October 20th, 2008
01:05 PM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Race may be tightening

Obama has a 5 point lead over McCain in the latest CNN poll.
Obama has a 5 point lead over McCain in the latest CNN poll.

Latest CNN/ORC Poll of likely voters:
Barack Obama: 51 percent
John McCain: 46 percent

WASHINGTON (CNN) - With two weeks and one day until election day, a new national poll of likely voters suggests the race for the White House may be tightening up.

In a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday, 51 percent of likely voters questioned Friday through Sunday back Barack Obama for president, with 46 percent supporting John McCain. That 5 point advantage for Senator Obama, D-Illinois, is down from an 8 point edge he held over Senator McCain, R-Arizona, in the last CNN/ORC national poll, conducted October 3-5.

One reason behind the tightening of the race appears to be a drop in the number of people who think McCain, if elected, will mostly carry out President Bush's policies. Forty-nine percent of those questioned in the new survey say McCain would mostly carry out Bush's policies, down from 56 percent in the previous poll.

View the complete poll results [PDF]

"It's clear from the final presidential debate that one of McCain's top priority was to distance himself from Bush," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It looks like McCain has convinced growing numbers of Americans that his policies would be different than Bush. The next task is to convince voters that his policies would be better than Bush's and on the economic front at least, that may be a more difficult task."

CNN is also updating it's Poll of Polls of the national general election, thanks to the new CNN/ORC survey, plus the release of other new surveys this morning. Obama retains his six point advantage in the new Poll of Polls, with 50 percent of voters saying the Democratic presidential nominee is their choice for president, and 44 percent backing McCain, the Republican presidential nominee. Six percent of voters are undecided.

The CNN Poll of Polls is an average of the latest national surveys. The polls included in this newest edition are the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Survey (Oct. 17-19), a Reuters C-SPAN/Zogby poll (Oct. 17-19), a Gallup poll (Oct. 16-18) and a Diageo/Hotline survey (Oct. 17-19).

The new CNN/ORC poll also indicates that Americans think Obama would do better job dealing with the tough economic times. Fifty-three percent of those questioned say Obama would better handle the current financial crisis, with 38 percent saying McCain would do a better job. And 63 percent feel Obama would better handle helping the middle class, almost double the 32 percent who feel McCain would be of better service to the middle class.

"The economy remains the number-one issue, and Americans appear to be more confident in Obama on that topic," Holland said. "Both candidates tried to pitch their plans as the best thing for the middle class. Obama appears to have won that argument."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted by telephone, with 1,058 adult Americans questioned. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (379 Responses)
  1. A mom of a child with autism for Barack Obama!

    I did voter registration in my area, it was amazing the amount of excitement for Obama. I registered a woman who hadn't voted in an election since 1976! Another woman was just granted her citizenship and this would be the first time she ever voted! Amazing! There was story after story of this. Of course I had a few rude people, I was asked if I was with ACORN, a few people said they would never vote for him. But you know out of about 200 people that day there were really only 3 that acted like that, mostly it was very positive for Obama. Hopefully we can get these people out to vote!

    Get out the vote!

    October 20, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  2. Barry, Fredericton

    A. Presidential elections always tighten in the final weeks, what's new?
    B. The polls released over the past six days are among the most conservative and have always shown a narrower division between McCain and Obama than other surveys. Wait till the end of the week when the Powell announcement has settled in and the World Series starts (at which point many voters freeze).

    October 20, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  3. Steven J. Berke

    What isn't noted in this story is that that earlier poll number was Obama 53, McCain 45. This means that compared with that last poll, Obama has come down 2 points and McCain gone up 1. This means that in both cases the change in the number is within the margin of error and there may have been no change at all. Or of course, the change may have been even greater either way. But it's not as easy as it seems just by looking at the change in the margin to take this result and conclude there has been 'tightening'. (And it's even less easy to conclude as Mr. Holland does that this means a significant number has been persuaded that McCain is a change from Bush, considering McCain's number barely changed at all.)

