November 4th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
2 years ago

CNN National Poll: Dead heat between Obama and Romney

Washington (CNN) – It's all tied up, according to a new national poll released two days before the presidential election.

And the CNN/ORC International survey not only indicates a dead heat in the race for the White House, but also on almost every major indicator of President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney that was tested in the poll.

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Forty-nine percent of likely voters questioned say they support the president, with an equal amount saying they back the former Massachusetts governor.

The poll is the fourth national non-partisan, live operator survey released Sunday to indicate the battle for the presidency either a dead heat or virtually tied. A Politico/George Washington University survey has it tied at 48%; an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates Obama at 48% and Romney at 47%; and the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll puts Obama at 49% and Romney at 48%.

A Pew Research Center survey also released Sunday indicates the president at 50% and the GOP challenger at 47%, which is within the survey's sampling error.

CNN's final poll before Election Day indicates a gender gap.

"Fifty-three percent of women saying they plan to vote for President Obama compared to only 44% of men. That works out to a nine-point gender gap, which would be the largest since 1996," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "On age, Obama is getting less support among younger voters than he did four years ago. But he manages a tie with Governor Romney among senior citizens - a group he lost to Senator McCain by eight points."

According to the survey, Romney leads Obama 57%-40% among white voters. Obama tops Romney 56%-40% among voters making less than $50,000 per year, with Romney holding a 52%-47% edge among those making more than $50,000 per year.

The poll also indicates geographical divides, with the president leading in the Northeast, Midwest, and urban areas, and Romney ahead in the South, West, and suburban and rural areas.

It's not just the horserace number that's dividing American voters.

The president's favorable rating stands at 52% in the poll, with Romney at 51%. Fifty-one percent say they agree with Obama on important issues and 50% say the same thing about Romney. Fifty-six percent say that Obama has the personal qualities a president should have, with 55% feeling the same about the Republican nominee.

Does either party have an edge on enthusiasm?

According to the poll, the answer is no. Seventy-percent of registered voters who describe themselves as Democrats say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting, with an equal amount of self-described Republicans saying the same thing. Forty-nine percent say they will vote for the GOP candidate for Congress in their district; 48% say they will choose the Democrat.

But there are a few advantages for each candidate. On the one hand, the number of Americans who think things are going well in the country has risen 10 points since August, to 46% - the highest number since April, 2007.

But that doesn't mean Americans are feeling better about the economy - seven in ten say it is in poor shape, unchanged since September. And more people say that the economy will improve if Romney is elected than feel that way about an Obama victory. And the economy remains the number-one issue on the minds of American voters, with 61% saying it's extremely important to their vote. The deficit is second in importance at 55%, followed by health care at 51%, foreign policy at 47% and Medicare at 46%.

Obama's approval rating is also over the magic 50% mark, but just barely: 51% of all Americans approve of how he is handling his job as president, which doesn't give him a lot of breathing room.

While the president and Romney's favorable ratings are nearly identical, the Democratic Party is viewed more favorably than the GOP.

"That's something which might help Obama in an extremely close race," says Holland. "Obama also has inevitability on his side: 57% say he will win another term, compared to only 36% who think Romney will win. And with only 4% saying that they might change their minds before Election Day, time is running out to make that closing argument."

Other findings from the poll: Only 12% of Obama supporters say they're casting their ballot as a vote against Romney. By comparison, 37% of Romney supporters say they're casting their ballot as a vote against the president.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 Senate seats are up for grabs on Tuesday. According to the poll, only 17% say they approve of how Congress is handling its job. Twenty-eight percent say they approve of how GOP leaders in Congress are handling their jobs, with 37% saying the same thing about Democratic congressional leaders.

The CNN poll was conducted November 2-4 by ORC International, with 1,010 adult Americans, including 918 registered voters and 693 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for likely and registered voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Mitt Romney • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (624 Responses)
  1. Dan

    I've got a 12 pack of PBR in the fridge ready for Tuesday night. Can't wait.

    November 4, 2012 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  2. armyav8r

    SOUND OFF MODERATORS: your cuts WILL come back at you post election. Count on it.

    November 4, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  3. punjabi jatt

    Obama will win this so who really gives a Fukk about a poll ?

    November 4, 2012 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  4. njbchicago

    This country needs Mitt Romney. Listen to President Obama. His stump speech is full of negativity – no hope and change there. He said he wants people to vote for revenge. R-E-V-E-N-G-E for WHAT? Voting against him because he didn't get squat done while he's had the office? He says he wants to grow the middle class from the inside out. All we have felt is the number of people dropping OUT of the middle class and going on food stamps. Up to 47 MILLION people on food stamps and the number of people in poverty have GROWN under this President. Give Governor Romney a chance to pull us up out of the mess that President Obama doesn't seem to understand. We're tired of the new normal. We're tired of being told things are getting better but not seeing the people we know who are unemployed becoming employed to their full potential. Tired of being told it will take more time. Fooey. Mitt Romney is the best chance we have of turning this ship around! Romney/Ryan in 2012!

    November 4, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. Barry

    CNN Poll? Now thats a source we all can trust.

    November 4, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  6. armyav8r

    lets see...do I choose a Socialist, Marxist, Anti-Entrepreneur who only knows how to re-distribute (by force) from one to another (all in the name of "fairness" of course....even though HALF THE NATION disagrees with him)......OR.....do I choose someone who at least UNDERSTANDS the period form 1775 to 1945 was NOT a Socialism model...and is EXACTLY the model Liberals claim "doesn't work" (yet they have NO explanation as to what model we DID use to rise to a world super power). hmmmmm....decisions decisions.

