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Republican Candidates for President 2012

Updated on November 16, 2012

GOP Presidential Candidates in 2012

The hub will attempt to take an unbiased look at the candidates who faced up against Mitt Romney and ran for the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 2012. While Governor Romney ended up winning with relative ease, the race for the nomination proved to be a bit more contentious at times than many expected, with candidates such as Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich doing surprisingly well in a number of key states and providing Democrats with some attack lines going into the 2012 President Election. Indeed, by forcing Romney to adopt more conservative views than he had previously espoused, the 2012 primaries may have played an important role in his loss to President Obama in the November election.

The Current Favorite

Mitt Romney

Biography: The former governor of Massachusetts and a leading candidate in 2008, Mitt Romney is actively pursuing the Republican nomination once again leading up to 2012.

Strengths: Name recognition, fundraising ability, past executive experience running Massachusetts and serving as the CEO of Bain Capital. Romney has already won a large majority of the delegates to date and has raised far more money that his competitors, and barring a major collapse or scandal, he will be the Republican nominee this fall.

Weaknesses: The Health Care Reform bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2012 is largely based on the plan signed by Romney as governor of Massachusetts. Also, there is some evidence that Romney's Mormon faith may hurt him among some religiously conservative GOP primary voters. Romney also has had some problems with his career in private equity, as part his work involved downsizing companies to increase their value (when necessary). This weakness may be exacerbated by the fact that Romney pays an effective federal tax rate of around 15% because most of his earnings comes from investments, a figure much lower than the majority of Americans who depend on a salary for a large portion of their annual income. Romney has also performed poorly in the Midwest, barely winning his home state of Michigan despite a huge funding advantage over his challengers.

Odds of winning the nomination: 95%

Tea Party Express

Rick Santorum

Biography: A former Senator from Pennsylvania, Santorum lagged behind many of the other candidates before polling improbably finishing second in the Iowa Caucuses in early January, 2012. A strong social conservative, Santorum has shown the ability to win over voters uncomfortable with some of Romney's more moderate policies and statements around social issues.

Strengths: Support among core Republican base, demonstrated electoral success in Iowa, Minnesota, and Colorado, socially conservative stance on issues like gay rights, choice, and restricting access to birth control should appeal to Republican voters. Also, he's not Mitt Romney.

Weaknesses: Santorum has struggled to raise money throughout the campaign and has been unable to translate his success in some southern and Midwestern states into national popularity, falling further and further behind Romney in the delegate count as the campaign goes on. Santorum's extreme social conservatism, has turned off voters uncomfortable with his stances on gay rights, abortion, and birth control, as well as moderate voters in primary states like New Hampshire.

Odds of winning the Nomination: 2%

Newt Gingrich

Biography: The former Speaker of the House, Congressional Representative from Georgia, and the leader of the Republican Congressional landslide in 1994, Gingrich is widely expected to run for the nomination in 2012.

Strengths: Political Credentials, leadership experience. His reputation as an anti-government activist willing to sacrifice his political career to control spending could play well with many Republican primary voters.

Weaknesses: Many Americans have negative feelings about Gingrich dating back to the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton in the mid 90s. Gingrich has a habit of making statements that make him seem rash and/or angry, and has performed terribly in every primary and caucus outside of his home state of Georgia and neighboring South Carolina.

Odds of winning the nomination:1%, and it would probably require Romney and Santorum to both drop out of the race for some reason for Newt to be the nominee.

Ron Paul

Biography: A candidate for the Republican nomination in 2008, and a long serving member of the House from Texas, Paul's campaign platform in 2008 in many ways paved the way for the rise of the "Tea Party" as a political movement.

Strengths: Strong fiscal conservative credentials, ideological consistency on fiscal issues, name recognition among likely primary voters.

Weaknesses: Paul's fiscal conservatism appeals to many primary voters, but he also has libertarian tendencies on some social issues that may turn off some voters. Age might also be an issue, as Paul will be 77 in 2012, and the oldest sitting President was Ronald Reagan who was 77 when he left office at the end of his second term. Paul also hasn't translated his grassroots support into a victory in any primary or caucus so far, so barring an unforeseen scandal or a cataclysm at the convention, he's not getting anywhere close to the nomination.

Odds of winning the nomination: 0%

Rick Perry

Biography: The current governor of Texas (a position he has held since 2000), Rick Perry was a late entry into the presidential race, but was seen by many as a strong candidate who combined managerial experience with political positions that match well with the Republican base. Unfortunately his poor performance in debates and the Iowa caucuses seemed to doom his campaign to failure.

Strengths: Name recognition, donor base, experience as a southern governor (traditionally a great pathway to the presidency), appeal to Tea Party and conservative base.

Weaknesses: Perry performed horribly in the early debates, most famously stating that he would abolish three cabinet level departments if elected president, then forgetting which departments he would get rid of when probed about his answer. He has also made some controversial statements regarding Social Security (which he has repeatedly referred to as a Ponzi scheme), the death penalty, and other issues, which may make him a bit of an extreme candidate to complete in the general election.

