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. Bob Indianapolis IN

    How about running the story that Freddy Mac hired a Republic consulting firm, DCI, to defeat regulation as part of a stealth lobbying campaign? TOO HOT TO HANDLE???

    October 20, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Ken in Dallas

    McCain' mentally ossified, and lives in the dead past. We have 21st-century issues, a man stuck in the 20th century just won't do.

    October 20, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  3. brian

    McCain has not given us one reason to believe his economic policies would differ from Bush.

    In fact, he calls himself "the great dereuglator.". Yeah that's all we need. Another Bush.

    October 20, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Charles

    Things are more interesting when the outcome is in doubt, this just adds to the intensity. Obama has been steady and never changed his message so he will win in the end, unless Mccain throws a hail mary.

    October 20, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. ffd

    these things always tighten up...no worries

    October 20, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  6. marie, Ewing, NJ

    Whatever CNN, you've lost your news credibility a long time ago. But this is good news for theObama campaign people and supporters not to take anything for granted. Get their butts in gear and vote! No excuses only urgency.

    October 20, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  7. NB, OH

    Just look at who is running the McCain campaign– the same people that ran Bush's. That gives you a clue as to what kind of policies John McCain will pursuit if he is President. I voted for Bush in 2000 because at the time I thought he was a fresh candidate to take us into the new century with a "humble foreign policy" and look where he took us. I have no doubt that McCain if elected will further take us down this dangerous foreign policy where are more isolated than ever. I believe we should be working with our allies in forming strong alliances, not act like a bully. Barack Obama was right- you can put lipstick on a pig (bush’s policies) but it’s still a pig!

    October 20, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  8. Schneider (I) - CA

    How far has McCain fallen? The very same strategies that BUSH used against McCain in 2000, are now being employed by McCain against Obama. Lie, lie, lie and then lie some more. Sprinkle in some baseless rhetoric. And then lie again. Repeat until the stupid electorate believes what you are saying. Whether it is John McCain's black baby, the Iraqi tie to 9/11, or Obama being a Muslim/socialist/terrorist, the end result is the same: the GOP wins by simply destroying their opponent. It is amazing how many people continue to vote against their own best interest simply because they are led astray by lies and political rhetoric. The fact that the hatred being spewed by the GOP is completely and transparently false and illogical just doesn't seem to matter to the right-wing sycophants. It sounds good in a sound bite and that's all they need. If you truly believe that Obama is not an American Patriot and 100% capitalist, then you need your head examined. Wake up before we get another 4 more years of BUSH!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  9. Adam in VA

    Every young American who wants to have a bright future and be able to raise their children in the best country in the world needs to vote for change. McCain is saying he will do things differently from Bush, but if he is in the White House, I guarantee you will all see a lot of broken promises.

    If McCain wins, I am making plans to move to Europe. And, if McCain ends up dying (which the old fart probably will) those plans will be executed immediately since Palin is one of the dumbest people I have ever seen on a ticket.

    We nearly ruined our country the past 8 years, don't vote for a man who agrees with Bush 90% of the time.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. Jill American

    Yes .. that's the pattern and that's why being up by less then 10 points is nothing! There are many more undecided this time around too.
    I can't believe that it took a total financial collapse to give Obama the edge. The Democrats should be ahead by 20 points with all that has gone on the last eight years. This is pitiful ....

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. the Film Professor

    So it gave no one at CNN/ORC concern that your latest poll shows McCain at least 3 points higher than any other recent poll anyone else has taken? And you don't mention the Colin Powell endorsement, and what I would expect to be a bounce that Obama should receive from that?

    Plus, Palin made herself look ridiculous on SNL, and Colin Powell even flatly stated that she was not qualified for the post she was nominated for.

    Something is really missing in this story.

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |

    ALL my family in Texas ( large family too) voted early today for OBAMA..didnt like the new machine we voted on though, you make slightest mistake and it will change your vote, but, if you havent "cast" your vote yet, you can use wheel at bottom to go back and correct it..these are not touch screen machines, you DO have to pay attention to what your doing !!!! and if is any problems QUESTION it...
    Texans voted OBAMA this morning

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. Otis

    Say no to socialism!

    Vote McCain/Palin!

    I'd rather have 4 more years of the same than see this country go socialistic!

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. Blue By You

    VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE. This is FAR from over!

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. Dennis

    This race shouldn't be tightening...no matter what... Obama is CLEARLY the better choice. People who vote for McCain are like dogs going back to its vomit, like a abused person only seeking abusive relationships...When change comes around they don't know how to embrace it, but find stupid ways to discredit it only to be abused by the same old ways they are used too. PLEASE PEOPLE VOTE FOR CHANGE!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  16. Republican for a better Country

    President McCain, music to my ears! Wonder what the dems will cry this time?

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  17. Johnathan

    Well, of course it's tightening. It's not like Barack will win the overall vote by a landslide, but it'll still be by a huge margin.

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. mary, colorado springs co

    I don't think Obama has anything to worry about, since Colin Powell has endorsed him along with some of the larger newspapers. McCain sealed his own fate when he picked Palin as a running mate. She just doesn't have what it takes. She has behaved more as an entertainer than a candidate running for office, parroting the vicious lies that have been fed to her. McCain's negative programs have hurt him as well. Gutter politics does not appeal to the voters who are interested more in the problems facing the country and next president.

    Obama is an ethical and highly intelligent man and will give his best to the country and the people. God give him strength to untangle the mess he is inheriting.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008/2012

    October 20, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. Turner, GA

    I truly hope everyone thinks long and hard about the issues that they personally have to deal with, rather than which face they'd rather see on TV making the State of the Union address.

    October 20, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. anonymous

    The democRATS would vote for the Devil as long as they thought he was a democRAT!! That's well proven. Eyes wide shut – geez people read the black man's book – he hates white people, he aligns himself with socialist, FAR leftists.

    October 20, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Beverly, NYC

    Is a poll conducted Oct 3-5 even relevant on October 20th? Surely CNN you can find up to date information. I expect this kind of fudging from FOX News., who wants to hold out hope for McCain/Palin so they have something to talk about on election night.

    When Mccain's own running mate is going off mesage it's over. I noticed none of his usual talking heads (Davis, Bounds) were out trying to downplay the Powell endorsement. It was great to see the last republican soldier standing, Pat Buchanan ,lose his mind on the special edition of Hardball though, I was expecting another Carville Judas speech from him.

    October 20, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  22. David

    The race always tightens towards the end. Look at the electoral projection map. Look at the individual state races. Even if the nationals go within four points, Obama is way ahead in crucial states.

    October 20, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. RIF

    Polls usually tighten at the end because that's what the media wants. How many times have we heard Ayers mentioned over the past couple of weeks from the media? 100s. Now, how many times have we heard Gordon Liddy mentioned? 1, and that was by Dave Letterman. If the media was truly "fair" they would be focusing on Mr. McCain's relationship with Liddy as they have focused on Ayers.

    October 20, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. Docb

    McSame is spitting in the wind...grabbing at straws.....But low info /repub voters will believe anything to keep from knowing they are being duped or are racially challenged...

    He even admitts he knows nothing and votes /supports Bush most of the time!!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. Shari, NY

    What about the early voters in Florida who are leaning in Obama's direction? Also, what about Obama supporters who are not polled? I realize that Independents might come out in favor of McCain but if he wins, unfortunately for America it will be a dark day.

    October 20, 2008 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
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