March 28th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
8 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama leads Romney and Santorum in November showdowns

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama holds a double-digit lead over GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in hypothetical general election matchups, according to a new poll.

And a CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday also indicates that the president's approval rating has inched over the 50% mark in CNN surveys for the first time since last May, when the polls were still registering the after effects of the death of Osama bin Laden. The number of Americans who say the economy's in good shape has jumped 13 points since January, though the survey shows a majority still think it is in poor shape.

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If the general election were held today instead of in early November, 54% of registered voters say they would back Obama, with 43% supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the front-runner in the GOP nomination battle. That's up from a five-point 51%-46% advantage the president held over Romney in February.

And Obama would have a 55%-42% lead over Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania who's Romney's main rival right now for the nomination. The president led Santorum by a seven-point 52%-45% margin last month.

"President Obama currently wins majority support among groups that have been problematic for him in the past, including men, older voters, and suburbanites," says CNN Poling Director Keating Holland. "He has a solid lead among independents as well."

Remember that the election is not being held today, so the survey is not a prediction of what will happen in the general election.

The poll indicates that Obama is also the only presidential candidate with a personal popularity rating over 50%, with 56% of the public having a favorable view of Obama as a person and 42% seeing him in an unfavorable light. By contrast, nearly half questioned have an unfavorable view of Romney, compared to only 37% with a favorable view. Romney's unfavorable rating is up six points from 43%, where it stood in CNN polling in January.

"Only 35 percent of independents now have a favorable view of Romney," Holland notes.

According to the poll, Santorum' unfavorables outweigh his favorable rating by a 42%-35% margin, and negative views of Santorum have grown every time CNN has measured the favorable rating in polls since last spring.

"The favorable ratings also reveal an institutional advantage for Obama. Forty-eight percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Democratic party, while the Republican party's favorable rating has dropped to just 35%, with nearly six in ten Americans saying they have an unfavorable view of the GOP," says Holland. "To put the Democrat's 48% favorable rating in historical context, the last time the GOP's rating reached 48% was in 2008."

That indicates that the party may still be suffering from a "Bush hangover," and the results of a question on the economy tend to bear that out. Thirty-one percent of those surveyed say that the economic conditions in the country are good - the highest level in more than four years. But nearly seven in ten say the economic conditions right now are poor.

Although Obama has been president for more than three years, 56% of Americans continue to blame former President George W. Bush and the Republicans for the country's current economic problems, with only 29% blaming Obama and the Democrats.

All that may be contributing to a rise in the president's approval rating, with 51% giving him a thumbs-up for his job performance and 45% disapproving how his handling his duties. Obama's approval rating has edged up four points since January, when it stood at 47%.

The enthusiasm gap, which greatly benefited Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections, is a non-factor right now. Sixty-four percent of Republicans said in our October poll that they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting in the 2012 elections. That number dropped to 51% in February and is now at 52%. Only 43% of Democrats in October said they were extremely or very interested in voting in the general election. That now number now stands at 46%.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International Saturday and Sunday, with 1,014 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Also see:

Gingrich faults fundraising for campaign changes

Poll: Obama leads narrowly in Florida, Ohio

Leno gets serious with Romney

Pro-Romney super PAC expands ad buys


Filed under: 2012
soundoff (200 Responses)
  1. cycles

    I think the CNN poll is very conservative, I have Obama 60% Romney 40%.

    Obama 2012!

    March 28, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. Roger

    God help us. Over 12 million people lost their homes this last go around. We are going to do the same thing again? Are you guys that dumb?

    March 28, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    WOW! I actually saw a posting by a Ronbot! I didn't know any of them were left. If polled, I would offer the following assessments for the Republicans seeking the nomination.
    Ron Paul – why start with him? It's the easiest. Ron Paul is the guy I want to entertain my family at the reunion.
    Newt Gingrich – He is the guy I want to lead the expedition to explore the underside of the ice cap on Greenland.
    Mitt Romney – He is the guy I want to run the next Olympics we get in the United States.
    Rick Santorum – He is the guy I want to see enter a Trappist Monastery for the rest of his life, and ask for forgiveness from the rest of the country before doing so.

    March 28, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. The-Least-Unelectable

    "Only 35 percent of independents now have a favorable view of Romney"

    ROFLOL

    March 28, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. Marcus Richardson

    As much as I would like to believe this, liberals be cautious and conservatives can be optimistic. Gallup still has Romney beating Obama 50%-46%. And they still have Obama's approval rating at 48%. Still a long way to go and plenty of time for more gaffs. CNN/ORC International may be exposing their bias a bit. I'd love to believe them, but I don't.

    March 28, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Riotous

    Hahahaha.

    Republicans are such pathetic losers. Get ready for another four years Republican's hysterical whining and racism after Obama is reelected.

    March 28, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Andrew

    GOP is a lost cause. I actually thought the past presidential election would have washed them all completely away. Yet, the fear machine had a bit of steam left ..to win mid-term elections and capture the House. I just hope this time if the GOP loose..which is probable, they'll finally be silenced. Conservatism needs a re-reboot not some repackaged used, outdated , old bag of ideas.

    March 28, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. The-Least-Unelectable

    "Forty-eight percent of Americans have a favorable view of the Democratic party, while the Republican party's favorable rating has dropped to just 35%"

    The GOP needs to find another argument as fast as possible.

