October 1st, 2012
03:59 PM ET
2 years ago

Battle for presidency remains close in new CNN poll

Washington (CNN) – Two days before the first presidential debate, a new national survey indicates a very close contest between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.

And according to a CNN/ORC International poll, neither candidate appears to have an edge on the economy, which remains the top issue on the minds of Americans and which may dominate Wednesday night's debate on domestic issues in Denver.

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Fifty-percent of likely voters questioned in the CNN survey, which was released Monday, say that if the election were held today, they would vote for the president, with 47% saying they would support Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. The president's three point margin is within the poll's sampling error.

Three other national polls of likely voters released in the past 24 hours also indicate a tight race. The other surveys are from ABC News/Washington Post, Politico/George Washington University, and American Research Group. A CNN Poll of Polls which averages all four surveys plus a Fox News poll released late last week puts Obama at 49% and Romney at 46% among likely voters.

In the CNN/ORC poll, the national horse race stands pretty much where it was just before the two back-to-back party conventions in late August and early September.

"That's a strong suggestion that whatever bounce President Obama received from his convention has, as expected, faded away," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's why they call them 'bounces'."

When it comes to issues, the survey indicates that Obama and Romney are effectively tied when likely voters are asked which candidate would best handle the economy. Romney, however, appears to have an edge on the top two economic issues: unemployment and the budget deficit. Obama, by contrast, has the advantage on a variety of non-economic domestic issues such as education, Medicare and health care, and also polls strongly on taxes, traditionally a GOP issue. All of these issues will most likely be debated by the candidates Wednesday night.

The president has a 52%-45% advantage over Romney on foreign policy, which will be the focus of the third and final showdown between the two candidates on October 22.

But debates are not just about issues; voters judge the candidates' personal qualities as well. Among likely voters, Obama's personal favorability rating is 52%, with 48% saying they view the president in an unfavorable way. The president's numbers are basically unchanged since mid August, before the conventions.

The public is divided on Romney, with 49% holding a favorable impression of him and 50% seeing him in a negative light. Romney's favorable rating was at 50% and his unfavorable at 46% in mid-August.

When the dust settles after the debates, it will all come down to turnout and getting out the vote, and the poll suggests when it comes enthusiasm, neither campaign seems to have the upper hand.

"Only half of Romney's voters strongly supported him in May, but despite that slow start, he now gets the same level of strong support from his voters that Obama enjoys," adds Holland. "And there is no indication of an 'enthusiasm gap', with 65% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats saying they are extremely enthusiastic or very enthusiastic about voting in November."

The poll indicates Democrats overwhelming supporting the president and Republicans overwhelmingly backing Romney, with independent voters going for Romney by a 49%-41% margin, which is within the sampling error for independents.

According to the survey, Obama holds a nine-point 53%-44% advantage among females, with Romney with a 50%-47% margin among men. Romney had a larger edge among men in CNN polling prior to the conventions.

"The president seems to have held onto some of that support among men, opening the possibility that their votes may be in play. Obama also held onto most of his bounce among rural voters, but they are still solidly in Romney's camp. On the other hand, Obama's biggest losses since the Democratic convention have come among lower-income voters and urban residents - two key elements of his coalition," says Holland. "But it's worth noting that support for Obama in those groups is back where it was before the conventions, indicating that the Democratic convention mobilized that portion of the Democratic base but only temporarily."

The president's approval rating in the new poll stands at 49% among all adults, with 48% saying they disapprove of how Obama handling his duties in the White House. The president's approval rating stood at 50%-44% before the conventions.

In addition to the three presidential debates, Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican running mate, face off next week at a debate in Kentucky. The poll indicates that Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 44% saying they see him in an unfavorable way. Ryan has 46%-40% favorable/unfavorable rating.

The CNN Poll was conducted by ORC International Sept. 28-30, with 1,013 adult Americans, including 883 registered voters and 783 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 percentage points for questions only of likely voters.

– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Mitt Romney • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (293 Responses)
  1. Jrdz

    Wow you need to stop drinking the Kool-Aid Mittens has already done himself in with all the Gaffs he has been making and the 47% remark will not help.

    October 1, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Four and The Door

    FactCheck
    @Four and The Door – Second of all, Mitt Romney is on record saying he will lower taxes 20% for everyone. And he will eliminate a large number of tax breaks for the higher earners so that they end up paying overall about the same taxes as now. How can he do this? By growing the economy and reducing the cost of government.
    -––
    And I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I'd like to sell you if you are this gullible.
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________
    After 3 1/2 years of the Obama Administration's promises promises and more promises followed by excuses, excuses and more excuses, who can blame you for doubting that things can actually happen in Washington with predictable results? I can tell you are hurt and disappointed. We all are. We can do better. Romney/ Ryan 2012.

    October 1, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. Soul Man

    Ready for some change again. Guess we will keep changing until someone does it right.

