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. No name

    there is no way Romney is going to win this no matter what and I don't wish that he should. Right now he has people waiting down here in the Caribbean for Romney to win so that they can build or finish build there houses. But make no mistake 90% of the Caribbean is for Mr. Obama all the way. Thant's the man for USA.
    Obama wins we will survive but if Romney wins which I know he will not, we will die.
    We thank GOD for OBAMA

    November 4, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. bill

    Sounds made up! It's in CNN's best interest to keep it interesting... really all media in general.

    November 4, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  3. William Bay

    This poll was conducted on 1,010 people nationwide. I do not believe that this can be an accurate representation of how the people of this country are going to vote. I do not believe in polls. I believe that the main purpose of all these polls is to influence the American voters into voting a certain way.

    November 4, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  4. lou

    LOL....you libby guys and gals are in for a big surprise on judgement...oh...I mean election day

    November 4, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  5. Penny Wright

    When Katrina hit, Bush was in Phoenix celebrating John McCain's birthday.

    When Sandy hit, Obama was in the situation room meeting with FEMA.

    Thank God for President Obama.

    November 4, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  6. LiberalLove

    If Obama thought he inherited a mess his first term wait till he sees the mess waiting for him in a 2nd term!!

    November 4, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  7. BEM

    What a joke...national poll? Who cares? It's about the swing states...Romney has already lost.

    November 4, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  8. DP

    Whoever is in charge of Ohio voting is simply dishonest and crooked. They have made sure that there is no extended voting like the 5 weekends there were in 2008, mainly to suppress the Democrats vote. Hopefully they get a massive punch on the face come Tuesday, I know who they are!

    November 4, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  9. AqChicago

    Thanks CNN! for the cooked up polls. You always wanted it to be close so you can have high media ratings! Obama is going to win despite all the voter suppression efforts, which you have conveniently ignored.....well thats not the right thing to do, right?

    November 4, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  10. Chicago

    "Vote for revenge!" Those were Obamas words today. Is that what America is about? Romney's words were "vote for love of country." Your choice America, who's words are those of a leader you can believe in?

    November 4, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  11. fsfsdf

    lies lies lies.

    November 4, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  12. joan

    it's pretty sad when 37 per cent says they are voting for romney only as a protest vote. what a way to elect a president! guess that also indicates the dismal state of the GOP currently... couldn't come up with a candidate which has any backing from the people. and how about the Delphi issue? are we going to wait until after Romney is elected to open an indiepent prosecitpr and find out how Romney profited illegally from that whole issue? why aren't we hearing more about that NOW?

    November 4, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  13. plush

    "According to the survey, Romney leads Obama 57%-40% among white voters".

    What about black voters... oh wait, that isn;t much of a story,as we now the percentages there.

    November 4, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  14. internetsojourner

    The sampling just too small to make any sense.

    For a poll of over 50 million, prudent researcher need at least 5,000 if done by telephone, and 2,000 by personal interview.

    November 4, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  15. pole licker

    i like to have a nice big meat pole in my mouth. two at a time, preferably.

    November 4, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  16. Dale

    No matter who is in the White House they are going to have the same problems.

    A divided do-nothing Congress and Senate, there are certain congressmen and senators "" both parties"" from the deep South “Do not like OBAMA” if you know what I mean, they are determined they are going to get him out of office, so they Yell and Argue , insult Fight , and Block each other.

    “” Now “IF” Mitt Romney is in the White House ”” he will have the same problem a do-nothing Congress and Senate, “” Both Parties Will Have Issues They Will Not Like "" They will do everything they can to get MITT out of office,“” Because of His Religion ”” His Successful Business Profile or Something ””.

    The real problem is Congress and Senate ""in both parties"" there are a bunch of “”smoke and mirrors narcissist ”” that do not like each other, “”Say a lot but Say nothing Windbags”” they do not care about the American people they are supposedly representing, they only care about special interests .

    Solution to the problem; vote these people out of office, If the corrupt career politicians “”in both parties”” remain in office, it will be status quo.

    Term limits Congress and Senate 2 like the presidency, problem solved.

    November 4, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    (D)+ 11.... no wonder no one can take your network serious.

    November 4, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  18. Randy

    Hopefully this is the last election where big media outfits like CNN will push the 'horserace' narrative based on broad national polling. We don't decide our elections with a national poll. Unless there was a President Gore that I don't remember.

    There is so much polling done now that there isn't really any logical reason to focus on a poll like this other than to say, "The electorate is still pretty evenly divided." But, of course we already knew that.

    The problem is that CNN keeps presenting these polls as though they tell us something about the actual contest for the presidency. For that we have to look at state by state polling and there is a pile of information available for that. And yes, the polling information is relevant because the campaigns use narrative themes like "Momentum" to great effect in their appeals to voters. So you have a responsibility to actually report the news in this regard instead of just playing along by a particular campaign.

    CNN has gotten played or played along with the Romney campaign so much in this regard one might wonder if they know there is already one Fox "news" out there doing the spin for the GOP. Why not be a news station instead of what they are?

    November 4, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  19. Nate

    Why do you insist on presenting National Polls when it is the State electoral polls that count?

    November 4, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. Sea Bass

    I pray Republican voters become distracted this Tuesday by monster truck rallies, shiny objects, and "Hee Haw" or "Matlock" rerun marathons.

    November 4, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  21. Diogo Peter

    Mitt Romney i sustain and propose that He is gonna be the life president of USA.

    Thank you!

    November 4, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  22. jim

    what President Obama dose not whant you to see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiAooWjw9-c&feature=plcp

    November 4, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  23. pucko

    Buncha bull, Romney is going to win by a landslide and you guys are gonna cause your liberal readers to riot.

    November 4, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  24. tough tough

    Question to Republicans: If Romney wins, do you think he deserves good cooperation from the Dems, even though some of the Republican leadership did everything they could to oust Obama from day one of Obama's presidency?

    November 4, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  25. Petey Smith

    Dead HEAT?!!??!?! COME ON!!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha, CNN you have REALLY LOST YOUR MIND! I think CNN has monkeys doing the reporting for them! I have read SO many other news sources (NOT JUST DEMOCRAT SITES) that mention how Romney has MAYBE a 6% chance of winning. What the F^&K IS CNN TALKING ABOUT?

    November 4, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
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