November 4th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN National Poll: Dead heat between Obama and Romney

Washington (CNN) - It's all tied up, according to a new national poll released two days before the presidential election.

And the CNN/ORC International survey not only indicates a dead heat in the race for the White House, but also on almost every major indicator of President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney that was tested in the poll.

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Forty-nine percent of likely voters questioned say they support the president, with an equal amount saying they back the former Massachusetts governor.

The poll is the fourth national non-partisan, live operator survey released Sunday to indicate the battle for the presidency either a dead heat or virtually tied. A Politico/George Washington University survey has it tied at 48%; an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicates Obama at 48% and Romney at 47%; and the latest ABC News/Washington Post tracking poll puts Obama at 49% and Romney at 48%.

A Pew Research Center survey also released Sunday indicates the president at 50% and the GOP challenger at 47%, which is within the survey's sampling error.

CNN's final poll before Election Day indicates a gender gap.

"Fifty-three percent of women saying they plan to vote for President Obama compared to only 44% of men. That works out to a nine-point gender gap, which would be the largest since 1996," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "On age, Obama is getting less support among younger voters than he did four years ago. But he manages a tie with Governor Romney among senior citizens - a group he lost to Senator McCain by eight points."

According to the survey, Romney leads Obama 57%-40% among white voters. Obama tops Romney 56%-40% among voters making less than $50,000 per year, with Romney holding a 52%-47% edge among those making more than $50,000 per year.

The poll also indicates geographical divides, with the president leading in the Northeast, Midwest, and urban areas, and Romney ahead in the South, West, and suburban and rural areas.

It's not just the horserace number that's dividing American voters.

The president's favorable rating stands at 52% in the poll, with Romney at 51%. Fifty-one percent say they agree with Obama on important issues and 50% say the same thing about Romney. Fifty-six percent say that Obama has the personal qualities a president should have, with 55% feeling the same about the Republican nominee.

Does either party have an edge on enthusiasm?

According to the poll, the answer is no. Seventy-percent of registered voters who describe themselves as Democrats say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting, with an equal amount of self-described Republicans saying the same thing. Forty-nine percent say they will vote for the GOP candidate for Congress in their district; 48% say they will choose the Democrat.

But there are a few advantages for each candidate. On the one hand, the number of Americans who think things are going well in the country has risen 10 points since August, to 46% - the highest number since April, 2007.

But that doesn't mean Americans are feeling better about the economy - seven in ten say it is in poor shape, unchanged since September. And more people say that the economy will improve if Romney is elected than feel that way about an Obama victory. And the economy remains the number-one issue on the minds of American voters, with 61% saying it's extremely important to their vote. The deficit is second in importance at 55%, followed by health care at 51%, foreign policy at 47% and Medicare at 46%.

Obama's approval rating is also over the magic 50% mark, but just barely: 51% of all Americans approve of how he is handling his job as president, which doesn't give him a lot of breathing room.

While the president and Romney's favorable ratings are nearly identical, the Democratic Party is viewed more favorably than the GOP.

"That's something which might help Obama in an extremely close race," says Holland. "Obama also has inevitability on his side: 57% say he will win another term, compared to only 36% who think Romney will win. And with only 4% saying that they might change their minds before Election Day, time is running out to make that closing argument."

Other findings from the poll: Only 12% of Obama supporters say they're casting their ballot as a vote against Romney. By comparison, 37% of Romney supporters say they're casting their ballot as a vote against the president.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 Senate seats are up for grabs on Tuesday. According to the poll, only 17% say they approve of how Congress is handling its job. Twenty-eight percent say they approve of how GOP leaders in Congress are handling their jobs, with 37% saying the same thing about Democratic congressional leaders.

The CNN poll was conducted November 2-4 by ORC International, with 1,010 adult Americans, including 918 registered voters and 693 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error for likely and registered voters is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Mitt Romney • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (624 Responses)
  1. giftedgirl77

    National polls are crap. If you want to see who is really going to win go to or (spoiler alert it's Obama with well over 300 electoral votes and Romney with less than 270).

    These guys use all of the polls and factor in the margin or errors as well. Nate Silver predicted all the Senate races correctly in 08 and 49 out of 50 of the states for the pesidential race all within 1 percent.

    I know a lot of you die hard rethugs don't want to hear it but come tomorrow even Faux will have to admit Robme's defeat.

    Better luck in 2016, maybe you all can find someone that can keep his head out of his a$$ long enough to keep his lies straight.

    Obama 2012

    November 5, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  2. Bruce

    This article is true but inaccurate, and in this sense is a bit disingenuous. Yes, the race is very, very close. However it is not a dead heat. In virtually all of the polls over the past week or two, Obama has been ahead by 1 or 2 points nationally. The margin of error that all pollsters add as a caution, applies only to the one poll to which it refers. When there is a consistent pattern demonstrated on a wide variety of polls, the margin or error disappears. A victory by one or two per centage points is the norm in American politics. Winning by 5-7 points is considered a landslide.

    This is just as true in the state polls. With only a few outliers, Obama has been consistently ahead in every Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nevada poll since August (enough to win the electoral college). In Pennsylvania, which CNN now calls a toss-up because Obama is "only" five points up, we should remember that with the exception of 2008, Democrats have consistently won there with less than four per centage points.

