July 1st, 2008
04:14 PM ET
10 years ago

New CNN Poll: Obama, McCain in a statistical dead heat

 Obama and McCain are in a statistical dead heat.

Obama and McCain are in a statistical dead heat.

(CNN) - With the dust having finally settled after the prolonged Democratic presidential primary, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama locked in a statistical dead heat in the race for the White House.

With just over four months remaining until voters weigh in at the polls, the new survey out Tuesday indicates Obama holds a narrow 5-point advantage among registered voters nationwide over the Arizona senator, 50 percent to 45 percent. That represents little change from a similar poll one month ago, when the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee held a 46-43 percent edge over McCain.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland notes Tuesday's survey confirms what a string of national polls released this month have shown: Obama holds a slight advantage over McCain, though not a big enough one to constitute a statistical lead.

"Every standard telephone poll taken in June has shown Obama ahead of McCain, with nearly all of them showing Obama's margin somewhere between three and six points," Holland said. "In most of them, that margin is not enough to give him a lead in a statistical sense, but it appears that June has been a good month for Obama."

But the new CNN/ORC polls shows the race gets even tighter when the two most prominent third-party presidential candidates are considered. In a four way match-up that includes independent candidate Ralph Nader and Libertarian candidate Bob Barr, Obama's lead over McCain dwindles to 3 percentage points, 46 percent to 43 percent. (Nader registers 6 percent while Barr gets 3 percent.)

But it remains unclear just how much effect Nader and Barr will have on the election, as summertime surveys often overstate the eventual Election Day showing of third-party candidates.

"A useful rule of thumb is that third-party candidates in November get no more than half the support polls show them having in June or July," Holland said.

Meanwhile, one day after the Illinois senator sharply defended his devotion to America during a high-profile speech in the crucial swing state of Missouri, the new survey shows some voters continue to have lingering questions about his patriotism.

One quarter of all registered voters say Obama lacks patriotism, according to the poll. That breaks down to 10 percent of Democrats, 29 percent of Independents, and 40 percent of Republicans who say Obama lacks patriotism.

But it's likely the issue will not have a significant impact this fall.

"Strategically speaking, the question is not how many people consider Obama unpatriotic - it's how many people consider Obama unpatriotic who would have voted for him otherwise," Holland said "Most of the respondents who think Obama is unpatriotic are Republicans. That indicates that Obama may not have lost a lot of votes - so far - on this matter."

McCain, a former Navy pilot and prisoner of war during Vietnam, is viewed as being patriotic by 90 percent of all registered voters.

The poll, conducted June 26-29, surveyed 906 registered voters and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (414 Responses)
  1. Benson

    "That is hilarious! CNN come on! 5 point lead is a statistical dead heat? Not to mention other polls that show Obama up by double digits."

    Try watching War Room sometime. You'll actually see the reports coming in in the morning, with Clinton even dropping 7% nationally in one night. 5% is a dead-heat.

    As for the two polls, they are considered outliers. Gallup, Rasmussen, CNN, ARG, Survey USA, and others all show much smaller margins. You'll see in my previous comment that the LA Times poll gave Dems a 17% ID advantage, when the devastation of Watergate only gave them 15% and they only had 2% in 2006.

    July 1, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. lil

    These people who you polled dont question Sen Obamas patriotism
    or his religion they know he is christian and they know his life story
    but they just want to hide behind that because he is mixed race.
    Please people let it go. With all that has happened during this election
    why would Sen Obama be running if he didnt care about his country or should I say our country. And you have to have more than mustard seed faith to keep running for this office after what he has been through. Think about it. Without christain faith he would not have made
    it this far.
    Keep the faith Sen Obama

    July 1, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Pro-choice, pro-dem

    The Republicans are getting desperate with Obama holding a consistent lead.

    Next thing you know, they'll be running down the street screaming "his middle name is Hussein!"

