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. Samie Freeman Something to read before Tuesday. Help spread the word.

    November 5, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  2. Name

    Nonsense...this is over.

    November 5, 2012 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  3. Truth

    "According to the survey, Romney leads Obama 57%-40% among white voters."
    That single statistic alone proves obama is done for. He cannot win without the majority White vote.

    November 5, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  4. steven

    Don't let a handful hispanics of change America's destiny, and a shameless president who sells out America to get those votes. We have been charmed / con'd long enough.

    November 5, 2012 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  5. Lee Oates

    The Republicans are altering the poles to cover up the reality of voter fraud on election day. They have machine rigged the electronic voting machines in favour of Romney, and suppressed the voter participation. They are about to steal the election. I hope the justice system keeps close watch and starts putting those traitors in prison for interfering with the people's right to vote.

    November 5, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  6. jOHN

    I'd like someone to address to possibility of if Pres. Obama wins re-election, and with the new evidence showing there was a White House cover-up on Benghazi (CBS 60 Minutes Video), is there the potential he can be impeached and removed from office? This is important, as our next President could end up being Joe Biden.

    November 5, 2012 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  7. Bossman

    With 11% more Dems in the survey. Nice try covering for Obama, CNN.

    November 5, 2012 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  8. markadler

    Sigh. The popular (total) vote does not elect the President. So this poll is meaningless. This is just CNN putting out news to get people to want to read more news by making it more sensationalistic than it is. This makes it sound like a really close nail-biter, when in fact it's not close at all.

    What matters are the state polls and the electoral votes. When you look at who has what states and add them up, then you get a totally different picture. Obama has better than a 98% chance of winning. See .

    November 5, 2012 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  9. Jim

    The article references the percentage of white voters for each candidate. It does not mention the percentage of black voters for each candidate. Why? Another example of selective reporting?

    November 5, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  10. Anonymous

    not true

    November 5, 2012 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  11. 66Biker

    What difference does it make? No matter which one of them "wins", Americans will still have all the same problems. And neither of them can fix them without a Congress in which the members are willing to work with each other, put their party politics aside, and do what is best for the country. With our current "do nothing" Congress, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.

    November 5, 2012 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  12. Larry Gily

    I'm always amused by the so-called pundits and news services that either don't understand the science behind national and state polls, or that simply ignore that science because they want people to think the race is closer than it is so that folks will stay tuned to that pundit or news service. Anyone who looks at either of the two leading scientific poll aggregators (Nate Silver's NY Times 538 blog or the Princeton Election Consortium) will know at least two things: that the national polls don't really matter, and that a popular vote tie at this point indicates that Obama will very likely have a strong electoral vote victory (probably at least 300 EV).

    November 5, 2012 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  13. Al

    CNN, what have you become? Piers has Michael Moore on AGAIN within 48 hours – tonight calling most Americans, the same country that voted for President Obama, a bunch of racists now because he is not delivering on the job. Don Lemmon, a week ago, pretending to present the news shifts to a live feed from Orlando where the President was landing. He pauses and says "There he is, the leader of the free world". The only thing missing was a tear in his eye. What on earth are you doing? Is journalism dead. I expect this nonsense from Fox and MSNBC but you are now resorting to the predictable race card play during the last few days. I get that your reporters have an opinion but tell them to contain it and report the news. Somewhere, there has to be one outlet for news, not constant opinion. I am going with BBC now to learn US News.

    November 5, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  14. American Dreamer

    National polls are meaningless in this race. What matters is how the race is shaping up in the swing states where Obama is pulling ahead.

    I would love to see the day where we have a true national election and dump the electoral college

    November 5, 2012 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  15. Anonymous

    If Romney is tied in this poll with it's 11 point skew in favor of the Dems this thing won't be close. Batten down the hatches before Tuesday, it's Hurricane Willard."

    November 5, 2012 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  16. Texan

    Didn't receive my mail-in ballot that I sent out for last week from the Denver Airport to be delivered to the hotel where I've been waiting, while travelling out of the county/state. Thanks Texas Secretary of State/Travis County Early Voter Registrar. I'll be heading back to Austin to cast my vote on Tuesday in person.

    November 5, 2012 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  17. I am a Nigerian and also a Democrat

    I love the race to the white house because i'ts just gets better and better everytime.

    November 5, 2012 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  18. Greenspam

    It's the lack of education in America that people choose Romney. People complain "government spending doesn't benefit me".. DUH! There is a complete lack of education on macro economics – guess people slept through high school.

    November 5, 2012 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  19. Sam

    Surprise! 35% voting against Obama, not for America .. Sounds like typical g.o.p to me. But how could anybody really vote for Willard??

    November 5, 2012 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  20. Orion

    A national poll doesn't really matter. As we saw in the 2000 election with gore and bush you can win the popular vote and still lose the election. Obviously what really matters is how the swing states turnout, and I think Obama has an edge over Romney in that regard.

    November 5, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  21. zapper

    Obama by 3 points.

    November 5, 2012 12:47 am at 12:47 am |
  22. Vickie byers westmoreland

    On tuesday i will vote for obama in north- carolina

    November 5, 2012 12:49 am at 12:49 am |
  23. Dave

    Any reason in particular why no one mentions this in the story?

    "Among those likely voters, 41% described themselves as Democrats, 29% described themselves as Independents, and 30% described themselves as Republicans."

    A D +11 poll, and it's TIED????

    November 5, 2012 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  24. electricgrendel

    Wow. And this number would even be relevant if we elected our president by national, popular vote. The traditional media wants this to be a horse race because it's profitable for them if people think it is a horse race. The electoral college math is not, by any stretch of even the most fertile imagination, a dead heat.

    November 5, 2012 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
  25. JWoody907

    My question is this, CNN/ORC admitted a GOP-leaning bias in it's reaction polling to the debates, what if anything, has been done to correct the GOP bias in polls released since?
    Essentially, how do we know one way or the other that this poll is now an accurate representation of the facts, considering the huge flaws seen in Debate 2's polling numbers you released against those of other groups?

    November 5, 2012 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
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