October 20th, 2008
01:05 PM ET
6 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. mouli

    McCain closing? Perhaps, America is at its below average best into believing the age-old tactics.

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Archie

    When people attack Palin's experience I am reminded of the 1988 election, Bush/Quayle Vs Dukakis/Bentsen. Back then the question of experience hounded Quayle throughout the election but at the same time most voters felt Bentsen was much better qualified to be president than Dukakis. This lead to people asking themselves "Should I vote for Bush and hope he doesn't die or vote for Dukakis and hope he does?"

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    The race usually tightens up. That is why we should not pay any attention to the polls. We should work hard as if we are behind. Please get out the vote. Vote early if you can. Take friends and neighbors with you. Please take nothing for granted. Let us go and make history. Let us elect the only choice for real change. God bless

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. Dave

    Of course, the popular polls will tighten since we, as a people, are fairly evenly divided. However, the state-by-state polls leading to electoral votes indicate that Obama has a substantial lead. That's not likely to change in the next 15 days. Obama will be our next President, but you must make an effort to vote.

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  5. ej

    Rasmussen just came up with a poll from Virginia showing Obama up by 10 (54 to 44) which is a big improvement from their last poll. I think the perception or reality of tightening will keep Obama's supporters from becoming complacent.

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  6. check and checkmate

    Obama is not a socialist, he is a camillion, no one but God knows him and he's not talking. To me Barack is going to say just what his fomer at least he says former preacher said "what ever you want to hear, thats what he tells you". Obama, will give African Americans pride in themselves which is a good thing,however, as far as curing the problems we face well that will take a thing called a PEACE DIVIDEND. That is what really was the key to Pres. Clintons administration, plus the fact that he did cut some progam funding. Question Barack, what program will you cut?, Question, you say illegals should get Drvers Licences and Social Security Benefits.If infact they have broken the law what is your logic for that REWARD? To me your a nice guy, but you just don't have the Guts to say NO, to African Americans and illegals you are just another tax and spend DO GOODER or as a builder would say you will put another nail in the coffin of American Individualisium.

    OH Yeah and I am a bitter 2012 Clinton Supporter ;-)

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  7. Michael

    I'm an Obama supporter and I still think polls are meaningless. Unless they are calling the same people every poll, which I doubt, then of course they are going to get fluctuating numbers, its that simple. Polls might have once held some statistical meaning, but these days they are just a tool by the media to keep things interesting for the sake of ratings. Ratings = advertising revenue, one of the largest sources of media income.

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  8. Adam

    What does the poll of registered voters say? These likely voter models may be off this year due to the higher turnout.

    October 20, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. Denise Colorado

    This is still a race about substance over slander. And these robo calls spewing hatred over the phone lines is juvenile to say the least. Palin hasn't demonstated she can do anything but be negative.

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  10. Dee

    The race usually tightens up. That is why we should not pay any attention to the polls. We should work hard as if we are behind. Please get out the vote. Vote early if you can. Take friends and neighbors with you. Please take nothing for granted. Let us go and make history. Let us elect the only choice for real change. God bless

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  11. LT In Texas

    The only pol that counts is casting a VOTE.

    Many people do not have landlines and have never been polled. I fall in that category.

    We need real change, not candidates who are out of tocuh, don't know what is going on with the economy and keep trying to dnace around the the economic woes.

    And Could someone tell Gov. Palin how to answer a question please!

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. EBJ

    just wait and see by the time election day comes the polls will be EVEN. That's why Obama is telling folks not to get comfortable and go out and vote. The polls don't put people in office, but voting will.

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. Manny

    Maybe not all Hillary supporters are onboard as the democratic party had hoped. With the economy in turmoil all we need now is a president doing on the job training in the white house.

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. onelove

    I'm not surprised by this. When you have stupid people like the woman in North Carolina screaming to Sen. Obama "Socialist" and the man with effiy hanging from a tree in his yard in Ohio, the negative McCain/Palin tactics are working.

