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. us1000

    Romney was a CEO in a private company, making him unqualified for American President's job. President is a public post and for a democratic country like U.S, President has to govern the country democratically. CEOs are usually dictators and suitable for totalitarian and communist govts. So, Romney will not be serve our country effectively and democratically. Obama will be the best president to serve and lead our democratic country.

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

    D+11 ????? CNN polling alchemists have sunk to new depths to turn lead into gold for Team Obama:(

    November 5, 2012 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  3. Trey

    Obama will win. Mitt is a disaster of a candidate in every way. He is stiff, cold and robotic. At least Obama has a heart. Also so many of you posters are idiots. Why do Americans think they are so smart...we are just about the dumbest people on the planet.

    November 5, 2012 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  4. Flipper

    Tied at 49% in a left-wing CNN poll, yet the sample is D+11? That tells me that CNN kept polling more Dems so that Obama's support would equal Romney's.

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

    thats why i dont belive cnn too one sided (democrat) cnn is loosing creditability

    November 5, 2012 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. JJ1970JJ

    Democrats +11% in the poll to get a tie??? LOLOLOLOL. Obama at his PEAK of popularity got +8% Democrat vote in 2008. In the 2010 disaster for liberals there was a +1% Republican vote. Seriously, CNN has, is, and forever will be a joke when biased polls like +11% Democrat are given to their paltry number of viewers as credible information. Romney in a blowout that will make Jimmy Carter the happiest loser on the planet to jump up a spot to the 2nd worst president in history.

    November 5, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. fayse

    Romney has run his campaign on 90% lies and distortions. How can of man who is supposedly moral and righteous so easily let lies fall from his tongue? Even the leaders of all of the American Auto Companies have made statements reqarding his false statements and ads.

    November 5, 2012 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  8. Oshis


    Remember when Obama had the House and Senate and instead of focusing on the economy he rushed a healthcare law through? Remember he had comeplete control of everything for 2 years and did nothing with it? Remember the tax breaks that Obama extended not once but TWICE? Remember this when voting

    November 5, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  9. Mario

    It is incredible that someone like Mitt Romney is even running for office. He thinks corporations are people, wants to force women to have rape babies, brags about being a gay bashing bigot, lies about everything, refuses to tell the truth about his finances, and his religion is an insane cult. Is this really someone you want making decisions that can ruin the rest of your life?

    November 5, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  10. Russ

    Your math error was exposed by another web site. You favored Obama by 11 percent in polling democratcs. How can you expect any respect from your viewers and readers with this bias reporting. You are disgraceful at best!

    November 5, 2012 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  11. SMKO

    For the comment that 98% of black support Obama, that not just because it Obama only it is because the Democratic Party. Blacks always supported the Democratic Party more than the republican. by the way look at the people supporting Obama and look at the people supporting Romney....Obama's supporters look like they represent the US of America and diversity..

    November 5, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  12. chachabrown

    It was about that awful turrible movie, by that meaney racists.
    CNN, have you ever heard the word, "Incompetent"? Well, that is what you are.

    November 5, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  13. Bill Mitchell

    C'mon honestly, you had to be stoned when you published this? Romney wins independents by over 20 points but doesn't win? I guess CNN believes in the adage, if you are going to go down, you may as well go down in a blaze of glory.

    November 5, 2012 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  14. newsjunkie

    It does my heart good to know all of you know what a joke this network is. Romney has pulled ahead in spite of fighting his opponent and the media at large.
    Clear eyes. Full hearts. America won't lose.
    But CNN will. No one will ever take it seriously again!

    November 5, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  15. DebbyO

    Was CNN bought up by Fox, or the Romneys? Something is sure up here

    November 5, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  16. Matthew

    This just in... We know nothing...

    November 5, 2012 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  17. Ray

    Dead heat my a$$. This is going to be the biggest Blowout since Reagan Crushed Carter. BACK TO THE FUTURE 1980 style will be here in less than 24hours. Start Packing Obama, YOU ARE HISTORY. (Im not voting for either Obama OR Romney, Im libertarian and will be voting for Gary Johnson)

    November 5, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  18. ivotedalready

    Veritas I find you comment extremely short of understanding and wisdom. Let's face it....if the power brokers in this society have been white males since this country began and now you have a white candidate who wishes to protect that class of white power brokers, then how would you vote if you were an African American? Yes it is sad and the sad thing is that Romney and the Republican trickle down economics was always at the price of people of color, the poor and disenfranchised. That sad thing in this country is that minorities have suffered from your kind of thinking and the lack of white men who have missed the opportunity to care about people instead of use them and to be greedy at every turn. What are you and they afraid of? By the way I see you only call out the African American vote and disregard the Latino vote it that just don't like Black folks or are you ticked that after this country's history of stepping on Black people that they are taking the opportunity to turn to a caring and trusting person as President and who happens to be a Black Man? Does this really bother you? Wow!!!

    November 5, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  19. amazed

    Funny. They did not even mention minorities. I guess they don't get to play in CNN polls.????;;

    November 5, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  20. Alois

    Nobody that has any intelligence at all will help get deadbeat,freeloader obama reinstalled. The past 4 years are proof of his incompetence and dragging our country down with his idiotic,corrupt,idology . Not to mention his super corrupt administration with their record number of scandals and coverups.

    November 5, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. Matthew

    I believe this poll contradicts itself. It says Romney leads independents 59-37 and it says 5% of Democrats are voting for Romney while only 1% of Republicans are voting for Obama. Despite all of that, the race is tied. I believe they are oversampling the Democratic turnout or undersampling the Republican turnout.

    November 5, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  22. Beth

    So, um, how do I access this cheap Obamacare insurance? We are already on a really tight budget. We just found out that our health insurance is going to go up by 24% in January. It's going to mean we cut the cable, and possibly some of our groceries. We cut out a lot of other things a long time ago.

    November 5, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  23. CryAllYaWant

    The GOP cannot win the electorate.

    Game Over Angry White Men – Game Over For Good.

    November 5, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. Joshua James Robert(From India)

    CNN -> "A liberal in a centrlst's costume' or 'A biased channel in a neutral costume'....I am following CNN's coverage of the election(as its the only channel thats available in India that covers US polls), and i am able to see a clear bias towards Dems and Obama in particular! Why they have sold themselves to the Dems??? I am so dissapoined with this bias! Earlier, i used to consider CNN as a reliable portal for Political news! Now looks like i need to cross check with sites like Real Clear Politics, Rasmussen etc to get the real story....Even Obama would not believe in a D+11 turnout in the election day!!!! Really funny!

    November 5, 2012 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. @GuileOfTheGods

    Too bad we don't have popular vote and national polls are actually useless. Obama up in Ohio. Obama up in Iowa. Obama up in Nevada. Obama wins 2012.

    November 5, 2012 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
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