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. ken

    Liars all lies. There is no such "Dead Heat". You people (CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, etc) Face it, you all are pathetic liars. Where has the truth gone? Kinda hard to sleep at night, making stuff up, tell americans another round of Bull***. I can't wait til Tuesday night and watch all of you scramble to make more stuff up as to why the election went the way it went. Again, you are all LIARS.

    November 5, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  2. Christopher

    National polls don't mean anything - look at an electoral map, then look at swing state polls. CNN is heavily invested in this dishonest "horce race" narrative, but don't buy into it - it's not a very close election. Obama is probably going to win, while Romney's chances are much smaller.

    November 5, 2012 12:56 am at 12:56 am |
  3. Rasheed

    CNN had declared Obama the loser right after the first debate, even though, IMHO, Obama had not done any worse than Romney in the debate. It seems CNN wants BO to lose – maybe because of his direct and honest approach toward Netanyahu (CN N might think it is disrespectful

    November 5, 2012 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  4. Jackie

    Sure CNN. Translation of this poll: CNN cherry picked one obviously incorrect poll to dupe a few more people into watching its election night coverage.
    Short version of this article: "Please watch CNN Tuesday night."

    November 5, 2012 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  5. Tedp

    Amazing, considering that Obama failed to do something as simple as passing a budget with full control of the house and senate. Nice guy, but Obama is an abject failure as president.

    November 5, 2012 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  6. wisdom4u2

    I'll be so glad when this BS is over....and that's all it is, a bunch of BS. It's just a load of PolyTricks, and it really doesn't matter who you vote's going in the direction of who has the most 'special interest' groups monetary backing. But, I guess I have to do my duty as an American citizen.... Crap!

    November 5, 2012 01:02 am at 1:02 am |

    where was this poll taken?

    November 5, 2012 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  8. annieL

    We seriously need to shorten the presidential election campaign season, by law if necessary, and stop the wasteful spending. It's ridiculous that so much of a sitting president's time and attention is required fund-raising and campaigning when he or she is still supposed to be doing the job we elected them for. One month for primary campaigns, two months for general election campaigns is more than enough to inform voters. The primaries should all be moved up to September with the general election in November. Then all paid political advertising should be banned. A special 24-hr. elections TV station and internet website should be set up and operated by a non-partisan, independent, non-profit foundation and offer equal time/space to all candidates to make their pitches. The news media can do it's part interviewing candidates, explaining and fact-checking their proposals, dissecting their records, etc. Throw in a few televised debates and that's it. Vote.

    November 5, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  9. Michael Ayton

    If you elect this GOP clown you deserve the government you get. Its starting to work, Obama's efforts. If you don't reelect him, I will know that the USA is racist and to religious for your own good. You love God, but only because you say he is white. I know there are some very great people in the states I just hope they win the day.

    November 5, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  10. Joe in Seattle

    I wonder if it's at all frustrating for journalists to keep writing these "it's tied" articles without alluding to fact that statistical analysis of state polls shows that the race is not at all tied. President Obama leads outside of the margin of error in enough swing states to win.

    November 5, 2012 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  11. Singh

    Should be close but look to the Mormon to pull it off. Most of those polls are over sampling Dems by 5-8%.

    November 5, 2012 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  12. Shane

    National polls are pointless in an election determined by states' electoral votes.

    November 5, 2012 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  13. noway

    This poll is highly misleading since it samples democrats at +11% over republicans. How can anyone take the conclusions drawn here seriously?

    November 5, 2012 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  14. JoeySelene

    LOL CNN said poll

    November 5, 2012 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  15. s

    Obama will lead US out of this economic mess.

    November 5, 2012 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  16. confused

    "Fifty-six percent say that Obama has the personal qualities a president should have, with 55% feeling the same about the Republican nominee." 56+55 = 111%? HUH?

    Margin of Error anyone?

    November 5, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  17. Shah

    President Barak Hussein Osama will be the looser

    November 5, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  18. alanjay1

    Who cares what the polling of the popular vote is? That has no bearing on who actually gets elected.

    November 5, 2012 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  19. marjee123

    It's a dead heat alright..Romney's campaign is dead and President Obama's campaign had really HEATED up.

    November 5, 2012 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  20. APM

    Methodology on page 29 notes that of the 1,010 likely voters, 41% were Democrat, 29% were Independent and 30% were Republican......and it's a tie?!

    November 5, 2012 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  21. bangalores

    CNN, we know you're just trying to get a super-ratings night tuesday evening, but the fact is the race is over. Individual state polls > national polls, i'll let you guys do the research/math yourselves. (hint: i don't like either of them)

    November 5, 2012 01:28 am at 1:28 am |
  22. Name

    Forward 2012!!!

    November 5, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  23. Steve

    Obama has already won this election and everyone knows it.

    November 5, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  24. Soundbug

    This is aggravating. Other cites report Obama with an advantage. The republicans are doing everything possible to disenfranchise and turn away voters especially in Ohio and Florida. They're standing in line to vote for up to nine hours. This is criminal and shouldn't be happening in America. Where is the story that says Romney has been charged with an ethics violation and is now an impeachable candidate?

    November 5, 2012 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  25. R Jacobs

    Just watch National Geo's 'Hunt For Bin Laden', and I tell you what, the night that SOB was killed is one one moments that I was proudest of being an American and I will vote for and support the Commander in Chief who green lighted this raid no matter who opposes him.

    November 5, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
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