CNN Poll: Which candidate is better on the issues?
August 26th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
9 years ago

CNN Poll: Which candidate is better on the issues?

Tampa, Florida (CNN) - President Barack Obama has a big advantage over Mitt Romney on social issues and a smaller margin on foreign policy, but according to a new national survey the Republican challenger has the edge on the economy, issue number one with American voters.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Sunday also indicates there are a lot of issues where neither candidate has an appreciable edge, and many of them - including welfare, taxes, health care, and Medicare - have been fodder recently for both presidential campaigns.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

According to the poll, 59% of likely voters say the president would better handle polices towards gays and lesbians, with one in three saying Romney would better handle such policy. And by a 53%-40% margin, they say Obama would better handle policy on abortion. He has a 51%-44% advantage over Romney on foreign policy and a 50%-43% margin over the former Massachusetts governor on terrorism.

"It's not surprising that the administration responsible for Osama bin Laden's death would have an edge on terrorism and foreign policy, but those issues have faded in importance compared to previous elections," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Social issues also appear to be a Democratic strong point."

What about Medicare, which dominated the airwaves immediately after Romney announced House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan as his running mate? The seven-term congressman from Wisconsin has authored a controversial plan to alter Medicare.

The poll indicates voters are divided on which candidate would do a better job on Medicare, and health care, another major flashpoint for years.

What about welfare, a major topic recently in TV ads from both presidential campaigns?

Fifty-one percent said Obama would do a better job, with 47% saying Romney would better handle the issue. The president's four point margin is within the poll's sampling error. The president has a six point advantage on energy, the subject of a major Romney rollout last week.


"That used to be a Republican issue, but the Democratic push on Romney's tax returns and Obama's position on tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 may have blunted that," adds Holland.

The poll indicates this is not the case for the federal deficit, which has typically been a good issue for the GOP and it remains so today. According to the survey, Romney holds a ten-point lead on that, as he does on illegal immigration.

It may all come down to the economy, where Romney currently has a 50%-46% margin over Obama. That is within the poll's sampling error.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from August 22-23, with 1,055 adult Americans, including 924 registered voters and 719 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

soundoff (56 Responses)
  1. Tom

    I have not heard a Romney plan on anything. The only thing I have heard from him is criticism of his opponent and that he is the better candidate because of his business experience that includes hiding income in the Islands and Switzerland and paying from 0 to 13% in federal income tax on a tax rate of 34% on millions . Most of my working years I paid from 15% to 21% on a lower middle class income. It is time that the wealthy step to the plate and pay their fair share. No more welfare for the wealthy. Is Romney going to address that? I think not and I will vote for Obama.

    August 27, 2012 05:53 am at 5:53 am |
  2. Jake

    Republicans want to hang our huge deficit on Obama; with statements like from the time he was elected the deficit has gone up... come on get REAL , it was the Republicans that started two wars and while at the same time lowered taxes. It was Republicans that sent Billions overseas instead spending it in the US... of course the results were a Huge Deficit and the worse Recession since the Great Depression.

    It was the Republicans that were in control during the Bank and Wall Street melt down and Republicans that started the bail out. It is under Obama that both Wars are ending. It is under Obama that Job creation turned from negative to positive. It is under Obama that we took out most of the Terrorist that were responsible for attacks against the US, including their leader. It was under Obama that the Bail out went from a give away to a plan that the US Gov't limited the outrageous bonuses and is now making a profit on. It was Obama that Saved GM which is now back as the largest Auto Mfg in the world. All this plus getting Universal Health passed which will in the long run help everyone in the Country. All while Republicans are fighting him on everything. The biggest fear of the far right GOP is not that Pres Obama will hurt the Country, their biggest fear is that he will be a success. That is why they are doing everything they can to make him look bad, even if it means hurting the Country.

    August 27, 2012 06:03 am at 6:03 am |
  3. taxweary1

    How can gay and lesbian issues,rights or whatever that affect the 2% of our country be even addressed at the same importance or priority as the other 98% fighting for jobs,battling the economy and trying to pay for food and fuel???Im not anti gay but my wife and I need jobs and the kids need food and clothes and no i dont want welfare! Somebody needs to focus again and address real issues!

    August 27, 2012 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  4. koali

    1,055 voters does not impress me as a reasonable sample of this nation's voters.

    August 27, 2012 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  5. SPW

    Can't we agree they're both simply terrible?

    I'm surprised Mittens is the best candidate the GOP can help push forward

    Better than someone like Rick Perry, I guess.

    August 27, 2012 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  6. mikesmith524

    As an individual from New Zealand what I look for in a USA President is someone who has the nation at heart, first and foremost (if the USA does well so does the rest of the western world) secondly the US needs friends throughout the world, particuarly where few exist such as the middle east, friends like Israel. Thirdly the US need a President of integrity.
    Which do you believe is the President that meets these points?

    August 27, 2012 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
1 2 3