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. Eddie

    These CNN polls have been so idiotic. We all know who will win and it is close but not THAT close. I have been actively voting since 1984. No one I know, myself included has EVER been polled. Where is CNN getting these polls? I don't care if they call Romney or Obama ahead, or tied for that matter. CNN's credibility has been questionable since their start in the 80s. I miss Cronkite and oh yeah, "Obama 4 more years!!!"

    November 4, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  2. Ni'Cole Gipson

    Really? Who are you polling? People who sit by their landline phone all day picking up calls from strangers is not mainstream American anymore. Poeple are mobile in 2012.

    November 4, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  3. Ni'Cole Gipson

    Really? Who are you polling? People who sit by their landline phone all day picking up calls from strangers is not mainstream American anymore. People are mobile in 2012.

    November 4, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  4. Birkhofer

    After examining CNN's methodology, I was unable to find the amount of democrats and republicans polled. Why would that be an item skipped in the methodology?

    November 4, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. Jennifer

    And this makes a difference? Al Gore WON the popular vote... it didn't win him the office. The only thing these percentages tell us is that we have a country trapped by ideological dichotomies that aren't real. That's the fault of our American addiction to all things socially disconnected – tv, video games, shopping, alcohol, sports, etc. These polls don't do anything but keep people tuned in to the news channels. It's a false division, a division that's taught to the public (not derived from it), and one that keeps the ratings up.

    November 4, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  6. Joshua Gray

    Missing in all the rosy spin of this article is that they polled 11% more D than R. Anyone think 11% more D than R are going to show up on Tuesday, or in Ohio overall?

    See ya, Barack!

    November 4, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  7. tavernvoice

    And what if it actually is NOT a dead heat? What if there is a landslide by one of the parties? Then everyone will point to the polls and say how could this be? It was a dead heat...Then you'll have all the fuel for protests, recalls? And according to some tweets, riots. Just one more perspective on the function and or dysfunction of polls.

    November 4, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  8. Meir Moza

    Go Romney and save America from the Arab fanaticism

    November 4, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  9. Florence Reynolds

    I am so terrified about the thought of Mitt Romney winning the White House ,I do not trust him at all I think he only cares about his family and winning he will destroy America

    November 4, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  10. Emrey Martin

    Nonsense, our press vilifies Republicans without thought. Showing sensibility, many people who will absolutely vote for Mitt do not say so to avoid gross irrational critique. You may recall, although Reagan won by comfortable margins, few people mentioned they voted for him.

    November 4, 2012 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  11. retied militar

    Nce D+11 sample hidden on page 20. You boys kep the wrk up trying to prop up Obama.

    November 4, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  12. sweetwalter

    So far...a toss up. The country won't go down the drain regarless of whiich candidate gets elected. Four years from now, NY governor Cuomo will be elected and straighten out the mess. He's the only Democrat in the nation that can work both sides of the isle in congress.

    November 4, 2012 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  13. Grinning Libber

    Not what Nick Silver says... 85% probability for POTUS OBAMA!

    November 4, 2012 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  14. Bill

    This poll is weighted +11 for Dems? Wow, if that's true and it's 'tied', that's not good for Obama.

    November 4, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  15. RSG

    Hard to believe that 51% of Americans approve of Obama's performance. Despite the number of job claims, unemployment is higher than when he took office, and the deficit he said he'd fix is higher too.. I'm having a hard time figuring out just what he HAS accomplished. I wish I had a job where I could perform so poorly and so many believed I was doing so good.

    November 4, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  16. J

    Its a shame how bankrupt CNN's journalistic ethics are... blatantly failed to report or cover any of the details about how the Obama administration knew immediately about what was going in in Libya, how they refused to help save our citizens, and how they continue to cover it up.

    Instead they continue to be an integral part of the obama re-election campaign.

    November 4, 2012 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  17. cgire

    This is indeed a major election – an election highlighting two choices for change. The choices – incrementally build on the work that's been done, or throw everything out and start over from scratch.

    So, if you're not voting, you are leaving this critical decision to others. You're letting your neighbor vote for you. You're letting your grandpa vote for you. You're letting your ex-boyfriend vote for you. You're letting your crazy Uncle Charlie vote for you.

    Even if you believe the candidates' differences are not overwhelming, there is always a choice. Even if "you'd rather there was someone else," there is always a choice.

    And think about it – who benefits if they can keep you from voting?

    I'm not letting that happen with my vote.

    November 4, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  18. jamie thorntnon

    So from the looks of it, it will be a fun two weeks. As we watch Ohio count all those votes to find out who the president will be. lol.

    November 4, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  19. Obama2008

    I was real big for Obama in 2008. But this time around I need a job and just feel that Romney as a business man can improve things enough for that to happen.

    November 4, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  20. Wondering

    What was the sampling (Dem – Rep – Independent) used in this poll? I have heard that it was 41% D; 30% R; 29% I. Is that true?

    November 4, 2012 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  21. John Cram

    A "national" poll is meaningless.

    November 4, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  22. Marquis

    II am calling BS CNN has established itself as unreliable source of information many things they have gotten wrong including the initial call on Supreme Court Ruling on Obamacare. I hardly take your poll seriously and no longer take the factual accuracy of your news seriously. Every other poll I look at has the POTUS leading by 3 to 4 % points with a 3% margin of error.

    November 4, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  23. EdfromSTL

    Nice try CNN....this poll has a +11 Democrat sample. Likely to be +2 Republican when the real votes are counted.

    November 4, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  24. lou

    WHAT???? I just saw the NPR poll as well as ALL the previous polls that had the O'bummer in the lead.....wha...happened?

    November 4, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  25. kashbmaryd

    Is this really a surprise? C'mon, you guys do this every presidential election (except maybe in 2008). It is standard practice to have the race tied up 'til the end.

    November 4, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
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