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. david esmay

    Romney has zero credibility on foreign policy and unless you love a return to the supplyside nightmare of George the Dullard's administration, zero credibility on the economy. He would burn it down, sell it off piece meal and ship what's left overseas.

    August 26, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  2. Feed the greed

    Romney's plan would increase the federal deficit, raise taxes on the middle class workers, and cut access to medicare. How is this better for the economy?

    August 26, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  3. Mike Texoma

    "Starve the beast" budgetary policy will also starve the market American businesses live or die by, And that will kill jobs, not grow them. Yes, you can fool some of the people, but I do not believe a majority of Americans will stay fooled. Under the brighter lights, the Republican position will not hold up. Republican economic policy is only about no/low taxes, and the rest of it can go hang..

    August 26, 2012 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  4. Joy

    The number one issue for most people is the economy, and Romney will win big on the economy. Many of my friends are either under employed or unemployed, and too many people can not find real jobs. On the issue of Medicare, 54% of the American people want Obamacare repealed, and I do not think that has changed. As a senior, I know Obamacare destroys Medicare and there are massive cuts. There will be very low quality of care for all others, due to a doctor shortage. With Romney's Medicare plan for those under 55 he will save Medicare and Romney will eliminate cuts that Obamacare has taken away from seniors. I. am OK with Obama's foreign policy, however since the economy and debt are number one issues, I feel Romney does have an big advantage. We need to save our country financially,
    and I feel that Romney is the best choice.

    August 26, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  5. Feed the greed

    Lets be honest, Romney knows nothing about foriegn policy, he knows nothing about creating a prosperous nation, he knows nothing about middle class workers, he knows nothing about paying a fair share of taxes, but he is pretty good at shipping jobs overseas to create wealth for himself. Don't feed the greed, vote Barack Obama for President.

    August 26, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  6. p

    Romney is outpolled on every issue, except the ecomomy, with a narrow margin there.
    Romney is toast. Old angry white people won't be enough to save him...

    August 26, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  7. MARIA

    justification hinders in the balance by the energy shared amongst the nations of people and that will ultimately decided the fate of this great nation!

    August 26, 2012 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  8. blackman

    hey mitt we hope you pay your taxes we the people want 2 see that 5%for the last 10 year you are not like your pa.lie will not make you president o that right you is a presidentof your taxes that what a real president would do ask presidentobam that a real president that right macan know that why he look over you come with a lot of lie taht sad but you is not ! of use

    August 26, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  9. Duane Allen

    If there were only one issue, transparency, Obama is hands down the only candidate the American electorate can trust; the secretive nature of Romney and his furtive attempts to distract the public and media attention away from his tax returns and private life disqualify him from consideration. Nixon was both and look how that ended; we don't need another President who lies to and withholds information from the public. Aside from the transparency, Obama seems to have the best interests of the middle-class solely as his agenda on every single issue... he'll protect us from insurance companies, big pharma, big oil, big banks, Wall Street, he'll protect Medicare & Medicaid, Social Security, student loans, environment, along with ensuring renewable energy development is protected and that any tax cuts are given to the middle-class not the rich who have been ripping us off and raping us for the past two administrations, plus he'll keep us out of wars while protecting us from terrorists. He did see to it bin Laden was brought to account. If Obama wasn't good for the American middle-class why do you think all those rich dirt bags are spending 100$ of Million$ to discredit and defeat him. Think!

    August 26, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  10. Xavier

    Woman you best be ware voteing for Romney for other issues may seam OK but woman your second class in his eyes just like the mormon faith he is as a mormon woman they are second class citizens not allow to hold any positions of authority in the church.

    August 26, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  11. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    Romney's view on the economy is typical of almost every really wealthy person in the US. "Lower the taxes on the rich. Trust us, the trickle down will fix everything."

    The plutocracy is coming courtesy of the American aristocrats and major corporations (which are the same as a person according to SCOTUS Chief Justice John Roberts)

    August 26, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  12. cgs

    CNN, why did you put the economy poll at the bottom of the article? Did you hope no one would read that far? It really is still the economy, stupid!

    August 27, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  13. Will MacHeka

    I have not heard what specific government programs the GOP is going to eliminate or downsize and whether the amounts involved are sufficient enough to reduce the federal deficit, if elected to power.

    August 27, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  14. ucheu

    I wonder how Romney has advantage over the President on the economy. I have listened to both campaigns and Romney has been vague on his policies.How he will fix the economy has been cut taxes for the rich and technically raise taxes for the middle class and poor. He has a supply side economic plan that has not worked.His economic policies tailors after that of Bush Jr.
    His deficit reduction plan is totally none existent because he has not said anything in that light except the same plan following Ryan budget. He plans to close some loopholes in the tax system and tax credits but the question is what is he going to cut and eliminate. Nothing is been said about it. Those are the questions CNN, a so called independent media, should be asking.
    1. How do you plan to fix the economy?
    2 What are your plns to reduce the deficit and how long is it estimated?
    3.How do you plan to reduce Healthcare costs?
    4, What is your plan for future investment strategies etc?

    These are the type of questions both candidates should be answering not issues that don't matter.

    August 27, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  15. Rick

    Romney has no plan and no history of success in governing.

    August 27, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  16. Andy

    Neither of these presidential candidates knows the best way to run the U.S. Neither are experts in economics and currencies. They have people surrounding themselves telling them what they believe. Neither have been in the military, and we trust them to be The Commander in Chief? They are puppets! They are being told and influenced on what decisions to make. Is it any surprise Obama has sold out the American people by NOT passing real banking reform and prosecuting the people who tanked the economy? Both of these candidates are worthy to be the U.S. President. Come on people, wake up.

    August 27, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  17. Geoff

    CNN is part of the right wing agenda movement in the media so it's hard to fully trust this poll. We don't know who Romney is except that he's not Obama. Clueless republicans don't care who is running on their party ticket as long as it's not Obama. We need a president who is a leader, not some paid CEO figure head who takes barking orders from his rich friends.

    August 27, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  18. Namemmm

    I thank obama can do better job them Rodney. please vote obama

    August 27, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  19. Squigman

    The one on the left. If congress, had done the right thing the economy would have perked up more. But they didn't so don't blame the democrats, or the president. If any change is needed, it's needed in congress more than any place else.

    August 27, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  20. Andrew H

    I keep hearing James Carville from 1992 prating on about "it's the economy, stupid!!"'s STILL the economy.

    That doesn't bode well for Mr Obama.

    August 27, 2012 01:07 am at 1:07 am |
  21. Blucorsair

    Obama, literally can't run on his disastrerous record or the issues! He's a true loser in the strictest sense of the word! ...Romney's got my vote!

    August 27, 2012 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  22. John

    No election is only about one issue. While one issue may be primary among the electorate, if that issue is in a statistical dead heat, the lesser issues come into play. This looks like a toss up to me. Its going to depend on who gets out the vote.

    August 27, 2012 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  23. Megan Grawe

    Obama has proven that he does not understand a free market system, finances or basic business concepts! We need a good businessman in there to straighten out his mess (Obamagheddon) or at least stop the continued bleeding! ...a good business man Obama is not! ...It's time for another change america and Romney gets my nod!

    August 27, 2012 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  24. MG.

    Obama is not a leader, but rather a delegator! He is uniformed and it shows! Romney is a better businessman and leader!

    August 27, 2012 05:08 am at 5:08 am |
  25. Gurgyl

    Obama12. Period.

    August 27, 2012 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
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