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. rosie

    Like asking who was better Sodom or Gomorrah.

    August 24, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. ConsiderThis

    After reading some of these posts, I'm convinced that there are too many people in America who's brains don't work. What do Republicans have to do to show you that they couldn't care less about you unless you're rich; slash your children's throats? Are you really that stupid thinking that the republicans have your best interest in mind?

    August 24, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. Patrick

    It's not enough for me that Romney lose the election...I hope he is beaten in a landslide. A message needs to be sent to these self serving capitalists that America wasn't created for them to rape and pilfer for their own personal gain. He has taken advantage of every loophole possible in order to fill his piggy bank....putting people out of work, lying, decieving, destroying Americanse already struggling. It disgusts me that this child of a man born into wealth, privelege and power, a man that really had a chance to make a difference in this country has instead chosen use those privileges to line his own pockets as well as his 1% country club buddies.

    Furthermore, it's so tiring to listen to the naive speak about his brilliance as a business man, his ingenuity, and how his financial success somehow reflects upon his ability to lead a country. This man was born into money and politics. He took his money and bought wounded companies, fired their employees and liquidated their assets for profit. That takes less genious then it does a cold, self serving heart. Then he went into politics...which he had grown up in....This isn't an innovator, it's a gangster, it's a thug, it's a trust fund baby,it's Paris Hilton. I feel for those that consider voting for him you clearly haven't checked your facts...This man does not care about you (well, that is, unless you are a white, male in the top 1%), he just wants to be able to add President of the US into his ego driven life.

    August 24, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. David

    Romney has taken a stealth approach in his second try for the presidency. He put himself way to the right to beat Gingrich and Santorum in the Republican primaries. Yet has tried to keep a blank slate on anything that reminds the general public of the extreme positions he and Ryan and the Republican Party advocates. Once the public becomes more aware of their extreme positions and policies, like getting rid of Medicare and raising taxes for the middle class to keep taxes low for the super rich, the election most likely will break for Obama.

    Despite the fact Romney has spent billions through the primary and now, he has not been able to connect with the needs of the middle class. The convention will not change much, since it is largely cosmetic and staged. Romney's base, which includes Akin, who co-authored bills with Ryan, does not appear to be as much interested in Romney as their candidate; more like they seem to want a puppet.

    August 24, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. informer

    Who takes these polls? I don't know one single person that has ever been asked to take one of these polls. I can't believe that anyone would deliberately re-higher this guy. He would be the guy at work that see's you doing everything and secretly is gaming on his computer acting like he's covered up. Makes me sick... Obama what a joke...

    August 24, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. david

    I don't know...unless the Republicans win, they will never go away. Maybe we need them to win so Americans will know what real pain is? What is better for the long-term health of this country? Sad when you think about this. It should be a no-brainer.

    August 24, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. mk1

    Liz, I don't buy a thing you said, your answers are straight from GOP talking points. I think you need to continue your education, real education not from those talking heads on the right. As for your idea of $100 per person to be paid in taxes, do you realize that that would bring in a miniscule amount compared to our annual budget? That is another simplistic answer to a very complex problem, just like those who say we can solve our problems simply through budget cuts and less spending. Not even close. I won't even get into Reagans 11 tax increases, HW's big increase, the booming economy during Clinton after his huge tax increase, and the drastically increased debt after W's tax reductions. We have a revenue problem, not a spending problem all caused by the GOP.

    August 24, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. Grand Oil Party 2012

    If the Republicans win, will the red states continue to lead the country in handouts from the federal government?

    August 24, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  9. Anyone but Obama

    Yes it's true a liar trying to get re elected or another liar trying to get in? Okay. I voted Obama last time. Yep! Big mistake. I am now voting for Romney. Not that I like Romney much better HOWEVER, I rather have anyone but Obama. Some one new. Throw some fresh blood in the white house. Republicans aren't approving any of Obamas policies, obviously we need him OUT. The economy is getting WORSE. Honestly I can't have Obama winning another term. I can't even have kids I am under a $12 an hour job and student loans for my bachelors degree topping 30K!!! This is getting ridiculous. People are shooting people, it's crazy out here man!

    Oh and go Dolphins! :)

    August 24, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Vote!

    If the Dems want to win, they will need to get out the vote. If they can do that, they win.

    August 24, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. 111Dave111

    Divisiveness from the Romney / Ryan campaign.

    Mitt Romney is now questioning the president's legitimacy. And it was no gaff.

    Disprovable at PolitiFact, Wikipedia, WhiteHouse (gov), and you can buy a "Certified Original Barack Obama Birth Certificate" at Zazzle.