Odds of winning the nomination: 0%, drop-out official as of January 19, 2012

Michele Bachmann

Biography: Currently a House rep for Minnesota's sixth district, Michele Bachmann is a regular on the talk show appearance circuit and a candidate who strongly identified with the Tea Party Movement. She also had a high level of name recognition, proven fundraising ability, and strong support from the Tea Party, but performed dismally in the Iowa Caucuses in early January 2012 and dropped out of the race soon after.

Strengths: Support among core Republican base, she should do well in the Iowa caucses given her midwestern roots. Proven fundraising ability, she raised more money than any other House candidate in the 2010 Mid-Term election. She also won the Iowa Straw Poll in August 2011, which many consider to be a precursor to a strong showing in the Iowa Caucuses in January.

Weaknesses: Bachmann didn't actually follow up on her strong showing at the straw poll with success in Iowa, drawing around 5% of the vote in the Iowa Caucuses. This could be explained by Bachmann's long history of making factually incorrect and/or misleading statements to reporters, including claims about the cost of a trip President Obama made to Asia and false accusations of "death panels" in the Health Care Bill passed by Congress in 2010. She has also never held an administrative position in public office, which is the path typically followed by Presidential candidates in recent years, though similar reservations were brought up during President Obama's run in 2008.

Odds of winning the Nomination: 0%, as she officially dropped out after her disappointing showing in the Iowa Caucuses.

The Moderate Alternatives?

Jon Huntsman

Biography: The current US ambassador to China and a former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman is rumored by many to be strongly considering a run for the Republican nomination in 2012.

Strengths: Huntsman has considerable business and foreign policy experience, and is somewhat more moderate on social issues than many of the other candidates, having supported immigration reform and civil unions for gay couples. Huntsman also came in third in the New Hampshire primary and could challenge Mitt Romney for moderate voters if he can hang in the race.

Weaknesses: The very moderation that might make Huntsman a strong candidate in a general election will hurt him in Republican primaries, as well the fact that he was appointed ambassador by President Obama, who he will be running against shall he win the nomination. It also remains to be seen whether religious evangelical conservatives who tend to turn out in large numbers in the primaries will support a candidate of Mormon faith.

Odds of winning the nomination:0%, having dropped out and endorsed Mitt Romney in January 2012 after a 3rd place finish in New Hampshire

The Unknown?

At this point it looks like Romney has things all but sewn up. There is still a minuscule chance that a scandal could derail his campaign, or that Santorum and Gingrich will win enough delegates to prevent Romney from sealing up the nomination until the convention (paving the way for an unexpected candidate to emerge through a floor vote), but that seems less and less likely each day as Romney racks up victories, endorsements, and dollars.

Odds of unknown candidate emerging to win the nomination: 1%

Readers Pick for the Nominee

Who do you think will win the GOP nomination in 2012?

See results


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    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I know Newt Gingrich would certainly be the best choice for president. His percentage will improve if people consider his experience in politicsand his ten step plan to improve our economy. Negative adds will only cause doubt and confusion. If we all would simply tune out the "left wing" media their power to brain wash us into believing all the lies would diminish. Obama will be defeated by a landslide if everyone would make the effort to learn the true facts as opposed to the lies the media would have us believe. Wake up America. Do the research and do what's best for our country. Political parties should play no part in this years ellection. Vote "FOR THE PEOPLE". Right now we are being fed lies and false promises. If Obama could make changes we would see them by now. Please don't take part in the distuction of our country. Vote for the person who is going to take steps to save our econony. Newt has them and will act on them.

    • R M Bowers profile image

      R M Bowers 

      7 years ago from Canton, Ohio

      I personally think they are all screwed now that The Donald is in motion, and frankly speaking if hw wold ask Sarah or Ron to run as his VP then things will get very dime in the Obama camp, with either of these people as VP, I predict that 72% of the total vote would go to him, if the elections were held today

    • Harry Santos profile image

      Harry Santos 

      7 years ago from Metro Manila, Philippines

      How come Ron Paul isn't a main guy in your list? What the hell? he won the CPAC poll and he's the only real conservative and the only candidate who stands for his principles no matter what.

    • bigeddie06385 profile image



      I like therese's in NV suggestion. I also agree with Tiffinnie. I like Sarah Palin,but she needs to do her homework if she plans to run in 2012 or 2016.

    • DannyMaio profile image


      7 years ago from New York

      RON PAUL

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Daniels is obviously the GOP's best bet if they plan on winning something in '12.

    • Tiffinnie profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice roundup. A weakness missed for Palin is a fundamental understanding of government and how it works. Also, a lack of understanding of policy issues. To date, I have not seen evidence that she has filled this gap--perhaps with time she will.

    • profile image

      Therese In NV 

      7 years ago

      I'd like to see John Boehner/New House Speaker run with Mitt Romney as VP Candidate. That would be the unbreakable team to take down Obama!

    • OpinionDuck profile image


      8 years ago

      The 2010 election will define the candidates for 2012


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