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. phxrep

    Why is it right to tell us how Romney does with white voters but CNN is silent on how many blacks are voting for Obama? Oops CNN, your bias is showing

    November 4, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  2. xoxo

    Obama, Romney!!! Down to the wire!

    November 4, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  3. bill pike

    as a vet i am so ashamed of this president-he turned his back on our troops in LIbya: he showed the world that he and not the navy seals got bin laden but cannot release any videos on Libya--read this.

    November 4, 2012 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. Jordan Graham

    what an amazing poling system! two major candidates that have almost a 50% chance to win! the math eludes me!
    gg CNN

    November 4, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. emily

    This is not true! Obama is going to win. He's so much better for the position. Republicans are RUDE! The only way Romney will win is if they Cheat. Most likely they will...

    November 4, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  6. nilla

    In other words, "keep watching CNN! This one is going to be exciting!"

    November 4, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. Blogger1776

    Regardless of who wins this week, the winner will be hated by 1/2 the country. Each man has a very distinct vision for America and they are polar opposites. From the blog sights, it's clear that Liberals and Conservatives hate each other more than they hate the Taliban. We're more divided now by race, religion, language, and political views than we have been in decades. It's a very scary time for this country.

    November 4, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  8. MoralRepublican

    Romney will win this thing, and turn the country around after 2 decades of presidential bullcrap. Just wait and see

    November 4, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. Nikolay

    How do you find the electorate will be 41% Democrat, 30% Republican, and 19% Independent? Romney also leads 22% with Independents? That's an awfully large amount of tea partiers...

    November 4, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  10. splassher6

    CNN still shamelessly pushing the epic failed liberal Messiah...laughable if it weren't so sad

    November 4, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  11. Kr55

    This massive margin of error poll isn't really breaking news when there are much better very recent polls available for people to look at. Stick to your poll of polls CNN.

    November 4, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. DJK

    OK, so the poll is D+11, Romney is winning independents by 18%, and its STILL an even tie? Plus Obama is STILL under 50%? Romney/Ryan landslide!!!!

    November 4, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. commenter2222

    CNN should not call any election

    November 4, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  14. Lee

    Stop saying the race is a dead heat based on a national poll. Look instead at the swing state polls where the race will be decided, and is not remotely close to being a draw.

    November 4, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  15. JamesTJr

    you'd know they are in dead heat seeing the cowards at SNL. They were courageous in making fun of Palin, but they ducked away when it came to Romney.

    November 4, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  16. sellsword

    The only tie is between polls...

    Mitt is way ahead and these polls are all using 2008 turnouts – that's not reality...

    November 4, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  17. Wes

    "Among those likely voters, 41% described themselves as Democrats, 29% described themselves as Independents, and 30% described themselves as Republicans." Is this D+11!?

    November 4, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  18. Cathie

    Romney's got this in the bag if CNN/ORC says it's a tie, because they always ask more democrats than republicans.

    November 4, 2012 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  19. chet

    I really cant think of one reason for me to vote for Romney. Let's see i'm a college student who needs student loans to pay for college and his positon on making college affordable is to borrow money from my father. I'm a compassionate person who heart breaks when I hear these terrible stories of people being wronged by the money grubbing insurance company and Romney's positon on fixing the problem with insurance is to appeal the Affordable Health care plan....... He has a 5 point plan to help the middle class but its a secret bc i havent heard 1 point.

    November 4, 2012 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  20. GDM

    Obama is only tied in a Dem +11 poll and he's being crushed with the Indies. If this poll's right he's in trouble.

    November 4, 2012 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  21. Fed up

    The undecided voter will look within their hearts n will surely vote for Obama. This whole tie thing is GOPCNN cooked thing.

    November 4, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  22. Dennis

    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.

    Who's obsessed with Vengeance now?

    November 4, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  23. Angela Birch

    The west is supposedly for Romney? Hmm no mention of the States of California, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii. They are according to all polling supporting Obama by a wide margin, Nevada by a narrow margin. The west doesn stop at The UTah stae line. Maybe you people in Atlanta should realize there is a west coast and a heck of a lot of Americans live here.

    November 4, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    So much for the lesser of two evils!

    November 4, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  25. JG-Texas


    November 4, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
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