October 20th, 2008
01:05 PM ET
10 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. David P. Kronmiller

    The polls should tighten as people make up their minds. The fact that Obama has maintained 50% shows a strength in his position. Of course those of us who support him should make sure we get to the polls on November 4th. There is no garuntee in modern politics.

    October 20, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  2. Independent

    The second largest transfer of wealth happened under the Regan administration. The first was under Presideent Bush.

    October 20, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. Linda

    The spread may be less, but 51% is the highest I've seen yet for Obama.

    October 20, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Sheila E. Martin

    Obama, has the dream team seated with Demacrats and Republicans to make the CHANGE we need...as our next President

    October 20, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  5. NewThinker

    McCain said he loves being the underdog. Great, because that is where he'll stay...permanently behind. His bitter lies and fear mongering have doomed his candidacy, including his choice for VP. McCain sacrificed his principles for his ego during this campaing year...sad, but true. Also, sad but true, is the race will tighten before the election due to racism. Some white people like Obama's ideas and leadership, but their racial fears will overcome their common sense, but thank God this is a small minority so there's no way McCain can win. VOTE Obama/Biden. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE!

    October 20, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. mike

    why will the race be tightening when the same CNN told us that obama has 277 electoral and mccain is still at 174 electoral . so what is tightening the race Cnn if i may ask . everybody is moving towards obama , news papers and magizines, respectable men are also joining the wagon, so why are u guys reporting that the race is tightening? is it psycological boost for mccain or what? CNN the world is watching.

    October 20, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  7. Super D

    Yup, it's happening.....Obama and his socialism is starting to slide.

    Finally Americans are waking up and paying attention to these gawd awful policies endorsed by Obama.

    Big Govt and Big Taxes are not going to solve any of our problems

    October 20, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  8. Lydia Skloven

    Anyone believing that McCain would not carry out Bush's policies has not been listening to McCain.

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  9. Noah

    Of course this race is going to tighten, the Mainstream Media has been heavily polling Democrats in their attempts to make this race appear over. it is far from that in reality. The more Americans learn about Obama's plans to turn our great country into the United States of Europe, the more likely they will be to dump him and vote for the patriotic ticket, McCain-Palin.

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  10. Chilly

    The problem with the polls is that they aren't getting to one of Obama's biggest bases–the technologically proficient younger generation who don't bother having land-line phones. So the polls are likely under-reporting his percentage of support. Not a huge problem, just means that McCain gets buried in the landslide come November 4th instead of losing by a squeak.

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Franky

    I tell you what, if there's anybody in the GOP that has economic knowledge should be themselves. Why?? Because they sure know what the heck to believe in...even if they can't remember.

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. phili

    How come I am never been polled before. I wonder how relevant these polls are because they tend to change every day. Also do the pollsters call the same people all the time? Anyway we will win this election despite Sarah Palin/John MCcain dont know what to call Barack Obama. The republicans party is out of touch I think that they need to go to sleepys to buy comfortable matress to rethink of their strategists.

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  13. Bravado in Boston

    In Iraq for 100 years?

    Yeah, same as Bush. If Obama wasn't such a gentleman, and scholar, he would be SLAMMIN' McCain on the statement.

    The Economy is Fundamentally Sound – McCain repeated it just hours after Bush did....then back-tracked.

    In Iraq for 100 years. END THE WARS NOW!

    It IS about the economy – we are dumping tons of $$$ into the wars. END THE WARS NOW! If we bring that up, how would McCain-war-monger score? EH?

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  14. values

    50+1= WINNER.

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. Countdown with Keith Olbermann

    You better believe that if there are enough idiots in this country to elect George Bush for two terms, then there are certainly plenty of idiots to elect a John McCain as well. A wise man once said that "one will never starve if they live off the ignorance & stupidity of the American public". You have to look at the bigger picture here, these republican voters are so stupid that the GOP actually has them convinced that the word "liberal" is a bad word??? This is only one of many metaphors you can use to prove the profound ignorance & stupidity of the republican base. Also we can not emphasize enough that the tactics currently being employed by the GOP are "terrorism" by the dictionary definition of the word. The entire McCain campaign staff, John McCain, & Sarah Palin should all be arrested and tried for terrorism against the American public. Terror – the use of extreme fear in order to coerce people (especially for political reasons);

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  16. Lamar

    Who ever wins..America is bitterly divided. It will reopen the cut made in 2000....Rome is burning

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. Joel, Norcross GA

    We are tired of all these polls every single day. I wish today would be November the 4th and this election would be over!

    October 20, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  18. Scott L

    Obama and Pelosi will let George Bush's tax cuts expire Jan 1, 2011.

    That will affect ALL Americans, not just the top 5%.

    See the forest through the trees people. If you are not educated on ALL of the cuts Bush gave us, then you obviously do not understand what is coming. You are entitled to vote on the issues that you care about most, but when your taxes go up Jan 1, 2011, don't come whining to Scott L.

    Liberals will let them expire and take all the money you got used to keeping over the past few years away from you.

    And yes, giving money to those that do NOT even file taxes IS socialism.

    October 20, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. Allan

    I am just going to be bried. If this country elects a Republican after the embarrasment of the last eight years (not to mention the embarrasing Palin), SHAME ON THIS COUNTRY.

    October 20, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  20. Un-Decided Voter, Now Decided

    Get out and VOTE EARLY Americans!!! Storm the voting booths early and VOTE OBAMA/ BIDEN for the CHANGE we NEED!!

    October 20, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  21. Republican Woman for Obama

    less undecideds that's good. Let's get the show on the road already...oh and btw, who else thinks it's obsurd that people would believe that mccain would not continue the same Bush policies when all he is doing is defending the tax cuts for the top 1% of income earners? Oh and please with the smear-based campaigning...how could anyone vote for those two when all they want to do is promote racial hatred and intolerance? are we trying to go backwards or forwards?

    October 20, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  22. Jamie, Hattiesburg,MS

    I'm not worried about McCain carring about Bush's policies,I'm more worried about McCain carring out McCain's policies.I can't understand why people think the McCain/Palin presidency is the right course for the country.Just goes to show that this country really isn't ready for an African american president as the polls have been showing.I would feel more comfortable with another 8 years of Bush than to chance 4years of McCain/Palin.

    October 20, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  23. No McCain/No Palin

    All I have to say about the Republicans: LIE. LIE. LIE...

    Freddie Mac secretly paid a Republican consulting firm $2 million to kill legislation that would have regulated and trimmed the mortgage finance giant and its sister company, Fannie Mae, three years before the government took control to prevent their collapse.

    October 20, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  24. Donal

    I gotta ask... Is CNN trying to sway voters minds? There is no way on God's green Earth that the gap has narrowed. McCain still has no plan, no cohesive plicies,, no credible VP running mate, no idea how to lead this country. Please, for the sake of all that's right and honorable, CNN, quit trying to pump this dead horse back to life. It is said that there is no such thing as bad publicity and I believe CNN has kept McCain's campaign hal-alive by keeping his name in the headlines whether the story's tone is positive or negative. Listen to the people, CNN.

    October 20, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  25. How McCain will win.

    He will do it just like Bush did- through cheating.

    October 20, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
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