November 4th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
1 year 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. Charles

    Your headline for this piece would only be correct if it referred to the popular vote. In the electoral college – the only vote that counts – it's not tied up at all. President Obama will win because of the electoral college. We don't yet know whether he will win the popular vote and probably won't until late Tuesday at the earliest.

    November 5, 2012 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  2. SPower

    +11 Demoncrat? Really???

    November 5, 2012 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  3. Bleep

    CNN thats funny looking polling you have there got to get the rating up just in time for the Election and now it's all tied up "REALLY".Thats cool it gives me something to be excited about Tuesday.Obama 2012.

    November 5, 2012 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  4. W.B. Ingram

    am I missing something - doesn't the poll say respondents identified themselves as 41% Democrat and 30% Republican? that is a D+11 poll. are you asking the public to believe that's what reflects reality?

    November 5, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  5. David Mattox

    I know so many are looking forward to Election Day for many reasons: one, the constant coverage and political commercials will cease; second, the future of the country or at least the next four years will be determined; and most important, you get to exercise a right that not every person in the world has, the right to choose and impact who your government leaders are. You might argue the reasons behind why our nation has gone to war but the result of all the military conflicts and the reward for those that sacrificed their lives in those wars is the right of every American to vote, regardless of race or gender. So many Americans complain about the leader(s) of our government and yet when Election Day comes, they abstain from making a difference and taking the 15-30 minutes it may take to cast their vote and change the government. 15-30 minutes of laziness or poor decision making may affect you for the next four years, or longer. So this Election Day honor those that died in the service of this nation and go out and vote, no matter who or what you vote for. The important thing is that you exercise that right that so many wish they had and that so many fought long and hard so that you may have it.

    November 5, 2012 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  6. Tim Tierney

    Just looked at the internals of your poll and I'm curious as to why you may think a D+11 is indicative of the current electorate? Even in 2008 it was only a D+8. Do you believe that the Democratic participation will exceed the 2008 model? I am a statistician by trade and this sample just doesn't make sense to me. Please explain.

    November 5, 2012 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  7. RobK

    "Among those likely voters, 41% described themselves as Democrats, 29% described themselves as Independents, and 30% described themselves as Republicans." To get the results you want, just put more Democrats in the polling group. Romney clearly wins when the polling group is evenly divide amongst Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

    November 5, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  8. NameHeemer

    Obama is the lesser of two evils. Do we want another Gearge Bush in the White House?.. Really?.. Why did we vote Obama in the first place?..Wake up people!! Really??

    November 5, 2012 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  9. Joseph L Cooke

    The owner of the local car repair shop didn't stay up all night fixing my sister in law's car so she could get to work this morning, the government did.

    November 5, 2012 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  10. Steve

    Ah, so this is the notorious D+11 poll I've been hearing about. What is CNN's justification for that margin?

    November 5, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  11. Ben

    No its not, we don't elect by popular vote, but by electoral college. This article is for the ignorant. Nate Silver's 538, votamatic, realclearpolitics and others all have Obama handily winning, while you are wasting space with this article for the ignorant. Sheesh!

    November 5, 2012 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  12. Jess

    This poll asked 11 percent more Democrats and it came up with a tie, the race really isn't as close as CNN would have you believe. With a D+11 sample Romney is really leading.

    November 5, 2012 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  13. John Orfali

    CNN is now Fox lite., based on their coverage of the election.

    November 5, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  14. Keith

    If CNN had integrity or relevance, we'd have confidence in the "unbiased" polling. CNN will be in the history books in 10 years. And it won't be attractive.

    November 5, 2012 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  15. just facts

    Like how u did the whites are racist romney supporters where the black vote numbers ? I think its 95% for Obama ...funny ....oh and what about some real journalists work like uncovering the bengaze scandal and the fast and furious scandal but that would not look good for your boy huh lol

    November 5, 2012 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  16. Tom in Indy

    CNN , How can you with a straight face give your clients a poll with D+11???

    November 5, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  17. Aaron

    Remember everyone. Tomorrow is American Saving Time. Dont forget to change your President!!!

    November 5, 2012 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  18. matt

    Is it true that this poll uses a sample voter turnout that has 11% more Democrats than Republicans?

    Does anybody, ANYBODY, really believe that is going to happen?

    November 5, 2012 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  19. David from Ohio

    No more American division or derision. No more failed economic and foreign policies. Enough is enough. Obama is out of time, America is out of money and patience.
    OMG: Obama Must Go!!!

    November 5, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  20. GI Joe

    How can anyone believe the cult leader and biggest liar we've ever seen in politics? Mit romney must never get in the white house.

    Read the White Horse Prophesy.

    November 5, 2012 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  21. William Mosher

    OK, so the popular vote is close. But if you look at the electoral map, it would be remarkable if Romney won. Obama has a large adantage in the electoral college.

    November 5, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  22. wolfpackbob

    It is still about The Economy, Mr. President. Your Economy, Mr. President. You built that.

    November 5, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  23. RW

    Funny, The path to a Romney White house is pretty slim at this point.

    November 5, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  24. dweezil22

    CNN, you forgot to inform your readers that 11% more Democrats were surveyed than Republicans. For those of you who question the 11% figure, I urge you to verify this fact yourselves.

    November 5, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  25. Tom

    Is this the D+11 poll everyone is laughing about?

    November 5, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
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