    July 1, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. TRUTH


    July 1, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. Nando, Florida

    NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  6. Kathy

    As as we get closer to Nov, you'll see the gap widening even more in favor of McCain. The more voters learn about Obama, the better off the country will be. I'm not a big fan of McCain, however I do not trust Obama and I think the country will be worse off with him in office. He is changing his position on almost ever issue that he ran on, which tells me that during the primaries he said whatever it took to get the nomination regardless of costs. In my opinion he can not be trusted to use good judgement in either economic nor international matters. The DNC has shown us former democrats once again, that they do not know how to win elections-for shame. The party had a real good shot at the White House with Clinton, but the DNC was once again stupid. Bye-Bye party, independent am I and proud of it. I'll vote for McCain, and wait for Hillary in 2012.

    July 1, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. Bill

    The only "poll" that counts is the one on Nov. 4.

    July 1, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. Paul

    An unpopular war. The economy in the crapper. Gas prices (under a Republican adminitration) going towards $5 a gallon. The most unpopular president in office in the last 50 years. And still the consumate "change" politician, BHO, barely leading. And McCain should be worried? I don' think so!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Alreadytiredofit, Las Vegas, NV

    Let's see what the polls are on November 4, 2008. That's the only "poll" that matters.

    July 1, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Justmyopinion2008

    Sen. McCain lacks good judgement which is why he is flip flopping a lot. He will eventually regret visiting Columbia due to NAFTA and try to spinn it to his own advantage. He said that he wanted to run a "civilized campaign/race" , guess what he got "swift boat" guys involved only to change his mind later, talk about Flip Flopper! I can go on and on! Sen McCain says that "you cannot trust the words of Obama" He should look himself in the mirror and he can see who is consistently changing his stands on issues and what he has told the voters! We do not need a continuation of Bush's administration!
    Sen. McCain is like an elephant that calls a horse a fat animal!

    July 1, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  11. Ben

    Someone once said"patriotism is the last refuge of a scondrel.
    How dare the republican scoundrels claim Obama is not patriotic!?!?
    That is the last straw. I do not like hate letters, but this is too much. Do you think these remarks come from McCain's camp without his knowledge? If so, then he has no more control of his campaign than Hillary had over hers!!!!!!!!!
    I think McCain basks in the damage his campaign surregates spew out, so he can claim innocently he does not approve of this type of campaigning. I do believe he is a wily politician trying to have it both ways. First cast doubt about your opponent, and then gracefully deny he had anything to do with it! GO OBAMA

    July 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Clinton, no, wait, McCain Supporter

    Those disaffected Hillary voters are looking better and better. Why, they're even nicer than they were, and Hillary is pretty nice, too.

    "Why, we Obama fans have ALWAYS liked and respected the Clintons, haven't we, Barack."

    "Yes, dear, we've always admired the Hillary and her 18 MILLION votes."

    July 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. Chris, from WI

    Marge, put down the pipe.

    July 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. MDG

    EDW you make me laugh. Generation Y may have cell phones and no home phones, but you certainly are not at "work" or maybe that is what you call where you spend 10-4 surfing the Internet. Gen Y does not know anything about work ethic or experience....which is why you are willing to vote Obama....who has neither as well. Obama like Gen Y just expects everything handed to him. McCain worked to get where he is. As a former solider, I would sooner go overseas and fight for McCain – someone who has seen war will not idly send troops into combat (our current president and VP prove this point – neither served). Obama will be a mixture of JFK and Carter; he will have JFK's inexperience and Carter's naivity. We will be better off if Obama simply called Israel and Apartied state and went to build homes in NOLA and spare us a disasterous 4 years. I would have voted for Mrs. Bill Clinton, the 90s were some very good years...but alas, I now will vote firmly for McCain.

