Poll: Obama, Romney tied as race heats up
May 22nd, 2012
08:15 AM ET
10 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. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Voters must have forgotten the Ryan Romeny economic plan, the promise of more wars under Mittens, that Mittens has promised to remove over 31 million who are currently insured, the war on women, and all the other promises that excite the mental midgets that make up the GOP base.

    May 22, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  2. Dean

    At this juncture, not good news for the incumbant...but good news for the country.

    May 22, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  3. Blindersoff

    All lies design to keep the potential sleep walkers and the walking dead interested in this lame duck of an election year. Period. Republican leadership is spent and are dead fish floating in their own cesspool. Romney is still a clown.

    May 22, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  4. once upon a horse

    with the" horrible" economy and the great dis-satisfaction for the president, even Obama calling himself the underdog at one time, I thought this race was supposed to be a GOP wash victory. What the heck happened? I know...you just can NOT trust the polls that's what happened.

    May 22, 2012 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  5. MaryM

    Not for long, wait until 2 months before the Nov 2012 election when everyone starts paying attention to Romney and finding out just what type of person he is. Romney supports the Ryan Budget. Read the Ryan Budget and see what Romney really thinks of Middle class and Poor Americans. President Obama will win the NOV 2012 election.

    May 22, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  6. Al-NY,NY

    "no no no" say the tightie righties............"Rasmussen says Romney leads. So this 'biased' poll is wrong" Unless the economy tanks (which is of course what the GOP wants and will try to make happen), Obama is gonna kick Flippy's magic underwear back to Michigan.....or is it Massachussetts, or wherever in a major way

    May 22, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  7. BB

    Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts for being a job creator is 47th out of 50 states. It is apparent that his CEO skills did not make him a successful governor when it came to job creation. Romney is more of an expert at firing people. When this fraud's lies are exposed, there will be a further shift in the polls.

    Obama 2012!

    May 22, 2012 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  8. mm

    I'm not buying these polls lately. The swings are too big, with nothing to back them up.

    May 22, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  9. gt

    its early ...but... how is your home sales doing.....how about your pay ck.... your 401 k....bad i suppose...

    May 22, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  10. Qi

    I like Romney, but I don't understand why he will not release his tax record. What is he hiding. Maybe there are even more off shore bank accounts. I fear an October suprise.............TEAMERICA

    May 22, 2012 09:14 am at 9:14 am |

    My mind is made up. I'm not voting for someone as out of touch as Willard. Period. His private sector business resume that he likes to tout isn't that impressive to me and isn't the type of person you need in the Oval Office.

    May 22, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. obama 2012

    Mitt Romney will not be winning the election come November.

    May 22, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Core republican Values

    I will always vote Obama for his character and integrity, over Romney and his goal to quadruple defense spending, and get the United States into more wars.

    Obama rocks! (He actually does.)

    May 22, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  14. ssprince1

    Romney would have let the banks and the auto industry fail...can you guess what the unemployment rate would have been if Romney let them fail? The Republicans are complaining about the unemployment rate being 8%, just imagine if Romney had been there instead and done nothing! We the people, pay for unemployment benefits, so Romney would have tortured us all in that way. Look at any crisis in the history of this earth, the only way to get out of it is to stimulate. Can someone explain that to Romney? So thankful for President Obama to have stepped in and saved us from the brink of depression because Bush didn't care to tell the American people that we had been losing 700 000 jobs a month before Obama took office.

    May 22, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. Mark from Louisiana

    Why is a poll with only 22% republicans in the sample news? What are the numbers with equal percentages of voters? Probably so bad for obama they will only publish rigged polls like this one.

    May 22, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  16. Marie MD

    I don't know who they polled because except for the die hard rethugs I can't find anyone else who thinks the flip flopper is worthy. I know rethugs who will not vote because they don't want the sociorobully as our president but won't vote for the president either.

    May 22, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  17. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Americans are split between Mitt Romney and President Obama? Really? Americans are split even though GWB endorses Romney and campaigns for Mitt to adop his failed policies that ruined us? Well, as they say, those who ignore history are bound to repeat it!

    May 22, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  18. ssprince1

    Just imagine where we'd be after Bush failed to tell us we were losing 700 000 jobs per month at the end of his presidency, and imagine how high unemployment would have been if Romney was there. He said he would have let the banks and the auto industry fail....the people pay for unemployment, if I"m going to pay taxes, I'd rather it go towards a bailout so people can keep their jobs, then pay for their unemployment. So thankful President Obama was there instead! Romney doesn't have to worry about other people. He has enough money to take care of himself and extended family, ten times over. He doesn't have a clue what it's like for someone to be out of a job, not be able to pay their bills or properly feed/clothes their children, which is why he would have let the banks and the auto industry fail, allowing millions to be out of a job!

    May 22, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  19. Guest

    We were fooled in 2008-not again. Obama has headed the economy in the right direction. He is the biggest spending prez in history and has no intention of ending his spend and borrow policies.

    May 22, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  20. kp

    In effect Obama is far ahead. just think about it- with all the money Romney spent he is STILL tied with Obama and Obama is yet to unleash his billions!!

    May 22, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. BADGUY

    In 30 years, people will wonder....Romney?

    May 22, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  22. M

    Get real CNN....

    May 22, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  23. Brenda

    Go Romney!

    May 22, 2012 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  24. Mtheumer

    Way too early to make any real conclusions from this.

    May 22, 2012 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  25. SEAL Team Alpha and Omega

    Tied? On what planet? Are you nuts?

    Obama and the majority of American voters disagree with that assessment.

    Romney voters are either white racists or Wall Street hedge fund managers. The middle-class has already selected our next President and here's a hint: it isn't Willard.

    May 22, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
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