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. nedlilly

    This poll is a disgrace. How can you possibly justify oversampling Democrats by ELEVEN POINTS??? That's several points more than the high-water mark of 2008 – do you really think that's even close to reality? It's hard not to come to the conclusion that you've got your thumb on the scale for Obama – and come Tuesday night, you're going to have a lot of explaining to do.

    November 4, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  2. Jan

    The only thing that is really important is the outcome of a few states and I think Obama will take those states. Who cares if the whole swath of the central US is too ignorant to vote for President Obama. Thank goodness for the northeast and the west coast. When Ohio goes for the president it will be over. If Romney can't win his two home states (Michigan and Massachusetts) and the SLC paper is endorsing President Obama...then really it is over.

    November 4, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  3. DC

    Bill Clinton told an audience in NC that the Democrats are "just getting warmed up" in a reference to their fiscal policies. What a terrible thought...just terrible!

    November 4, 2012 10:42 pm at 10:42 pm |
  4. A.Yeshuratnam

    This poll will not be correct because it is based on live telephone interviews on landlines and cell phones among some randomly-chosen likely voters nationwide. Telephone interviews will not reveal the race or religion of voters. African-Americans and Muslims will respond in favor of Obama (example Colin Powell). But if a cross section of American voters is interviewed, the voting pattern will become different. In Ohio, for instance, Whites belonging to Democratic party have switched over to Republican after the betrayal of Powell. Literate and politically conscious American voters who had already decided after the first debate will never change their minds. This is quite transparent from the huge crowds that cheered Romney in his meetings, even after Obama’s artificial, hypocritical and orchestrated sympathy before video cameras for Sandy victims. In such a calculation, Romney will have seven points more than Obama. This is going to happen on November 6.

    November 4, 2012 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  5. TJ

    Sample size of 41% Democrat, 30% Republican and 29% independent. If one thinks that there will be +11 D turnout in 2 day there is Nigerian Prince that has some money for you as well. And when Romney wins by 5-10 one hopes you are not leading the cries of stolen election.

    November 4, 2012 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |

    Mr Obama, your pink-slip has been prepared and going thru American people signature within the next 48 hours. Your last day at work is January 2013.... bye ....bye.... This is American way: NO deliver at work, you are out of the door, period. American are sick up to our stomach with lip-servicing and empty promises.

    November 4, 2012 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  7. Adricke

    Obama gon win i believe in him

    November 4, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  8. Commensense

    I have been watching this election very close, every person has a right to their opion, I have listen to both sides and have came to the conclusion, there has got to be only 2 reasons why anyone would vote for Romney, 1 because he is not white or 2 as humans we want change yesterday, I keep hearing the same thing that the President is blaming Bush, he is calling it for what it is The trueth, Bush was one of the worst Presidents the US has ever had, he was for the rich, he lied about weapons of mass derstruction to put us in 2 wars that should have never happend, he put our economy that was almost as bad as the depression, the housing market collapsed, the list gose on, the President is not perfect, but he has brought the US on a road to recovery and he does care about 100 percent, not just those that are wealthy. Romney has yet to give a specific plan except to lower taxes for he wealthy, he has changed his positions, I don't think he even knows what he stands for. We need to keep moving Forward, not reverse

    November 4, 2012 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  9. dotheflippin'math

    This is a good example of fair, objective and impartial reporting. Hey, Fox, I hope you're taking notes! I read your mobile news site every day, along with CNN's. I think your Science section is great. Unfortunately, there is NOTHING "fair," nor "balanced" about your political reporting, nor your "Opinion" section. The country is clearly split right down the middle. How can you possibly claim to be fair, or balanced, when almost every single Opinion article for the past several months has been Pro-Romney, or Anti-Obama. Your news articles have about a 95% slant to the right. Your latest "Bias Alert" column only reports articles or news that your editors feel unfairly favors The President. Are you blind to your own bias? To favor a candidate is one thing, and I think even that is wrong for a news source, but you step way over the line when you very actively campaign for your preferred candidate, completely ignore any contradictory opinions, and then have the nerve to post "Fair and Balanced" on every page. Really, is that supposed to be some kind of joke? They say the lowest levels of hell are reserved for the hypocrites. I don't believe in hell, personally, but if there really is such a place, may you get your just desserts. I pray most people aren't fooled by your ridiculous assertions and one-sided reporting, because that's all I can do. CNN, keep-up the good work, but you could learn a few things from Fox's science section, which is ironic considering many of their articles would be considered blasphemous by many of their fundamentalist readers. My opinion/take: Fox and the GOP are "in it for the money." Romney isn't nearly right-wing as he had to pretend to get nominated. Does he have any real solid opinions on anything, or does he just play to the crowd? If he wins, I PRAY he plays to the crowd when leading, not the folk who would ban unions, abortions (even in rape/incest), and is it ridiculous to expect food and shelter in our great country? How about medical care for kids and seniors?