    October 1, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  4. Paul

    The link to this story says "all tied up".
    That stretches the statistical error of the poll to one extreme.
    So, a link that would be just as accurate would be "President up by 6%".
    I can understand, considering all of the other recent polls, why they chose the one they did.
    It's more sensational.
    So much for journalism in the 21st century.

    October 1, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Brian

    Does CNN know that we use an electoral system and Romney is far behind in that.

    October 1, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Paul Hargis

    If you don't for Romney, it means you're a bigot.

    October 1, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. blindchange

    Key sentence in the poll is
    "Among those likely voters, 37% described themselves as Democrats, 34% described themselves as Independents, and 29% described themselves as Republicans."

    Doing some back of the envelope calculations, Mr. Romney is winning 60% of the independent vote and Mr. Obama 40%.

    October 1, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. Soul Man

    Ready for some change again. Guess we will keep changing until someone pays attention to the economy.

    October 1, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. TTrocks

    Wait I thought Obama already won? Guess the libs still have to vote after all, shucks.

    October 1, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. Penny Wright

    Could the contrast be any greater between Romney, who looted American companies and shipped their jobs overseas, only pays taxes at a 13% rate, stashes his money in the Cayman Islands to avoid U.S. taxes, and President Obama who saved GM and created 32 straight months of private sector job growth?

    Obama is an economic patriot.

    Romney is an economic traitor.

    October 1, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. ralph

    i agree with dennis 100/per/cent .but he forgot one thing he has joe biden the country clown on his side!!

    October 1, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. anon

    I think a big part of Romneys hanging on in the polls is from fox news. I read them and cnn so as to get a real balance, and I've noticed fox news really leaning way hard to the left. In the past they sort of appeared to be almost neutral, well, sometimes, but lately, with the bright red letters announcing bias alerts, and the front page stories of every one of the white house flops, gaffes and messups, it's getting really obvious who they support. Then again, CNN would crawl over shards of glass for the honor of j@cking off Obama. Of course, Foxnews has more viewers then the other news sources COMBINED. CNN, aside from our little posts, could draw flies to poo.

    October 1, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. Don't Waste Time on NOBAMA

    Romney will win not matter what polls says! We need a president who can deliver results, not just good speeches? I still can’t believe people are still thinking of voting for Obama after unemployment above 8 – straight 40 months. Just get rid of him.

    October 1, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  14. ja

    that proves my theory the good ole boys can do no wrong, how the hell you hide money offshore, void taxation and want to be president

    October 1, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. frank

    If this is the way it is basically tied in a manipulated liberal me a poll....it will be a blowout for Romney in Nov!!!!!!!!!

    October 1, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. rose

    just give up Mitt. your done.

    October 1, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. anon

    I think a big part of Romneys hanging on in the polls is from fox news. I read them and cnn so as to get a real balance, and I've noticed fox news really leaning way hard to the left. In the past they sort of appeared to be almost neutral, well, sometimes, but lately, with the bright red letters announcing bias alerts, and the front page stories of every one of the white house flops, gaffes and messups, it's getting really obvious who they support. Then again, CNN would crawl over shards of glass for the honor of j@cking off Obama. Of course, Foxnews has more viewers then the other news sources COMBINED. CNN, aside from our little posts, couldn't draw flies to compost.

    October 1, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  18. Jrdz

    Hey dennis get your head out of the sand gas were I live has never been around $2.00 in 2008 and your whole food stamp rant is getting old with now facts to back it up. Do yourself a favor a turn off fox news its not helping you and while your at it rushbo as well.

    October 1, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Ed

    The fact that this election should have been a landslide for the GOP is very telling as to the damage the GW administration has done to the GOP. Rather than learning from those sorry years, they've doubled down on the same nonsense that saw them swept by the dems. No president has been as vulnerable as Obama in years and the best the GOP can manage is a statistical deadheat.

    October 1, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. jebbo

    why are they saying it is a three point advantage? 3.8- if you are accurately rounding it is a four point advantage

    more it is a horse race garbage from the media. horse races make more money than a landslide.

    October 1, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  21. Andrew the Mick

    Those of us who pay for pay the system will be voting for Mitt. But I don't think there are enough of us left to overcome the deadbeat vote. So congratulations!

    October 1, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  22. ralph

    hey vern obummer and joe the clown and you make some combination.!! dumb dumber ,dumbest!!

    October 1, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  23. omeany

    Say what you will the bottom line is, unless voter suppression works President Obama will be our next President. The GOP picked a bad candidate and he picked a worse VP running mate.

    October 1, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Billy

    God I hope that guy doesn't win...

    October 1, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  25. southernwonder

    obama is going to challenge romney on trickle down economics which the experience shows makes middle class poorer; not to mention there is no economic study to support trickle down stuff, actually, study show to the contrary.

    October 1, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
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