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. nolimits3333

    Does anyone really want Mitt Romney answering the phone in the White House at 3 am?

    May 22, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. patrick

    mitt romney like to say jimmy carter was a one turm prez. he told the people of mass what a great bussiness person he was yet he could not add any private sector job to their state, no wonder when they found he was just a fraud he pack his bag and run this one turn gov could not even stay around for his re-election what a waste this one turn gov trun out to be HA HA HA

    May 22, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Michael


    .......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
    Ignorant post, typical american alright.

    May 22, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Trying to figure it out

    Polls this tight? I wonder what will happen when Romney get the nomination. Funny how CNN 'moderates' my posts that cite evidence that Romney actual did create jobs while at Bain.

    CNN is no longer a news orgainzation, but a biased tool to shape public opinion.

    May 22, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. mslisc363

    Yes Obama 2012, but let the door hit you where the good Lord split you in 2013. Go Romney.

    May 22, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Rachel

    If Obama is doing such a great job then how come he isn't mopping the floor with Romney and way ahead in the polls? Oh yeah, that's right, the economy still stinks, unemployment is over 8% and the cost of gasline has doubled since Obama took office. I'm thinkin' Obama is one and done.

    May 22, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. Karen

    Is the American public that ignorant to allow Romney to become our President? Aside from the obvious "job killer" reputation, can anyone really believe he can HELP America in any way? Do your selves a favor and talk to someone from Massachusetts and find out just what he did here (by the way he was NOT reelected).!

    May 22, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. mslisc363

    I don't think most folks want a manufacturing job...

    May 22, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. apple pie

    Don't trust Mitt the Flip as far as I can spit. He's phony. His "business experience" is phony: playing Monopoly with other people's money to make millions for himself? Good for him But it is no qualification for being president.

    May 22, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. For America

    God I hope you will let Romney win because Obama does not support you!

    May 22, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. luke,az

    Gov. Romney is at best a mediocre manager, who is a puppet of the 1%. President Obama has been fighting for the common woman and man since he's been in the office of the Presidency.

    May 22, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. p

    "I don't remember what I said. -But I stand by what I said, WHATEVER IT WAS."
    You know, there has never been a position that this guy hasn't taken, at one time or another.
    No soul. No core. No convictions.
    The guy who said that should NEVER be President. Please, people. Think about it.

    May 22, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  13. Pander Bear

    Uh huh. Polls are interesting things. Actually read through the stats and it seemed that Obama had Romney beat in all categories. Although they were pretty close in terms of jobs and the economy, Obama still ranked higher. So how come the net result from the respondents is so close? Read the last question in the poll:

    "Would you say your views on most political matters are liberal, moderate or conservative?"

    Liberal Moderate Conservative
    5/20/12 22% 35% 37%

    And 34% of the respondents cited "over-regulation" the bigger problem with the economy – this right after JPMorgan Chase gambles away $2BILLION dollars.

    So basically conservatives don't favor Obama. What a shocker! What a completely useless statistical analysis!

    May 22, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. luke,az

    I'm still waiting for the Republican party to split into 3 parties; moderates,evangelicals and tea partiers.Oh, let's not forget the birthers.

    May 22, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. Belleville

    This is called biased reporting. Trying to bring hope and excitement to the dullest part of being an American citizen. Theres no dead heat, its not even close, statistically, the margin of error is multiplied on a national level no matter the sample. Keep feeding the idiots junk and it is reflected in your own ratings.

    May 22, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  16. dreamer96

    We should start to tax the churches..maybe just 10%, to help pay for the country that gives them the freedom to practice their religion...We all need to chip in and pay the deficit bill..and these churches are getting a benefit from living in this country too..So many churches now are run just like a corporation, it is getting hard to tell the difference between a corporation and a church,...and the churches are pushing their way into our government, trying to push their religious beliefs, on the whole country..no matter what religion the rest of us might be..

    May 22, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. Donkey Party

    For America –

    May God have mercy on a liar like you (personally, I hope he doesn't).

    May 22, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. betterdays

    Here comes the "If (R) wins, I'm moving to Canada" brigade again. Happens every time. Unfortunately, they never actually leave.

    May 22, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. kramer

    Why not just Vote for RMoney and Republicons Today.!??

    Here's how – Go to your boss and demand a HUGE CUT in $Pay, Hours, Benefits and remove any Job Security!!

    See, you also believe that somehow " Funnelling even MORE Wealth and Profits to the Top is Great for Americans"..!???

    May 22, 2012 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  20. Carla Nelson

    The Government has been hollering about the budget for years. I was wondering when minorities were able to be entitled to many programs when whites were. Did they holler about the budget back then? Now all of a sudden the Government is going broke now that minorities have acces to many of these social programs. Bunch of crap the Government will have money longs as people are working. Now the ones that are complaining that the Government spends to much money, but let their son or daughter need a student loan they won't say aword.

    May 22, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. judy

    this election should be about jobs but unfortunatly the republican party has made this about money and the wealthy and a the fact that a black man is in office. Every E mail joke I get is about the president and being black or muslim. Or where he was born. This hate continues and they do nothing to discourage it. Bain capital is a valid part of the campaign and mitts own party went after him for it. He is no job creator in this country. Has no idea how to deal with other countries or wit most of the people in this country. The thought of him as president is really scary, the middle and poor will be in a lot of trouble.

    May 22, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. Barry G.

    I’m starting to think that it makes little difference who is elected. I’m convinced that both parties are corrupt.

    I’m convinced that the entire political process is corrupt, and I blame our legislators and the lobbyists for this.

    How can a nation be just, when their leaders have their hands out and fill their pockets with gifts and money?

    Call it whatever you want, it still looks like bribery to me.

    Sadly we’re dependent upon our legislators to reform this corrupt process, and you and I both know that is not going to happen.

    That would be like asking the foxes to be in support of putting a padlock on the chicken coop.

    May 22, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Cedar Rapids

    "Rachel – If Obama is doing such a great job then how come he isn't mopping the floor with Romney and way ahead in the polls? Oh yeah, that's right, the economy still stinks, unemployment is over 8% and the cost of gasline has doubled since Obama took office. I'm thinkin' Obama is one and done."

    If Obama is doing such a crappy job why isnt Romney way ahead in the polls?
    I mean that must be really making you worried that despite all this apparent doom and gloom Romney is not way ahead.

    May 22, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. ALPHA

    Another example of a shady poll conducted by the Libs in the media. They under sample some segemnts, over sample some segments and twist the numbers to suit their narrative.

    Anyone who beleives that Obama has any chance of being re-elected is dreaming. They just do not recognize failure when they see it.

    This administartion has failed miserably!! They will be defeated in a landslide in November.

    May 22, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    So Obama is below 50% approval on just about all the things that matter. It is truly scary that so many Americans still think this buffoon has a clue on the economy and jobs. If he had a clue, we wouldn't be where we are after 4 years of every ridiculous liberal trick in the book. Over 8% unemployment, which is really far higher, is a MASSIVE FAILURE. And the country's finances are far worse off on top of it.

    The ONLY answer Obama seems to come up with for every problem is for the government to spend more money, add more regulation, make the country a "fair" place where everybody is entitled to a trophy for showing up. It is truly time to dump this leftwing T-ball coach and get somebody in the Whithouse that understands our economy.

    May 22, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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