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. silentcount

    America can't survive 4 more years of Obama. Please vote for Romney. Obama can do his thing somewhere other than the white house.

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

    Time for the 47% to vote!
    Time for the 1% to cash in their chips!

    November 5, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  3. Name gmbhadiza

    Vote for Mitt Romney as president of the USA embrace progress. Romney got the momentum and Godwilling the votes.

    November 5, 2012 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  4. Sirned

    CNN polls are starting to look like Fox polls.... Pretty sad

    November 5, 2012 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  5. Concerned and Confused

    Although the media seems to be ignoring this, shouldn't Obama be impeached for refusing to respond to the request for help from the Benghazi embassy? Quite honestly, at this point I could care less about this election, especially when our government appeared to have ignored pleas for help from American citizens under attach by terrorists. Why isn't someone investigating this?

    November 5, 2012 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  6. nkonge moses kibalama

    iam realy confused with american politics, mitt rommney totaly failed to explain a number of key insues, foreign policy,

    November 5, 2012 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  7. Subtrakt (@subtrakt)

    I was undecided yesterday but I got to thinking..

    Ever go to work and hate the feeling that you're making your boss rich but you are the one doing all the work? I will get that feeling if Romney is elected. Romney has been that rich boss to a lot of people i'm sure.

    It doesn't make sense why this race is so close. The only thing I can think of is the economy or people want the nostalgia of having an old fashion white president who sounds like he's from the 50s.

    -Yes the US economy is slowly growing, but that's only because the rest of the world is holding us back (particularly Europe).

    -Romney is a salesman who is successfully swindling and lying to a lot of people – just compare his file to Obama file at or see how many people are searching for 'romney liar' on google trends. He has taken the lead.
    -Obama started his career from the bottom and worked his way up. Romney had it handed to him leaving him with less troubleshooting experience.
    -I feel we would already be at war with Iran if Romney were president.
    -Romney would have little consideration for the environment – pollution is down 9% under Obama administration... would it be with Romney?
    -Would Bin Laden be dead if Romney were president?
    -Seems like Romney is one of those folks who sells hard earned american achievements and prosperity to foreign business then buys a car elevator for his house.

    November 5, 2012 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  8. Chris

    Vote Obama people!!!!

    November 5, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  9. DCR

    Romney is +22 with Independents, the sample size is D+11 and they are tied? Right. Real Dem turnout might +2 if they are lucky. These polls get more ridiculous every day.

    November 5, 2012 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  10. steve

    If CNN says its tied then that means Romney is actually ahead by at least 10 points.
    Looks like Joe will get a permanent vacation.

    November 5, 2012 02:30 am at 2:30 am |
  11. Wondering

    This poll is D+ 11.... I truly wonder if there is enough enthusiasm on the democratic side to justify this sample. Tuesday will be interesting to watch, no matter who wins in the end.

    November 5, 2012 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  12. lies from cnn again

    cnn poll is full of BS. there is no way there is 49/49. that statistic is just unreal and r tarded. in fact cnn is r tarded for even posting this article. well, i guess cnn is willing to be one to gain some viewers.

    November 5, 2012 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
  13. Anthony

    Obama should be packing up already by now. Don't be a hater!!..Romney 2012!!

    November 5, 2012 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  14. BillFromOhio

    I voted already, and here's the score:
    Obama 2012
    Romney 1040

    I just can't trust him for not releasing those tax returns. What else does he want to hide from us?

    November 5, 2012 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  15. Anthony

    Feel that republican victory machine now!! 61% polled feel the economy is extremely important to their vote and that Mitt will do a better job. Sweet Victory!! Mitt, we love you!!

    November 5, 2012 02:49 am at 2:49 am |
  16. NameGoose

    Obama report card for the last four years is an "F" for failure. He has done nothing to help the economy. Obama has lied to us in regards to so many different things. Also, why did Obama avoid military service. I am the same age as him and have served in the military. Their is NO excuse for him NOT serving! And yes I served in time of war, why has Obama avoided serving. Again, how in the hell can a person even think they should be President (Commander and Chief) if they NEVER spent one friggin day in uniform serving our great country. Romney 2012!

    November 5, 2012 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  17. Rose

    Wait a minute, Obama's running against Romney? I thought Clinton was, you'd think so. 😀 Clinton's loving this, he's probably thinking we all should have voted for Hilary four years ago, might not be in the mess we're in now. LOL I can just hear him.

    November 5, 2012 02:53 am at 2:53 am |
  18. cnn the fail

    nothing positive? lool cnn is so busy censoring their failures. i can't believe this.

    November 5, 2012 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  19. Is this clown really a candidate??

    Honestly, can ANYone in their "heart of hearts" really say they would want Romney as President? When we do some real soul searching for what this country needs to be healthy and get back on its feet, we would be wrong to subject this country to what Romney would give to us. Please on tomorrow dont think of this as a joke or a "vote the party line" think with your hearts and do the right thing, many lives depend on it

    November 5, 2012 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  20. 111Dave111

    Remember to Vote !

    November 5, 2012 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  21. Bristar

    CNN forgot to mention that they were using a D+11 bias on this poll.

    November 5, 2012 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  22. Oh...

    ...thank you so much for the truth.

    November 5, 2012 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  23. john

    2000 all over again...

    November 5, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  24. ScrewCnn

    No crap it's a dead heat according to Cnn poll. Them saying it's a dead heat makes for a great headline. I can tell now how they did the poll. Ceo thought up a great headline that would stir comments and came up with the results 10 seconds later. Thanks for the great coverage Cnn, you're almost as retarded as both candidates!

    November 5, 2012 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  25. rory

    For the last four years,the stupid idea of the US to contain China and not cooperated,otherwise the US unemployment rate will be right down.The finance situation around the world will be much more better. Obama will be easily win another four years term as president and don't have to fight so hard for it.

    November 5, 2012 03:23 am at 3:23 am |
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