    October 20, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. Rev.Jay in Pa

    I think Sara Palin guest spot on SNL should be played it was so funny!
    so let me get this straight she can make time for SNL but will NOT go on MEET THE PRESS? I think she shows her lack of ability to be VP and President if something happens to McCain! She just needs to drop out now and stop fooling herself and john if they think they can win.
    Obama/Biden 08

    October 20, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. JohnWinNC

    The Bush policies have failed and McCain, despite what he says, subscribes to the same economic policies. Do not be fooled by the McCain/Palin scare tactics (socialist, terrorists, etc.) – the country is headed into the sewer and, as Colin Powell noted, Obama is the one we need to lead us in a new direction.

    October 20, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  6. Amanda Hussein Smith

    Republicans friends, please wake up and stop the hate!

    David Gergen (that little hottie who once adviced REPUBLICAN presidents that you love so well) is right: They've been redistributing your wealth UP for decades–taking what's yours and lining their own pockets with it. It's time to move things the other way–give the 95% of us who make less than 250k a break.

    Vote Obama/Biden!!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  7. jeff in MA

    Obama will pull it off. People are getting sick of the hate-speak and vicous rhetoric coming out of McCain and Palin. Especially Palin, does she ever say anything positive or does she just trash Obama constantly? Why do people like her when she comes across as a hatemonger?

    October 20, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  8. voting FOR "my" best interest, not businesses

    Scott L. what you just said was a lie...

    I am just LOVING the socialist garbage charge.. "spread the wealth"..
    the ones screaming the loudest are the very ones who need the wealth spread out the most. DO YOU THINK IT IS WISE THAT 5% OF THE POPULATION HAS 80% OF THIS COUNTRY'S WEALTH?

    For those of you too stupid to understand what that means..

    YOU CAN'T EVEN "AFFORD" TO VOTE REPUBLICAN....

    ONCE AGAIN... YOU ARE BEING "TRICKED" INTO VOTING AGAINST YOUR OWN BEST INTERESTS!!!!! so.. yeah.. LET's vote to keep the financial model in the country the same and THEN expect a different result... UGH!!! i hate stupid people

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. Bill, West Palm Beach

    Gallop polls have the numbers Obama 52% McCain 42%. I like the
    gallop polls because I think that the daily tracking numbers are more
    accurate and fresh. Colin powells endorsement seems to validate
    today's gallop poll lead for Senator Obama.

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. John the Pollster

    The race is stabilizing not tightening!

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. Jean, CANADA

    Hello CNN...GET OVER IT!!! you will survive after the election...you don't have to give Mccain life support by keeping his name in the new's cycle positive. WHY CAN'T you all just report ACTUAL news and let people MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS!!!!

    Ps it SHOULD be blatantly clear.....

    Vote for the smart guy for once!! OR TWICE!!!

    AMERICA WAKE UP!!!!

    OBAMA 08, 12

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  12. Fred

    Is it true that if you work hard at your job, and create lots of wealth for your company, and ask your rich employer for a raise (or a more fair slice of the pie), you can be considered to be a socialist?

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. McShame

    CNN we are not going to fooled by your polls!!!! Nice try!!!!! hehe

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  14. Wanting the truth

    To quote values...
    October 20th, 2008 11:58 am ET
    50+1= WINNER.

    Not if you are Al Gore.

    Which state will foul up the election so the Republicans can steal it this time?

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  15. John

    Races always tighten up at the end, and the reality is that these guys have been fighting over the middle 10% the whole time. McCain is trying to rally the base with the "socialist" claims (by the way, all you people who say that Obama is giving money to people who don't pay taxes, have none of you heard of "withholding"?), he is not going to get undecided voters with that stuff. Also, let's not forget, the national polls are meaningless. After all, I seem to remember a certain president who LOST the popular vote and was still inaugurated on January 20, 2001. State by state is the only relevant thing.

