July 1st, 2008
04:14 PM ET
6 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. Phil

    Now that is spin. One candidate consistently polls 5% better than the other and we are in a statistical dead heat.

    Prof Steve, I am not a statistician, but I stayed at one of them express hotels last night. I understand margin of error in polls. However, when multiple polls show the exact same result, and are on the highest edge of that margin of error, the odds of that statistical margin of error actually coming into play go down, don't they? When you combine the results of those various polls, increasing the sample size, the margin of error also reduces, doesn't it?

    Obama/Biden 08!

    July 1, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  2. harschwarz

    The popular vote is not the best indicator for projecting a winner. It's the electoral college. And in that instance Obama is not only winning states that Kerry won in 2004(252),but he's ahead in the western states like NM & CO, as well as red states like Virginia, Ohio and Indiana in the east.

    July 1, 2008 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  3. jason

    mccain will loose and obama will take over we need obama people pay attention to gas prices and economy. mccain has no plans for us do the right thing vote for obama. obama 08!!!!!!!

    July 1, 2008 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. Annie

    Yeah, well I guess it is time for Obama to select Clinton as his running mate if he expects to win this election. Otherwise, several Clinton supports, myself included, will vote for McCain.

    Obama/Clinton '08

    July 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Leslie

    If Obama does turn out not to be all he says he is, is there a chance Hillary can be slipped in at the last second? Does the fact that she just 'suspended' her campaign mean we still might be able to get this right?

    July 1, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. lars

    USA : 0
    Rest of the world : 193

    YOu get the govt you deserve, frat boys.

    July 1, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  7. Inez

    McCain will lose the a bunch of Hillary's supporters are still whining about her loss some more of them will come around especially when they find out he knows nothing about our economy or how to fix it. He is too old to be president. Just because he was a war hero does not mean he is entitled to being president. I have yet to see where he is different from president Bush. If Obama would take Hillary as his vp he would win by a landslide. If Obama loses because of Hillary's supporters it will ruin the Clintons and they could hang up ever getting any support from an Obama supporter. We need a dem for president not some senile old man.

    July 1, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  8. Ron. Toronto Canada

    I am not saying John Mccaine is unpatriotic. Senator Mccaine flew combat missions against communism in Viet Nam. Served five years as a P.O.W. God Bless him. How could he support an administration that sold out the U.S.A. to communisChina. This I would call UNPATRIOTIC...

    July 1, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  9. Ron

    The same pollsters must be polling in Zimbabwe

    Mugabe, Tsvangirai in stastical dead heat.

    July 1, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  10. steve

    hey retards at CNN – when one candidate (Obama) leads the other (McCain ) BEYOND the margin or error, it is no longer a "statistical dead heat"... stop carrying McSame's water

    July 1, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. jimmy velman

    I WROTE MY COMMENTS ABOUT AMERICAN CORPORATIONS HIRING, RECRUITING, OUTSOURCING AMERICAN JOBS TO FOREIGNERS INSTEAD OF TRAINING AMERICANS FOR THESE
    HUNDREDS OF TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE JOBS, WHITE COLLAR VACANCIES AMERICAN CORPORATIONS NOW HAVE.
    I CANT UNDERSTABD WHY CNN ALWAYS PUTS MY COMMENTS
    WITH THE HEADING" YOUR COMMENTS ARE AWAITING MODERATION" ?

    July 1, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. Matt

    I know that others have said this, but it needs to be repeated- this is not a statistical dead heat. Obama's lead is outside the margin of error, which means that the difference is statistically significant.

    July 1, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  13. ben2

    not that anyone reads past the first few comments, but if the margin of error is 3.5 points, how would a 5-point lead be considered a "dead heat"?

    July 1, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  14. JLRDel

    "1% or 10% a win is a win"...
    It is only if they additionally carry the electorial college. Bush won by 3% 4 years ago, but a 100k shift in Ohio could have elected Kerry. If the race is within a couple percentage points it could go either way.

    July 1, 2008 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
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