CNN Poll: Which candidate is better on the issues?
August 26th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
6 years ago

CNN Poll: Which candidate is better on the issues?

Tampa, Florida (CNN) - President Barack Obama has a big advantage over Mitt Romney on social issues and a smaller margin on foreign policy, but according to a new national survey the Republican challenger has the edge on the economy, issue number one with American voters.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Sunday also indicates there are a lot of issues where neither candidate has an appreciable edge, and many of them - including welfare, taxes, health care, and Medicare - have been fodder recently for both presidential campaigns.

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According to the poll, 59% of likely voters say the president would better handle polices towards gays and lesbians, with one in three saying Romney would better handle such policy. And by a 53%-40% margin, they say Obama would better handle policy on abortion. He has a 51%-44% advantage over Romney on foreign policy and a 50%-43% margin over the former Massachusetts governor on terrorism.

"It's not surprising that the administration responsible for Osama bin Laden's death would have an edge on terrorism and foreign policy, but those issues have faded in importance compared to previous elections," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Social issues also appear to be a Democratic strong point."

What about Medicare, which dominated the airwaves immediately after Romney announced House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate? The seven-term congressman from Wisconsin has authored a controversial plan to alter Medicare.

The poll indicates voters are divided on which candidate would do a better job on Medicare, and health care, another major flashpoint for years.

What about welfare, a major topic recently in TV ads from both presidential campaigns?

Fifty-one percent said Obama would do a better job, with 47% saying Romney would better handle the issue. The president's four point margin is within the poll's sampling error. The president has a six point advantage on energy, the subject of a major Romney rollout last week.


"That used to be a Republican issue, but the Democratic push on Romney's tax returns and Obama's position on tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 may have blunted that," adds Holland.

The poll indicates this is not the case for the federal deficit, which has typically been a good issue for the GOP and it remains so today. According to the survey, Romney holds a ten-point lead on that, as he does on illegal immigration.

It may all come down to the economy, where Romney currently has a 50%-46% margin over Obama. That is within the poll's sampling error.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from August 22-23, with 1,055 adult Americans, including 924 registered voters and 719 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. ejktexas

    Best candidate on the issues is Gary Johnson.

    August 26, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  2. Kris

    Romney can't even come close to Obama on any issue. Romney is an ignorant fool and he proves this by opening his mouth.

    August 26, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  3. n

    Romney is a blank slate when it come to all issues. Romney cancel out Romney each and every time, no matter what the issues are. These people you poll that give Romney an edge on anything, are out right idiots. Hate The president all you want to, but Romney is a weasel chicken hawk coward who hides behind his money. He is not forthcoming on any issues, but claims he know how to fix things. What a laugh this Romney guy is and all those who would vote for this guy.

    August 26, 2012 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    That's it CNN, Obama has my vote.....

    August 26, 2012 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  5. Mark

    MAY come down to the economy? "It's the economy, stupid"!

    August 26, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  6. Liz the First

    How can anyone think RMoney would do better on the economy??? he belongs to the party that TRASHED THE ECONOMY!!! the repugs don't do anything to benefit the economy, only the economy of the rich. trickle-down is a failure. it failed in the past and it will fail again if we're stupid enough to fall for it again. did we not learn our lesson 'electing' Bush??? we had peace and prosperity under Clinton and within two years of electing the villiage idiot from Crawford, we were in a deficit and a war. wake up, folks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 26, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  7. HenryMiller

    "It's not surprising that the administration responsible for Osama bin Laden's death would have an edge on terrorism..."

    You mean the Bush Administration?

    August 26, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  8. Dennis

    Romney needs to get elected we need a free America and not bound by Communism.We don't need to have another revolution. The mainstream media already supports Obama and tries to protect him as much as possible.This is one of the most corrupt administrations in 30 years.Obame needs to be out.

    August 26, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  9. Bigereads

    Well, Obama studies the issues, confers with experts, and makes his judgments based on facts.

    Willard the Wizard of the Idiots, changes his beliefs to whomever is willing to give him more campaign dollars.
    Willard has no ideas nor knowledge. He simply wants to be President. He will never touch the middle and lower classes of American citizenry and has no ideas or concerns about what they are suffering or need.
    Willard is so amoral that he just had to feed into his racist supporters to demean our President's citizenship to make himself feel like a man.
    Obama has taken more racist insults in his three and a half years in office than we would ever have thought possible. But dealing with inbred ignorance and racism built into the Republican soul, he takes it like a man and continues to show us all his decency, honor, intelligence and care about our future.

