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. lmc in Seattle

    I am so tired of the McCain campaign's dirty campaigning. Calling Obama a socialist is a last ditch effort. When McCain was the recipient of negative robo-calls in the past, you would think he would not use it against someone else, but apparently he buys in to "the end justifies the means." McCain's negative campaigning is one of the things that turned Colin Powell off. I have lost any respect I had for McCain and although I was never for him, I did have a lot of respect for him. No longer!!

    October 20, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. mama4obama

    I truly believe that Obama is going to win this thing hands down. The American people truely cannot be stupid enough to fall for the McCain/Palin lies.

    I have faith that the American people will choose the right person to take this country into the future.

    Obama/Biden 08 and beyond!

    October 20, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  3. McCain?

    @That one is Karl Marxs friend too....

    the funny thing with your McCain talking points is we have, under Republicans watch become some what socialist....can you say injecting Billions into Banks? it was the thieves like Phil Gramm, McCain's BFF and adviser who put this economic crisis into play. as far as distribution of wealth? what do you call the last 8 Republican years? the top 1% has gained some 600 Billion, the lower 99% has lost some 600 Billion.... Obama has good plans, a steady hand and the intellect it takes to get us out of this mess...McCain, well he has a temper and lets not forget about his flock of racist anti American followers.

    October 20, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    McSame is clearly nothing but Bush–with a temper problem thrown in for good measure–and a vice presidential running mate who is the most unqualified (and scary) candidate in the history of our country.

    October 20, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  5. FAYE, NV

    Obama is "That One" he is the better one to handle Americas problem now. I sense John as an angry man and his judgment is not the sharpest at this time.

    American helping Americans is the best policy, not the rich getting richer and forgetting about the last unfortunate.

    October 20, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  6. greenfun

    The polls along with MSM were never truthful--CNN has to report tightening so they don't look like idiots when McCain wins.

    October 20, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  7. John

    Hey, McCain's a "maverick" – he did vote against Bush 10% of the time. If you think this country needs only a 10% change, well then he's your man.....


    October 20, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  8. mama4obama

    January 20, 2009-THE END OF AN ERROR!

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  9. Bea

    CNN really likes to push for ratings...lol

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  10. Jeffer65

    Media outlets say Its tightening so they has something to report about. Neither candidate has really said anything new in weeks.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. African guy

    Obama is so much ahead in electoral college count. McShame can't catch up.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  12. Bill Charlotte,NC

    McShameless' crowd has about reached the bottom. Obama has been called everything from a "Terrorist to a Socialist." Now Repub. Martinez from Florida calls him a "Communist... like Castro." What's next from this cess pool... "axe-murdered?"

    No wonder Gen. Powell bailed on this crowd.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. henriettap

    McCain is not Bush but throughout this campaign he has run on the same philosphy as Bush he has not offered anything much of substance on the economy except to wait and see what Obama offered up then he chimed in just as he has done for everything else in this campaign season.In fact he will be worst than Bush because he doesn't think for himself.He has the Bush election team working for him so that tells you right there where his ideas come from when they do get an idea,Poor judgement on the economy when he said it was fundamentally sound not good .

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  14. Dave in Orlando

    These polls mean nothing. A vast majority of minority voters and younger voters use caller ID. If a 1877, 1800, or unknown number comes through they usually do not answer it. This only reflects a small slice of the real voter population. Sorry REPS but change is coming.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Ons

    McCain will carry the failed policies for the last 8 year and someone who does not understand how the economy works that will be poor choice, we want Obama and Joe people who know what Americans are going through at this tough period and actually have plan for our economy, unpopular war in Iraq, education system, our infrastructure
    Keep working Hard Obama and Joe God will bless you very soon

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Stevo

    This is to be expected as we get closer to the actual election. However, there is still a major bonbshell coming from pailn that will seal the repubilicans doom!!!!!! She will disgrace the RNP party even more
    with this one. Wait a minute !!!!! she has done that already so we will not be suprised .

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. mfc6506

    FELLOW OBAMA/BIDEN supporters, listen up. Let’s not let our confidence and enthusiasm replace OUR DUTY to vote for this ticket. A little history for those who might be overconfident about OBAMA/BIDEN prevailing… After leading in the polls in the final few days before the election, Carter lost a healthy lead to Reagan, Dukakis lost to Bush 41 (okay Dukakis wasn't leading in the polls, but Bush 41 had Quayle as VP nominee...remind you of anyone?), and Gore lost a double digit lead to Bush 43. Also, let’s not forget about the Lazarus-like resurrection of the McCain campaign during the primaries. And, as Obama continues to remind us, he got “spanked” in the New Hampshire primary right after his Iowa victory (and he had a healthy lead in the polls). Let’s convert our confidence and enthusiasm into ACTUAL VOTES during early voting or on Election Day. While you’re at it, take a likeminded registered voter with you to cast a vote for OBAMA/BIDEN, too.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. martin

    This is not really a 'tightening'–although I do expect there to be one. In fact this is good for Obama. The key number at this stage is getting over 50%. What this says from the previous 49%- 43% split is that McCain's gained 3 points...but Obama's also gained 2 points. The narrowing is only 1% point. This is pre-the Powell endorsement, and any reading over 50% tends to be a big boost to perception.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  19. Doug R.

    McCain has been lying to and misleading the American people for his entire campaign. His campaign is based on lies, dishonesty, and smears. He has no visions, plans, or new ideas for leading this country foward. He would be a repeat of the policies of George Bush, the very worst President in U.S. history. If anything happened to McCain, we would have this Sarah Palin. Who in the world can be serious that she would be able to step in to the role of President. This lady is absolutely clueless and empty.
    McCain is all about big oil, big corporations and tax breaks for millionaires.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. iandependent for obama

    The only poll that matters is on Nov.5th. My husband(a republican) and I voted via absentee ballot for Obama. I guess i need to donate to Obama/Biden campaign.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  21. will

    The poll is probably tightened but the fact is Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States in 2008.

    McCain = no change

    Obama/Biden 2008

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  22. norb

    Don't kid yourself. These poll numbers are most likely driven by the Republican's. They have a way with stealing elections. Sarah Palin as VP? Please! Is that the type of judgement you want in a president? Obama/Binen in a landslide.

    October 20, 2008 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. Don

    He joe six oack, you might be right there. Maybe if we send more people to college they will realize how liberal this country has gotten and get there heads out of the sand before it is too late. This country was built on hard work and not welfare.

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  24. shanm

    We need a visionary leader who can really resolve the mess the Bush admin has created. Obama is the only one who can clear this mess, and lead us to the top of the world.

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  25. McCain's the man!

    McCain is the clear choice here, we've got to remember what the United States stands for and what made us the great country we are. Obama doesn't get it, morally, socially, or economically. Let's not go down that road.

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
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