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. David from Ohio

    The real news is... According to the US Census Bureau, in 2011 the median income of US households, adjusted for inflation, fell to $50,054. This is 4.9% below its 2009 level and 8.9% below its all-time peak of $54,932 in 1999. This is not encouraging data. It implies that the average American household is almost 9% poorer today than it was thirteen years ago.

    November 5, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  2. Robert NoSpam

    A plus 11 democrat?
    Are you serious!?!
    BIAS alert!

    November 5, 2012 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  3. David from Ohio

    The trend of high-salary job losses offset by low-salary job gains is increasingly evident among the youngest participants of the American economy – recent college graduates. Figures analyzed by Northeastern University's Center for Labor Market studies stated that, in 2011, approximately 53.6% of bachelor's degree-holders under the age of 25 were either jobless or working in positions that didn't require a college education, representing the highest percentage in at least 11 years.

    November 5, 2012 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  4. starquelius

    Poll Sample:
    41% Democrates
    30% Republican
    29% Independent

    11% over sample of Democrats. Even in 2008 Dems only had 7% more turn out when he was annointed as the messiah. Does anyone think that democrates are almost twice as excited about this election?

    This poll is continued fraud that tries to paint the race close, when Romney is clearing ahead. Fraudulent polls like this distort real clear politics average. Even with fraud polls it's still a tie? And look at the internals. By almost 10 points, American's believe Mitt Romney needs in if the economy is to rebound. It's over Mitt wins.

    November 5, 2012 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  5. Bob

    Perhaps it's a dead heat because nobody can really tell the difference between the two. After all, when you flip a coin 100 times you are likely to end up with similar numbers of heads and tails. Perhaps they are simply two sides of the same coin. To me, they act and talk more similar to each other and different from me, than similar to me (take your pick) and different from each other. They are united by the fact that, due to their position and wealth, unlike most Americans they will never have to bear the consequences of the decisions they make -retirement, healthcare, etc...

    November 5, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  6. CLL

    Really CNN D+11, Really!!! And the funny thing is that Obama is only tied with a D+11 advantage. It's not looking good for Oblamo.

    November 5, 2012 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  7. mike

    If the media played it straight, our country wouldn't be in this mess

    November 5, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  8. Keys1

    Most of obama's supporters are busy looting, how do you expect them to have time to vote, so unfair.

    November 5, 2012 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  9. The GOP need to pack up and leave

    I don't care what the polls say just so long as Obama wins and Romney gets kicked to the curb.

    November 5, 2012 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  10. calcman10

    While other polls have the race tied as well, I want to know how CNN finds this result with a +11 dem sample?? Do you really think that voter turnout will reflect those numbers? I

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

    November 5, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  11. Byron Allen

    Using Dems +11 is absurd. Your poll results are dishonest and meant to influence the election. Romney is way ahead, and CNN will have to issue a public apology for its partisan actions during this election. You already had marginal credibility and after tomorrow, t will be ZERO!!!

    November 5, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  12. fairdeal50

    Ask voters of Massachussets why they are NOT voting for Romney. Ask voters of Wisconsing why they sre NOT voting for Ryan. That should tell you something!

    November 5, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  13. Brian Terrill

    Does the media lie and say the Democrat is always ahead until right up to the last minute I mean I can remember 2004 when CNN was calling Ohio a green state because it was too close to call when in fact it was pretty obvious that Bush won that state and the election. Are you guys just calling it a tie all the time so we watch Tues night to see who wins?

    November 5, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  14. fairdeal50

    It turns out that Harry Reid (a Mormon also) was correct. Romney did not pay any taxes from 1996 through 2009. He only paid taxes in 2010 to prepare to run for President. Romney is a liar and should not even be in the race. Here is the article:

    Using a tax shelter called a CRUT (charitable remainder unitrust) along with foreign tax credits and deferred capital gains losses, Mitt Romney was theoretically able to pay zero taxes (legally) every single year from 1996 to 2009. Why did he stop after 2009? Because he would make public his 2010 tax return, that is why.
    This tax loophole was killed by Congress in 1997. However those including Romney that were already using it were allowed to continue it. The way it works, is that Romney makes a "charitable" contribution to the Church of Latter Day Saints and it goes into a trust. Since the trust is held by the church, the money is tax deferred. Any capital gains, are non taxed because of the charities status. Like an annuity, the donor gets a charitable tax deduction and an stream of cash payments. When Romney dies, the church accepts full ownership..