    November 4, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  7. armyav8r

    6 public press conferences...6 references to a video...ZERO reference to what is WAS (a TERRORIST ATTACK). God forbid anyone should even SUGGEST accountability for misleading the American public in an effort to NOT have a terrorist attack occur on "Obama's watch" An American Ambassador murdered...there Americans murdered...three embassies burned...and what do we do???? APOLOGIZE AND PANDER for cartoons and videos. Then we ARREST an American who acted in 100% FULL compliance of the laws and freedoms afforded to us all (you know...those freedoms that HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE DIED FOR...in two major wars?...yes THOSE freedoms), just so we can conveniently TOSS THEM so as to PANDER and APOLOGIZE to a culture that PUBLICLY stones women and hangs gays. Yes THAT'S a great foreign policy. How's it workin' thus far?

    November 4, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  8. AmFem

    BS....that's all. BS.

    November 4, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. Andrew

    Despite the popular vote being tied up, this is Obama's race to lose. The margin in Florida is razor thin and if Romney loses Florida, he would have to win every other swing state. If Obama wins Ohio, he would just have to hold on to the swing states he has in order to win.

    November 4, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    And the popular vote is irrelevant. The polls are irrelevant. The Electoral College elects the President and Vice President.

    November 4, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  11. Sharon Mahart

    Blah, blah, blah... these popular vote polls mean nothing. Unfortunately, Barack Hussein is still miles ahead in the electoral college. That's the only poll that counts. Plus, these surveys don't include the third party candidates, like ex-NM governor Gary Johnson. If you think his supporters don't add up (i.e. including the vast majority of Ron Paul's votes), just ask Mr. Rmoney if he'd like to have Johnson's voters in Ohio and Colorado. American "democracy" is the biggest sham going. We're voting for two candidates who have already sold their souls to the elite, and the complicit media has been an able accomplice with their lack of coverage, er purposeful joke-making, of when opposing views enter the conversation. I seriously question our commitment to imperialism, as we strive to force Middle East nations to adopt our form of government. Didn't America fight to stop the growth of communism years ago? Now look who the world's big bully really is!

    November 4, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  12. JohnnyU

    The president poured fuel on the fire which lead to more demonstrations and promises of threats to Americans while touting “HIS” VIDEO STORY DIVERSION at the UN. This in itself put America and Americans at risk for self-political gain (worry – when anyone will risk harm for political gain).
    The president lacks the ability to correct the problems regarding economics issues which means more of the same.
    Poverty continues to rise while we reach the highest levels of welfare and food stamps. Jobs the Economy continue to underperform, with unemployment staying under 8 was OK even though it increased?? This election I have witnesses a party that has taken divisive to a new and shameful level.

    November 4, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  13. koga001

    These polls are not scientific nor are they responsible. Releasing a poll like this creates the idea in the minds of ignorant people that Romney has a chance. he does not. This article is simply there to create drama on the off chance that soneome might take either the Republicans or Democrats seriously. Obama will win four more years in a landslice, and Gary Johnson will take the largest percentage of third party votes in modern history, possible even getting more votes than the Republican party. My prediction.

    November 4, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  14. Kelly

    I don't believe that for one second. Obama is going to win by a landslide.

    November 4, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  15. Buck- WV

    Lets go Democrats get out and vote. No more trickle down economics, it didnt work then and it wont work now. Forwards not backwards. Obama isnt perfect but he's better than the alternative.

    Obama 2012

    November 4, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  16. David Patrick

    The head to head percentage comparisons don't really matter do they? The popular vote is just a number and has nothing really to do with electing the president – so why are these numbers the headline for the last week? Is it because the electoral college is too confusing for Americans? Is it because the race to 270 can't be moved back and forth every day by yet another "poll'? Lord baby jesus please let Tuesday come and go so we get out of this terrible news cycle.

    November 4, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  17. Neal

    The Obama team's decision to send President Clinton out to battle ground states campaigning is a key point in this tight election. They are hoping to capture voters through President Clinton's success with former economic policies. It is a good strategy but it shoes a clear view that the Obama team is worried that voters are frustrated with the economic situation and how it is being handled.

    November 4, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  18. Neutral

    The tail is trying to wag the dog again. CNN, HOW THE HELL IS THIS BREAKING NEWS?

    November 4, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  19. BradKT

    Popular vote means nothing. This election is only about the battleground states. That's what decides this election.

    That's why I think Obama will win by a fairly comfortable marghin in the Electoral College...by at least 30 votes and possibly 40.

    November 4, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  20. flyfysher

    Forget the popular vote. It all comes down to the Electoral College.

    November 4, 2012 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  21. james

    Sample is D+11 Holy crap someone really wants Obummer to win.

    November 4, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  22. Proud American

    YESSSS! Mitt Romney 2012
    Wake up America. We need to change Washington from top down and bottom up.

    November 4, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  23. Just me

    Obama will win again. Yes

    November 4, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. Statistician

    Again CNN is showing its unprofessionalism when it comes to polling.

    The Pew poll result 50-47 is NOT within the margin of error:

    Pew’s poll was conducted Oct. 31 to Nov. 3 and included 2,709 likely voters with a 2-percent margin of error.

    It is not because CNN believes something to be true that it makes it true. This is astoundingly unprofessional.

    November 4, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  25. JDub

    These polls don't really state who has the electorate majority which though Mitt has the west south and rural areas, there's just not enough electorates to win it for him... This country may divided but the electoral college will give President Obama the win.

    November 4, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
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