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. Ted

    Lets not elect a socialist.

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  2. Randy

    The GOP (Government of the People) needs to be renamed to GOC (Government for the Corporations.)
    Our forfathers wanted a government that stood for the people. Seems to me the Republicans could not be much more out of touch!!

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  3. Californian for OBAMA

    If this race tightens... It would be amazing. That would mean that lying about communism and socialism and taxes – and uprooting race issues are more important than REALITY! That would be ultra pathetic and mean that America (not Amerika- like Palin says it) hasn't really advanced at all.

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  4. Bob (Maryland)

    What's the problem with "spreading the wealth"? Since income tax started, it's been accepted policy that lower income people should pay taxes at a lower rate than higher income people? It's because lower income people have to spend a greater proportion of their income on the necessities of life.

    October 20, 2008 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  5. Jimmy

    OBAMA should not appear OVER-CONFIDENT BECAUSE simple people do not like it. He should continue to campain on economic issues. THE RACE IS NOT YET OVER. This is a marathon

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  6. pam Eugene OR

    McCain is Bush and there is not doubt about it!
    We don't need more of that one.

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  7. voter

    Lets talk about the GOP hiring a firm to register voters. The firm tricked people into signing a petition whih led to their political affiliation changing from democrat to republican. the person was arrested yesturday in Ontario. for voter registration fraud.

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  8. Karen

    Republicans = BIGGEST deficit and spending seen in the last 8 years, the most in recent history. Bailed out Wall Street & took over the banks. TOTALLY SOCIALIST!!!!

    Bring back the Democrats and the good solid times on the economy & peaces we shared during the Clinton years.

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  9. Nick

    I want to see the faces of democrats on November the 5th...
    Al this Obama thing is going to look as "Spinal tap"...
    McCain 2008

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

    Collin Powell supported the Iraq war more than anyone and it was his speech that was the most compelling to get support to enter Iraq. I would think Obama would want to keep Powell's endorsement quiet. Obama is flip-flopping again......now he wants the endorsement of the heavy hitter who contributed to getting us into Iraq

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  11. mary, colorado springs co

    The phrae "spread the wealth" that McCain extrapolated from Obama's explanation was taken out of context, and did not include the balance of the explanation which McCain doesn't dare list because it would make sense, something that would make him look more foolish than he already is. McCain wants to spew his lies and innuendos to appeal to the people who won't think for themselves and refuse to look deep into McCain's phony rhetoric.

    Obama explains what he plans on doing; McCain does not.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008/2012

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. Baze

    Of course its tightening

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Big Al

    Change for the sake of change is not always good. Obama's change may just destroy this country. Having a democratic president with a democratic congress is a blank check this country can nor afford to write. All you McCain is Bush people stop and think for yourself, why would anyone extend and follow the policies of the least popular president in history?

    Hey Joe,maybe you should go to college and learn how to spell six-pack

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. JD

    NEVER trust any big news organization to report correct polling numbers...They say the race is tightening because it increases their ratings.

    You'd better believe McCain is going to get his ancient butt handed to him.

    OBAMA 08

    October 20, 2008 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. scott

    Polls do not win elections; VOTES DO! You can't hit the home run if you do not swing at the pitch. Do not follow the polls make sure you vote and get everyone out to vote.

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. mitch

    polls shcmolls! im on the obama boat! bring on the flood!

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Andy H

    Colin Powell has it right, and hopefully the intelligent voters in the country are listening. And if Obama's economic policies are socialist, then income taxes themselves are socialist! Not to mention the biggest socialist bill ever: the Republican-sponsored bailout bill. Don't Republicans realize that you HAVE to tax wealthier people at a higher rate? The average "Joe" doesn't make $250,000+ a year, and he's not going to cry if rich people can't afford a new iPhone, Hummer and McMansion this year. Don't forget, with McCain, you only get a slightly-smarter Bush in the White House, and with Palin, if McCain has a heart attack, you get a right-wingnut extremist gunslinging creationist moron as President. Hopefully a lot of the more sensible Republican voters will realize they're about to flush the country down the toilet again if they vote for McCain, and like Colin Powell, jump ship in support of Obama.

