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. GOP=Make Believe

    As usual, CNN got it wrong. There is no tie. In the latest aggregation of 478 polls, Obama shows 48.8% while Mittsy shows 44.5%.

    CNN – fudging the number may sell copy and raise ad revenues, but accurate reporting would be much appreciated

    October 1, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  2. Delos

    Mitt is finished, done, The man stated in his own words he don't give a frack about you or me the 47% end of conversation wouldn't spit on this guy much less vote for him or any GOP canidate.

    October 1, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  3. Mike

    While I understand there's a methodology issue since they're only on 47 and 38 (and counting) states respectively, it's interesting that none of these polls include Gary Johnson (Liberatarian) and Jill Stein (Green), but they are polling 4% and 3% nationally on polls that DO include their name.

    Have a feeling that Obama and Romney combined will be near 90% come election day, not anywhere close to 95-97% like polls are showing.

    October 1, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  4. decided

    Ram Riva

    You Indians are SO transparent ! Voting democratic no matter what.

    October 1, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  5. k

    What happened to last week when CNN was harping that Obama was pulling away?

    October 1, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  6. Truth

    Uhh, who else is running that we can vote for? Neither side is worth a vote.

    October 1, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Loathstheright

    Which just shows how ignorant and misinformed the American voters are....Mitt should be way, way behind, but people believe Reichwing propaganda and don't bother to look it up for the lies that they are.

    October 1, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. llydapdicter

    @Ram Riva
    Obama isn't doing his job as POTUS.....He's campaigning almost every single day!!!! And not looking very presidential while he does it either!!!!

    October 1, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. decided

    Now that darling CNN has a poll more favorable to Romney all the rabid libs are blathering here !

    The shoe is on the other foot chums.

    October 1, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  10. what the heck

    is CNN bought over by Romney? seems like all of a sudden the polls are favoring Romney and is CNN just saying this because Romney is going to own CNN?

    October 1, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. Pam

    Um, CNN, let me introduce you to a little something called The Electoral College. President Obama is up 320 to 218...not even close.

    October 1, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. silvertop

    On foreign policy, he is failing before our eyes. He is disinterested. he avoided having to deal with foreitn figures, those who matter for middle east stability by staying away from UN meetings.
    so there have been a few incidences of success including killing OBL. With his disinterest, having attended only 45.8% of presidential daily briefing, maybe not all the credit goes to him. He encouraged the Arab spring, without strategic plan A or B that are beneficial to our nation's interest so that we have ended up with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the killing of our ambassador and 3 of our valued personnel, to whom we give money to.
    There is no deference nor friendship from these people whom the president thought he had by virtue of where he had lived in a Muslim country and his naive good will tour. If he gets re-elected, our national security is at risk, and our economy will fall off the cliff. Why is this not a warning for all those who want him for 4 more. What do you think will be different in the way he will handle the economy? Tax the rich is for sure, they say this will raise the revenue a little, but will not address unemployment. What about jobs? Who will be hiring? You ask the job creators for the answers. You do work for someone right?

    October 1, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. MikeinNM

    When does it stop: the name-calling? The divisiveness? How about Obama and Romney each submit their respective solutions to, say, the country's top 10 problems (1000-word max per issue), and, if voters really cared about more than the name-calling or party affiliation, they'd read those 10,000-word tomes, pose tough questions to the candidates, and then vote.

    October 1, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. Bob, NY

    I don't see how there's ANY contest! I think the news media hypes this crap up to generate commercial revenue. Now each poly tic will dig deeper into his wallet.

    October 1, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  15. JG

    It appears the 47% are actually with Romney ....who would have thunk it! Does not apprear that other than the swing states half the country was not offended with his true feelings about the least among us.
    Amazing that people do vote against their own self interest to vote for a party!

    October 1, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. John the Historian

    Willard get ready for your mormon cult planet of kolob. I hope Anne will get some husbands there that are worth something. Say hi to rapists Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.

    October 1, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Chmee

    Obama will probably win the election. But it will be close, only because the Repiglicans will trot out their propaganda machine of Faux News and Rush Limpballs who will spout lies and distortions and scare tactics like we've never seen before. They're desperate, they don't want their rich cronies to lose their tax deductions and subsidies. They'll do or say anything to win. They care absolutely nothing about the working people, all they care about is making $$$$$$. When will people start THINKING for themselves instead of blindly guzzling the Koolaid? It's just so pathetic.

    October 1, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. 53%er

    If you havent made up your mind who you'll vote for we need to take away your voting rights, however this debate is still worth watching because we need to see how well Romney waffles around details and facts. Also, one man is missing from these debates. Gary Johnson!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 1, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. Grim Reaper

    WHERE ARE THE JOBS. 4 Years of Promises and still no jobs.

    October 1, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  20. John

    Yeah, the national polls are close, but if you break down the state polls, Obama has a significant advantage at the moment. FiveThirtyEight currently has Obama with an 85.1% chance of victory and a projected electoral count of 320-218

    October 1, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  21. Chmee

    Obama will probably win the election. But it will be close, only because the Repiglicans will trot out their propaganda machine of Faux News and Rush Limberger who will spout lies and distortions and scare tactics like we've never seen before. They're desperate, they don't want their rich cronies to lose their tax deductions and subsidies. They'll do or say anything to win. They care absolutely nothing about the working people, all they care about is making obscene amounts of money. When will people start THINKING for themselves instead of blindly guzzling the Koolaid? It's just so pathetic.

    October 1, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Ancient Texan

    Gurgyl–two years is the requirement, and Romney has done that....anything just proves you are nosy!

    October 1, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. RudyG

    Hey Mr. New Tone, show me where the jobs created by the billions to the solar companies went. Show me what REALLY happened with the Libya assasination. Show me how you plan to work with Congress. Show me how you plan to give jobs to 14 million who have no jobs. Show me how you plan to BALANCE YOUR BUDGET, which you have not done since you became president!! And show me how you plan to redistribute the wealth, you closet communist!

    October 1, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. Peter Clarke

    Just the fact that Romney would move the Supreme Court farther to the right would certainly prevent him from getting my vote. Social issues like abortion gay rights etc, sounds like its coming from a church pulpit instead of how middle america feels about justice.

    October 1, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. ImIrish

    David Arrington – Obama hasn't lied once?! Hmmm, the only change I have seen is negative change. Unemployment through the roof, the debt even worse than when he took it over from Bush, he supports "spreading the wealth", but all he is doing is spreading divisiveness, etc.

    If you want change, you'd better vote for Romney. ABO – anyone but Obama. Romney just couldn't do worse if he tried.

    October 1, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
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