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. vic

    How could it even be close? Romney will kill social security, destroy the middle class, and change the name of every state to his favorite corporation contributors.

    May 22, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Ethernet

    Vote Ob*ma and get 4 more years of crap....

    May 22, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  3. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

    "Obama = significant increase in national debt/inflation"

    That is a false statement that has been repeatedly exposed as a lie, yet the pathetic and desperate losers on the right keep repeating it because they literally have NO arguments in favor of Rmoney or their corrupt cult of crony capitalism.

    May 22, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  4. Sheri Lee

    And we have Congress that ran on Jobs. Where are they?? But when it came to the OWS protesters they tell them to get a Job, Our congress is like their supporters. Out of touch with real America, and government. Of course Obama is to be blamed. He is the only one trying to do something. Getting OBL was a classic example, Bush had how long to do something after 9/11. Oh yeah he more important things to worry about like those pesky WMD in Iraq. So how did that all work out?????

    May 22, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. PDX James

    1004 people is a very small sampling for a country with a population in the hundreds of millions. I'd say the +/- with a sampling so small is at least 5%. I also wonder if one party is more likely to be home answering their phones for surveys than the other. Regardless, the best we can hope for is getting the lesser of 2 evils, which isn't exactly a proud achievement for the US.

    May 22, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  6. alex

    This is HORRIBLE news for the GOP. People know the TRUTH. Obama is not perfect but he has done very well given the circumstances the country was in. People know the Destruction the GOP brought upon this country.

    Just wait till the debates where Romneys record as MA governor, his lies about Bain and his flip flopping on almost every major issue will be on the table. Obama will sweep the floor with Mittens.

    May 22, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  7. The REAL Truth...

    @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
    Exactly which "scientific" polls (they're all supposed to be scientific BTW) show Mittens as being ahead?? Please do share some of this magic with us... Rasmussen perhaps?

    May 22, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. ghostriter

    Well, it has been awhile.

    I still don't put too much faith in polls. But Romney's issues are that he can't seem to defend much. If he wants to stick with his Bain record, that's fine. Just don't complain when deomcrats go after it.

    May 22, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    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.
    Single lie? Every time the buffoon opens his mouth, nothing BUT lies spew forth. Four years of lies, excuses and fingerpointing. THAT is the sum total of the Obama adminstration. Well, incompetence and corruption too. And then there is the divisiveness and demonization.

    May 22, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  10. Sheri Lee

    Romney state was ranked 47% in job creation. Romney will be like this congress worthless in job Creation. They are to busy defending profits for the mega Corporations like ExxonMobile. And they know their supporters will blame a democrat for not cleaning up their mess. Yes Obama blamed Bush. And he should have because it was Bush tax cuts that caused the big dept and we lost 8 million jobs under Bush. Funny why is it we never heard the GOPers complain about Bush wiping that surplus out in 2years? That is because they didn't they were to busy buying into the all fear card play. While Bush and Company were taking this country to the toilet.

    May 22, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  11. george_w_tush

    Electing a rich kid trying to outdo Daddy worked out swell the first time.

    Bin Laden dead. We're out of Iraq. Auto Industry booming. Millions of jobs created. Dow, S&P & employment at 4 year bests. GOP in full fit

    May 22, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  12. sandee

    President Obama has done a great job considering the fact that the Republicans have been obstrutionists toward all of his proposals. As an Independent, I would rather vote for someone who wants to take our country forward rather than vote for someone who wants to take our country back to the 50's. As a realtor, home values have increased about 10% over the past year on the west coast and home sales are up. New construction is being seen all over our area and are actually selling. Once the housing market comes back, both the economy and jobs will stabilize.

    May 22, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  13. mms55

    these polls are never credable.the media does this crap on purpose just to get a story line where there is none.just think how boring the next 6 months would be if they told the truth.

    May 22, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  14. judith

    Obama will win. The gender gap will not change, nor will Romney's standing with minorities. Obama is also well ahead in electoral votes and Romney cannot change his persona as an elitist, wealthy son of privilege who is completely disconnected from ordinary people. Indeed, the President has done a very good job considering that the GOP has done nothing but obstruct any path to economic recovery.

    May 22, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  15. Ronnie12345

    Funny how Mitch got a clean slate so soon It's what happens when you have a lot of clueless or bigots.

    May 22, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. Dean

    Isn't It Ironic?

    The food stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of food stamps ever.

    Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to "Please Do Not Feed the Animals" because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.

    May 22, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  17. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    FACT 1: Obama will be the FIRST President to leave office with FEWER jobs in the country than when he took office.

    FACT 2: The fewest people since the 1980's are working in this country.

    FACT 3: The number of people on foodstamps and the government dole has skyrocketed in four years.

    FACT 4: Four more years of Obama and the Democrats running this country will GUARANTEE more of 1,2 & 3.

    May 22, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Dan Clayton

    This seem to be an election centered around Finance 101 on one side verses the Government should help equalize its citizens on the other. I lean to Finance, for two reasons. We see Europe trying to avoid their bills that are now due for the life they lived over the last decade.... could create anarchy. Government is a huge waste machine. No one in government ever has to justify how they spend money. Its processes are extreamly efficient. Where is the balance sheet that shows what the American people get for our billions in tax and debt... And who actually discusses if it is worth it anymore...

    May 22, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  19. Ann

    Don't believe the poll. Anyone who is for Unfit Mitt is wrong. He will kill everything as we know it and there will be WAR on WAR. He's a CEO not a President.

    May 22, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  20. Ras Tafari

    Are they using just land base t-phone for these polls? likely skew the poll, as 91% of americans now use cell phones and 50% of americans 25yrs use cell only. Clearly if only landlines were used it likely left out a whole age group of american voters; further , this group voted in large numbers for Obama last time. I know its more interesting for the media when the polls are tight, its easier to fake being unbias; but in the interest of full disclosure it should be stipulated in the poll's notes the extent to which cell phones or land lines were used.

    May 22, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  21. Josh

    Single lie? Every time the buffoon opens his mouth, nothing BUT lies spew forth. Four years of lies, excuses and fingerpointing. THAT is the sum total of the Obama adminstration. Well, incompetence and corruption too. And then there is the divisiveness and demonization.
    You still haven't given an example to even one of his "lies". To say every time is speaks is a lie, discredits everything you say.

    May 22, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  22. J

    Once again the polls show the race close so the media has to put some unrelated spin on it. Enthusiasm? Give me a break. And I'm sorry but if you want to accept that Obama's 47% approval rating is good and his approval of of 47% on handling the war then you've settled and obviously don't expect much from a president. Further why are they still polling people about Bush? It's 3 1/2 years into this administration. Time for them to start taking a little credit for both the good and the bad.

    May 22, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. Really?

    Your pole is flawed, there isn't enough rich and hick to vote for Mr. Romney

    May 22, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  24. GI Joe

    I don't trust ROBME - he lies even when he doesn't need to, just to stay in practice. He's a cold-hearted money-grubbing mormmon,

    May 22, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  25. Dan Clayton

    I think everyone will be suprised when Romney wins by 5% in November. There will be the same collective sigh of indignation that happened when GW was elected a second time. The media started to report on its own hype and started to believe their reports... It will really come down to a few states... Missouri is one of them, but from all the polls I see it will be significantly red as people show up in droves to make sure Democrate Claire McKaskill does not get back to the Senate. Poor Claire voted 90+% with Obama, which is a death nail in this moderate state.

    May 22, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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