177 votes to 39,675)
  • Hennepin County: 62.5 percent for Obama, 35.2 percent for Romney. (423,979 votes to 240,073)
  • Carlton County: 62 percent for Obama, 35.9 percent for Romney. (11,389 votes to 6,586)
  • Mower County: 60.3 percent for Obama, 37.6 percent for Romney. (11,129 votes to 6,938)

The most Republican counties

Here are the counties where Mitt Romney won the highest proportion of the vote in 2012.

  • Wadena County: 61.2 percent for Romney, 36.8 percent for Obama. (4,143 votes to 2,492)
  • Morrison County: 61 percent for Romney, 36.9 percent for Obama. (10,159 votes to 6,153)
  • Pipestone County: 61 percent for Romney, 37.3 percent for Obama. (2,828 votes to 1,728)
  • Martin County: 60.9 percent for Romney, 37.1 percent for Obama. (6,657 votes to 4,054).
  • Sibley County: 60.3 percent for Romney, 37.5 percent for Obama. (4,693 votes to 2,916)

Election turnout and early voting

In 2012, there were 2,950,780 votes cast in Minnesota out of 3,861,043 eligible voters – a turnout of 76.42 percent.

This was a drop from the 78.11 percent turnout when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. But Minnesota's 2012 turnout was still the highest figure in the country.

Then there's early voting. This is the first presidential election in which Minnesotans don't need an excuse to vote absentee, which the Secretary of State has credited with a surge in early voting this year.

Here's 2016 early voting compared to 2012.

To find news, commentary, and local events leading up to the 2016 election, head to Go Vote MN. Go Vote MN is hosting an Election Eve Party at Mill City Nights on Monday featuring Dilated Peoples and Allan Kingdom.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-12-04 at 9.16.52 AM

Responding to Twitter release, former Minnesota GOP candidate calls for 'bullets'

It was in response to a thread on Twitter concerning the social media giant's moderation efforts regarding political issues.


NWS: 'Safe to say' more active weather is ahead

Three rounds of light snow around Minnesota before more substantial precipitation becomes a possibility.


Hero dad who stopped carjacker who fled with his kids identified

A GoFundMe has been set up to support Derek Gotchie and his family following the incident.

Screen Shot 2022-12-03 at 4.35.18 PM

Watch: New London-Spicer wins 3A championship on incredible walk-off TD

New London-Spicer defeated the unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in remarkable circumstances.


Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.


Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.


Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.


FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.


The early (mock) results are in: Here's who Minnesota high schoolers are voting for

Donald Trump has jumped out to a voting lead in Minnesota ... in a mock election for 9-12 graders in state schools.

5 Minnesota maps to help you make sense of things before Election Day

After taking a look at the national picture on Thursday, GoMN has scoured the internet to find maps of Minnesota that are relevant as we approach Nov. 8.

1 in 10 eligible Minnesota voters have already sent in a ballot

In 2012, the state had just 183,000 ballots by this time. This year, it's a lot more.

What do Minnesota's young Trump voters want from his presidency?

They voted for him. Now here's what they want to see from a Trump administration.

The Electoral College votes today – here's what to expect

Electors will meet at the State Capitol at noon to cast their vote for president and vice president.

A 20-point swing in Wisconsin? How Clinton and Trump look in the polls now

A clearer picture of the impact of the Trump tapes and the Clinton Wikileaks release can now be seen through election polls.

5 U.S. maps to help you make sense of things before Election Day

Not all maps are created equal. Here are 5 interesting ones.

A record number of Minnesotans voted last month

Minnesota also had the highest turnout in the nation – again.