    March 28, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. wecwec

    So...the government is forcing me to pay welfare/foodstamps/housing/medicaid/etc/etc/etc for a person – and that person gets to vote themselves more benefits – so they are voting that I should be forced to work harder and/or have less of my own money so they can have more... Thats nice.

    March 28, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. TrueIndependent

    More left leaning CNN...... If we reelect this guy then we deserve it all. (As his pastor would say.......ooh I'm sorry, ex-pastor). If Romney doesn't do what he says then I'll vote him out in 4 years as well!! It's time to hold them accountable! NO you don't get 8 years to be honest. We now know that he will have more 'flexibility' after the election (Obama's words). How could you elect someone who admits that they will lie to get elected then change when they don't have to be accountable????

    March 28, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. GMAN-64

    You're to much CNN!!! You had me going for a minute but then I realized that you really meant to hold back this story until April 1st. I guess one of your interns got overzeleous and thought that this was a real poll and decided to hit the publish button today. Anyway, I guess you'll have to make up another story for April 1st.....you guys crack me up!

    March 28, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  12. MCR

    I can't believe 56% of people have a good enough understanding of the economy and the way laws are made to know that you can't do anything to the economy for at least the first month in office.

    March 28, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  13. Santos

    I have an issue with the context of these questions. You ask these questions as if everyone gets their news about the candidates through the news. You do not allow them to answer honestly. Also, what was the target audience? Why didn't you ask about the matchup between Obama/Paul and Obama/Gingrich. You are assuming that Romney or Santorum are going to get the Republican nomination. What was your target audience? Next time, try a random sample. I hope you guys don't try to report this as fact like you do with other polls. Most television junkies take this empirical evidence as fact. I bet I will not here you say out of 1000 plus Americans...

    March 28, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  14. Rick

    Well given what a bunch of morons these GOP candidates are it doesn't surprise me. Obama might no be the best but he's far and away better than the others as far as I can see from my objective viewpoint abroad.

    March 28, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  15. scoto

    Independents are the key and given they are by nature moderates, there is no way that either Romney (Rich out of touch Mormon) or Santorum (wacky religious fan of medieval mores) stands a chance against Obama.

    March 28, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  16. Rick

    Roger: Please wake up, the housing crisis is a result of what happened long before Obama was elected. Blaming it on him just proves you to be a fool or a racist.

    March 28, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Rob

    I don't believe that poll for one minute. That is CNN trying to cheer up the Dems. Most Rep would rather vote for a mop than have Obama for another 4 years. The poll is absolute BS!!!

    March 28, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  18. PushingBack

    @Roger – Bush caused all of the problems of which you speak. Are you that dumb?

    March 28, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. BostonDawg

    CNN... I mean ONN polls show Obama winning..... Obama saved a kitten today, Obama bought girlscout cookies today.... Obama was caught on an open mic being political to try to push off important decisions, Obama knowingly broke the law with Solyndra, prior to the 2010 election Obama told Solyndra execs to delay their chapter 11 filing, Obama wants us to pay as much for gas and oil as the Euros so that it will push his alternative energy plan which American companies cannot compete in, Obama wants people that never should have been given houses to be able to keep them, Obama wants people that do absolutely everything they can do to perpetuate the stereotypes applied to them to be given a break because they decide to have 70% of their kids out of wedlock and drop out of school 50% of the time and then blame it on those that are successful.... bye bye Obama, glad we hardly knew ye!!!!

    March 28, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Howard

    The CNN poll AWAYS has Obama leading, regardless as to whether he is actually leading or not.

    March 28, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. sbul

    It's too bad the GOP doesn't take these polls seriously as maybe then they would get their hands out the pockets of lobbyists, stop being obstructionists, and start working "for the people". Then maybe,... just maybe, congress can get some real work done and start synergizing on the problems facing the country (of course this assumes the DEMS "wash" their hands too)! Oh, well, I'm not holding my breath, but it's good to see that most of the country agrees with me that the GOP's policies have not been good for the country and their current leaders aren't even very "likable".

    March 28, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  22. joshua

    I'm shocked, CNN created another favorable poll for Obama. And Jimmy Carter was beating Reagan in 1979 and lost by a landslide. You just can't trust liberal bias.

    March 28, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. tykl

    The general election campaign hasn't started yet. These numbers mean very little.

    March 28, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  24. Lolo

    @ Belle, and if you vote for the stiff lying robot Romney or crazy theologist Santorium you need yours examined real bad. Hope that you are through menapause becuase you will be back in the land of barefoot and pregnant and watching more jobs shifted overseas to fill your clown parties pockets, but then again your remark makes me think that you are the type of person that does no research for themselves and just does as one is told to do. What did they promise you, oh yeah I forgot the moon colony. You don't have to go so far to get away from the real Americans in this country, just break away from the United States like the rest of your buddies have been threating to do. It will make the U.S. a better place with out all of this hatred and racism coming from your ignorant party. While you are at it look up the n-word that they like to use behind closed doors and see what the definition really is. You are just as pathetic as the gop clowns that you are trying to push for the highest office in the land.

    March 28, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. works4me

    Now get into the end zone and spike the ball....

    OBAMA 2012!

    March 28, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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