CNN Poll: Obama 49%-Romney 47% among likely voters
August 24th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama 49%-Romney 47% among likely voters

Washington (CNN) - With three days to go until the start of the Republican convention, President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney remain deadlocked in the race for the White House, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Friday also indicates Romney's favorable rating among those likely to vote in the presidential election is in the same ballpark as the president's, and the survey also points to a slightly higher level of enthusiasm for Republicans than Democrats.

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According to the poll, 49% of likely voters say they're backing Obama, with 47% supporting Romney. The two point margin is within the survey's sampling error, meaning the race is a statistical tie.

Among the larger pool of registered voters, some of whom will stay at home on Election Day, the survey indicates the president holds a 52%-43% lead. That number is little changed from CNN's previous poll, conducted in early August, before Romney named House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate.

"Likely voters have traditionally been a more Republican group in past elections because they tend to turn out in higher numbers than Democrats, and 2012 looks like it is no exception. This explains why the margin between President Obama and Mitt Romney is smaller among likely voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But it is a mistake to say that the race has tightened in the past few weeks, given the lack of movement in the results for registered voters."

In an election, it all comes down to turnout, and that's what a likely voter model is all about. The more enthusiastic you are about voting, the likelier you are to actually vote in November. According to the poll, 35% of registered Republicans questioned say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting, six points higher than the 29% of Democrats who feel the same way.

Four years ago, two-thirds of Democrats said they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting, giving them an 18-point lead over Republicans that helped Obama overcome the fact that turnout has historically been higher among Republicans. Now the two parties are evenly divided.

"Enthusiasm is down among key elements of the Obama coalition from the last presidential election, indicating that some of his supporters are not likely to vote unless something changes. The challenge for the president in his convention is to fire up his base and to turn those potential stay-at-homes into likely voters. If he can do so, the likely voter model may not work as much in Romney's favor in September as it does in August," adds Holland.

In the horserace, 48% of likely voters who are independents say they support Romney, with 45% backing Obama. The gender gap and generational divides seen in polling so far this cycle continue, with the president holding a 54%-42% lead among female likely votes and Romney holding a 53%-43% lead among male likely voters. Obama has a 55%-43% advantage among those under 50, with Romney holding a 50%-45% margin among likely voters 50 and older.

"The two candidates are in a dead heat in the national horserace, tied among likely voters who call themselves independents and tied in the suburbs," says Chief National Correspondent John King.

"Which means the conventions are their best chance to nudge the numbers a bit before we get to what is likely to be a decisive series of debates. The race could break near the end, but heading into the conventions it is as close as can be."

Eighty-seven percent of likely voters say they're minds are made up, with just over one in ten saying they could change their minds on which candidate they'll back in the presidential contest.

The challenge for Romney at his convention, which starts Monday in Tampa, Florida, is to boost his favorable ratings and re-establish the Republican brand nationwide.

According to the poll, 50% of likely voters see Romney in a favorable way, with 46% saying they see him in an unfavorable light. Fifty-two percent say they have a favorable opinion of the president, with 47% saying the see him in an unfavorable way.

While there's not much daylight between the two candidates in this poll when it comes to their favorable/unfavorable ratings, there's more of a disparity between the two political parties in the minds of likely voters.

The poll indicates likely voters are evenly split 47%-47% on how the view the Democratic party. But the GOP has a 43%-51% favorable/unfavorable rating.

As for the running mates, likely voters are divided on Vice President Biden (46%-47%), with a plurality having a favorable opinion of Ryan, the seven-term congressman from Wisconsin (45%-39%).

As for Romney's choice of Ryan as his running mate, 51% of registered voters rate Ryan as an excellent or good pick. And 52% believe he is qualified to be president if necessary.

"From a historical perspective, Ryan ranks in the middle of the pack among recent vice presidential nominees," says Holland. "He's not as well-received as Joe Biden or Dick Cheney initially were, but he's definitely not another Dan Quayle. Joe Lieberman is the running mate who put up numbers most like the ones Ryan now gets."

The survey also indicates the president's approval rating at 50%, unchanged from early August.

According to the poll, two-thirds of likely voters say if elected, Romney will work hard to implement GOP polices on the economy, and six in ten say he would make a real effort to enact Republican proposals on health care. But only 43% feel he will work hard to implement the Republican party's position on abortion.

The social issue has dominated news coverage this week, following controversial comments from Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri. The six-term congressman, who has deep ties to Christian conservatives, came under fire following comments in a TV interview Sunday when he said that a woman's body is capable of preventing pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape" while explaining his stance that there should be no abortion exemption for rape or incest.

The survey indicates that 83% of Americans say that abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, with similar numbers believing abortion should be legal when the life or health of the mother is endangered.

"Those aren't topics that Americans like to think about, but the recent controversy over Akin's remarks may have provided a stark reminder to many Americans that there are at least a few circumstances under which they support legal abortion," says Holland.

As a result, the number who believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances has dropped from 21% last year to 15% now. Surprisingly, the debate also appears to have boosted the number of Americans who say that abortion should be legal under any circumstances - from 25% a year ago to 35% now, the highest level of support for unrestricted abortion since mid-1990s.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International Wednesday and Thursday (August 22-23), with 1,055 adult Americans, including 924 registered voters and 719 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5% points for likely voters.

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Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC poll • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    I would run an ad about the 2010 elections, "This is what they promised. This is what they delivered."

    August 24, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. BlackDynamite

    "If you need a corporate sellout, I can beat Obama with one bribe tied behind my back!"