    No wonder 0% of African-Americans will vote for Romney (Obama 94%, 94% to 0%). Also a major problem for Romney with Latinos (Obama 33%, 63 percent to 28 percent), voters Under 35-years-old (Obama 11%, 52 percent to 41 percent) and Women (Obama 10%, 51 percent to 41 percent).

    August 24, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. danita

    Oh my goodness – CNN finally posted the truth! Romney in 2012.

    August 24, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. The GOP Voucher Plan will include a "Legalize Euthanasia" clause and a free gun to commit suicide

    Sorry Big-D – I thought you meant that if they voted for Obama they'd lose their Medicare. My apologies.

    August 24, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Lisa

    vote Gary Johnson 2012!!!! He's our third choice!!!!

    August 24, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  15. Saboth

    It saddens me to see that 47% of America are brainwashed dunces that can't be bothered to do 10 minutes of research instead of letting O'Reilly, Fox and campaign ads do their thinking for them. I mean...obviously GW Bush was voted in twice, but those people haven't educated themselves since then. Republicans have no plans, no mission, no ideas outside of "trickle down" (failed policy). They've sabotaged our country's recovery for the sake of their own power in government, voting against measures that help our country, time and again. And they do this to solutions to problems THEY CAUSED. You are an insane nut if you vote Republican this fall. We'd be so much further ahead in our recovery if they weren't blocking legislation while offering nothing but pandering bills to look good in the Fall.

    August 24, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Darwin's Ghost

    It's really not that close. The polling media has to keep it looking close, or we'd lose interest and not see their advertisers' ads. Obama's lead now is actually probably close to 5-7%, and he'll win the popular vote by about that much. The electoral vote will not even be close (Obama by 100).

    August 24, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. Mark

    I will be voting for obama, the republican party does not stand for anything that i believe in. I just pray that we can remove the extreme faction from the house of representatives that has obstructed the legislative process at every turn. Seems like all the republicans care about is getting abortion rights taken away. They have week arguments that they can never back up. Why is romney hiding his tax returns? What's in them? The last thing we need is to not be sure of who is driving the car, with obama we know who he is, what he believes in. Romney Lies and he is extremely dishonest and disrespectful, he ruined our name overseas in the short time that he left the county. No, i'm sticking with obama, and i can see through the lies and republican propaganda.!!!!

    August 24, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. LeRoy_Was_Here

    Here is the Republican platform (and ideology):

    (1) Vulture Capitalism

    (2) Voodoo Economics

    (3) Social Darwinism

    (4) Patriarchal Theocracy

    August 24, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. Manish Gupte, PhD

    Has Gary Johnson announced? In this weather..a straight talker can beat anyone to dust!

    August 24, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. ValarMorghulis

    What counts is the tally of the Electoral College.

    August 24, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. Brian Dodge

    Will Romney's having seen the light and named a running mate who's outspoken on the global warming hoax mean that they can withstand the Pentgon's attempts to get on the CAGW gravy train by claiming a "threat to national security"?

    August 24, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. beevee

    I am not sure how CNN (Keating holland) associates collect data and analyzes it, my feeling is that the race is not just that itght as CNN says. It is close but weighs much in favor of the president. The president will not get a wider margin of win as last time but will definitely win a second term. Some seniors like me do not think that Romney tema will do any good to them.

    August 24, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    There is nothing wrong with Paul Ryan. He is strong and honest and he scares liberals because of it. I can't wait to vote out this backdoor administration. Obama and Biden are corrupt. Why doesn't Obama release his college transcripts. I care more about that that any tax filings. Obama has destroyed this country and divided it and his so call "accomplishements" are nothing. He didn't kill Bin Laden, the Navy Seals did. And this new Solyndra scandal, wow, what a boot. Get informed people. This adminstration has done nothing for America. The economy is crap, he's dividing the nation and become dis-connected from the real problems. Romney/Ryan has done nothing of the sort. They've proposed solutions and if fact checked correctly, are solid ideas. Better that this Obamacare that is beginning to show it's evil head for small businesses ie: papa johns. Wake up people. Your all-mightly didn't turn out the way you wanted him to. Get over it and move on

    August 24, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  24. Robert

    If Romney will turn this country around like he did the 2002 Winter Olympics, and his extensive record of turning failures into successes, then he has my vote big time. Obama's had his 4 years, and things are only worse. Romney is a financial genius. He understands how money works. He's made it work in his own life. Let's give him the chance to make it work for us as well.

    August 24, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  25. Henry Hill

    Can the Republicants answer simple questions without resorting to the tactic of repeating a talking point over and over? I think not. Ryan is the "forcible" rape guy.....kind of sounds like the "legitimate" rape guy. Faux news folks, your turn!

    August 24, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
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