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. bmull

    Popular vote is typically close. Romney has little chance in electoral college. CNN misleads viewers to boost ratings.

    November 4, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  2. HarvardLaw92

    National polls are meaningless on this issue, because we do not vote as a national pool. We vote as 50+ smaller pools, so the distributions have to be considered on that level. Attempting to average all of those smaller pools into one comparative statistic misses the point.

    November 4, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  3. huzy

    CNN trying so hard to influence public opinion. Yeah.. The American public is way smarter that this..

    November 4, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  4. REDFIRESTORM

    POTUS - YOU WERE WARNED: "JUSTICE BEFORE POLITICS" - First, you announced pre-storm intent to place politics over New York pain. Your wife sent out campaign donation letters during the storm. Now you proved post-storm incompetence. You made the Democrat New York Political Machine and media angry and turn on you. The New York Daily News - A VERY LIBERAL LEFT-LEANING PAPER - has endorsed Governor Romney for President and calls you a "political failure with misguided foreign policies and poor budgetary discipline." Native New Yorker blood is thicker than political sewer water. Governor Andrew Cuomo will work closely with President Romney to build a "bigger and better" New York City. Few politicians within all 50 States would deny knowing what happens when the New York Machine turns its back on you - ask Joe Bruno. Although a Republican, I feel sorry for David Axelrod and you. Good luck with your political future - and stay out of our city.

    November 4, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  5. JG-Texas

    Electoral college who cares about the national poll.

    November 4, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  6. oddjob2234

    Where are the "I hate Republicans" trolls?

    November 4, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  7. Pa voter

    Tis is so funny as we all know CNN leans left! That doesn't sound good for nomobama!!!! Lol!

    November 4, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  8. bret

    The only thing that matters is how the swing states vote. Who cares what the national percentages are?

    November 4, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  9. KellyF

    Obama is ahead in all the battleground states. This popular vote poll is worthless.

    November 4, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  10. Francisco

    Obama will win the popular and the electoral votes. No need for lawyers and all the locomotion after the presidency. This will be an easy call after it's all over. Right now it seems tight, but when tuesday comes and everything is over, the lead will be very significant. It will be close, but it will be significant.

    November 4, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  11. rare_earth

    CNN needs to stop projecting, opinionating, and start reporting the News.

    November 4, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  12. Pk duster

    When the blacks and spanish vote say good by mittens mitt hates the poor

    November 4, 2012 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  13. Ruke

    The only polls that truly matter are the swing state polls; presidents are elected by the electoral college, not a popular vote.

    And the swing state polls show a high probability in favor of Obama.

    November 4, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  14. NameAndrew

    Obama..You gonnna get fired from your job..I guess the libral media can't fool America. You tried to protect Obama over the last 4yrs.We are smart and we know what's going on..

    November 4, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  15. Water Chestnut III

    Romney never revealed his tax returns, explained why he bullied a classmate in private school, or why he doesn't care about 110,000,000 Americans.

    I'm voting to re-elect Obama 2012!

    November 4, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. Mary

    Have you actually read the poll you put out? Your poll is bogus. You sampled 11% more democrats than republicans. And with your over sampling of democrats you have the race tided? Are you kidding me? If you take into account your over sampling, Romney wins in a landslide.

    November 4, 2012 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  17. Thomas O'Connor

    The fact that this race is so close seems to be an indicator that much of white America (a demographic of which I am a member) is voting on race and not on issues. Gov. Romney is not the answer folks... he isn't like us. He doesn't pay taxes, he doesn't care what the price of gas is, he's never struggled to pay a mortgage... he's an alien. Pres. Obama has only had 4 years to undo 8 years of republican damage, and now white America wants to put the Republicans back in the seat of power. If you're voting for Romney, you'd better have a better reason than his skin color.

    November 4, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  18. david

    dont believe the hype Romney is toasted

    November 4, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  19. Guest 1

    statistics can be reported in soo many slanted ways......

    November 4, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  20. craig crawford

    Obamas philosophy has always been to radically diminish America achievement as “Social Gospel” but is apparently now referred to as “Revenge Gospel”. It all makes sense. 4 years ago I was admittedly excited about this hope and change. Not this time! I believe I see and understand who the REAL obama is and his anti colonialism socialist philosophy. Most of the bourgeois elite liberals who vote for him don't even realize his hatred of America. I am very sad but won’t support his need for revenge. Obama has turned out to be a very scary man to give another 4 years!

    November 4, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  21. shoeless joe

    Its pretty bad whe the sitting president has to beg previous prez to stump for him three days before election, shameful.

    November 4, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. h.p.simmons

    Honestly.....do national polls matter when the election is based on electoral college, and not the popular vote or for that matter national polls. Why bother publishing insignificant national polls? CNN please rethink this.... those of you at CNN no better...publish polling in the battle ground states....where it really counts.

    November 4, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  23. USA

    Mittens & Ryan you have my vote : )

    November 4, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  24. IceT

    All tied up .. what a coincidence, now stay tuned 24/7 to CNN for further updates!!

    November 4, 2012 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  25. Reality

    So Romney is up by 22 among independents and democrats are sampled at the rate of D+11, which is well above the Democratic Party ID levels at the height of hope and change in 2008 in order to produce a 49-49 "tie".

    This could be over before 9pm EST Tuesday?

    November 4, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
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