    I was in Raleigh, North Carolina a week ago checking out property. I saw an overwhelming number of Obama/Biden posters on people's front lawns. Seeing this gave me hope.

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. bill pike

    if it walks like a bush, talks like a bush, votes like a bush it must be another bush. CAN ANYONE NAME ONE THING THE REPUBLICAN PARTY HAS DONE RIGHT THE LAST 8 YEARS??? ILLEGAL WAR, THE ECONOMY, HOW COUNTRIES NOW SEE US???? ONE THING IS ALL I ASK.

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. Rob

    To all of the people who like to state the amount of money spent by the Obama campaign is "buying the election" I donated MY OWN money for the cause and so have many others. My donation was quite small and in line with what is reportedly the norm for donation to the campaign. If you boil it down to the core it is the American People who are buying back their govt. because they have finally noticed that this is how it is done. If you look the multitude of donations to this campaign you will see that there is a ground swell of support from the PEOPLE of the United States of America who have been voting with their wallet. Are they Just a special interest group? I think NOT.

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  17. Steve in CA

    I've already voted for the winner. It's not just a waiting game till it becomes oficial: OBAMA WINS!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  18. JB

    CNN stop backing Oblaima because alot of folks will be Oblaima you for corrupting the voters with your so clearly seen biased views. So narrowed minded here on this network.

    October 20, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  19. Paul Thompson

    Obama's substance??? Jello???

    October 20, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  20. Gerry in Va. for Obama.

    I don't believe your polls are quite acurate.

    I think the polisters run the numbers up and down to keep the public interested in the race.

    I find it hard to believe that so many voters are interested in voting for John McCain and his band of liers, thieves and thugs. Surely the American voter has seen through all the lies and misrepresentations about Senator Obama.

    But then again, I guess if the only way you get your voting information is through Rush Limpbaugh and Foix News, you may not have been told the whole truth about Senators Obama and Biden.

    I would say to those people, you need to get out in the world more and find out how the real people live because you surely can't believe the last eight years has been prosperous ones AND you surely know the next four would be worse then the last eight IF John McCain and Sarah Palin are elected.....

    OBAMA / BIDEN 08/12

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

    Anonymous...IS a PAID Republican blogger........same OLD saying on EVERY blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. Tom Menczel

    There is two weeks to go until the election. It is time to be thinking more with the brain than the gut. Remember the top issues. The economy, employment, healthcare. The "s" word is just another scare tactic. If that is not a George Bush strategy, then I don't know what is. Look to your neighbors to the North. Canada has a mandated health care sytem, and Canada is as far from socialist as you can get. The advantage the people of Canada are not going bankrupt paying for care which should be a right for all people.

    October 20, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. Carl

    It's funny how people think taxes equal socialism. The people who would benefit from the Obama tax cuts are the same people complaining....you people will get a tax cut!!! Why do you want big corporations who ship jobs over seas, your jobs, to get all the tax cuts? Obama is just closing those loopholes and cuts which do equate to a tax increase but then will help out the everyday working family with a tax cut.

    This will help you!

    October 20, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  24. Another grumpy old white woman for Obama

    Given the rigged machines (for McCain) in Virginia, anything can happen! The GOP is beyond corrupt. There is no limit to how low they will go to keep the truth from us. It goes deeper than any of us can imagine.

    October 20, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Chuck

    Rather obviously Obama hasn't got this one in the bag yet. I find it amazing that as horrible as our economy is, as upset as most Americans are about the way our goverment operates, the war, and with everything else, that Obama doesn't have a 60+ percentage. This should be a runaway landslide and it isn't. Could it be that there is something just too slick about Obama that many Americans don't trust even if they can't put there finger on it? What is even more crazy is that there are a large number of people that don't like John McCain but like Obama even less, so you couldn't call them McCain supporters even though they will likely feel forced to vote for McCain, just as a vote against Obama. This is a wild one for sure. Guess we'll see in about 2 weeks what the ultimate poll will show. Shoud be interesting to say the least.

    October 20, 2008 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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