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. East of Eden

    These reports have to be taken with a grain of salt... Most Americans that swung the last election don't participate in these.

    May 22, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  2. winky

    Great job President! Wait until the debates Romney want have have no one to help him or speak for him on that stage I'll bet 10,000 he folds and flip flops!

    May 22, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  3. Saywhatyoumean

    I hope Romney loses. I think Obama has done some stupid things but if Romney wins this election the republican politicians will just keep pounding our civil rights down even harder then they already are.

    May 22, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  4. Wiley

    If Obama were doing even an average job as President he'd be up by 20 points on Romney rather than tied at this point in time.

    May 22, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  5. derrrrrrr

    Yes but so far at the state conventions Ron Paul is the one pulling delegates, 22 in nevada versus romneys 6, and all of maines, why do you guys consistently ignore this guy?

    May 22, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  6. Four and The Door

    On other issues, Obama's approval was better. Forty-seven percent of Americans approve of his handing of the war in Afghanistan...
    ...and it will be important for Obama/ Biden 2012 to keep quiet the realization that the Taliban gets control of Afghanistan in 2014. Sorry, ladies. Mullah Omar is on his way back to Kabul... but ironically it's Obama claiming Republicans have no regard for women's rights.

    May 22, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  7. Tyson J.

    okay, so obama and romney are in a "dead heat" – all media's been saying that for month.

    but how come none of you news outlets ever mention that ron paul has been BEATING obama in polling?

    May 22, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  8. sonny chapman

    If the American people can see this election as the Clinton Economy v. the George W. Bush Economy, Obama wins easily.

    May 22, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  9. Joseph Smith

    Romney stands poised to take us back to Bush era policies...he is expected to increase the deficit to 3 trillion and is already starting to create international alienation with his cold war type rhetoric. Romney is BAD FOR AMERICA.

    May 22, 2012 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  10. RS, CA

    Great! Looks like all the low-lives (from Obama on down) - spewing hatred against Romney just because he's white - are NOT winning!

    Romney 2012!

    May 22, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. nobama

    The Obama supporters can't claim that this is a Fox News poll.

    May 22, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  12. Andrew

    American working people are ACTUALLY voting for Mittens Romney, a rich kid who ended their way of life. Pathetic, America. You've truly lost it.

    May 22, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  13. JASON

    Of course now that the polls aren't what the GOP thinks they should be, they will tell us these polls mean nothing.

    May 22, 2012 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Natalie in MN

    Half of this country appears to have collective amnesia. For them, please tell us how Romney will be any different than Bush? Same failed policies; how did that work for us? Not only that, but if you think running a venture capital company is comparable to running a country you are sorely mistaken. Romney has no world experience other than that gained by staying at posh hotels in Europe and doing his mormon thing. Hardly compares to what Obama's experienced the past 3.5 yrs. Looking forward to Obama debating Romney and kicking butt!

    May 22, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  15. Ram Riva

    This one is a no brainer......."President Obama reelected in 2012 for a second four year term....."

    May 22, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Sarah

    How can Republicans support a Mormon Bishop for President & then call themselves Christians?they are cursed ,they should study the WORD

    May 22, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  17. Julia

    Women would be completely ignorant to vote for Romney, the end of womens' rights, probably wouldn't even be allowed to vote. stay home, cook for the little man, and kiss his feet 24-7

    May 22, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  18. ThatsIt121

    These numbers show you how confused and mis-informed the public really is. Way to do your job media!

    May 22, 2012 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  19. Pat

    America is purple and every Presidential election will be close.

    May 22, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. Ernie Zippreplat

    If CNN says it is a dead heatthat is a code word for Rommey having a 15 point lead. Obama is done like toast!

    May 22, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  21. Andrew

    Hey, we're at least half-intelligent. The other half of America is willing to hand over our future to the GOP who nearly crushed it. Genius.

    May 22, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. truindep

    I am enthusiastic about voting against Obama, 🙂

    May 22, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  23. Tyson J.

    ron paul has consistently beat romney and obama in polling for months. how come you never mention him?

    May 22, 2012 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  24. Skeptic

    Sorry but these polls are useless. Might as well flip a coin to get the collective opinion... 49% vs 46%... oh wait, they did.

    May 22, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  25. Reality

    Really ?, c'mon man, certanily we can do better than this Bully Racsist Fat cat Romney ?, didn't we learn a lesson from the damage of Sarah Palin ?

    May 22, 2012 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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