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. FrmerMrine

    "The embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. ... An apology for America’s values is never the right course. ... The statement that came from the administration was — was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a — a severe miscalculation." –Mitt Romney, attempting to politicize the killings of American diplomats in Libya by falsely accusing President Obama of apologizing for America and getting the facts of the situation backwards (Sept. 12, 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  2. Joe Underwater, FL


    November 4, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  3. FrmerMrine

    "When you give a speech you don't go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important." –Mitt Romney, when asked about failing to mention the troops in his nomination speech at the Republican National Convention, Fox News interview (Sept. 7, 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  4. Fadel Fulkerson

    While I do not question your polling results, I am wondering about your continued references to the enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats. Why are we not hearing about the huge disparities in crowd numbers at rallies today?

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

    "I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed." —Mitt Romney, speaking in 2011 to unemployed people in Florida. Romney's net worth is over $200 million.

    November 4, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  6. FrmerMrine

    "[My wife] drives a couple of Cadillacs." –Mitt Romney, campaigning for president in Michigan (February 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  7. FrmerMrine

    "I have some friends who are NASCAR team owners." —Mitt Romney, after being asked whether he follows NASCAR racing (February 2012)

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

    "We have a president, who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps." —Mitt Romney, who has two Harvard degrees (April 5, 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  9. Dynamic

    Lol, who does CNN think they fooling?

    November 4, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  10. FrmerMrine

    "I get speaker's fees from time to time, but not very much." —Mitt Romney, who earned $374,000 in speaking fees in one year according to according to his personal financial disclosure (January 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  11. GovtReform

    For the most part, It's in the bag for the President. He is carrying the meaningful swing States. The only way the Mit-Witt has a prayer is via corruption (ie Dade County Fl). Certainly not out of the realm of possibility. I think, however, if that happens, it will be obvious.....and the backlash will be ugly. I believe the GOP may prefer to destroy this country as opposed being locked out of power for another four years. It's a shame what has come to pass.

    November 4, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  12. FrmerMrine

    "It's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." —Mitt Romney, speaking in 2007 about killing Osama bin Laden

    November 4, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  13. FrmerMrine

    "I'm not familiar precisely with what I said, but I'll stand by what I said, whatever it was." —Mitt Romney (May 17, 2012)

    November 4, 2012 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  14. L S

    49-49 and similar mean NOTHING! It is not the popular vote that matters, it is the Electoral College that matters. So WHERE are those 49% located?

    I suspect the race isn't even close, by the count that actually matters.

    November 4, 2012 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  15. Evil1

    The Romulans wife, son and brother are owners of a Private Equity Fund (named Solamere) which, invests in H.I.G. Capital, which, in turn, holds majority share in Hart Intercivic, the nation’s third-largest voting machine company that owns the notoriously faulty electronic voting machines that will count the ballots in many states, including swing state Ohio, on November 7. Since H.I.G. holds three seats out of the five Board seats of Hart Intercivic, and two of these Board members are major Romney fundraisers, and a third of H.I.G.’s leadership worked at Bain Capital, you are in pretty good shape. But,

    November 4, 2012 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  16. Holly Hilt

    I don't get it CNN. In another story you just posted, you say Obama is, and has been, ahead by a small margin in the same polls. Last week you were saying Romney was ahead. Either make up your minds, or admit that polls mean absolutely nothing.

    November 4, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  17. 1gadawg

    isn't the pres worried that all this campaigning is keeping him off the golf course and raising his handicap?!?!?

    November 4, 2012 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  18. miamigrrrl

    The race is not in a "dead heat". The GOP wants you to believe that so they can steal the election, a la 2000.

    November 4, 2012 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  19. lol


    November 4, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  20. BlueDem1

    The popular vote means nothing (as we learned in 2000). President Obama has the edge in the electoral college. Unless his supporters decide not to go vote, the president will be re-elected on Tuesday.

    November 4, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  21. Phil

    This country is so devided why?
    The truth hurts but here it is. Bush was a very bad president then Obama comes along and people had true hope well four years later we now know he sucks but half the country won't admit it. They say congress won't help him. Well his party had total control the first two years and what happen NOTHING. Obama kept none of his promises and what's so sad is he could of been great . Romney isn't the answer but we have to try something . One day we will all figure it out hate gets you nothing and all we need is a miracle at this point

    November 4, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  22. DJESQ


    vote REVENGE

    it tastes so sweet

    November 4, 2012 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  23. enuff

    I will be so glad when this is over. I am so tired of these stupid polls that allegedly change hour to hour.

    November 4, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  24. LOL

    lol @ CNN

    do your editors or journalist understand basic statistic or even better, basic math??

    November 4, 2012 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  25. virginia girl

    Your polls are crap! Who cares about likely voters? The real voters are going to give Obama 4 more years BY A LANDSLIDE!!!

    November 4, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
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