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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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

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. Chmee

    Obama will probably win the election. But it will be close, only because the Republicans will trot out their propaganda machine of Faux News and Rush Limbaugh who will spout lies and distortions and scare tactics like we've never seen before. They're desperate, they don't want their rich cronies to lose their tax deductions and subsidies. They'll do or say anything to win. They care absolutely nothing about the working people, all they care about is making obscene amounts of money. When will people start THINKING for themselves instead of blindly guzzling the Koolaid? It's just so pathetic.

    October 1, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. The REAL Truth...

    @Four and The Door – Second of all, Mitt Romney is on record saying he will lower taxes 20% for everyone. And he will eliminate a large number of tax breaks for the higher earners so that they end up paying overall about the same taxes as now. How can he do this? By growing the economy and reducing the cost of government. It's something he is very much more capable to manage because of his training, experience and the fact that he is able to work across the aisle to get things done.
    ha! Really?? Must be the same fuzzy math you guys use when it comes to your version of FACT and TRUTH !
    TRUTH is... the 20% tax cut sounds great.. but in typical GOP fashion, like Dubya's TWO wars, it's UNPAID for!
    The only "loophole" identified as a closure candidate is the mortgage deduction.. nothing else. That alone would alienate EVERY homeowner in the US. So let's make sure I understand this.... reduce my taxes by 20%, remove my mortgage deduction, and add $1.5 TRILLION to the deficit in the first year. There's fiscal responsibility for ya!
    And growing the economy? How? With what? The 20% tax cut that will let Mittens and his 1% buddies pay NO INCOME tax?? That would make him one of the 47% he so DESPISES ! Hypocrisy rules OK !

    October 1, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Trace

    What? The way the media was portraying it yesterday was that Obama had it all wrapped up

    October 1, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. DJESQ

    ... "Wasting away again in BarakObamaville"
    ... The ship is sinking and the nation discusses ... the mundane ... the trivial ...
    ... Shame you us ...

    October 1, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Jo

    Obama's lead has diminished, or the bump is now gone. It's going to be a tight race, and I see why. Americans are just not quite sure who has the advantage when it comes to our economy, which is our biggest concern. Obama has not done that well over the past 4 years in getting us out of this unemployment and recession, and Romney has yet to convince us that he has the right plans and experience to do better than Obama. Romney's experience with fixing the olympic committee, Massachusetts government, and corporations has convinced me he can do it, but he needs to do this for more Americans. 🙂

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

    Forget 2012

    Palin / Buchanan 2016
    you betcha...

    October 1, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. rc roeder


    Just a hint, when trying to a parody in black face, make sure all of parts are covered. Your white backside is showing.

    October 1, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  8. 1doctor

    To quote the Repugnicans..... These polls are biased and should not be believed. I bet you won't hear them complaining about this poll!!! They (Repugnicans) see themselves as victims. I am so OVER their whinning..... Limpbaugh, InsHannity, Bortz, ColdHer.... they view themselves as victims.

    October 1, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  9. Obama 2012

    according to the polls , I should be a R/R supporter....white and over 60 ....NOT!!!!!

    I care to much about my SS and medicare and less about being one of the over 50 crowd and being one of the old whiite gang. I vote for what is best for me and mine , not for the rich guys and hoping it trickles down to me!
    Give me a good ole fashion Democrat any day!

    October 1, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. herbsouder

    Hugo Chavez i found someone on here more ignorant than Romney...you.those of you who are thinking about voting for Romney please do a little research and find out what he did to KB toys and a company that was American pad that was located in Indiana.This guy is no good,only out for the money and the hell with everyone else.

    October 1, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. Patrick in Wisconsin

    Of course, conservatives are still going to stick to their time honored claim of "liberal media bias" even though CNN still says it's a tie when Romney trails by 3 points...

    October 1, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  12. Kevin T Baldwin

    Okay. All the media outlets need to get together and get their collective g.d. polls straight because I am so sick and tired of reading "he's ahead...they're tied...he's ahead...they're tied...he's ahead by double digits...whoops, they're tied again." Make up your fricken minds!

