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. fakenamenumber776

    This is great news for Romney. A poll that assumes that the electorate will be 41% D and 30% R finds the two candidates tied. That's a bigger turnout advantage for the D's than we saw in 2008. That's not going to happen. When the real electorate turns out and votes, Romney could end up with over 300 electoral votes.

    I understand the need for CNN to toot the horns for their beloved Obama, but this is just setting people up for a long, sad night. Why try to con people with a poll weighted 41-30 in favor of D's when no serious follower of politics believes that such a thing is going to happen?

    I'm old enough to remember the last time the press tried this. It was 1980, and the headline on all the newspapers on election morning was "Too Close to Call." The next day, the headline was "Reagan Landslide." The BS weightings don't fool anybody, and don't move the needle on the votes. All they do is make outfits like CNN look foolish for being so far in the tank for one party that they would cook a poll like this just to make their guy look good to the very last drop.

    November 4, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  2. fakenamenumber776

    This is great news for Romney. A poll that assumes that the electorate will be 41% D and 30% R finds the two candidates tied. That's a bigger turnout advantage for the D's than we saw in 2008. That's not going to happen. When the real electorate turns out and votes, Romney could end up with over 300 electoral votes.

    I understand the need for CNN to toot the horns for their beloved Obama, but this is just setting people up for a long, sad night. Why try to con people with a poll weighted 41-30 in favor of D's when no serious follower of politics believes that such a thing is going to happen?

    I'm old enough to remember the last time the press tried this. It was 1980, and the headline on all the newspapers on election morning was "Too Close to Call." The next day, the headline was "Reagan Landslide." The BS weightings don't fool anybody, and don't move the needle on the votes. All they do is make outfits like CNN look foolish for being so far in the tank for one party that they would cook a poll like this just to make their guy look good to the very last drop.

    November 4, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  3. mark

    Only sampled 700 voters? and this is your top news story?

    very scientific poll.

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

    Love it.....All lib polls now have them even...when before they had BO up by 4-5%....Even the BO pandering liberal media has seen the light......gonna be a landslide right down on BO......

    November 4, 2012 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  5. sqeptiq

    National polls mean zilch. We are not electing a president nationally, but rather state by state.

    November 4, 2012 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  6. lmb123

    All tied up.... with a D+11 sample?

    November 4, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. william

    If CNN calls it tied, Mitt must have a pretty good lead.

    November 4, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  8. letsgotoheaven

    stop b sh**ing cnn. you had a failed attempt like this last time as well. did not work. the more you keep on trying those false attempts the more we get courage to go against the GOP. we know you are all liar.

    November 4, 2012 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  9. True Patriot

    Romney/Ryan 2012

    November 4, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  10. Aaron

    I can't help but feeling as though CNN is literally turning this into a horse race when that simply isn't the case.

    November 4, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  11. Scott Patterson

    Obama is a real man and humanitarian. Romney back tracks and says what people want him to say, he has no conscience. Obama has the support of the working class and the real Americans who struggle till we make it. Romney is trying to buy this election with ads that have no merit or accuracy. Shameless bashing is not what we want from our leaders. It would be a shame to go back to the old way were America is hated by every other country in the world. Romney has the interest of the few, while Obama has the interest of the many.

    November 4, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  12. Steve

    No it's not. The media ours a laugh riot.

    November 4, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  13. Ak

    And the relevance of this is what? At the end of the day it's about the electoral college and not popular vote. It comes down to a state by state count, so please report news that's relevant and not this junk!

    November 4, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  14. Ronnie

    The problem with national polls is that they don't matter.The battle ground state polls are the ones that count.

    November 4, 2012 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  15. gdouglaso

    With such a sophisticated and important poll...couldn't you break it down by state to get a true sense as to where things are going...the president is not elected by a national popular vote, it is based on electoral colleges at the state level.

    November 4, 2012 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  16. Sam

    I guess that means I must go vote this time !!

    November 4, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  17. Patriots

    And we care about national poll because????.... Or is this just to create more news out of irrelevant and insignificant piece of data just to create more traffic and pageviews to the site.

    Most Americans know by now that there is no way Romney can catch up to the President. Let's hope all the polls are right.

    November 4, 2012 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  18. big. H

    I. Hope. Obama. Win

    November 4, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  19. Travis

    Irrelevant. National numbers don't matter. It all comes down to individual battleground states. If Obama wins Ohio, as polling leads us to believe he will, it's all over. The same cannot be said for Romney who could lose even is he wins Ohio, Florida and Colorado.

    November 4, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  20. Election Day

    For this poll to be tied at 49-49, too close to call, is insane. From losing 800,000 jobs per month in 2008/09(Bush's term) to creating at least 170,000 jobs per months(Obama's term) is no small fit and the president deserves re-election by a large margin. People who will vote for Romney don't understand arithmetic as Bill Clinton famously said. You'll have to prevent or save 800,000 jobs lost first and then create/add 170,000 jobs. It's simple maths.

    November 4, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  21. swingstater

    The bottom line is that the GOP is offering you nothing more than they did under Bush. If you voted for Bush twice, think of how that experience went.

    That's how this is going to go with Romney, too.

    November 4, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  22. Moore

    sorry CNN this poll stuff is to much, you guys have gone way over board! polling everyday cmon son!

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

    At first blush it would look bad foe Obama but the Red States will likely vote 60%+ Romney with the Pres wining the rest of the country ~53%. Landslide electoral college victory 300+ delegates. That is why Romney is panicking!

    November 4, 2012 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  24. Chris

    LOL a D+11 sample

    November 4, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  25. Russ

    dead heat polls are always rigged.

    November 4, 2012 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
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