Poll: Obama, Romney tied as race heats up
May 22nd, 2012
08:15 AM ET
11 years ago

Poll: Obama, Romney tied as race heats up

(CNN) – Less than six months ahead of November's general election, Americans are split between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The Washington Post/ABC News survey showed the two candidates statistically tied with 49% of Americans backing Obama and 46% supporting Romney. When asked which contender would best handle the economy, Obama and Romney were tied at 47%.

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A marked enthusiasm gap opened between the two candidates in the new poll. Forty-eight percent of Obama's supporters said they were "very enthusiastic" about the president's candidacy, compared to 23% of Romney's backers who said they were "very enthusiastic" about supporting the Republican candidate.

Asked further about each candidate's character, voters seemed to favor Obama. They gave the Democratic incumbent higher marks on "understanding the economic problems people in this country are having" (48%-40%), as well as "has the better moral character to serve as president" (52%-38%).

- Related: Poll: Voters prefer Obama's foreign policy to his economics

The gender gap between Obama and Romney continued to persist in Tuesday's survey. Women favored Obama over his GOP rival 51% to 44% in the poll.

As in almost every national survey, the economy was the No. 1 issue for voters, with 52% of respondents saying it was their top concern. All other issues stood in the single digits, with 7% saying their top choice was health care and 5% naming morals and family values.

While the presidential campaign veered into social issues after Obama publically endorsed same-sex marriage for the first time at the beginning of May, it has largely returned to discussion of the economy and jobs. For the past week and a half, Democrats have hammered away at Romney's record as a private equity executive, saying his role in shutting down plants indicates a wavering commitment to creating jobs.

Americans surveyed for the Washington Post/ABC News poll had an overwhelmingly negative perception of the economy, with 83% saying America's economic condition was "not so good" or "poor." That's compared to 17% who felt positively about the economy.

Obama's 42% approval rating on the economy indicated the issue won't be going away any time soon – while the figure has improved slightly since March, it still lags well behind Obama's overall approval rating, which Tuesday's poll showed standing at 47%. However, more Americans (49%) say former President George W. Bush carries greater responsibility for the economic state than blame Obama (34%).

On other issues, Obama's approval was better. Forty-seven percent of Americans approve of his handing of the war in Afghanistan, and 48% registered approval of his record on international affairs.

Those issues, however, ranked near the bottom of Americans' top issue list. Only 1% of respondents said Afghanistan was their top issue, though the poll did not ask respondents to name their number two or three most important concerns.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll was taken by telephone from 1,004 adults between May 17 and 20. The sampling error was plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Also see:

Political jabs are 'nauseating,' mayor says

Gingrich is millions in the hole

Boehner and Pelosi say they feel good heading into November

Axelrod: Fund-raising pitch cited Wright threat to combat super PACs

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (361 Responses)
  1. Gloria in the NW

    If Romney wins and the Republicans take the Senate the evidence will be in that millions of people in this country have very short memories and have fallen prey to the GOP's campaign to withhold education and to put out a lot of misinformation. I am so sick of hearing "Obama has done nothing." Is he perfect? No, but the amazing things is that he had acomplished a lot in spite of Tea Party-led GOP intransigence.

    I keep thinking of that quote, "People generally get the government they derserve." If y"all want to be swept away by a drive toward oligarchy, you deserve what you get. Unfortunally there will be a lot of people who know better who will suffer in the wreckage with you.

    May 22, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. sarge

    Every time the Mittster attacks, Obama refines his message and goes one-up on him! Maybe he'd be better off not attacking, and preaching a positive message.

    May 22, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. Anthony

    I hope Obama wins. No matter what other people may try to say I believe he cares about everybody in this country and not just the Rich like Romney.

    May 22, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. jimbob342

    C'mon Liptak, I cannot beleive that half the ppl in this country think that Obama would do as well as Romney with the economy. I have watched Obama and Obiden for the past three and half years completely ignore the economy and fill their lefty wish list. The only reason some are feeling better about the economy is the handouts have increased. That's not the economy, those are handouts. A bit diffent.

    May 22, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. GDB

    We have a battle between the ineffective and the inept. No wonder it's 50/50, many of us want neither of these people to lead the country for the next 4 years. This isn't even a choice between the least of the worst, it emblematic of what is wrong with our system right now.

    May 22, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. Whatever

    It's funny to listen to them one up each other because they are nearly identical on nearly every issue and have the backing of the same special interests. If you think you have a choice this election your only fooling yourself. More of the same with either of these men.

    May 22, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Patricia Thomas

    As far as the economy is concerned, I'd say that Obama has done a pretty good job so far, given the utter mess he was handed by Bush Jr. In fact, I believe Obama saved us from another great depression. America's auto industry with its thousands and thousands of jobs is alive and well because of Obama (Romney wanted to flush our car industry and all those jobs down the toilet). Obama has also created over 4 million jobs and would have created a lot more if Congress had not overridden many of his stimulis bills. On the other hand, When Romney was Governor of Mass. the state ranked 47th in job creation – and Mass. is a wealthy state! As far as his work at Bain Capital goes, Romney had no interest in creating jobs or rewarding workers. Bain Capital's mission was to make Romney, other managers & investors rich. Bain was not a Venture Capitalist firm, it was a corporate raider firm - big difference. So, from what I can determine, Romney has a rotten record when it comes to creating jobs.

    May 22, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  8. MaryAnn in VA

    These polls mean nothing. The campaign thus far has consisted of ads paid for by special interests and zingers from both sides. We need debates and REAL plans for this country, then do a poll.

    May 22, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Romney nor Obama can create jobs. In fact, the POTUS never could create jobs. Congress is the branch of government that has the power to create jobs. To bad that this Congress is busy doing nothing for the people of the United States of America. Congress writes bills and the POTUS signs or vetos a bill into law. Don't forget who is really to blame for the economy. If they are not doing their job to help you, VOTE THEM OUT when the time comes for their re-election!

    May 22, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. dnick47

    You know last week (I think) Mitty tried to pull a fast one by picking and choosing which reporters were allowed to interview his Worship. That same week President Obama is seen out and among the ordinary citizens picking up subs. Now security aside because I am sure both men had enough Secret Service Agents around to keep trouble makers at bay; but, it seems to me that while Mitt wants exclusiveness and secrecy (like Bush I & II and Cheney) Mr. Obama is rubbing elbows. Obama is for the people. Mitt is for the 1% that much is obvious.

    May 22, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. JFC

    The fact that polls show this race is even close is the most depressing thing I've ever read in my life.

    May 22, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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