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. gstlab3

    If the corporate stooge obummer does not win there will be rodney king style riots in the streets because the media has put the fake idea of voter fraud in the minds of the brainwashed media watching idiots in the electorate in the inner cities.

    November 4, 2012 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  2. Aces Full

    Do you want a Capitalist or a Marxist in the White House?
    A Mormon or a Black Liberation Theologist?
    A successful Business Man or a successful Community Organizer?
    A self reliance guy or a handout guy?
    A small gov't guy or a big gov't guy?
    A conservative or a secular progressive?

    November 4, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  3. Kim hyun

    I think mitt will win cuz this time us need economic create so he can do that

    November 4, 2012 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  4. drjmng

    What about the independents? Why no mention of them? Is it because they are breaking for Romney?

    November 4, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  5. former gop

    Vote Romney to turn America back into the hands of the 1%ers!!!!!! Regan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. have complied more debt and created the largest trade deficits in our history.

    November 4, 2012 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  6. Mark

    I love Christmas lights! They remind me of.....

    "the people who voted for Obama......."

    They all hang together; half of them don't work,

    and the ones that do, aren't all that bright!

    November 4, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  7. Mark

    Obama supporters are NOT showing up at the polls. Romney by a landslide!

    November 4, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  8. XerXeS_2012

    I think the polls are lying. You cannot tell me that women are actually supporting Romney on women's rights, unless they themselves believe a woman's place is in the kitchen and they should not be paid equally as a man holding same job with same credentials!?!?! Also the current healthcare that covers college kids under parents existing insurance plus pre-existing conditions now covered via Obamacare. Romney will cut or do away with Food Stamps, put healthcare on vouchers (if your bills are more than the voucher, tough you come up with the rest), fed grants for education will be cut, child tax credit will be reduced or taken away. It's asinine to think Romney is ready to be a president!?!?! All of you that sitting back, utilizing these benefits will think Obama will win, yet you yourself are not voting, multiply that by enough folks thinking the same way, he could lose. And then you that did not vote will be the first ones yelling out how did he lose, I don’t understand, what happened, just look in the mirror.

    November 4, 2012 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  9. J

    It takes a +11 point Dem sample to get a tie?

    Oh my, Obama is toast.

    November 4, 2012 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  10. former gop

    Vote Romney to turn America back into the hands of the 1%ers! Regan, Bush Sr and Bush Jr have compiled more national debt and created our ever expanding trade deficit. Let's move forward!!!

    November 4, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  11. al in memphis

    I really wish Obama had been the one with the 47% comment. It would be interesting to see if this would be a close race if Obama had indicated that people who don't make enough to pay taxes are considered irresponsible.
    Really hard to believe you can tell a group of people they are victims minded, lazy and still expect them to vote for you.

    November 4, 2012 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    You are asking me as a semi pro statistician to think that in the wildly variable 50 states in the US that 693 Voters can be a realistic set of numerically sound results to within + or – 3.5 %. In my job I have to consider the population I wish to examine.
    I'm an auditor and use statistics and random sampling techniques to determine how many out of say the voting population ( my case transactions) I need to review with reasonable certainty to say the whole is reasonably OK with a risk sampling error of 3.5 %. 693 out of the US voting population where you have national variables, changing demographics affecting the answer is in my book not only statistically impractical but also misleading, even if you include a probability matrix in arriving at your conclusions.
    PS I do use sophisticated computer programs to determine my sample size. In my case the baseline is 1 specific transaction type in each case, which takes out many variables, you may have to consider statistically.

    November 4, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  13. packerfans

    Go Go Mitt Romney, Vote for Mitt Romney way to white house!!

    November 4, 2012 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  14. COMatt

    Un-reported in this article is that this poll contain a sampling model of Democrats +11. This consisted of 41% D / 30% R and 29% Independents. If true, Obama is in big trouble. Aint no way this electorate is going to be Dems +11. Also, Romney is winning independents by 20isg%.

    Fuel up the jet for the long flight to Hawaii...

    November 4, 2012 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  15. calkinsart

    what a load of b-s-t cnn is lying. creating an artificial tie to make for better news. rom
    ney sucks and this election cannot be bought. which is exactly what will have happened if romney wins.

    November 4, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  16. COMatt

    Un-reported in this article is that this poll contains a sampling model of Democrats +11. This consisted of 41% D / 30% R and 29% Independents. If true, Obama is in big trouble. Aint no way this electorate is going to be Dems +11. Also, Romney is winning independents by 20ish%.

    Fuel up the jet for the long flight to Hawaii...

    November 4, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  17. haloguy628

    CNN is going CYA because they realize that despite their propaganda for the anointed he's going to lose by wide margin. Tomorrow they will say that it's 55-45 for Romney and the election will end up in landslide 60-35 for Romney. Hahaha, this is getting good.

    November 4, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  18. DJ

    Here's why the poll results are flawed. They call landline phones only. Who do you think has more landline phones?
    Youth, who vote lliberal. Or seniors who vote conservative? You do the math.

    November 5, 2012 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  19. Moon

    This article means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The odds of winning updated today by Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight blog in the New York Times (google it) are Obama 85.5%, Romney 14.5%. Obama electoral vote: 306.4 Romney electoral vote: 231.6. He has the popular vote at Obama: 50.5% and Romney 48.5%–that is the only thing that is even remotely close in this election right now. The media are making it sound close even though they know better. It's going to be an electoral landslide for Obama. Even the candidates have known who's won and lost a long time ago.

    November 5, 2012 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  20. billy

    National polls in an election that isn't decided by popular vote. Something doesn't quite add up..

    November 5, 2012 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  21. akmike65

    The Romney supporters will claim that any figures that favor the President are lies from the "lame-stream media" while anything that favors their candidate is gospel truth, even if from the same sources.

    November 5, 2012 12:09 am at 12:09 am |
  22. C-bag

    First comment! Get ready for another stolen election.

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

    Did the American experiment work? After all these years of freedom and a result of freedom has been a small country rising to the most successful, righteous and happy country in the world, until we started over the last century slowly reverting towards the opposite of freedom and that is socialism. Government control and ownership over more and more is what Obama has done and will continue to do.
    Let's show our faith in the America and freedom and vote for Romney.

    November 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  24. jimjones11111

    Do you know why Massachusetts is expected to vote for Obama by an overwhelming 30 point margin? Because they know first-hand how poor Romney leads. Follow the lead of those that know best, and vote as Massachusetts votes.

    November 5, 2012 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  25. Bill Smells

    If the liberal poll says it's a dead heat, then Romney is going to win.

    November 5, 2012 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
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