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Five biggest upsets of Election Day 2012

November 7, 2012 by NCC Staff


In national elections, there are always a few surprises in the presidential and state votes. Here’s a look at five largely unexpected developments from Tuesday.

Mia Love of Utah.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the status quo of the past year is mostly intact. Barack Obama remains as president, and each party controls half of Congress.

But two trends were apparent after a huge voter turnout in the 2012 election: President Obama outperformed polling projections, and politicians tied to the conservative tea party movement took some hits.

Tea party standard bearer Michele Bachmann survived, but barely, in the most-expensive House race in the country.

Bachmann defeated businessman Jim Graves by 3,256 votes in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District. She outspent Graves by a 12-to-1 margin in a race that saw $21 million in campaign spending in a district with 351,000 voters. (That works out to $60 per vote.)

But two other Tea Party favorites didn’t fare as well.

Mia Love had a high-profile role at the GOP convention and was touted as a rising star in the Republican Party.

Two recent polls in Utah’s 9th District made Love a 9-point favorite heading into Election Day.

However, Love lost by a small margin to Democratic incumbent Jim Matheson.

And Allen West, the outspoken Florida representative, is trailing as the final votes are being counted in his race.

Challenger Patrick Murphy was leading by more than the automatic recall amount in Florida, but West wasn’t conceding and wanted a partial recount.

Heidi Heitkamp, the former North Dakota state attorney general, upset Representative Rick Berg to become her state’s newest U.S. senator.

Berg was a nearly 6-point favorite in consensus polling going into Election Day. Mitt Romney took North Dakota by 20 points.

In a milder upset, incumbent Democratic senator John Tester kept his seat in Montana, despite trailing Denny Rehberg in pre-election polls. Tester won by a 4 percent margin. Mitt Romney won Montana by 13 points.

And in our final upset, neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney has won the state of Florida and its 29 electoral votes as of Wednesday afternoon—and no one seems to care.

Obama led Romney by about 52,000 votes with 97 percent of the ballots counted. The only drama will be if the final margin is under 0.5 percent, which would trigger an automatic recount. The margin on Wednesday afternoon was 0.2 percent.

Both campaigns will likely have to pay for part of a recount, including paying people to oversee the process, so we’ll see if Obama or Romney waives the right to a recount.

But will a candidate waive a recount in a state where some people stood in line six hours to vote?

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