    November 5, 2012 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  15. Matt

    LOL. This poll has Democrats D+11. Does ANYONE really believe that?

    I guess whatever it takes to paint the picture you want, right? ...D+11, D+20. Whatever it takes. Unbelievable.

    November 5, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  16. wisething2do

    GI Joe–when you said "cult leader and biggest liar we've ever seen in politics", my immediate thought was "that's Obama"! OMG!

    November 5, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  17. newage42

    A Romney/Ryan WIN, is Win for America, folks do you really want 4 more years of Obama? I fear what will happen in the next 4 years if Obama is reelected.
    Dig your self a 20 foot hole and try get out of it with no ladder or help. We are near that 20 foot hole now. My God Vote for the Person not the party.

    November 5, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  18. Confused

    Did CNN really poll 11% more democrats than republicans? That seems a bit manipulative. Also, where's the metion of Romney beating Obama among Independents 59-37?

    November 5, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  19. Alan S.

    I was a Republican, that is until "W" Bush ran for office and for the first time I refused to Vote. I knew he would finish what his father didn't and get us back into a costly war. Here's a guy who couldn't keep a job, or follow the rules of military service. I don't blame Bush as much as I blame the misguided, whinny, spoiled, Americans who only really care that they keep their over-payed jobs, that they complain about, that they get government assistance on their mortgage, the cost of gasoline stays reasonable low so they can use their Boats, RVs, and drive gas gusling SUVs and that they can stay glued in front of their monster sized flat screen TVs and that they have Cable or Satilite and they can have several Credit Cards and there is lots of food to choose from at the grocery stores and they have access to the Internet 24/7, at home, Cell Phones and their Cars. This is why they voted for Bush and this is why these Big Babies are voting for Romney. At the end of the day, it's all about "me", and getting "mine". This is how they think, as long as their world is secure they couldn't care about the rest of us.........

    November 5, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  20. Hal

    This really is not a close election. Every statistical model based on aggregation of state polls (far more accurate than national polls) has Obama with at least 290 electoral votes – plus a popular vote majority.

    Read Princeton Election Consortium, Five Thirty Eight, Real Clear Politics,, or Doesn't matter how you slice it; Romney's chances are nearly nil.

    November 5, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  21. Maximus

    Barack Obama was a man of vision, compassion, intelligence, and sense of direction, over four years ago. He has failed us as our president by not doing what he said he was going to do! He is spending recklessly, he is changing his mind to sway votes, he supports socialism, and gay marriage, not to mention he wants to repeal the 2nd amendment. I am voting for Romney!

    November 5, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  22. Anonymous

    It would be hilarious if the GOP candidate was black. The black folks would have their heads spinning and just flip a coin.

    November 5, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  23. stasap

    It's so sad people want to set our country back 50yrs. How can ANY women vote for Romney? Obviously they just don't care about women's issues at all, or are unable to research and understand truth over lies. How can you vote for someone who doesn't even know what he stands for? Gets out of paying taxes by attaching profits to a church? Flip flops are for warm weather, not year round. I don't need a puppet for President! Unbelievable. It amazes me, the ignorance of our country. Educate yourself. Obama 2012.

    November 5, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  24. realitycheck

    oh my allah, are you serious?!?!?!?!?! +11 Who the hell watched cnn anyways. Im only here because drudge linked this nonsense. CNN you have lost all credibility, not that you had much to begin with.

    November 5, 2012 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  25. David from Ohio

    President Romney will lower US taxes, decrease spending and work with Congress on regulatory reform that makes sense. This will start the healing process for the American economy. The only thing Democrats in Washington have planned after November is more spending.

    November 5, 2012 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
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