    Romney can certainly win, but his odds are looking very long. The polls do not show a dead heat, but a close election where Obama has been consistently ahead.

    November 5, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  3. popseal

    Obama isn't the problem. He's only a symptom of the disease. The culprit is a mind set toward government dependence. Any citizen that waits for the government to do for them what they should do for themselves, will vote for the 'Bam ilk and live in a state of constant indignation and disappointment. Honest self provision is the dignified way to go through life. Ethical free market capitalism based on "Thou shall not steal", "If a man doesn't work, neither should he eat!", "Give to them that are weak, from a loving soul" excludes the governement bureaucrat and them that sell their vote to him.

    November 5, 2012 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  4. gahh

    If Obama looses, it's his fault. Why do politicans make promises, then once in office forget everything, until election time again? Many of the people in New York and New Jersey, are still looking for the help he promised. On Cnn yesterday, one family in N Ysaid, they haven't seen FEMA or the Red Cross.

    November 5, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  5. robnnorl

    Listen, CNN would love for everyone to think it is such a close election, because it gets more people interested in watching 🙂 But, the fact is, and has always been, it is not that close "electoral" wise. See, in the great USA in 2012, we STILL don't elect the President by popular vote, as we do everyone else. I have no idea why we didn't change that when Bush and Gore battled, because Gore actually got more people to vote for him overall. So, when they say it's neck and neck, it is pure HYPE and not reality "electorially" speaking.

    November 5, 2012 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  6. geraldine madding

    Stacey dash is clueless and she is voting for clueless romney. Wow.

    November 5, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  7. Similar12313

    this is unbelievably disingenuous. CNN knows that Obama is way ahead in the electoral count–the only thing that really matters–but it wants people to come back and click on their articles (i.e., ad revenue). Nate Silver–probably the best non-partisan pollster–gives Obama +80% chance of winning. That's not a dead heat.

    November 5, 2012 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  8. Ron

    CNN is ignoring the Electoral College where President Obama is leading easily. Romney is done since he's not close in the swing states he needs. Just got to the '538' polling website to get all the facts.

    November 5, 2012 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  9. Tom in Indy

    If your are going to articulate a point it helps to be correct. The reason for over sampling is to match the probable turn out among likely voters , (not registerd)
    In 08 the Dems turned out +7 in general. In 2010 they runed out +1 .
    Allinidcations is that +4 would even be a strecth .
    It makes look CNN Look silly at best.
    Worse off for the President is CNN weighting of the 40% independents is that they are saying independents will split .
    This would be normal .. However Romney is up 22 with independents!!!
    That means +8 on dependents for R.

    November 5, 2012 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. Ulvskog

    There is something wrong in this country.. When Gordon Gekko is possibly forty eight hours away from winning the White House.

    November 5, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  11. pat pat

    Shocking that its a tie on this cnn poll.

    November 5, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  12. mikey

    Funny, nothing on the percentage of Blacks voting for Obama.

    November 5, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Linda

    I bet the USA spends more money and time on it's election than any other country in the world. Lots of money spent on lies. We're a nation who has a heavy debt.....why can't we demand to have campaigning done in only 3 months and overturn the Supreme Court decision on amount of money spent on campaigns? We have a lot better things to do with our money and time. .

    November 5, 2012 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  14. Veritas

    Keith writes – " It is all about the electoral college and how swing states vote. Obama has this one locked up."

    I thought it was about the expressed will of the people? And I remember Dems saying that electoral college victories, in defiance of the popular vote = and illegitimate, stolen Presidency. Have your view "evolved" like Obama's historic flip-flop on gay marriage...or was it all just fake rage all along?

    November 5, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  15. pcalif

    This is an old poll and besides national polls aren't that interesting. CNN is doing its level best to keep Romney supporters interested (as usual).

    November 5, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  16. nmdave

    Polls, Polls, Polls,...Let me tell you my wife is a registered Democrat and voted for Romney. So tell me Polls how do you score that??

    November 5, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  17. zeb

    @lisajt: Ever wonder why there are more registered Dems than Repubs? Perhaps the nature of the Repubs has something to do with it?

    November 5, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  18. Mike Jones

    What's the difference between a communist and a liberal? There is none.

    November 5, 2012 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. noel

    ROMNEY in a landslide!!!

    November 5, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  20. noel

    Mike, socialism is no more than the bait for are right!!!

    November 5, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  21. Scrappyike

    Really? A resident of the the White House garnering barely half of the this really the sign of a successful President?

    November 5, 2012 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  22. jj19549696

    Five hundred retired generals and admirals are running an ad in Monday's editions of The Washington Times calling on the country to elect Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday.

    November 5, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  23. Bill

    You skewed the polling data to give Dem voters an 11% advantage. Your poll is a lie. Tick Tock Tick Tock

    November 5, 2012 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  24. beevee

    I think November 6 will be the last day in politics for the flip-flopping political chamaleon Romeny. Throughout his campaign for the last two years or so no one knows for sure what he stood for and what his core values are. He changed his stand on issues so often and so quickly even a chameleon could not change its color as rapidly as Romney changed his positions. It is going to be Obama 2012 – 2016.

    November 5, 2012 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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