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. Nathan

    Ina a close race turn to voter suppression which is what the GOP is doing. America willsee Romnay and Ryan for what they are before election day. One thing that makes the race seem closerthan it reallyis is that the states that are going for Romney are going for him overwhelmingly. The states that are going for Obama are not giving him as big an advantage. Which could mean aclose election on the popular vote but a landslide in the electoral college for Obama

    August 24, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. G>N>

    Sad how many think voting back into power the same agenda that got us into this mess in the first place.. When Bush left office we were in free fall.. And Obama stepped in and slowed it..
    But the obstruction from REpublicans in congress has kept us from moving out of this at a faster pace..
    it was all to keep Obama from being re elected. And the fact that a poll "might" suggest that the American people would be willing to put the fox's back in charge of the chicken house is absolutely shocking.
    Blaming the president is crazy.. Look to the Congress and the Republcians who have been done this..Those the ones that need to go.And Ryan was one of the biggest fish in the obstruction pool..

    August 24, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. DV

    Wait till the Retardican delegates all break en masse and nominate the Palin-Akin ticket. Romney simply isn't fascist enough. There's a good chance he might not start another war, and then where are all the people who've been shortchanged by Obama ending one war and winding down another.

    August 24, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. bugmetoo

    Looks like Obama and Moochelle need to hit the talk show circuit again so they can talk about cookie
    recipes instead of the important issues.

    August 24, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. Conic

    November = Nobama

    August 24, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Matthew Kilburn

    Reasonable people can disagree over the truly difficult questions of abortion – like whether rape really justifies the termination of an innocent life – but how 1/3 of the population can continue to turn a blind eye to what amounts to the wholesale extermination of significant segments of our nation's future for non-medical reasons is beyond me. There have been 50,000,000 abortions since Roe v. Wade. Thats the equivalent of removing several large states from the map. We have one abortion in this country for every four births, and in inner cities, half the pregnancies or more can end in abortion. Yet only a small percentage of these procedures are performed for any reason relating to rape or incest, or the health or life of the mother.

    This country is killing itself. And far too many people are entirely complacent with, or ignorant of, that very simple fact.

    August 24, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. The Big NB

    By the way- I used to rely on CNN as my main source of news. Not any more. This network has become somewhat of a joke over the past few years. I still come here, but stupid articles like this have me seeking other sources.

    August 24, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. myviewis

    Gurgyl

    I am not polled. OBAMA12.
    PS: America got to be stupid to vote for this BAIN-CAPITAL.
    -------------------

    Looks like you forgot that many Americans work for Bain Capital.

    August 24, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Bobby421

    What is Romney going to do if elected? Why would he be a better president? I always see tons of posts of people bashing Obama, but nobody ever talks about what Romney is going to do if he's elected. I have a feeling that Romney won't be doing anything. It's all talk, it's all broken promises.

    I'd like someone to tell me what Romney will be doing if elected, because I haven't heard anything.

    August 24, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. G>N>

    Poll take at the nut house???

    August 24, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Eric

    Vote for a 3rd party so we can have more that 2 people to choose from. It might feel like throwing your vote away but over time you may have more than bad choice #1 or bad choice #2...

    August 24, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Ruckuz

    The rhetoric on the Right is ridiculous. They keep on saying repeal ObamaCare, but

    1. What are you going to replace it w/? 30 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured. Are you going to say they deserved it, since their party platform is so individualistic.

    2. Unless the GOP win the Senate w/ a majority, there is NO WAY a repeal bill will pass the Senate even if Mitt becomes President. GOP have obstructed President Obama @ every turn. You don't think the Demo will do the same to Mitt as revenge if Obama loses?

    Wake up, fellow Americans.

    August 24, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. pat pat

    My biggest mistake and disappointment voting for Obama! At this point I would vote for Mickey Mouse to get him out of the white house, I'm sure he would do a better job!

    August 24, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. GOP Supreme Leader

    Look at all you nice little GOP minions posting today! Good minions!!! Telling those evil democrats how the GOP will help the poor and middle class people. Hehehe. Now obey your supreme GOP master like good little minions and VOTE AGAINST YOUR OWN INTERESTS!!!!! Atta minions!!!! You go!!!!