    Willard and gang are busy trying to stop Obama's supporters from voting come November and he won't even address the truth of why. They are criminals in the GOP who are using everything they have to stop the black and Hispanic votes.

    August 26, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  10. Nodack

    It's a trust thing. Bush lied and fabricated evidence to go to war killing 200,000+ people. We found out later it was all a lie and nobody seemed to care that we murdered 200,00+. They even re-elected Bush after they found out putting their stamp of approval on mass murder. Because of that I can never vote for another Republican. Now they fight against affordable health care for all Americans. Do they even have souls?

    August 26, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  11. Manny

    Go Obama. Just got welfare increase. Keep working America, keep paying those taxes fool.

    August 26, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  12. Indy

    If Romney were running for CEO of a company in trouble his resume would look better than Obamas, but he is running for President, and President's don't come in and fix business's or create newfound supply and demand for business owners.Romney has no experience in bringing back an economy from near disaster and he has been retroactively retired for so long that his old business experience does not apply in todays business world

    August 26, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  13. Matt

    I don't like Mitt Romney, but his stands on the issues are more palatable. And his financial background makes him more likely to know what to do to create jobs. President Obama has clearly run out of ideas.

    August 26, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  14. Indy

    If you are very wealthy or a corporation Romney is your man, if you are from the other 99% of the popoulation Obama is your guy

    August 26, 2012 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  15. Slightly Left of Center

    Which candidate is better on the issues?

    August 26, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  16. mig

    No matter what anyone says the Republicans are still responsible for what happened to this economy and Obama did not have a fillibuster-proof congress so he could fix things. Republicans went out of their way to obstruct this president from the day of his inauguration when they said the most important issue was to make him a one-term president.So who suffered for that policy? The same idiots who would put those gangsters back in power if they could.If you vote Republican this time you must be very stupid or very rich.

    August 26, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  17. TheTraveler

    I don't think either one has a clear cut advantage over the other in most issues. But, I'm willing to give President Obama another 4 years to continue to try and sort our the mess left by Bush and decades of Republican pandering to the wealthy. Yep, I guess I'm just one of those "libtards" as some conservative detractors like to sometime label us. I firmly believe NO president could have walked in after the 8 disastrous years we had of Bush and turned everything around. And, neither am I willing to see another tool of the GOP, namely Mitt Romney, attempt to put us back under the thumbs of people like the Koch Brothers or Grover Norquist.

    August 26, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  18. tarura

    CNN spin is showing in the last two paragraphs – the results are 50-46, that is 4 points difference. Yet, CNN says it's within the sample error, and yet says, the error is 3.5 points.

    Well 4 point difference is LARGER than the error. That's all folks !

    August 26, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  19. QZ

    Presidential campaign is a joke/party/show.

    August 26, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  20. CNN Fan

    So, overall... Obama wins Romney?.....haha and for sure, Obama will be re-elected...cheers...

    August 26, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It would be nice if there were a debate or show of some sort that could get everyone on the same page. I mean that all proposals could either be proven/disproven or expanded so that it would give the American people an idea to vote for this one or that. I would hope that there would also be one debate with all the candidates beyond those from the Democrats and Republicans.

    August 26, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  22. muezzathecat

    We don't "really know" what Mitt Flop is gonna do about the issues facing this Country. He flip flops on just about everything. He said one thing in the early 1990s and the 2000s, then "flip flops" and say right the reverse. Then just tells us "to trust him"? I'm sorry but I don't trust him as far as I could throw him with a broken arm. I think he just "tells everybody what he thinks they want to hear."

    August 26, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  23. KC Yankee

    What conceivable advantage could Romney offer the American people on the economy? Just like all recent Republicans he would empty what's left of the Treasury into his rich friends' pockets and cut programs that would invest in education so that the economy would be further stunted down the road.

    August 26, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  24. andre

    I think Obama will do a better job then him

    August 26, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  25. Malcolm

    I agree with these polls Obama is great with the social issues, but i think he's doing good with the economy it's growing at a reasonable place.

    OBAMA 2012

    August 26, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
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