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. Justice

    Roonney has all it takes and decieves the presidency he's the best man for nation

    November 5, 2012 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  2. Kamal

    From all indications, l give it to Obama

    November 5, 2012 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  3. dhf

    No mention of the electoral college here, where Obama has a strong lead. More worthwhile to go over to 538 dot com.

    November 5, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  4. Anonymous

    I'm growing tired of this disingenuous and misleading portrayal of the race. Sure, the popular vote might be tied, but why isn't there a single mention of the electoral college where Obama holds a pretty solid lead and is looking more and more like the victor every day? It's not a head-to-head, toss-up, neck-and-neck horse race to the finish. To present it as such is no better than what Fox News does when it spins the news into total fabrication.

    November 5, 2012 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  5. havanaclipper

    The polls are NOT strictly speaking a dead heat – as the popular vote does not elect the president. In reality the projected electoral votes are far from being a dead heat – in fact, Obama is ahead in these projections 306 to Romney's 232 - with a statistical chance of winning the election 85.5% to Romney's 14.5% (NY Times) Sorry, CNN. Reporting on the state of the popular vote, especially from the statistical bias of single poll, is disingenuous. Historically, the popular vote has always been close but there is pretty wide margin in the electoral count. Let's check back on Wednesday morning, shall we?

    November 5, 2012 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  6. Pete Castelli

    Wow, stunning we never knew CNN would declare a "tie" heading into the final day to drive up viewership, ha ha ha ha ! no way, will CNN own up when Obama has a solid win or near landslide in the electoral college to faulty predictions? Phone polling is only so useful and cannot read the real ground game and/or which camp is a turning out. Dems or Republicans do not share inside info with the media. what a hoax, lie and fantasy by this bereft of truth or integrity of a news organization.

    November 5, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  7. josh rogen

    I just saw Bill Clinton on cnn doing a stump speech for Obama and I was shocked at how bad he looked and how confused and old he sounded. I don't agree with most of what he says these days, but have always liked him.

    November 5, 2012 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  8. Dick Guzinyia

    It is "Four dead Americans in the Libyan heat" thanks to the feckless Narcissist in the WH.

    November 5, 2012 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  9. Dick Smegma

    What, no Benghazi disinformation today?!

    November 5, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  10. perrochato

    It is like Senator Ted Kennedy said to Willard in a senatorial debate. I'm pro-choice, your multiple choice

    Obama --vs-- Romney
    Earthling Alien
    Believes Science Denies Science.
    Loves All Women Prefers the 50's model only
    Advanced Education Dingbat Training
    Wears Baseball Hat Wears Tin Foil Hat
    Can talk to the avg American Even a Donut is Foreign to him
    Will Have a Beer Wont go near a Beer
    Graceful Walk & Stride Tightwad oldman baby steps
    Cool Under Fire Sweaty in the Vicinity of Pressure
    Some Real Cajones Hides behind the Skirt
    Killed Osama Bin Laden Wants to meet Osama after the fact
    Loves Dogs Hates Dogs
    Would Vote for Him No Desire to Meet Him

    Who would trust to help you fix a flat? Thought so, let Obama finish helping us fix America too.

    November 5, 2012 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  11. Randy Edwards

    CNN realizes that internet viewers have access to polling models which take the electoral college into account, right? And that calling the race a dead heat is laughable?

    November 5, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  12. Dick Smegma


    November 5, 2012 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  13. HomeBoy

    It is utterly shocking that the race is even this close. We have an empty suit as a president and is more interested in his celebrity than being a leader for our nation. One and done!

    November 5, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  14. Francis Smith

    I see that your poll sample is 41% Democrat, 30% Republican and 29% Independent. Is a Democrat +11 sample really sound in the context of this election? After all, those are better numbers than in 2008, when Obama was riding the crest of a political wave. Surely a Dem +3 or so is the biggest difference, in which case Romney wouldn't Romney be ahead by quite a bit?

    November 5, 2012 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  15. Chris Hatton

    Who's voting for Willard? Come on, be honest!

    November 5, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  16. Mike

    No matter which one wins, we all lose.

    November 5, 2012 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  17. Peter Roub

    I'll vote for Mitch, just as long as be doesn't bomb any Country that israel tells him to. We've shed enough American blood for the country of israel, already. It's time to bring our Troops home, and begin worrying about our OWN country, for onece!

    November 5, 2012 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  18. billy D

    The polls in the swing states are what is important and Obama has the lead in the majority of them. Ohio is closer but doubtful Romney will see a surge and if he loses Ohio his chances are at about 10% he can win election. He would need a miracle or Pennsylvania maybe, but that I afraid is a pipe dream .

    November 5, 2012 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  19. SZ

    how about no, not at all. all of the swing states except NC and FL and possibly VA are going blue. the electoral numbers wont be anywhere near 50/50. cnn is a joke this election cycle. check out fivethirtyeight dot com

    November 5, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  20. Name Robert

    Obama/Biden 2012

    November 5, 2012 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  21. Mark

    As others have noted on other websites, the likely voter split in this poll appears to be 248 Democrats, 208 Republicans, and 201 independents, or 41%/30%/29%. The Gallup polling data and other data with regard to party ID are not consistent with a D+11 split. Something seems to be off with the selection of the sample. I am not saying that there is any intentional slanting of the result, but it is hard to see this as a representative sample. Perhaps someone with CNN or ORC Int'l can comment.

    November 5, 2012 02:01 am at 2:01 am |
  22. ***

    i can't see this country going republican again. i just can't.

    November 5, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  23. ***

    unless they just flat out buy it. which appears to be likely evidently.

    November 5, 2012 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  24. Henry Lubbe

    This is all just media hype OMG ITS TIED WHO KNOWS WHATS GOING TO HAPPEN. Barack wins another 4 years then he will be gone repeat all this nonsense again.

    November 5, 2012 02:05 am at 2:05 am |
  25. Wilbur in Seattle

    Obama wins electoral college. Hillbillies and uneducated folks put on their super-troll pants and hate everything for a few weeks. Eventually right-wingers return to their normal lives of blaming their problems on government and guffawing over Limbaugh jokes until they can decide on a new conspiracy. Americans go back to ignoring right-wingers so we can focus on rebuilding America.

    November 5, 2012 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
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