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. ....

    Just throwing it out there...while it may be a statistical deadlock among likely voters, the real issue is NOT how many people turnout in the country. Rather, the issue is how the proportion of voters vote in those key battle ground states. After all, if the election were to happen tomorrow and the percentages stayed at 49 to 47, Romney could still feasibly win (sad as that may be). Winning the popular vote doesn't mean all that much now-a-days; just ask Al Gore how that win served him.

    August 24, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Jeff in San Diego

    If Obama had put the crooks on Wall Street in jail. I would have done backflips all the way to the voting booth. I'm voting for Gary Johnson.

    August 24, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  3. William

    Obama holds an almost 10 point lead amongst registered voters. It would be sad if Romney would win just because of low turnout. I guess that's what happens when half the country doesn't vote.

    August 24, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. ValarMorghulis

    I once made the mistake of voting for a Republican. Rather than mimic the insane by repeating that action over and over expecting a different result, I will never vote for another Republican again.

    Vulture/Voucher 2012 Leading America to the Abyss.

    August 24, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  5. Leonard Russo

    No matter what the polls say. OBAMA Will be elected

    August 24, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. Andrew Reese

    Every time I see Obama, I think of the kid in Two and a Half Men...where he is sitting outside with Charlie Sheen and says "Grandma says that you are a bitter disappointment" LOL

    August 24, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. Norma Williams

    I'm not buying into the polls either. Once the public REALLY sees how deceptive, manipulative and an ardent liar the Willard of Oz and his Lady Macbeth REALLY are, they'll run like scared rabbits. Like with George W, my gut is SCREAMING at me that this man is pure evil and that his administration will be the death of true freedom for many nonwhites, other religious/cultural/gende minorities and women. Have CNN call ME and I'll give them an earful at what I think of the Willard of Oz and his evil minions behind the curtain. God help America if he is unfortunately elected.'

    OBAMA 2012. Our very cvil rights, our civl lilberties and our very freedom and democracy depends upon HIS re-election!

    August 24, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. Facts R Facts

    Money can rule the world if you let it.

    August 24, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Leonard Russo

    Romney is not llikeable he is dangerous and looks and acts Dangerous

    August 24, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. Anon 2012

    Invariably a headline at CNN that says the race is tied always means President Obama is till leading.

    August 24, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  11. anonymous

    If CNN publishes a poll that says "it's a tie", then that MUST mean Romney is ahead.

    August 24, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  12. Lenny Pincus

    Obama up 10 among registered voters.

    August 24, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  13. georgex

    Mr. Romney is for the freedom of people not to have medical insurance. Now isn't that great. Everyone needs and most will have it under the Affordable Care Act since regular medical care is necessary for individuals and for a more healthy society. The Republicans are now acting like they are interested in people's health care but nary a positive peep from them before. Desperate they now wish to throw everyone into the tender care of greedy medical insurance companies. Distorted advertising paid by millionaires and billionaires will convince many that the Republican plans are for their own good which, of course, is not true.

    August 24, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  14. Mark

    Romney is struggling to get 5M likes on FB, while Obama has almost 28M,

    August 24, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Jerry

    Wondering about Obama? See Obama 2016. You decide.

    August 24, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  16. IRAYD84U

    Who did this poll romney and ryan.

    August 24, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. John

    Where are you people getting thes stupid polls? . Arizona?

    August 24, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  18. El Kabong

    Keep in mind that younger and educated voters, a demographic Obama has a large lead with are more apt to have cell phones and no land line phone service. So if it's a statistical tie with land line polling only then no doubt Obama has a comfortable lead and these polls are worthless.

    August 24, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  19. cliff

    This headline has been used by cnn since march. lol And that backs my prediction that everyone had already made up thier minds. Dems/Women/Latino/Gay/African American/Senior Citizens will support Obama. Republican/Tea Partier/men/catholic/midwesterners/southerners will back Romney. There will be 0 movement in polls overall. Its 2 pts now, it will be in Oct even after the Debates baring a massive bonejob by Romney or Obama.

    August 24, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. Leonard Russo

    Romney andbryan look un friendly and devioud

    August 24, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Bib Boog

    Hee hee hee...

    And this is your poll. How's about Gallup, Rasmussan and, you were just gloating about it last week...FOX!

    August 24, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. Nietodarwin

    Ryan and Akin are the same sick woman hating individuals of the american Taliban who want to FORCE A WOMAN WHO WAS RAPED TO GIVE BIRTH TO THE CHILD OF HER RAPIST.
    This is the ticket so many white xstian males want to vote for???? Makes me ashamed to be a white man.

    August 24, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  23. Big Bob

    The national nightmare will be over soon, kids...

    August 24, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  24. Wait, you misunderstood.

    I am more and more convinced that it is in the best interest of all media (liberal, conservative middle of the road) to make any and all presidential races "close." It it were a runaway, then they would have nothing to report. Remember in 2008 when we all thought we would be up until 4 am... waiting for the nail biter to be decided? Yeah.. me neither..heck we had a celebration dance in the streets, listened to long concession speech and one exceptionally long victory speech and still were in bed by 11.

    August 24, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  25. Artr

    The national polls can be misleading as to what's really going on.If you look at the polls in the tossup states, which are almost totally based on likely voters, except for NC, Obama is tied or ahead in every other tossup. Ohio is an important one that leans heavily to Obama.

    August 24, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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