    October 1, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  13. Lagos

    Romney needs to absolutely knock it out of the park during the debate and hope for problems with the economy or Obama Administration blunders if he wants to win. He's a mediocre candidate along the lines of McCain, with more baggage than McCain but a MUCH better VP pick. Ryan would have been a risky presidential candidate but he's got the personality and the people skills to do what Romney seems incapable of doing: Explaining WHY (some) conservative ideals affect the common person positively.

    October 1, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    Obama12. Period.

    October 1, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. RudyG

    Billions to failed solar companies. No new tone in Washington. Fourteen million out of work, and a jobs program that creates 1 million jobs at best.No balanced budget in any one of his 4 years in office (where have you gone Bill Clinton?). Loves to redistribute; last time I saw a redistributor it was Fidel Castro. And, to top it off, now we find out he's been lying to the people about Libya. No incompetent from Chicago is going to fool me twice!
    Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice......

    October 1, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  16. Robert

    Hey CNN.. You do know that popular vote doesn't win elections right? It's electorals.. And ummm About that.. 322 for Obama ATM with 191 to Romney. I think this is where the GOP starts playing Taps isn't it?

    October 1, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  17. Terry g.

    The Military are delayed in getting their absentee ballots. Obama’s fingerprints are all over this travesty but he gets away with it. Why? Because he knows the corrupt media won’t call him out on it. He sanctions Fast & Furious to discredit the 2nd Amendment and it takes Univsion to uncover the fact 16 teenagers were massacred with the US sanction guns. He uses the Gulf oil spill to discredit the entire oil drilling industry and fakes “expert” reports from the DOI then refuses to obey a court ruling to issue drilling permits. Why not? He can. He sends out the EPA to “crucify” businesses. Why not? He can. No one in the media cares or investigates. Those on the “right-wing” who do are ignored or smeared as extremists. Even stories which do, through cunning and dogged bravery, break through the membrane of the media into the mass culture — such as ACORN — simply reach a dead end of blamelessness. No one ever connected ACORN to Obama or fashioned a larger piece about the left and how all its subversive satellites connected up to each other and to Obama’s past and intentions. Now ACORN is back with 100 different new names. The only thing standing in the way of utter tyranny now are the debate skills of Romney. But even if Romney wins hands down the media will spin the story anyway Obama tells them to.

    October 1, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. ME

    Romney is going to win. I think he is the he is the lesser of two evils. He has a better chance of getting the economy going. Obama really hasn't done anything in that.

    October 1, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  19. lOOk

    Socialist Elitist or Fascist Imperialist, Which dog will win the day??? If you people really knew what these guys thought to be true about how the economy works,how you all fit in, andwhy it should be kept within that pre-disposed set up. I have no doubt that neither of them would get your vote. So hoist the carrot and full steam to the same place that peanut guy was going to go. No real reformers, let alone a true patriot in the choice. To bad its BOOO time again.

    October 1, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. Surfdog

    Good. It will be a slugfest. Let the best man win. America needs NEW leadership, no more debt , and not more taxes. Obama will continue to win the popularity polls, but cant seem to get in right on the economic front.

    October 1, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. lucianne

    This election is mostly about whether the GOP can keep enough people from voting who don't look like the white man next door. The world is moving on, whether these old men do or not. We can move gracefully, or we can be dragged kicking and screaming and bomb-bomb-boming Iran.

    October 1, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  22. chris l

    During Romney's tenure as Governor of Mass., they were 47th over all amongst all the states in Job creation.

    October 1, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  23. Larry

    Sad very sad I wondered how CNN FOX ABC NBC CBS would get this hipe in the polls down to real terms the truth is and always was is Gov. Romney was always ahead by 8+ points and still is nothing in this race is close it never has been. the polls can not change in two days I know the press thinks the people of this country are stupid enought to always belive them. This may well be but its a sad day when we can't trust the press .

    October 1, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. Lotus6

    It sounds that CNN has a biased and confused polls. They have tried hard to show Romney has the same vote as the president. They know that is not true.

    October 1, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  25. Jeff in Virginia

    "... all tied up..." ok CNN. Whatever you say.

    October 1, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12