CNN Poll: Obama 49%-Romney 47% among likely voters
August 24th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama 49%-Romney 47% among likely voters

Washington (CNN) - With three days to go until the start of the Republican convention, President Barack Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney remain deadlocked in the race for the White House, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Friday also indicates Romney's favorable rating among those likely to vote in the presidential election is in the same ballpark as the president's, and the survey also points to a slightly higher level of enthusiasm for Republicans than Democrats.

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According to the poll, 49% of likely voters say they're backing Obama, with 47% supporting Romney. The two point margin is within the survey's sampling error, meaning the race is a statistical tie.

Among the larger pool of registered voters, some of whom will stay at home on Election Day, the survey indicates the president holds a 52%-43% lead. That number is little changed from CNN's previous poll, conducted in early August, before Romney named House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate.

"Likely voters have traditionally been a more Republican group in past elections because they tend to turn out in higher numbers than Democrats, and 2012 looks like it is no exception. This explains why the margin between President Obama and Mitt Romney is smaller among likely voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "But it is a mistake to say that the race has tightened in the past few weeks, given the lack of movement in the results for registered voters."

In an election, it all comes down to turnout, and that's what a likely voter model is all about. The more enthusiastic you are about voting, the likelier you are to actually vote in November. According to the poll, 35% of registered Republicans questioned say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting, six points higher than the 29% of Democrats who feel the same way.

Four years ago, two-thirds of Democrats said they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting, giving them an 18-point lead over Republicans that helped Obama overcome the fact that turnout has historically been higher among Republicans. Now the two parties are evenly divided.

"Enthusiasm is down among key elements of the Obama coalition from the last presidential election, indicating that some of his supporters are not likely to vote unless something changes. The challenge for the president in his convention is to fire up his base and to turn those potential stay-at-homes into likely voters. If he can do so, the likely voter model may not work as much in Romney's favor in September as it does in August," adds Holland.

In the horserace, 48% of likely voters who are independents say they support Romney, with 45% backing Obama. The gender gap and generational divides seen in polling so far this cycle continue, with the president holding a 54%-42% lead among female likely votes and Romney holding a 53%-43% lead among male likely voters. Obama has a 55%-43% advantage among those under 50, with Romney holding a 50%-45% margin among likely voters 50 and older.

"The two candidates are in a dead heat in the national horserace, tied among likely voters who call themselves independents and tied in the suburbs," says Chief National Correspondent John King.

"Which means the conventions are their best chance to nudge the numbers a bit before we get to what is likely to be a decisive series of debates. The race could break near the end, but heading into the conventions it is as close as can be."

Eighty-seven percent of likely voters say they're minds are made up, with just over one in ten saying they could change their minds on which candidate they'll back in the presidential contest.

The challenge for Romney at his convention, which starts Monday in Tampa, Florida, is to boost his favorable ratings and re-establish the Republican brand nationwide.

According to the poll, 50% of likely voters see Romney in a favorable way, with 46% saying they see him in an unfavorable light. Fifty-two percent say they have a favorable opinion of the president, with 47% saying the see him in an unfavorable way.

While there's not much daylight between the two candidates in this poll when it comes to their favorable/unfavorable ratings, there's more of a disparity between the two political parties in the minds of likely voters.

The poll indicates likely voters are evenly split 47%-47% on how the view the Democratic party. But the GOP has a 43%-51% favorable/unfavorable rating.

As for the running mates, likely voters are divided on Vice President Biden (46%-47%), with a plurality having a favorable opinion of Ryan, the seven-term congressman from Wisconsin (45%-39%).

As for Romney's choice of Ryan as his running mate, 51% of registered voters rate Ryan as an excellent or good pick. And 52% believe he is qualified to be president if necessary.

"From a historical perspective, Ryan ranks in the middle of the pack among recent vice presidential nominees," says Holland. "He's not as well-received as Joe Biden or Dick Cheney initially were, but he's definitely not another Dan Quayle. Joe Lieberman is the running mate who put up numbers most like the ones Ryan now gets."

The survey also indicates the president's approval rating at 50%, unchanged from early August.

According to the poll, two-thirds of likely voters say if elected, Romney will work hard to implement GOP polices on the economy, and six in ten say he would make a real effort to enact Republican proposals on health care. But only 43% feel he will work hard to implement the Republican party's position on abortion.

The social issue has dominated news coverage this week, following controversial comments from Rep. Todd Akin, the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri. The six-term congressman, who has deep ties to Christian conservatives, came under fire following comments in a TV interview Sunday when he said that a woman's body is capable of preventing pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape" while explaining his stance that there should be no abortion exemption for rape or incest.

The survey indicates that 83% of Americans say that abortion should be legal in cases of rape or incest, with similar numbers believing abortion should be legal when the life or health of the mother is endangered.

"Those aren't topics that Americans like to think about, but the recent controversy over Akin's remarks may have provided a stark reminder to many Americans that there are at least a few circumstances under which they support legal abortion," says Holland.

