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. Moose Lips

    Rudy NYC

    I would run an ad about the 2010 elections, "This is what they promised. This is what they delivered."

    And show the reason why they couldnt deliver,
    a brick wall called Republicans.

    August 24, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. ViK100

    I will not be voting democrat this time around. I'm staying true to my values not my party.

    August 24, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. Wow!

    I am shocked that there are that many citizens that don't know who they will be voting for yet, what are they waiting for? This has been the CLEAREST election in years that spells out exactly what these candidates envision for our country. Have these people been living in a cave for the last year?

    August 24, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  4. sunny5280

    "Likely voters have traditionally been a more Republican group in past elections because they tend to turn out in higher numbers than Democrats..."

    Does this surprise anyone? I suspect those Democrats who don't vote expect someone to do it for them.

    August 24, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  5. Jim

    This is a good poll for Obama. Republicans were over polled.

    August 24, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. paul

    After the "birther" joke in Michigan did Romney say anything about "letting Detroit go bankrupt"? He has already burnt his bridges here. In November, the Michigan voters will say, "thank you president obama for saving the auto industry and the hundreds of thousands of jobs that came with it". Game over in Michigan

    August 24, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  7. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    This is F'ing pathetic. 47% of the American public want a fascist dictator, who doesn't give a S... about them, and who has made his living as a parasite, sucking off corporate profits, dismantling smaller American business and profiting from doing it (cannabalizing them), evading taxes through off-shore accounts and not even giving the benefit of disclosure to the fools who intend to vote for him against their own interests and that of the nation, being a bishop in a non-Christian cult religion that doesn't even have a record of 1 man 1 woman marriage until recently they worshipped polygamy and routinely practiced it, viewing women as chattle (and they seem to still cling to this loathesome world view). How could he get the votes of over several hundred people with this kind of background. Oh, I guess I just answered my own question. He is counting of at least 47% of the population being stubbornly stupid, and according to this poll, he may be pretty good at math. But a lousy and gutless leader who would quickly put the country down for the count, finishing up what Bush and his covey of fools started.

    August 24, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Mark

    Popular vote is irrelevant. Electoral votes is what counts, and Obama has about a 50 EV lead.

    August 24, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. Hahahahahaha

    Allenwoll – Quite a few. BTW – where is 8.3 IQ today? He's one of them. Hahahahahahahaha

    August 24, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. John

    Obama is DONE!

    August 24, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Dan Guerriero

    Obama "Broken promises, bankruptcy and blame Bush. " A real Affirmative Action Hero

    August 24, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. 8.3% unemployment - Over 8% 42 Straight months and the Obama Jobs DEPRESSION continues unabated

    Looks like a whole lotta liberal/democrat/leftist denial goin' on around here. Even the DEMOCRATS aren't excited about voting for Obama. I can't blame them. They are also sick of the lies, excuses and failure. Only the government dependents are excited about voting for Obama. Or maybe a lot of those 25 million under or unemployed people are Democrats, or used to be.

    August 24, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. Byteme

    Willard Mittens wants the U.S. to be the best country money can buy.

    August 24, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. mikey

    Obama has already accused Romney of killing a guy's wife, being a felon, being a tax cheat, being a money launderer, closing factories just to abuse families, being a draft dodger, torturing a dog, and assaulting a fellow student. The Occupy Wall Street movement is the best illustration to date of what President Barack Obama's America looks like. It is an America where the lawless, unaccomplished, ignorant and incompetent rule. It is an America where those who have sacrificed nothing pillage and destroy the lives of those who have sacrificed greatly.. The left is using any event as a distraction as it pursues the Saul Alinsky tactics of community organizing. Obama's game plan is to divide the community into the Haves and the Have Nots, make the Have Nots believe they are unjustly treated by the Haves, build resentment against the American social and economic system, use church congregations to mobilize street agitators, and lobby government for higher taxes and big-spending welfare programs in order to confiscate the wealth and power of the Haves and turn it over to the Have Nots.

    August 24, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. CoJo

    1st Romney criticizes Obama on the comment about business doing well, then he himself says close to the same thing.
    2nd Now Romney has joined the birther party.
    3rd now R/R have amended their health care plan. What, the original wasn't correct? Question on the voucher: does this mean you no longer have to look for a doctor that will except medicare? They can charge what they want? Cost increase here we come. The voucher is to help pay for private health insurance. As we all know the premiums for reasonable insurance is high. Also insurances WILL NOT cover pre-existing conditions... therefore the vouchers are useless... especially for the elderly that usually have pre-existing conditions.

    August 24, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. djhtex

    Does CNN really think we believe any results from one of their polls?

    August 24, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. HoustonOilMan

    Get the economy going again and help small businesses create jobs, keep us from an economic collapse.
    Nice thing to say just like a chicken in every pot, but how? By cutting taxes for millionaires? Been there, done that, didn't work.

    August 24, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. Bribarian

    Obama has to go, but the sad part is Romney wont be much better. Bush/Obama/Romney all come from the same puppetmasters.

    August 24, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. 8.3% unemployment - Over 8% 42 Straight months and the Obama Jobs DEPRESSION continues unabated

    JC in Western U.S.
    No worries, my fellow Democrats. Keep donating to Obama's campaign. Keep the faith. He's going to win again
    2012 isn't 2008. Obama now has a four year record of failure he can't run from. Hope & Change turned out to be just another Obama lie.

    August 24, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. Dennis

    All this whining about how many fetuses got aborted, take a look at how many people have died because of guns in the US more people die through guns than through abortion! Yet I have to hear the first christian say they should get rid of guns. Crazy hypocrites. Jesus wouldn't have had a gun, why do all those right wing christians need one?

    August 24, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. Rod in Dallas TX

    These polls are just stupid....We will not know who the winner will be until November 6th. Romney/Ryan will make a million more mistakes in the next 72 days. Just sit back and enjoy the comedy show.

    August 24, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. 3vilmonkey

    The fact that 47% of likely voters would vote for that cash-grabbing, spineless, dancing-horse-loving, tax-cheating, magic-underwear-wearing windbag is terrible indictment for the American public. The GOP is a bunch of haters, bigots, ignorant fools, cowards and racists. How is it, in 2012, that almost half of us still act and think like barbarians?? We've got a LONG way to go before we're a truly civilized nation.
    OBAMA-BIDEN 2012

    August 24, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. myviewis


    They polled hillbillies, the tea party, the religious, the greedy, the wealthy who cannot see the importance of more taxes, and most of all the stupid who have no idea what happened and who was in office when the whole economy collapsed

    You mean more taxes for the handouts, government jobs, because true needy people, lower income people, elderly never get anything from more taxes, oh no, more taxes goes to those that know how to play the system and avoid having to get a job and contribute.

    August 24, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. djay

    And WHY is obama borrowing money from a communist nation, China?

    August 24, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. Big_D

    I think any elderly person with any common sense at all will drop the GOP for adding Ryan to the ticket. His voucher idea for Medicare was so unpopular even his own party hated it and no senior should have to deal with a system that steals their money and shifts it to pay for more tax cuts for people like Romney.

    August 24, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
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