Rann and Kevin Foley resigned from their parliamentary seats, which created twin by-elections for 11 February, the other being the 2012 Port Adelaide by-election. On two-party preferred margins of 18.0 percent and 12.8 percent from the 2010 election, considered safe margins on the previous pendulum, Labor would have likely retained both seats on the two-party preferred vote based on unchanged statewide Newspoll since the previous election. Ramsay was the safest of Labor's seats based on the previous election. In the lower house, 24 seats form a majority, the Labor government held 26 of 47 seats. If one or both seats were lost, Labor would still have retained majority government.
Rann was first elected as the member for the new northern metropolitan seat of Briggs at the 1985 election. From 1989 he held various ministries in the Bannon Labor government. Briggs was abolished in an electoral redistribution, with Rann moving to Ramsay in 1993. Rann was state Labor leader and leader of the opposition from 1994 after the Labor government was defeated a year earlier. Rann led Labor to minority government at the 2002 election, a landslide majority government at the 2006 election, and retained majority government at the 2010 election despite a swing. Rann stepped down in favour of Jay Weatherill as party leader and Premier in 2011. Rann is the third-longest-serving Premier of South Australia and longest-serving South Australian Labor leader. Assuming Labor holds government until the 2014 election, with four-year terms, it will be the longest-serving period of South Australian Labor government in history.
The last by-election was the 2009 Frome by-election, when another former Premier, Rob Kerin, retired from politics. The seat was narrowly won by an independent candidate.
One opinion poll was conducted and released by the in-house polling group at The Advertiser, Adelaide's main newspaper. On 30 January 2012, 410 voters were polled in the seat. After the Liberal Party declined to field a candidate, Labor's primary vote was at 51 percent (57.9 percent at the last election), with the LDP on 23 percent, Aldridge on 10 percent, the Greens on 9 percent (4.6 percent), with remaining candidates on about 7 percent collectively.
Labor was expected to easily retain the seat.
Labor retained the seat on a 66.7 percent two-candidate preferred vote against Aldridge, with a majority in all nine polling places – Ramsay remained the safest Labor seat in the parliament. Postal votes were included on 13 February, absentee and pre-poll votes were included on 14 February. Preference distributions occurred on 18 February. Results are final.