October 1st, 2012
03:59 PM ET
10 years ago

Battle for presidency remains close in new CNN poll

Washington (CNN) - Two days before the first presidential debate, a new national survey indicates a very close contest between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.

And according to a CNN/ORC International poll, neither candidate appears to have an edge on the economy, which remains the top issue on the minds of Americans and which may dominate Wednesday night's debate on domestic issues in Denver.

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Fifty-percent of likely voters questioned in the CNN survey, which was released Monday, say that if the election were held today, they would vote for the president, with 47% saying they would support Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. The president's three point margin is within the poll's sampling error.

Three other national polls of likely voters released in the past 24 hours also indicate a tight race. The other surveys are from ABC News/Washington Post, Politico/George Washington University, and American Research Group. A CNN Poll of Polls which averages all four surveys plus a Fox News poll released late last week puts Obama at 49% and Romney at 46% among likely voters.

In the CNN/ORC poll, the national horse race stands pretty much where it was just before the two back-to-back party conventions in late August and early September.

"That's a strong suggestion that whatever bounce President Obama received from his convention has, as expected, faded away," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's why they call them 'bounces'."

When it comes to issues, the survey indicates that Obama and Romney are effectively tied when likely voters are asked which candidate would best handle the economy. Romney, however, appears to have an edge on the top two economic issues: unemployment and the budget deficit. Obama, by contrast, has the advantage on a variety of non-economic domestic issues such as education, Medicare and health care, and also polls strongly on taxes, traditionally a GOP issue. All of these issues will most likely be debated by the candidates Wednesday night.

The president has a 52%-45% advantage over Romney on foreign policy, which will be the focus of the third and final showdown between the two candidates on October 22.

But debates are not just about issues; voters judge the candidates' personal qualities as well. Among likely voters, Obama's personal favorability rating is 52%, with 48% saying they view the president in an unfavorable way. The president's numbers are basically unchanged since mid August, before the conventions.

The public is divided on Romney, with 49% holding a favorable impression of him and 50% seeing him in a negative light. Romney's favorable rating was at 50% and his unfavorable at 46% in mid-August.

When the dust settles after the debates, it will all come down to turnout and getting out the vote, and the poll suggests when it comes enthusiasm, neither campaign seems to have the upper hand.

"Only half of Romney's voters strongly supported him in May, but despite that slow start, he now gets the same level of strong support from his voters that Obama enjoys," adds Holland. "And there is no indication of an 'enthusiasm gap', with 65% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats saying they are extremely enthusiastic or very enthusiastic about voting in November."

The poll indicates Democrats overwhelming supporting the president and Republicans overwhelmingly backing Romney, with independent voters going for Romney by a 49%-41% margin, which is within the sampling error for independents.

According to the survey, Obama holds a nine-point 53%-44% advantage among females, with Romney with a 50%-47% margin among men. Romney had a larger edge among men in CNN polling prior to the conventions.

"The president seems to have held onto some of that support among men, opening the possibility that their votes may be in play. Obama also held onto most of his bounce among rural voters, but they are still solidly in Romney's camp. On the other hand, Obama's biggest losses since the Democratic convention have come among lower-income voters and urban residents - two key elements of his coalition," says Holland. "But it's worth noting that support for Obama in those groups is back where it was before the conventions, indicating that the Democratic convention mobilized that portion of the Democratic base but only temporarily."

The president's approval rating in the new poll stands at 49% among all adults, with 48% saying they disapprove of how Obama handling his duties in the White House. The president's approval rating stood at 50%-44% before the conventions.

In addition to the three presidential debates, Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican running mate, face off next week at a debate in Kentucky. The poll indicates that Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 44% saying they see him in an unfavorable way. Ryan has 46%-40% favorable/unfavorable rating.

The CNN Poll was conducted by ORC International Sept. 28-30, with 1,013 adult Americans, including 883 registered voters and 783 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 percentage points for questions only of likely voters.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Mitt Romney • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (293 Responses)
  1. Jersey Girl

    It was too funny when this am on TV they showed Romney from his Oct 18th debate and from January 19th debate. The first one he was trying to talk over Perry, and when asked about his taxes he flubbed his remark, and it was priceless when they showed Santorum's face. The second one is when Romney was speechless & couldn't answer something and looked at Newt and Newt just had to laugh. Old Mitt hopefully will give us more priceless moments in his three upcoming debates. Gettin' my popcorn ready....!

    October 1, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. GOP=Make Believe

    But seriously, does any rational person think Romney has even a slim chance? Wouldn't he just be better off delivering his concession speech on Wednesday night? After all, why prolong the inevitable?

