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. Veritas

    According to the survey, Romney leads Obama 57%-40% among white voters. While Obama leads Romney 98% to 1% among black voters. Now who is looking past race to vote and who is voting based on race. I leave it to you to work out the numbers, and the sad, sad implications.

    November 5, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  2. David

    WOW. D+11 and your own poll shows Mitt winning independents by 22 points. Even in the completely atypical 2008 election it was only like D+7... All this and the best you can still come up with is, it's tied????? I guess CNN wants to compete with MSNBC for that all important "lives in mom's basement" demographic!!!

    November 5, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  3. TAMMY

    Have YOU seen this video ? YOUTUBE

    November 5, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  4. Tom

    CNN – Why not make it D+100 and then you can do a story about the landslide?

    November 5, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  5. Jdiddy

    OHIO! If it wasn't for ohio id think romney had this. Keep hearing how Ohio is the state to win and obamas up. So no matter how much romney looks good nationally it all comes down to ohio. Looking like an obama win. I just hope the election results don't divide us more either way.

    November 5, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  6. Mother of 4

    Can't wait til Romney wins. Just wondering when CNN will stop covering for Obama and actually report the truth about Benghazi! CNN how about a real story on the front page?

    November 5, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  7. sayer

    Obama– winning!

    November 5, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. mia

    OMG...very good idea...!

    November 5, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  9. Wastrel

    More than 100 million people will vote. If you believe these polls, then you must believe that millions of voters change their minds every week.

    November 5, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  10. Aja

    I hope everyone emembered to set their clocks back an hour and that everyone makes sure not to set the country back 50 years!

    November 5, 2012 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  11. Time to change the diaper

    Wahhh, wahhh, wahhh!!!! If the polls don't agree with my views, it is a conspiracy. Waahhhh, wahhh, wahhh!!!!

    November 5, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  12. lamchops1984

    D+11? How could Wolfie read that with a straight face.

    With an oversample that size one has to figure CNN decided ahead of time that they wanted the poll to show a tie and then added Democrats until they got the desired results.

    November 5, 2012 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  13. Barney

    It's hard to believe the credibility of polls saying it's a dead heat. I refuse to believe that Americans are really that uninformed, lazy, and stupid enough to vote for Romney.

    November 5, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  14. Mad as Heck

    Democrats +11 in your poll. C'mon CNN. Are you idiots?? Ummm.........YES!!!!!

    November 5, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  15. Ancient Texan

    CNN Poll says Obama is ahead? No kidding....who would have thought that.? I'll just wait for the total vote tomorrow and celebrate the fact America will recover from Obamaitis under real leadership from Romney.

    November 5, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  16. moving1

    I am glad it is over to stop reading polls, watching CNN, and others and go back to the history channel.

    November 5, 2012 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  17. Paid Soros Troll

    by: paid_soros_troll
    1. Democrats have not yet paid off the huge national debt that Republicans have created.

    2. Democrats have not yet stopped all the wars that Republicans started.

    3. The poor have too much money

    4. The rich do not have enough money

    5. All Americans will soon have access to medical care

    6. The President will not admit that he was born in Kenya

    7. Women still have control over their own bodies

    8. Only a quarter-billionaire like Romney can realllly understand the struggles of the middle class.

    9. Democrats have not yet turned the United States into a fundamentalist controlled Christian Theocracy.

    10. The President did not veto the law of supply and demand resulting in higher gas prices.

    November 5, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  18. Terry

    Yea +11 Democrats. They can't even get Obama ahead with that.

    November 5, 2012 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  19. lisajt

    Get a grip. It's not a conspiracy. CNN's polling shows +11D because it is adjusting for the number of Rs/Ds polled vs the number of Rs/Ds registered. (If your data sampling isn't representative of your entire data set, then you have to adjust to get results that would be accurate if you applied your polling sample against the electorate as a whole. Statistics works that way.) Per USA Today article from December 2011: "Registered Democrats still dominate the political playing field with more than 42 million voters, compared to 30 million Republicans and 24 million independents." There are simply more registered Democrats. Get over yourselves.

    November 5, 2012 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  20. jcarr

    lol come on CNN your just making fools out of yourselves, try using some unbiased polls.

    November 5, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  21. Marcos

    I see that CNN is still a second rate news network. Could someone educate them on the electoral college so they can stop pretending that the popular vote matters?

    November 5, 2012 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  22. Brett

    Dead Heat? Really CNN? Dead Heat? D+11? More like a dead network.

    November 5, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  23. Casey

    A tie would probable have Romney wiing by 5%. Reminds me when th Liberal media had Carter ahead 6% and Reagan wiped him out..

    November 5, 2012 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  24. GadsdenRattlers

    A D+11 Sample??

    Are we supposed to take you seriously when you think the electorate is +4 more Democrat TODAY than it was in 2008?

    November 5, 2012 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  25. The_Ronin

    A dead heat? CNN polls are a joke and dont speak any truth. BTW CNN how much money did you rake in this year from Repub and Democrat payment for the last 6 months of non-stop political advertising? I love the 3 min piece you did on Gary Johnson, even within those 3 mins you had the balls to bring up the one thing within his campaign you know most of yoru viewers will disagree with (marijuana regulation) Your news is corrupt and paid off.

    November 5, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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