    Obama/Biden 2008
    Colin Powell for Secy of State (again)

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. DC in AZ

    To all youtrying to link Obama to ACORN. Do a little research rather than let the GOP and McCain tell you whats going on.

    Registration fraud is not voter fraud. Simply because lazy employees of ACORN make up names to get paid for registering "voters" doesn't mean fake votes for Obama will happen. Remember folks, a couple forms of ID is required and someone has to actually show up and vote for someone. The fact that the state recorder's are catching this fraud means the system is working, at least to some degree.

    By the way, if you believe Palin is a quality figure to have a heartbeat fromt he presidency, then keep your vote because your as moronic as she is. Rediculuos.

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. CNN Never Posts My Posts

    I have voted both Democratc and Republican before. I am sick and tired of all these people saying McCain is just another Bush. Is Obama just another Jesse Jackson? Both are black and Democrats, like McCain and Bush are both white and Republicans...and that's where the comparisons stop, for both of them!


    I'm going with expeience.

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. Matt

    Socialism? I thought the McCarthy Error, oops, I mean Era, was long gone. We've been seeing this nonsense all along though...cries of socialism, communism, marxism (and even the errant cry of fascism, whic htotally makes no sense coming from the party that brought us illegal wiretapping, a war based on fabrications and campaign talking points about patriotism). It's indemic of the Republican strateegery though: play to peoples' fears by misinforming, mischaracterizing and misrepresenting. "Spread the wealth" is the very definition of taxes, period. You can't deny that. Unless a candidate says they will get rid of 100% of taxes, they have no business telling people that the other guy is a "socialist." It's nonsense.

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. Laszlo in L.A.

    Studying the Electoral College map on CNN as well as other pollsters, I can’t help but seeing the similarities between a Jim Crow map from the 1950s. The places where McCain enjoys his strongest support – Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi – were some of the last areas of the United States to segregate. Arizona didn’t even have a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday until the 1990s.

    I do not think McCain has run a racist campaign, but a lot of his supporters do seem like they’re holding onto the past with extreme fear and prejudice. Well, the last 8 years haven’t worked so well. It’s time we moved forward as a country.

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  22. MKD

    Nice. This weekend – Obama got the endorsement of Colin Powell, and announced the campaign raised over $150 million in September – and CNN's top story on its Politics page is about McCain and Palin's lies and false attacks. Gee, could it be that it is good business for CNN if the "race is tightening" ??

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. Chris

    If you still lack a reason to vote for Obama/Biden, just read the following from Nincompoop-to-be Palin and see if you understand what teh heck she's trying to say:

    "I believe that there are those measures that had to be taken by Congress to shore up not only the housing market but the credit markets - also to make sure that that's not frozen - so that our small businesses have opportunities to borrow. And that was the purpose, of course, and that part of the bailout and the shoring of the banks"

    LOL – And, the banks, and measures to shore up, and the shore is nice, with the bailout and the bank...and the banks will shore the bailout to help shore the banks and part of the shore...and the bailout part of purpose for the banks...and shore the part that bails out the people..and joe the plumber, who doesn't even have a plumbing license...part...purpose of joe the bailout banks shore....


    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. Michael Del Tufo

    McCain is not focused on the main issue "The Economy". He says
    he has a plan. The plan is for the GOP and not the american people.

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  25. Joi

    Who are they asking? Is it the same people,or are they polling more Republicans this round?
    How many are saying they are going to vote McCain and really voting for Obama?
    And this poll was conducted BEFORE Colin Powell's endorsement.
    Call me! Poll me! I will tell you like it is!!!!
    Obama/Biden ALL the way baby!!!

    October 20, 2008 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
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