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. The REAL Truth...

    @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.
    It might have something to do with the large number of gulllible nimnods who vote Republican. They are not exactly the sharpest tools in the shed. A little research to educate oneself will show the economic recovery is happening.. albeit not as fast as some desire.. it also shows that the POTUS has not control over the price of gas, and that (with all statistics) the unemployment numbers can be made to show whatever the presenters want. Sun paper headline in my town splayed the headline "jobless down to 6.3%"... so it is not all that bad, but it IS an election year.
    As far as gas prices go... (again.. a little research helps) the AVERAGE gas price from 04-08 (dubya's 2nd term) was $3.27.. with a peak of approx $4 in July 08. The AVERAGE gas price from Jan 09 thru last month was (BINGO!!) $3.26...and it hasn't hit the $4 mark anytime during..
    Look it up.. you might be surprised.. but if not, at least you'll be better educated...

    May 22, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  2. fn26

    I want the Obama campaign to put the following under the microscope : Romney's record at Bain, Romneys record at MA, his offshore accounts (while people were loosing jobs and money in USA because of the Bush policies, Romney was hiding his money offshore),

    May 22, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  3. Flipper Rmoney Failure Ahead

    "obama = communism and the welfare state
    Romney= individual growth and jobs"

    Ah yes, simple (and incorrect phrases) for simple rightwing minds. PS: If you're gonna base your life on slogans, at least try to use slogans that have an element of truth. Yours does not.

    May 22, 2012 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  4. Roger

    Re-elect Obama and turn the House in 2012

    May 22, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  5. Jayb

    Obama = significant increase in national debt/inflation and loss of constitutional rights! Transition to police state/socialist state
    Romney = The republican version of Obama, wall street crony, no real plans to decrease spending or debt cutting, supports the wealthiest elite
    Ron Paul = solid plans for cutting spending/decreasing 15.7 Trillion dollar debt, plans to have sound money!!! Plans to end the corruption on capitol hill and washington. Wants actually freedom of the press instead of this mainstream media propaganda! Create more jobs, bring our troops home/end occupation of other countries around the world and instead protect our borders! Return to individual and constitutional liberties that were fought and died for and intended by our forefathers......and the list goes on...yet people still blind enough to fall for the lies of either Romney OR Obama? really people?????

    May 22, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. Sheri Lee

    @ Kramer How Republicans keep the 99% to vote for them. 1st. By using the family values party. 2nd. Keep the fear card going by Labeling Liberals as Socialist, Communist, and how they hate America. 3rd. Manipulation of Religion by claiming they are Gods Party and stand for Christian moral leadership. This keeps the voters blind while the greedy ones rob them blind. And whenever the economy tanks under their watch it was Gods plan and hide behind the bible. And blame the Democrats for not cleaning up their mess.

    May 22, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  7. Jason

    Robmey plundered a 100 year old compaby offshoring 2000+ jobs destroying lives and if still republicans him to be a fit candidate, that can only mean that all republicans are traitors to their country even though they love to drape themselves in flags

    May 22, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  8. Ted

    Only CNN could have a poll showing 47% still support Barack Hussein Obama and 83% believe the economy is not good. I am just guessing but I think there may be some bias here especially when all the scientific polls has Romney ahead. Wait, I forgot to add that the economy was bad when he took office and the 3.5 years he has had to fix it he has only made it much worse. History will show he is the one term Carter of this generation!

    May 22, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. Sheri Lee

    The Price of Gasoline has been dropping where I live. Oh that is because of what Bush or Romney did. Obama only gets the blame when it goes up. Of course when Liberals blamed Bush for the high prices of Gas. The CONservatives cried like babies. Now those same Cry babies are blaming Obama. Oh well I guess if Bush can get the blame so can Obama. Of course it has had nothing to with Hedge funds under Bush and Speculators under Obama. Now that is dropping it is because of the economy in Europe. Not what Romney or Bush did.

    May 22, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  10. Terry

    Yea, Ya gotta love a guy who stripped Pensions from workin folks & turs around & has Security Guards Escort them out after closin their Manufacturing plants on a Dime.

    May 22, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  11. brad

    Just more proof that polls really only gauge the older folks sitting at home answering their phones. This race isn't even close except in bonehead states Ohio and Florida.

    May 22, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. mano

    by electing Romney economy system becomes fli flo system.

    May 22, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  13. george_w_tush

    Mitt Romney should have to appear in public with George W. Bush just to prove they aren't the same person

    May 22, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. Pam from Iowa

    If Romney wins the election, expect more corporate profits, less money in the hands of the working class, higher gas prices. etc, etc.

    May 22, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. pjoe

    If you want the government to take care of you, you will vote Obama.

    Unfortunately many in America have given up.

