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. Simmy

    Someone needs to check and verify the polls. Republicans may be cheating. Sorry to say they can't be trusted. Now that's unpatriotice, anti-American, and UnReal!

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Alex

    The polls are "tightening", but this has happened before, and Obama has still managed to come back and extend his lead...the same thing happened after Palin was selected, but eventually it backfired, and hopefully Obama will extend his lead again so the Democrats can make larger gains in Congress. This country needs new leadership, we have been failed by our current government. Also, I have no land-line phone, so that is an interesting note by Ryan. I have not been polled yet, but I vote. It will be interesting to see what the results are.

    Obama-Biden '08

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. usman

    Obama is the one we all need now. He's smart, nice, wise, merciful, we need him if we want to live in a safe America, a wealthy America and peaceful America. We don't need those who spend public money anyhow, and use that money to bring war against us. Cause if we say we are powerful we can't calm down, we can hit them, they' are going to hit us back. We need peace, we need to see our guys, the soldiers,OBAMA is the BEST

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  4. Karen

    McCain & Palin can not even agree with each other on robocalls, dissing Michigan & gay marriage. What else are they not telling us behind the scenes??? They are confused on non starter issues, what will happen when they try to discuss or decide on the economy, war, healthcare, social security, education & other very very important matters. No solutions, no morals & no ethics.

    Not the Change or Chance I'm willing to take!

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

    Like the man said, don't get complacent. Fight the smears, GOTV, canvas, phone bank, donate. I participated in early voting, proudly casting my vote for Obama/Biden. Let's work like we are ten points down!

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  6. Matt

    Please. With less than 3 weeks left, the MSM is scrabbling as much as possible to make it interesting by cherry-picking polls that make it seem closer in order to play up the "controversy" of who is going to win. There are no debates left, so the only thing left for them to do is play math games with the polls. Funny how truly statistical analyses like fivethirtyeight.com don't suggest a close race at all. But hey, Republicans, don't bite the hand that's feeding you by complaining about the MSM here. They're doing you a favor by pretending you still have a shot.

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  7. Terry M

    I am not surprised the race is tightening up. Unfortunately, some view this race based on race, white vs. black. Some would vote for the same bush policies again just to stop a black man from becoming president. Sad!!!!
    Please vote on the issues and polices rather than on race.

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  8. Arin

    Were the voters who don't have landlines and use cell phones instead included in this poll?

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. Kansas

    The number of REPUBLICANS arrested for voter fraud: 1
    The number of DEMOCRATS arrested for voter fraud: 0

    Yes, the Republican win again.

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  10. S.L. Sessoms

    Look at the record, not the rhetoric. Sen. McCain cannot cut those strings with Bush with a quip stated in an election debate ("I am not President Bush"). J ohn McCain has been tied to Pres. George W. Bush since 2003 when he agreed to come back into the fold of the republican hard right after he got over his hard feelings about Bush trashing him and his family during the 2000 campaign. Sen. McCain campaigned for Bush during the 2004 elections and he voted for the Bush budgets (4 of the 5).

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

    Why is it that the gallup poll shows more of a lead than CNN. There are a lot of polls out there and they all show Obama leading, whether it be 6 points to 10. I really hope that NOV gets her soon.

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  12. Ray Fisher

    The Republicramp scare tactics are out in force and the race gets tighter whenever people get scared. Somehow since the voters have been bombarded by bad news they tend to forget the source. The Republicramps thrive upon bad news and scare tactics since they haven't any plans. The voters need only remember these past 8 years as they are guaranteed 4 more if we elect these same old deadbeats once again.

    October 20, 2008 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  13. MikeNC

    It probably is. I just received more hate propaganda in the mail this weekend. Now I am receiving information on "Within Our Boarders" the threat of Islam. I just can't get over the tactics of the Republican party.

    October 20, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. I Just Said Thanks, but No Thanks to Another 4 Years of g.o.p. corruption, arrogance and incompetence

    Listen to General Powell's words. Listen to "Joe the Plumber's" words.
    So who's wisdom do you trust, America?

    OB08

    October 20, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  15. tim in wa.

    The unpolled youth vote will put Obama over the top in November – and the Republican will scream "FRAUD" because they do not consider the young people in America as people....(unless they're supporting the Republican Agenda)...

    October 20, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  16. Really

    The Democratic Party nominated an inexeperienced far-left liberal. They should be held accountable for not selecting someone that can bring all sides together. Do not vote for Obama. At least McCain is not afraid to reach accross party lines and even go against his owne party. Obama does not have any record of going against his own party.

    October 20, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  17. beth

    Yeah, I drink the democratic kool-aid. Some people are so pathetic. I spent the majority of my years as a registered voter as a republican. It's been since Clinton's second term that I wised up and realized that I no longer wanted to be affiliated with a party that is completely based on smears and untruths. I'm happy to compare McCain and Obama's policies, but leave your Republican dirt out of the picture. If you don't win based on the issues, then you haven't really won at all. EVERYONE LOSES!!!! Can't people just get it?

    October 20, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  18. What ?????

    Get out and Vote Y'all!

    Do not let the media make you think this race is over!
    Get out and vote.
    Every vote counts

    Obama/ Biden 08

    October 20, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  19. PEOPLE

    Scott L ...IS a PAID Republican blogger........same OLD LIES on EVERY blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  20. Sam

    That's a margin of error not a tightening; I suppose Obama could win by eight percent but I don't think that's likely.

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

    for anyone out there who wants to KNOW, taxing the populace and investing the revenue in roads, schools, hospitals, military, and yes, giving support (checks) to the poor is not socialism. It's what this country has done for most of it's history.
    Socialism is
    "1. a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole. "
    In other words, everyone would own a stake in all property, industry, etc.
    NO ONE IS ADVOCATING THIS.
    to say that the Obama campaign is "experimenting with socialism" is an outright LIE.
    Don't fall for this crap people.
    Vote for the person who has demonstrated that he is focused on the plight of this country, not the one who has proven to be capable of doing anything, ANYTHING, to win power.
    Obama has my vote, and I am one of those 630,000 people who donated LAST MONTH.
    I'm with Powell, and Buffet, VOTE OBAMA 08

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  22. usman

    Obama is the one we all need now. He's smart, nice, wise, merciful, we need him if we want to live in a safe America, a wealthy America and peaceful America. We don't need those who spend public money anyhow, and use that money to bring war against us. Cause if we say we are powerful we can't calm down, we can hit them, they' are going to hit us back. We need peace, we need to see our guys, the soldiers,OBAMA is the BEST

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. wycliffe, NJ

    The polls will tighten but still it will be a landslide win for obama....because it is a winner take all system. it does not matter by how many people he wins in each state, a win is a win

    obama/biden 08

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. jfs Memhis, Tn

    This stands to reason folks..................the undecided (that is the 6-8%) that has been out there for EVER are making their minds up.....so that is why the polls are tightening. It stands to reason that they would move toward the Republicans. The message here is GET OUT THE VOTE for OBAMA......this is MUCH closer than we would like to think. Obama is RIGHT-ON....we CANNOT take this thing for granted. Those undecided folks are not always the most informed ....so we need to get the Democratic voters to the POLLS !!!! No more Kerry Elections.

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  25. indy chris

    The smear campaign is working in that the economy isn't the issue of focus in the media.

    Ok, then let's make it a matter of character. John McCain is a serial philanderer and degenerate gambler whose blind ambition is admitted in his own book, in his own words:

    "I didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president. . . . In truth, I'd had the ambition for a long time."

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
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