    August 24, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. myviewis

    What happened to these voters? "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.

    August 24, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Gurgyl

    I would never vote for this Bain capital. Watch YouTube when mitt Romney came to town. Enjoy. Obama12.

    August 24, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. Scott Adkins

    I know that CNN is decidedly left-leaning as Fox is right-leaning. But folks, hey, it was Obama who said if he couldn't turn things around, his would be one-term proposition. Well, this is the worst recovery since the Great Depression. Between that and the ATF's gun-running into Mexico and this administration's refusal to be transparent should lead any reasonable minded voter to decide that Obama's time needs to end January 2013.

    August 24, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. myviewis

    Bobby421

    What is Romney going to do if elected? Why would he be a better president? I always see tons of posts of people bashing Obama, but nobody ever talks about what Romney is going to do if he's elected. I have a feeling that Romney won't be doing anything. It's all talk, it's all broken promises.

    I'd like someone to tell me what Romney will be doing if elected, because I haven't heard anything.
    ---------------------

    Get the economy going again and help small businesses create jobs, keep us from an economic collapse.

    August 24, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  19. Supernova

    They polled hillbillies, the tea party, the religious, the greedy, the wealthy who cannot see the importance of more taxes, and most of all the stupid who have no idea what happened and who was in office when the whole economy collapsed.

    August 24, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. JC in Western U.S.

    Obama won by 7 million votes in 2008. The margin of victory was 52% – 46%.
    Four years ago today, the polls said Obama had a 1.7% lead.
    Between Sept 6 and Sept 16th of 2008, McCain was ahead in the polls.
    After Sept. 17th, Obama never needed to look over his shoulder.
    The day before the election, he had a 6% lead in the polls and won by 7% of the vote.

    No worries, my fellow Democrats. Keep donating to Obama's campaign. Keep the faith. He's going to win again.

    August 24, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. allenwoll

    How many of the Right-Wing Nutjobs posting here today are PAID to do so by the Koch Bros et al ? ? ? ? ?

    August 24, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Rob

    I can't help but wonder what @Jared thinks Romney will do for him and/or our economy. Romney is in the business of putting people OUT OF WORK, and I for one don't believe for one hot minute that he'll be able to deliver on his promise of creating 12 million jobs in 4 years. Lowering the taxes of the super-rich won't achieve this level of job creation. We remain in a depressed economic state because CONGRESS not OBAMA is hold our economy hostage. It's the GOP in Congress, probably in concert with conservative Democrats that have been dragging their feet on anything resembling a JOBS BILL.

    Before you blame the sitting President and slap his hand for the state of the nation, consider that Congress is the authority responsible for passing legislation. While the President can influence such things, short of an executive order there is little he can do to force things to happen.

    August 24, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. rob

    @Bobby421
    You havn't heard of his plans because you probably get your news from CNN or MSNBC or the NYT or ABC, NBC, or CBS etc. The old Media is not interested in Romney plans other than to parrott the Obama campaigns smears of his ideas. Please be open minded and find your news from places that are more fair and ballanced.

    August 24, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. M..C..

    You all need to understand the Republicans in congress have obstructed everthing that would have helped get us out the mess Republicans caused in the first place..
    All they want is another straight shot at polishing off the middle class.. And if you put Republicans in charge you in essence put the big money in control of the people of America..
    Once that is done.. We will be just like China..Slave labor camps ..
    All these rich went to china to exploit the system that says .. People are useless unless they are useable.. Thats what you will do to America if you vote these Republicans who are owned by the rich back into office..
    The very same people willing to be bought by the people who accept and use slave labor to make money..
    Want to be exploited?? Vote the republicans back into office..~!!

    August 24, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. GOP Word Association

    WORD = GOP Association
    Old People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Sick People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Poor People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Female People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Non-white People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Non-christian People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Unemployed People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Gay People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Glob of cells in a womb = Something we PRETEND to care about just to get votes.

    August 24, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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