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. betterdays

    Washington Post/ ABC News. That's good for at least three percentage points on the "D" side. Wow, maybe they really are tied! There's hope yet (but not for long).

    Regardless of what happens in November, it's a good thing my wife and I are fairly capable of taking care of ourselves and living within our means, instead of relying on the federal government to take care of our daily needs, although I know everything about this sentence is increasingly unpopular these days.

    May 22, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  2. sacreblue2

    What really matters is Congressional gridlock, not who is sitting in the White House.

    May 22, 2012 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  3. lisasc

    I'm glad the race is getting close. Maybe now they will be forced to talk about real issues.

    May 22, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |

    Obama 2012!!!

    May 22, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. Four and The Door

    1:45 p.m. ET: Vice President Joe Biden delivered remarks on the economy in Keene, New Hampshire.
    "How can you expect a recession that took 236 years to create to be fixed in 3 1/2?!?!"

    May 22, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Saboth

    I honestly think Romney wouldn't do a terrible job as president. However, Obama has done a lot while in office, and most of what he didn't do was because of obstructionist, partisan Republican politics. I think he's earned his 2nd term. I feel like I know where Obama stands on issues, whereas Romney's opinions change with the wind.

    May 22, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  7. K3Citizen

    The GOP has been splashing so many negative ads around about Obama that it is surprising Romney isn't leading by 20 points or more. It has been a waste of Super PAC's money to portray Obama as ineffective being that their strategies are ineffective. The Romney Super PAC's are fortunate enough that Obama made the economy so good that they can afford to drop millions and millions on Romney's campaign.

    May 22, 2012 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  8. FedUpwithLA

    Mint Monney, not Oblama-Lama-Ding-Dong!

    May 22, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  9. todd deaton

    Middle class and average workers u cannot fall for this tea party garbage! they are the rich who are only out for themselves! the conservatives r right behind them! the attack on the average american is discusting! don`t fall for there lies! romney keeps changing his views by the minute! if romney and the republicans get voted in the average american worker is dead! u can kiss your SS goodbye! the rich need an extra limo but cut your SS goodbye!

    May 22, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  10. mattski

    The biggest news here is that they're tied on who can better handle the economy. So much for Mitt having the edge on that one.

    May 22, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  11. Ron in California

    It's all about the independent voters. Let's hope they realize they are not better off than they were 4 years ago.

    May 22, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  12. Gimmeabreak!

    Obama set to spend $billion - and THIS is the best he can get in the polls? Time to worry, Barry!!

    May 22, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  13. A not-so-stupid former republican

    Isn't it amazing how many people are willing to vote against their own interests? A vote for a republican is a vote for big business and the wealthy and a vote against working Americans.

    May 22, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. Ed Sr of Dallas Tx

    Here is a matchup for you......the "lightside" vs the "darkside".

    May 22, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  15. marisombra

    Nobama 2012 !!

    May 22, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. trex

    .......If the gop wins.....I am putting EVERY CENT I HAVE in transvaginal probe manufacturers

    May 22, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  17. trex

    .......where oh where is the caymens at, oh where oh where can they be.............................Mitts cash is there and we want to see.......................oh where oh where Caymen be?.....................

    May 22, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. gg

    the only manufacturing jobs left in the usa is war materials. like romneys keeps saying i knows how to get the economy going

    May 22, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. trex

    .......Hiding cash..............not posting IRS returns like his Daddy did................destroyer of companies and US jobs.............rich beyond the comprehension of average Americans.......................thinks Christ was an indian fighter..........................yep, typical american alright

    May 22, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  20. todd deaton

    The tea part is a poison to the united states , they r a discusting group of people and unless they r voted out u can kiss america goodbye! middle class and average working america pay attention ,we have to get the tea party and the republicans out or they will destroy us! there policies on debt reduction kills everything we will work for, we have to get them out b4 its too late , don`t forget what happened the last time the republicans was in charge , the worse economic times since the great depression! they almost destroyed us then while the rich kept fattening there wallets! don`t forget! the next time they will destroy us! but thats what they want , keep our chins up and vote the republican and tea party bastards out!

    May 22, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. roadwarrior

    polling one thousand and four people doesnt make fourty seven percent of the american people stop with the fake numbers cnn only a demastooge or a left wing loser would believe that crap you know the real truth what the american people think about obama and it will come out this nov

    May 22, 2012 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. Etch-a-Sketch Mitt Is Soo Plastic he Makes Mannequins Looks Real

    When asked which contender would best handle the economy, Obama and Romney were tied at 47%!


    Etch-a-Sketch Mitt Romney is bragging about being a "JOB CREATOR", but he doesn't want you to talk about his vulture capitalist experience with BAIN, or his non- existent 47th "JOB CREATOR" record as Gov in the state of MA, or even his "saving" of the Olympics by taking govt. bailout funds!!!!

    Oh ok, let's just talk about his corporate welfare tax-cuts being stashed away in secret foreign SWISS BANK ACCOUNTs and the CAYMEN ISLAND!!!!....can we just throw in the car garage elevators in the beach front home in CALIFORNIA!!!!

    May 22, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  23. Patriot

    Who the Washington Post/ABC News survey didn't call...
    African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, Asians, agnostics, atheists, unionists, the 99%, leftists, socialists, women, intellectuals, independents, first time voters, anyone who works for GM and Chrysler, the Hollywood elite, gays, lesbians, senior citizens, the infirm, poor people, the informed middle class, ecologists, conservationists, folks who watch NSNBC, civil libertarians, folks who loathe Rush Linbaugh, folks who refer to FOX News as Faux News, anti-gun advocates, folks who support Public Radio, pacifists, inter racial couples, anyone with a student loan, folks who love Michael Moore, folks who donated to the Colbert PAC, folks who go the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for their news, folks who think that O’Reillly is a vintage British bicycle, folks who know that Glen Beck is insane, patriots, students of the Constitution, pacifists, compassionate Christians, folks who live in the Northeast, Tavis Smiley fans, Cornel West's students, anyone with a liberal arts education, me.

    May 22, 2012 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  24. steve

    CLOSE?? really?? Has anyone looked at the Electoral college projections, this race is already over.

    May 22, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  25. pjoe

    I predict Obama will win in a landslide. He has put too many vulnerable Americans on government assistance to lose.

    For example, the Obama administration has added 14 million more voters to the Food Stamp program ... there are now a record 46 million Americans on Food Stamps.

    May 22, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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