    October 1, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  3. truth hurts

    You forgot to add the costs of two unfunded wars, the Bush tax cuts and Medicare part D
    All of which the DEMOCRATS voted for too!!! Obama said Afghanistan was "the good war"! Democrats don't want to roll back ALL the Bush tax cuts and voted to continue them in 2010! And I don't hear ANY Democrats proposing the repeal of Medicare part D!

    So just what the heck is the point of your lies? To try and pin this all on George Bush????

    October 1, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  4. cash6115

    An alternative headline than the "All tied up", on the front page, would be "Obama up by 6" and it would be making the exact same assumptions about the polling as your headline. How about you say it it according to the AP Stylebook and only call it tied when it is tied. If it's within the MoE, say it is close.

    October 1, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  5. hal

    What? I thought Obama was way in front (6 to 8 points). What happened?! Is the Liberal Media backing down....a little?! Ha, ha!

    October 1, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Dennis you are CRAZY!!!!! Fist off Gas whas NOT under 2 dollars and second the President cannot control gas prices. The ones who do that are Romeny's buddies. stop lieing it doesn't look good!!!!!

    October 1, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. Jersey Girl

    I forgot to say earlier.....Romney has 23 debates under his belt, and has been practicing debating for MONTHS. In this case, I believe that "practice makes perfect" ain't gonna cut it...

    October 1, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. HomeSweetHome

    This is all so funny. Just talked to neighbor who is a Rep that will be voting Dem. My jaw dropped.

    Said she wants to retire in 6 years and knows that Romney want to take her Social Security and Medicare and pay it out to the 1% in tax cuts. She said she is voting in her own best interest and she does not care if the President is "green with purple spots". Her company dropped the company 401K in 2010 citing high cost. They also stopped offering medical benefits for the same reason. Told the employees to sign up for ACA in 2014 if President Obama is reelected. Otherwise they were on their own. She also told me she has not had a pay increase since 2006.

    This is the employer of the future that Romney is talking about, they are saying you are on your own.

    October 1, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  9. Billy

    Boy, I really hope that guy doesn't win.

    October 1, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    he, sorry, didn't finish my sentence lol:

    "For Faux Noise, the model is blatant bias and pandering to the GOP/Teatrolls and they've essentially cornered that market. In order to make up for it, the rest of the MSM has to lpay the false equivalency game, in hopes that treating even the most blatantly false, hyperbolic, fact-vacuum nonsense from the GOP/Teatrolls as though it needs to be discussed as though it's a legitimate point or issue will soak up some of the moderates and conservatives that are left after Faux grabs up most of them."

    October 1, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. janelle

    Statistical dead heat? What happened? According to all the media just a few days ago, this election was over and President Obama was up by 10+ points? Gee, could it be the media is full of it?

    October 1, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. bartman

    Wow, this must of took every once on strength by CNN to post this Article

    October 1, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. Guest

    So all Willard had to do was cry like a little girl that the big bad media is against him and that bumps him in the polls? All polls are FOS. Go ahead CNN, keep propping this whining liar up, his fall will be even steeper come November 6th.

    OBAMA 2012!

    October 1, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  14. NYVeteran

    We have an electoral system. National Polls dont mean anything. Do some elctoral homework with state polls and you wont find many paths to victory for team GOP.

    October 1, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  15. Todd in DC

    Hal, this is a national poll, not state polls in battleground states. Do try to keep up.

    October 1, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  16. Joy

    It was announced today that the government will start finding hospitals if Medicare patients were re-admitted too soon, even if it's a case of life or death. Hospitals and Doctors see the quality of health care going way down if Obamacare remains a law. Romney will repeal Obamacare and replace it with more logical measures to reduce health care costs. He will also keep in place those who will be covered with pre-existing conditions, and those college age can still remain on their parent's policy. All the government regulations will be lifted. In addition, regulations on businesses will lesson with Romney as President. If you want to save our country from being like Greece, please vote for Romney.

    October 1, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. Matt

    Still can't believe half of America wants to keep Obama in office, shows how dumb people are. I'm not saying Romney is best the candidate either, but we've already had 4 years of Obama, do we really want another? I like to see what someone else can do. At this point, if was Obama vs Capt Kangeroo, I'd be voting for the Captain.

    October 1, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. Please self deport Romney

    I thought Romney was trying to tell us the polls are all rigged yesterday.

    Can't have it both ways rotten seeds.

    October 1, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
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