As a result, the number who believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances has dropped from 21% last year to 15% now. Surprisingly, the debate also appears to have boosted the number of Americans who say that abortion should be legal under any circumstances - from 25% a year ago to 35% now, the highest level of support for unrestricted abortion since mid-1990s.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International Wednesday and Thursday (August 22-23), with 1,055 adult Americans, including 924 registered voters and 719 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5% points for likely voters.

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Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC poll • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (221 Responses)
  1. us_1776

    Oh, look it's the Old Bush Economic Team.

    They GOP just renamed it the Romney Team.

    I feel a whole lot better now.



    August 24, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Log Cabin

    How scary to think that Americans would elect Mitt "I love firing people" Romney. But I'm sure they corporate elites will make sure it happens.

    August 24, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. samikep

    You know if CNN is reporting this even then this really means Romney is ahead...

    August 24, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  4. AL in West Palm Beach, FL

    I am a Democrat, I was not even registered to vote in 2008 and I can't wait to cast my ballot for Obama....I am under 30.

    Does this poll take my friends and I into consideration? NOPE!!!

    August 24, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. midwestmatt

    A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote for millionaires whose greed knows no bounds.

    Wise up electorate, this is about the survival of the middle class.

    August 24, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. us_1776

    Would somebody in the IRS please leak Mr. Romney's tax returns to WikiLeaks.

    Thank you,
    The American People


    August 24, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  7. MJJL5

    Up 2 points is NOT a tie! LOL! The media keeps pushing a tie-close yes, a tie no. Over months Obama has maintained a lead in poll after poll.

    August 24, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Jerry

    How anyone, that is not extremely rich, that would vote for Romney is beyond me.

    August 24, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. djay

    Just saw YOUR poll statistics of likely voters?? showing obama in the lead. Were these all democrats or republicans? How many of each voted ? Very weak survey. Did you catch them in a bad mood coming off the subway or something. Take a new survey but this time only ask the people who are REGISTERED citizens who are going to vote.

    August 24, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. Jesus Christ Superstar

    Last time I checked CNN, if one team has 47% and one team has 49%, it's not a TIE, the team with 49 is WINNING.

    August 24, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. us_1776

    It's over Mittens.

    No tax returns? You don't stand a chance.

    People have learned to smell a rat.

    And there's:

    voter fraud
    401(k) fraud
    offshore money fraud
    dancing horse fraud

    and who knows what else in those tax returns of yours.

    Let's see the most recent 8 years of returns Willard. Obama has already shown his as has every other presidential candidate.


    August 24, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. Ed St. Andre

    This is not breaking news, this is bull-S-

    August 24, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Wayne

    Why does this poll have a bright yellow "Breaking News" bar on the CNN homepage? Isn't that supposed to be reserved for things that are NEW, maybe even IMPORTANT? This is just a new survey spewing the same crap.

    August 24, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Wayne

    Why does this poll have a bright yellow "Breaking News" bar on the CNN homepage? Isn't that supposed to be reserved for things that are NEW, maybe even IMPORTANT? This is just a new survey spewing the same garbage.

    August 24, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. us_1776

    To all the GOP whiners about the economy under Obama:

    Thanks for recounting the effects of the massive GW Bush economic collapse.


    August 24, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. WDinDallas

    They must have finally done a poll when the Republicans were home from work.

    August 24, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. once upon a horse

    given the supposed bad state of the economy Mitt Romney you would think should be very far ahead in this race. I wonder what gives...I mean he has the over age 52 WM vote in the bag,right?

    August 24, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. ohsuzanna

    Are you kidding? You use a BREAKING NEWS ticker to announce a CNN poll "tie" that has Obama up 49% to 47%? This is a new low even for CNN. No wonder your ratings are in the tank.

    August 24, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. mary

    Well with the voter suppression they just might pull it off>>~!
    Which should by all rights , cause a outcry loud enough to insist on a re election and a recount..
    To stop people who have always voted , Is dirty pool.. And must not be left as a done deal.
    If this election goes through having stopped people from voting.. It must not end there.. Everyone who goes to the polls to find this year, they are not able to vote because of the law the Republicans have imposed. MUST insist their vote be counted.. MUST INSIST IT BE COUNTED..

    August 24, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. maria

    Especially if they use voter suppression. Why when rich folks lose fair and square they change the rules?
    I'd to know who are they asking? I tend to agree with Oh Boy.

    August 24, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. ObamaISgay

    Sad to say but im sure obama is going to win, good bye America you only have to blame your self for voting this loser obama back in.

    August 24, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. Gurgyl

    I am not polled. OBAMA12.
    PS: America got to be stupid to vote for this BAIN-CAPITAL.

    August 24, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. djay

    hmmm it says comments are not prescreened before they post in terms of service but under my comment it says my comment is awaiting moderation. Whats the deal cnn?

    August 24, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. The Big NB

    Romney? Really people? Maybe the rest of the world is right: Americans ARE stupid. Obama is NOT a failure. His job is tough, and will no doubt take him another 4 yrs to reverse the damage done by the GOP during the Bush Jr. era. Romney is one of the worst candidates the GOP could have presented. Most Republicans would agree (but probably not admit it).

    August 24, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |

    I'll vote for Romney because I want him to attack Iran so my military stock portfolio skyrockets and I can join the ranks of the top 10% of americans in screwing the rest of the 90%!!!

    August 24, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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