    November 4, 2012 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  10. ScientistGuy

    Doesn't anyone else smell corruption here?
    I feel compelled to point out he statistical odds that a two-way tie might occur in three consecutive United States Presidential elections in a row would be beyond miniscule. Particularly, in light of the fact that an estimated 30 million illegal aliens have entered the country over the past eight or ten years. Crank up those old Diebold voting machines for the RNC again,,,, its time for another fun filled episode of "button-button-...who's got control of the button?"... or in other words "Its the RNC's way or the hi-way" or "A hacking they will go... a hacking they will go... hi-ho the dairy-o, a hacking they will go...!" It wouldn't surprise me if they both think they have the ability to hack them... and a numerical firefight breaks out on election evening. You watch.. it'll look like an eBay battle for the last bid on a precious stone.

    The USA is in for a rude awakening, once the financial wine supply from the two political cellars runs out. You can't squeeze tax money from a country without a manufacturing base. It's "third-world" time for the USA folks. Better get used to it.

    November 4, 2012 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  11. lamchops1984

    D+11? How could Wolfie read that with a straight face.

    With an oversample that size you've got to figure they decided ahead of time that they wanted the poll to show a tie and then added Democrats until they got the desired results.

    November 4, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  12. Chick-a-dee

    As dismaying as the poll results may be to those who are tasked with writing news copy the answer to why and how the polls are evenly divided rest with technology. We've been bombarded with campaign news for over a year and are dead tired. smart folks look at caller ID and ignore unfamiliar numbers. The bored or mischievious among us answer the pollsters with nonsense made up on the spot. None of it matters ahead of time and frankly who knows if our votes will be counted properly or at all.

    November 4, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |

    If CNN says it's tied then Romney is ahead by qite a bit.

    November 4, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  14. BBear

    Well that's convenient for good rating on Tuesday.

    November 4, 2012 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  15. FrmerMrine

    "My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard. One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president."

    November 4, 2012 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  16. Ordinary Average American

    Reason NOT to vote for Obama # 27. OBAMA AND HILLARYDEFER NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY TO THE UNITED NATIONS such as in Hillary’s September 24 UN speech last month demanding that the rich of the world must pay more , meaning: “Tax the U.S. and give the money to the UN.” America is the most generous country in the world, but Obama and Hillary think we should give even more!

    November 4, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  17. FrmerMrine

    "I purchased a gun when I was a young man. I've been a hunter pretty much all my life." (Romney's campaign later said he'd been hunting twice, once when he was 15, and once in 2006 at a Republican fundraiser

    "I'm not a big-game hunter. I've made that very clear. I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will."

    November 4, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  18. Ordinary Average American

    Reason NOT to vote for Obama # 26. OBAMA’s DISLIKE for the military. For example: The Department of Defense told military personnel the WRONG deadline date for absentee voting, 7 DAYS LATE, and Military absentee voting is lower this year. A strong U.S. Military prevents war.

    November 4, 2012 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  19. lee

    this just shows how divided the US is. so sad

    November 4, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  20. Jose G.

    Was Gary Johnson included in that poll?

    Gary Johnson 2012.

    November 4, 2012 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  21. FrmerMrine

    "I'm not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there." —Mitt Romney (January 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  22. FrmerMrine

    "As president, I will create 12 million new jobs." —Mitt Romney, during the second presidential debate
    "Government does not create jobs. Government does not create jobs." —Mitt Romney, 45 minutes later (Oct. 16, 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  23. DWM

    DEM +11 really? And poll showing Romney with a 20+ lead with independents and it is tied? really???

    November 4, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  24. FrmerMrine

    "It's hard to know just how well [the 2012 London Olympics] will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging." –Mitt Romney, insulting Britain on the eve of the Olympics by suggesting the country is not ready, NBC News interview, July 25, 2012

    November 4, 2012 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  25. FrmerMrine

    "I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love." –Mitt Romney (January 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
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