    July 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  15. RB

    You know, it's funny how many Americans question Obama's patriotism. A good number of them fly their flags three days out of the year – July 4th, Memorial Day, and Veteran's Day – unless they forgot to take them down and put them away. Yet, our young men and women are fighting and dying every single day of the year. At least Obama was moved to the point of recognizing that any person who puts his/her life on the line in defense of this country has earned at least the opportunity for a college education from the American people – which is mor than I can say for John McCain. As a veteran, that is very disappointing. John McCain thinks you should spend your lifetime being shot at, retire when you're too old/tired to go to school, and then use educational benefits – if you survive the bullets and IEDs. I think our kids deserve better than that from a man who claims to be a military leader and hero. I'm ashamed of him for opposing Webb's GI Bill. And, because of that, I fear that he would continue to erode veterans benefits if elected president. I just can't vote for him under those circumstances.

    VETS for OBAMA/WEBB – 08

    July 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Fella from Chicago

    So much crap is going to come out on both these candidates between now and November. Don't decide yet who to vote for so keep it civil for now. Sit back as though you're at a tennis match and prepare to swing your neck from side to side as each changes positions weekly, if not daily, as they both try to feel the pulse of the American public at that particulat moment.

    July 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. ProfSteve

    As a statistician, I get annoyed at the constant mistatement of poll results.

    BECAUSE the difference between Obama and McCain is within the margin of error, ONE CANNOT say that "Obama holds a slight advantage over McCain." By definition, there is no evidence of any advantage.

    On the flipside, one CANNOT call this a statistical dead heat unless a statistical power analysis indicates that the lack of a difference is not likely due to the sample size.

    The only thing these results allow you to say is that one cannot conclude with confidence that Obama (or McCain) has a lead. This is not the same as saying that they are tied.

    July 1, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. john doe

    right now even though it looks like obama may have a lead i feel like its anybodies race it aint over yet. McCain 08!!!

    July 1, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. Chris

    JR, that wasn't the Pledge of allegiance that he didn't cover his heart for, it was the national anthem for which covering your heart isn't a prerequisite unless you happen to be a member of the military. It isn't even remotely tradition for civilians's to do so unless they happen to be running for office or playing baseball apparently.

    July 1, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |

    If Black can make the comment he did and people think its true why can't Gen Clark say something that is true. You are not qualified just because you were in a war. Does being in a hospital mean I'm qualified to be a doctor. Did John McCain stay in a holiday inn express before he decided to run?

    July 1, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. Judgement over 'experience'

    John Mccain's judgment:
    Keating 5
    Against GI bill
    Against Women's equal pay
    For, then against immigration reform
    Gas Tax Holiday (not endorsed by one economist)
    Voted for Iraq war
    For 100 yr presence in Iraq
    45 new nuclear plants with no means of getting rid of their waste
    Cold War foreign policy
    Drilling off our coasts....

    July 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. Mommyof2

    I keep reading all of these polls and wondering: who are they calling? Because they've never called our house......
    Are they speaking to heads of household or whomever answers the phone? Students? Cell phones?

    They haven't called any of my friends or my family.
    And we're all voting OBAMA!

    July 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Susan, PA

    AND REMEBER........
    A lot of DEMS never show up on GE, so McCain will win for sure......

    Yeah, thats what we have to be satisfied with.
    Good luck all.

    July 1, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. tony

    Barack “I’ll take any position that gets me elected” Obama does it again with his latest faith based government program speech. Why is every vilified Bush program suddenly all right if run by democrats? His even goes further allowing religious based discrimination. Is this why all we get are puff pieces from his supporters in the media? I guess you really can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, I guess this election will prove if you can fool all of the people all of the time. Or at lease long enough to get elected!

    July 1, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. Bill Brown

    The question again....why isn't Barry Obama blowing McCain out of the water? Republicans are more unpopular than they've been since the Great Depression and yet Obama has a statistically insignifcant lead despite FREE news coverage for the extra two months it took him to put away the Hildabeast.

    At this same point in 2000? Bush led Gore in good economic times by SIXTEEN points. A similar turnabout means McCain would win by 11.

    It's something to think about.

    July 1, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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