    – Mitt Romney
    BD

    August 24, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. 8.3% unemployment - Over 8% 42 Straight months and the Obama Jobs DEPRESSION continues unabated

    In an election, it all comes down to turnout, and that's what a likely voter model is all about. The more enthusiastic you are about voting, the likelier you are to actually vote in November. According to the poll, 35% of registered Republicans questioned say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting, six points higher than the 29% of Democrats who feel the same way.
    Four years ago, two-thirds of Democrats said they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting, giving them an 18-point lead over Republicans that helped Obama overcome the fact that turnout has historically been higher among Republicans. Now the two parties are evenly divided.
    =============================================================================================
    Let's do the math.... 66 – 29 = 37% DROP in enthusiasm for Obama FROM DEMOCRATS!!!!

    Looks like even THEY know Obama is a total failure.

    Trust me, the rest of the American people know as well.

    August 24, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  4. ConsiderThis

    47% of Americans are not millionaires. 47% of Americans are not billionaires. 47% of Americans do not have lobbiest influencing lawmakers on their behalf. 47% of Americans will not participate in the Romney tax cuts if he becomes president. SO WHY IN THE HELL DOES 47% OF AMERICA SUPPORT ROMNEY? It has always amazed me how the republicans can get so may people, whom they don't represent, to vote for them. Simply amazing. Or, simply stupid.

    August 24, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. JC in Western U.S.

    The first two weeks of September, 2008, John McCain led Barack Obama. Same thing, different year.

    August 24, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Roger

    Who are these people you poll? I've been voting and participating in the process for over 30 years and no one has ever polled me! I'm sure Mittens will get a bump from his charade of a convention next week but in the end, America will opt for common sense and re-elect President Obama. The Republican party has turned far too right for most of us! Take the next 4 years and get your act together and get rid of all these tea baggers who have driven the GOP into the dirt.

    August 24, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. Oh Boy

    So who did you poll? Old fat religious white people?

    August 24, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. D

    Bye bye Obama

    August 24, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. johhny NY

    hahaha Everyone knows Obama is going to win again.. why even have an election?

    August 24, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Dave

    Yeah, and after another two months of detailing the Republican platform and agenda – if voters still pick them they deserve what they get.

    August 24, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. hiruu

    Deja vu...McCain made a run, as they approached the coventions, but lost steam in October and November...

    August 24, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Jared

    I will be voitng for Romney. I don't believe Obama has delivered enough in this term to warrant another 4 years.. I don't have anything against Obama but I don't see the political climate changing under his stewardship. Probably just in the wrong place at the wrong time...

    August 24, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. dreucalypt

    It looks as though all those racist dogwhistles about welfare reform are working. It shows that lying pays, especially if you are a Republican, because everything is alway OK for Republicans to do.

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. Don

    Interesting. A coalition of women, kids, and minorities verse white men.

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  15. bczu

    Why has no one brought up Stericycle? That should crush some of Romney's votes...

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  16. Belseth

    It's a non story. One slanted poll has Obama only ahead by 2%. The more important poll of how people would actually vote was this one, "the survey indicates the president holds a 52%-43% lead". The truth is in the electoral college Romney would nearly have to sweep the toss up states and he's only ahead in one. The Republicans don't like Romney they just hate Obama. The end result is if the weather is good Obama wins. If it's raining Obama gets a landslide because most conservatives aren't going to face the rain for a guy they don't like.

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  17. RandyF

    How much does CNN charge each campaign for positive coverage ?

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  18. CLL

    What was the breakdown of the party affiliation? Don't want to tell us that now do you???

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. us_1776

    Previous GOP administration inherited
    a relatively strong economy, a budget surplus, and a nation at peace.

    Eight years later, Bush left
    a shattered economy, a trillion dollar deficit, and two useless wars.

    Obama saved the country
    from another Great Depression, rebuilt GM, reformed healthcare, reformed Wall
    Street, doubled the stock market, created 12 straight quarters of GDP growth,
    created 29 straight months of private sector job growth, got Bin Laden, got Gaddafi,
    and got us out of Iraq.

    And now with the
    automatic spending cuts and the expiration of the Bush tax cuts in 2012, Obama
    has solved the deficit problem as well.

    Obama has done a very good job.

    August 24, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. roger

    HAHAHAHAHAH CNN you so funny. You are the only poll that has Obama ahead. I wouldn't expect anything different. Did you "Poll" all of your liberal employees.

    August 24, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. us_1776

    Obama has sustained an entire country through the worst economic collapse in a hundred years.

    A collapse that was brought on by GOP deregulation, GOP wars and through fraud and greed on Wall Street.

    4 more for 44

    Obama | Biden 2012

    .

    August 24, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. rmarcb

    Yeah they are in a tie - both losers. God I hate our polictics today. The Right, The Left - so much partisanship that it is ruining our country. The only dialog is to call either other names and shout how right their side is.

    August 24, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. Thomas

    @myviewis

    Was Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich , the American politician, author, political consultant and self proclaimed big thinker your professor at Denial High or Disinformation U ?

    August 24, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. us_1776

    Every president and nominee in recent history has shown their tax returns:

    Obama and Biden have shown 12 years
    Clinton showed 10
    Kerry showed 20

    Not just Democrats.
    Bush Jr and Cheney showed 8 years
    Reagan showed 6 years

    Go back to FDR, he showed ALL his tax returns, over 40 years of them.

    NO president in US history has been compelled to show his long form Birth certificate or college records. Romney has shown neither of those. Yet you demand that of Obama.

    Why dont we demand Romney do what everyone else seeking to become president has done, before we demand things of Obama that nobody before has ever had to do?

    I swear, if the far right didnt have double standards, they would have no standards at all.

    .

    August 24, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. Waylon

    Don't worry. Once the democrats start registering dead people and then go around the hood in buses on election day, obama will probably ink one out.....

    August 24, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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