Photo: Former Ron Paul aide Jesse Benton leaves federal courthouse in Des Moines, Iowa, after being sentenced to 2 years probation in connection to secret payments to secure 2012 endorsement from Iowa state senator - @mzamoraphoto via @GrantMRodgers
Elections were held in the United States throughout 2012. These included many federal elections on Election Day, November 6, 2012, most prominently the 57th presidential election, Senate elections (where 33 seats were decided), and House of Representatives elections (to elect all 435 members of the House for the 113th United States Congress). It also featured 13 state and territorial governors' races; state and territorial legislature races, special elections, and various other state, territorial, and local races and referenda on votes held in November as well as throughout the year.
Little overall change occurred on the Federal level. Incumbent President Barack Obama was elected to a second term, with the national popular vote percentage being 51.1% to 47.2%, and the Electoral College vote being 332 to 206, for Obama and challenger Mitt Romney, respectively. The Democratic Party held control of the Senate and the Republican Party maintained a majority in the House of Representatives. Republicans also held on to a majority of governorships.
The election resulted in New Hampshire being the first state with an entirely female congressional delegation and with Wisconsin electing the first openly LGBT member of the Senate. Three state referenda passed legalizing same-sex marriage, while Minnesota became the first state in history to reject a proposed state-level constitutional ban of same sex marriage. Two states approved and one rejected the legalization of recreational marijuana, and one more state voted to approve allowing marijuana for medical use. A referendum was also held in Puerto Rico regarding the future political status of the U.S. unincorporated territory, with voters agreeing towards acquiring statehood.
The 2012 election cycle was the first to be impacted by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. The projected cost of the 2012 federal election races is estimated to be over 5.8 billion dollars, with approximately $1 billion of that coming from "outside" groups (groups not directly controlled by the candidate's campaign or officially controlled by the party). During the elections there was much spending by the lobbies, particularly the fossil fuels lobby. This election season became the most expensive in American history.