Incumbents have run in 31 of the 56 presidential elections in US history through 2012. The incumbents have won 20 times and lost 10 times.
The Constitution did not originally contain presidential term limits. The 22nd Amendment, ratified in 1951, restricted presidents to a maximum of two terms. Four-time president Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932, 1936, 1940, 1944) was the only candidate to be elected more than twice.
Presidential elections take place on Election Day- the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. However, the President does not take office until noon on January 20 of the following year.
A presidential candidate has won the election despite losing the popular vote four times in US history: 1824, 1876, 1888, and 2000. In 1824, John Quincy Adams lost both the popular and the electoral vote, but the House of Representatives decided the outcome of the election because his opponent failed to secure a majority of electoral votes.
Gerald Ford was the only person to serve as both President and Vice President without being elected to either office.
There have been 538 electoral votes in each presidential election since 1960. A candidate must win a majority of those votes (270) to win the election.
In 2012, 36 states and DC are exclusively holding presidential primaries, and 12 states are holding caucuses only. Two states, Missouri and Utah, have both primaries and caucuses.
Of the Democratic and Republican candidates who entered the 2012 presidential race, Ron Paul, age 76, is the oldest candidate, and Barack Obama is the youngest candidate at age 50.
Democrats first used the donkey as a party symbol when Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828. Thomas Nast, a famous political cartoonist, later popularized the symbol in an 1870 Harper's Weekly political cartoon featuring the Democratic donkey kicking an elephant, which became the symbol of the Republican party. Before the 2012 election campaign began, the Democratic Party released a new symbol - a blue "D" inside a circle.
The Republican Party has been known as the "G.O.P." which today is a reference to "Grand Old Party"; but in 1875, when the term was first used, G.O.P. referenced "Gallant Old Party."
Throughout US history many political parties have come and gone including the Federalist Party and the Whig party. In 1912 President Theodore Roosevelt left the Republican Party, formed the Progressive Party (Bull Moose Party), ran as a Progressive, and lost.