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. ThinkAgain: All of the GOP's policies are proven failures!

    Look, I'm a lifelong Democrat. I come from a military family, lived in third-world nations growing up, and understood at a very young age the sacrifices people have made to ensure my right to vote.

    I honestly don't understand how anyone can vote for Romney, given how many issues he's flip-flopped on, how he didn't release his tax returns for the past 5 years, how he and his camp have outright lied to the American people (including GM moving jobs to China), how wrong he has been on business matters such as his suggestion to let Detroit go bankrupt, and how he believes that anyone receiving federal money – including veterans, the elderly and the disabled – are all lazy, irresponsible moochers.

    Even if you don't like President Obama or his policies (even though we've had 32 straight months of private sector job growth, housing values are on the rise, consumer confidence is up, unemployment is below 8% and Osama bin Laden is deader than a doornail), I still don't understand how you could vote for someone as devoid of character, integrity and just plain smarts as Willard Romney.

    Obama/Biden 2012 = The only sane choice

    November 4, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  2. Harry Kollus


    November 4, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  3. coolie

    cnn is lies.

    November 4, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  4. User-301

    Lets just remember that these polls include about 1% Blacks and 2% Latino. If you factor those votes in you would then see that Romliar has spun his wheels for the last year. This is why you can't rely on polls at all to come to a real conclusion.

    November 4, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  5. David Reston, VA

    Obama is toast. Be ready for President Romney!

    November 4, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  6. BKB

    I honestly don't believe it is a dead heat. I am an Obama supporter, but I have been all over the country and talked to people of all walks of life the past 6 months. The majority of people I speak with support Romney.

    No angle to my post, other than to say I have not once got the vibe that it is as close as the media seems to be making it out to be.

    November 4, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  7. Cert IsGood

    These polls are phony. CNN is just trying to create a frenzied situation so people will pay attention to this political garbage. Anyone who thinks people will vote for Romney should get their heads examined. If there was every a shape shifting chameleon in politics it is Romney. The guy will say anything to get elected. and If Romney is really elected then America deserves its current downfall for the people are stupid.

    November 4, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  8. yahyah

    Congrats CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS. With 6 trillion more debt, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the ridiculous failed bailouts, millions more on welfare, on and on, and the polls are tied?! Nice Cover. If, god forbid, Mr. Obama wins, he should call and thank you guys FIRST, for not doing your job. Hope your all happy because if President Obama wins, my boss is closing shop.

    November 4, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  9. Pupo

    How much did CNN get for this article from Romney's Super PAC's ???

    November 4, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  10. JT

    Who believes polls? Do you really trust who they reach? The only people who respond have a landline, are home, pick up private numbers, and still want to answer pollsters questions. That must be three 80-year-olds.

    November 4, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  11. Ave van

    It's not a dead heat in those who actually pick the President, the Electoral College.

    November 4, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  12. Steve from Wisconsin

    Your party ID was 41% Democrats, 30% Republicans, and 29% Independents – and you wonder why the once proud CNN is now viewed by so many people as a complete joke?

    November 4, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  13. Hillski

    Just finished reading the methodology of the poll-11 pt spread for Dems in weighting? Not buying it

    November 4, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  14. Chemphuut

    If Obama and Romney tie in final result, the court will step in again and appoint Romney as president as they did to George Bush in 2000 when the election result was tied with Al Gore.

    For me, I think Obama led US by his mouth not by his work and I also think that Romney will lead US by his business not by his promise.

    November 4, 2012 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  15. Africa-Arabaian Sea - AfPak - China

    I believe Obama will win this election because he seems to be very good at reading the national mood.

    There are however, serious long term consequences of another Obama term. With his short term focus on immediate gains in the Af-Pak region, he will continue to cede long term advantage to China both in Global Economy and Foreign Policy. Isn't American foreign policy meant to achieve prosperity, peace and security for America?? With the forces of globalization already underway, are not foreign policy and the domestic economy deeply entwined?

    Remember that China has, in recent years, obtained a near strangle hold over natural resources in the African continent. Consequently, they want total and unquestioned control over their import routes from there. The cheapest would be via land to the Persian Gulf to China via Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan. They have built a port at Gwadar, Pakistan specifically for this purpose. Obama's Af=Pak policy is a successful military strategy but a disastrous economic strategy. By effectively ceding control to the Central Asian Corridor to the China-Pakistan axis, Obama has relinquished a significant growth opportunity to China. This corridor is important for US strategic interests too but we have no credible handle on it.

    The democrats will not tell you that and Romney was not savvy enough to talk foreign policy in depth. Heck, he even forgot to question the president about the murder of Ambassador Stevens in Bengazhi.

    November 4, 2012 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  16. testEngineer

    Yeah a democratic heavy sample giving Obama 49% – 49% Romney only means it is O 41% R 57%...... Only makes CNN and liberal media feel better to claim it is a dead tie. If it were a decided victory to one group the news channels would have jack %^$# to do wouldn't it.

    November 4, 2012 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  17. Ann Coulter is a blonde having a blonde experience

    President Obama cleared his schedule for three days, met with FEMA several times, gave multiple speeches on Sandy response rather than being on the stump, travelled to all the impacted States, helped to activate the national guard in nine States, and was applauded by governor Christie of New Jersey (a republican), trucked in 25 million gallons of gas from the national reserve, and is being briefed almost hourly on the Sandy federal response.
    Romney collected cans.

    November 4, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  18. David

    Barack Obama is on top of everything. he is leading on most of the things you have mentioned and besides he is the most honest president you can find and a person who stands by his word. you rather go with the tasted water than taking a gamble.

    November 4, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  19. Juanito

    Haha your poll is D+11
    what a joke you scam artists

    President Romney is awesome!

    November 4, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  20. Mike

    With a country SO divided, the question you should be asking is who can LEAD us out of this mess and get both sides working together? We have proof from each candidate as to who can and who cannot lead.

    November 4, 2012 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  21. dunracin

    Why isn't CNN reporting that 11 media sources have switched their support to Romney on Sunday, Nov. 4 !

    November 4, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  22. harry kollus

    I find i t totally amazing that the race for the White House is this close.. As a american. i find Mitt Romney and his ideas on where we need to be as .a .country. totally unexectable. Repeal Roe vs. Wade ? Our healthcare on a pay voucher system? tax cuts for the rich? the list is far to long for space provided...So my fellow americans on election day. think of the good of the country. Not of yourselves. We must move forward. including EVERYONE. And to MR. ROMNEYS. sons comment on wanting to punch Mr. Obama. you should be ashamed.

    November 4, 2012 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  23. bob

    Vote for Romney. Obama added 4 trillion new debt. Just think what he would do if he added more. Someday we have to pay it back!

    November 4, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  24. Clausen

    This is going to be a close finish. While I find myself to be a conservative guy and will vote for Romney, I do like Obama for who he is (I disagree with many of his policies) and I think there could be worse candidates for the Democratic party.

    November 4, 2012 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. Sam

    First of all I am just expressing my personal opinion. I hope we don't have to go back to another Republican Presidency. The republican leadership has turned so extreme. They resemble Islamic governments in middle east. The only difference is they are not Muslim and they are not enforcing Islamic laws from Koran. I used to like the basic republican principal of small government and capitalism. But looking back at republican budgets in the past, they end up spending the money saved from big government in other unnecessary things like wars. They don't balance budget either. Their idea of capitalism has morphed into corporatism. I don't see anything they offer to middle class Americans. I feel like Republicans need to radically change their principals.

    November 4, 2012 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
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