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  16. David Newport, OR

    the most obvious answer is that when polling, the first question asked is "will you vote". If the answer is no...the poll ends there. Two weeks ago, many republicans were answering "no" and you were getting a false poll. Now, once again, they are answering "yes" and they are again included into the polling. Nothing has changed. Polls mean NOTHING. All that matters is the electoral vote and nothing has changed there...in fact, for the "swing" states, it has gotten better for Obama.

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  17. Listen to Our Children

    Inexperienced Obama's only way to gain credibility is to 'diss' a Patriot like McCain by calling him a 'Bush'

    The last time Obama had to 'diss' experience, he called Hillary same old politics.

    Getting the picture – the only way Obama's been able to gain credibility is by 'dissing' experience and paying off CNN.

    The American voter doesn't want more OJT. The American voter knows that McCain is NOT more of the same OJT that we had in Bush or would have again in Obama.

    Listen to Our Children and VOTE EXPERIENCE, VOTE McCain!

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  18. Steve

    Obama can't fix the economy just like Bush or McCain can't fix the economy.Let the worthless greedy corporations go belly up and leave the money in the hands of the American people who need it more and can probably manage it better.

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  19. SENATUS POPOLUSQUE ROMANUS

    Whoever stops his campaign to go to Washington only to stay silent for a full 40 minutes, while at the White Houseand, unable to even convince the majority of ARIZONA (!!!!) Republica representatives is a CLOWN.

    After G. W. Bush the last thing America needs is another CLOWN at 1600 Pennsylvania Av.!!

    October 20, 2008 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. KJB

    Of course the race is "tightening"; the networks need it to be close or else no one will pay attention to them. If you look at the electoral college, you'll see that Obama has an insurmountable lead over McCain. All Obama has to do at this point is run out the clock.

    I also love hearing Repubs complaining about Obama "buying" the election. They've been relying on corporate money for years, but when Obama raises record amounts by appealing directly to the American people, then it becomes unfair. Well, cry me a river.

    October 20, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Jean, CANADA

    Hello CNN...GET OVER IT!!! you will survive after the election...you don't have to give Mccain life support by keeping his name in the new's cycle positive. WHY CAN'T you all just report ACTUAL news and let people MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS!!!!

    Ps it SHOULD be blatantly clear.....

    Vote for the smart guy for once!! OR TWICE!!!

    AMERICA WAKE UP!!!!

    OBAMA 08, 12!!

    October 20, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  22. USMC John

    Mark, you hit it dead on. Obama may be a good leader...eventually. He is not the person to be president now. For those who THINK they have a clue...I say you most certainly do not. McCain is NOT Bush...and even if he was...I'd still vote for him. It's mostly the whinning and lazy citizens who do not like him. As an active duty Marine, I could not fathom having Obama in office right now...I'm still very concerned about him even being in the Senate right now. I would have vote for Powell had he run back in the day...I'm extremely surprised he backs Obama...but I know several top military officials and they all make mistakes from time to time...but this is a bad one. Do your homework please people...electing Obama now would be a disaster...

    October 20, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  23. mike

    Obama's policies will crush this countries economy........vote McCain or we will all be in the soup line!

    October 20, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  24. Reagan

    Wow...I am so surprised!......Not.

    CNN don't fool the public into thinking that the polls are mysteriously tightening. This is such an old hat trick. You had the O'Bama lead so wide to sway opinions that O'Bama will win, now your covering your tails by "tightening" the race in case he doesn't.

    It's too bad the public can't get a straight poll from any media source to really know what's going on.

    October 20, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  25. Cynthia

    Palin??? Who listens to her? Thank you Gen Powell. Now they want to say they are not surprised. McCain, you are surprised you tried to get him to support you. If anyone votes for McCain/Palin you need you head examined. McCain and Palin will do and say anything. GO OBAMA/BIDEN!!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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