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. madrep1

    See you Libs at the polls. 2010 repeat coming your way! Your lying, celebrity wannabe, hero in chief and his nutjob anti American spouse better start packing now.

    August 24, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    Mittens will never be the POTUS.

    August 24, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. Big_D

    This year is an intelligence test for seniors. If they don't pass and elect Romney they lose their Medicare.

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

    We're in the last 2 1/2 months before election and now Romney is going to show all his policy is first of many. Romney is extremely good at debates as well as Ryan...Obama's numbers will drop at least 5% in the next month. Gas prices are going up...hurricanes will no doubt affect them, GDP is sub 2%, unemployment will likely increase a tenth of a percent staying above 8.2% and the media is going to pick up on that. In the end, to quote a famous person..."IT"S THE ECONOMY STUPID" and it's going to resonate with voters as the fiscal cliff gets closer...unless Romney does something incredibly stupid in the debates, he's going to win. It was a toss up 2 months ago but anyone who is paying attention to news other than CNN,FOX, MSNBC, et al...knows he's going to win now.

    August 24, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. john

    I wonder if this poll included those people who, four years ago, thought that Sarah Palin made a great running mate for Obama. I mean really, Americans as a group have got to be the dumbest people on Earth.

    August 24, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Loathstheright

    Which proves just how ignorant the 47% who support Mitt the Twit are.

    August 24, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. SCOTO

    I dont believe any of it. I dont think Romeny has a chance. Cant believe we have that many people who swallow this bilge he puts out.

    August 24, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Liz

    Before I begin my rant, I would like to say that I couldn't vote in the previous election (I was too young) but I would have voted for Obama if I could. At that time, I believed he was what was best for the country. However, now that I'm more politically aware, I realize that Obama is, to be frank, wrong for this country's future.
    ObamaCare costs the tax payers tons of money every day, to give care to people who don't even work. If everyone in the country just paid $100 a YEAR in taxes this country would be much better off. However, the Democrats platform implies that the population of people who do work will be SUPPORTING those who aren't.
    Romney may be a little stiff, but good ol' charismatic Obama hasn't given us much that he promised. He hasn't fixed our country; he has only made it worse. He is leading this country into socialism. I strongly recommend that those of you who support Obama's platform read Animal Farm. You'd be surprised how many parallels can be drawn between the two.

    August 24, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. chris

    LOL EVERY news media outlet shows Romney in the lead BUT CNN... and they say they're biased....hahahahahahahaha

    August 24, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. G D

    Go Gary Johnson! You're our only hope for change & to send a message to the inept representation we currently have on both sides of this 2-party aisle.

    August 24, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -Scott Adkins

    I know that CNN is decidedly left-leaning as Fox is right-leaning. But folks, hey, it was Obama who said if he couldn't turn things around, his would be one-term proposition. Well, this is the worst recovery since the Great Depression. Between that and the ATF's gun-running into Mexico and this administration's refusal to be transparent should lead any reasonable minded voter to decide that Obama's time needs to end January 2013.
    And replace him with what? A man who pocketed the money made by outsourcing American jobs to China and India? I think not.

    August 24, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. Todd in DC

    Romney will cut taxes for the wealthiest 1-2%, then slash Medicaid and Social Security to pay for it. Not sure why so many poorer people will vote for this, but hey, I'm wealthy enough that if Social Security goes away, it won't affect my lifestyle.

    But I'm voting for Obama anyway.

    August 24, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. truth hurts

    The Big NB - By the way- I used to rely on CNN as my main source of news. Not any more. This network has become somewhat of a joke over the past few years. I still come here, but stupid articles like this have me seeking other sources.
    Well if you only want totally made up liberal BS then might I suggest the Huffington Post site? That way you don't have to interrupt your koolaide coma with any reality. You're welcome.

    August 24, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Poll is irrelevant. What only matters is the electoral college, not the popular vote.

    August 24, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  15. JC in Western U.S.

    Intrade, the Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is trading (betting) site, was more accurate than any poll for the 2008 election. The difference between them and polls is that polls as "Who would YOU vote for?", but Intrade asks "Who are you willing to stake your money on?" They have Obama at 57 and Romney at 42.

    August 24, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. Grand Oil Party 2012

    Can't wait until Romney takes over. It will be wonderful. Just imagine:
    1) Jobs for everyone who wants to work. Unemployment below 4%.
    2) Rising wages and lower taxes for the middle class.
    3) Cleaner air and water once companies are exempted from environmental regulations.
    4) $2 a gallon gas once we start drilling for all our oil and build the Keystone pipeline.
    5) No regulations for Wall Street. Money won't trickle down from the wealthy, it will be a flood as everyone shares in the prosperity!

    Get rid of that Kenyan muslim and let the good times return to Amercia!!!

    August 24, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. ObjectiveGuy

    We're beginning to see the news media actually coming around to admitting that Romney is coming on strong. America is tired of the spin, the lies, the deception, the bait and switch, the pandering to special interests. In short, they have grown tired of the Obama administration, and in not seeing the "change" they were promised. The only change we have seen is bad to worse over the past four years–not exactly how Obama sold it to us back in '08, was it? I think Romney/Ryan will win the election by a landslide. America is tired of waiting around for Obama to learn how to be president.

    August 24, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. julie

    Do we want to go back to losing 8 million jobs again? Thats what the republicans did last time.

    August 24, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. betterdays

    Third-party voters will hand this election to Obama. Enjoy the next four years, Libertarians, because it's not going to be gridlock anymore. He's just going to start issuing royal proclamations.

    August 24, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Hahahahahaha

    Liz – Wow Liz you must be a rich republican and think the republicans actually represent YOU! Hahahahahahaha

    August 24, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. John

    Based on the way the electoral map lines up......should Romney win the popular vote by 1% or less, Obama would PROBABLY still win the election...........If Romney does not sweep Florida, Ohio, and Virginia, he has next to no chance to win.

    August 24, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  22. The GOP Voucher Plan will include a "Legalize Euthanasia" clause and a free gun to commit suicide

    Hey Big-D (I know what the D stands for). The seniors aren't THAT stupid!!

    August 24, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  23. Descarado

    Obama arrived at the White House with scant accomplishments in the world of grown-ups.

    After four years of impersonating a President of the United States, he has a record.

    5 million Americans have completely given-up looking for a job and are no longer factored into the 8.3% unemployment rate.

    16 million Americans have been added to the Food Stamp rolls.

    Obama has increased the national debt by 5 TRILLION dollars without any meaningful results.

    After all these years, Obama finally has a record of accomplishment in the world of grown-ups.

    August 24, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  24. Chuck

    49% to 47% with a 3.5% sampling error does NOT mean that there is an equal chance of either candidate winning. It still means Obama is more likely to win. Besides, what matters is the electoral college analysis, where Obama is still heavily favored.

    August 24, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  25. catallergy

    People think national polling matters. If you want a good break down of the states, check out fivethirtyeight and read nate silvers blog. he has been right with every election, including congressional races over the last 10 years.

    August 24, 2012 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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