    May 22, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. Eric

    Mittens has no chance!! Bring on the debates!! LOL Thats when Mittens will be way out of his league!! OBAMA 2012!!

    May 22, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    @Alois: You prattle on about "loser" and "corrupt" regarding the Obama Administration. Cite some facts! One company, Solyndra, has problems; what about GM's incredible turnaround; private equity companies like Bain were afraid to do anything, but the President took the lead and now GM is the top auto maker IN THE WORLD. Just ask all of its employees (and all the employees of the auto industry supply chain) how they feel about this.

    While you're looking for FACTS (as opposed to copy-paste today's Fox talking points), why don't you ask investors how they're feeling about the stock market being over 12,000? When President Obama took office, our economy was in free-fall and the down was around 7,800. We're not in a Great Depression, which would have happened if McCain had been elected; we'd also still be in Afghanistan and probably Iran, too. Bin Laden would still be holed-up in Abbatabad ... folks on unemployment would have seen their benefits run out and if you think that's a good thing, ask yourself what drives production. I'll tell you: It's not some rich guy deciding to "trickle-down" his excess income; it's DEMAND for products and services, created by average folks spending their money.

    You're a fool if you think Mittens, with his track record of favoring the multinational investor class at the expense of our nation's long-term prosperity, is a good thing. The GOP is counting on dupes like you to once again fall for their voodoo economics – and what I really don't get is how you folks keep doing it over and over and over again.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    May 22, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  18. Hap

    This is good news for the President. These new Republicans have working and campaigning against him for 5 years and the best they can do is a tie. The President is just getting started and is going to kick Mitt's butt in November. Next we need to clean "House" and get some folks who'll work together red or blue. Cut some budgets, raise some taxes, and close some loopholes. What is so difficult about that? Oh yes, they're all beholding to something other than us and our country. That's what needs to be fixed and fast.

    May 22, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain

    @Jason: "Robmey plundered a 100 year old compaby offshoring 2000+ jobs destroying lives and if still republicans him to be a fit candidate, that can only mean that all republicans are traitors to their country even though they love to drape themselves in flags."

    And thanks to the Citizens United ruling, foreign entities don't have to launch a military strike to harm us; they just have to help elect Republicans. Why bother to destroy us from without when you can do it from within?

    May 22, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  20. JustAO

    These polls don't mean anything until you actually have the two on stage together debating about their policies if they are president. As for now, this is just hype similar to the Facebook IPO in which didn't even come close to the hype last week. It's not that serious CNN analysts!

    May 22, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Jean

    I can;t understand how that many people can be so blind, deaf and dumb! When the Bush guys hit the door the economy was in free fall. So sad, too bad. The stock market had fallen into the sewer, GM and Chrysler were in the dumper, the banks were in big trouble and the job losses were incredilble. It;s been slow, but there is steady improvement. GM and Chrysler were given govt; loans, which they are repaying, and thousands of jobs and a whole industry were saved. The stock market has doubled restoring peoples savings, and job opportunities are slowly coming back .The Bush wars are ending, Ben Laden is dead and Mrs Clinton has done a fabulous job as Secretary of State ,recently negotiating release of a Chinese dissadent. The Obama adminstation has managed this while being obstructed at every turn by Republican party. Now we have a Republican candidate who says he wants to go back to the Bush years that caused the deep recession of 2009. Are you nuts! Putting more money in millionaires pockets never translated to prosperity for the American people, quite the contrary. Just look back at the 8 years of the Bush adminstration! What idiot believes this "communist/ socialist " crap? We were saved from the deepist economic crash since the great depression, don't derail the train now that it finally picking up steam.

    May 22, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  22. yogi

    @ Objective Guy....Objective? The GOP mantra in full force: Project your weakness on the other over and over again. The 46% support for Romney can only be explained by the incredible dumbness in the republican electorate.
    Obama 2012!

    May 22, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

    "I see the usual squadron of paid Obama campaigners are out in force here again today, spreading the Gospel According to Saint Obama. Do you really think the voters are dumb enough to fall for his lies once again? God, I hope not."

    And yet you cannot point out a single lie, while the lies on your side are being exposed every day. Must not be very fun siding with such pathetic losers and liars.

    May 22, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  24. Phattee

    "As in almost every national survey, the economy was the No. 1 issue for voters"

    The same economy that Bush tanked via deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy, and the same economy that Romney wants to repair via deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy.

    That is the definition of insanity.

    May 22, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. winky

    All u repubs talk about the economy, so tell me what experience has romney had dealing with congress and creating jobs. This guy wants the title and nothing more 6yrs he's been running. The guy flips on every subject and gets a pass! He cannot speak for himself. He reminds me of bush!!! Mission Accomplished!

    May 22, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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