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CNN Poll: Obama tied with Romney & Paul in November showdowns

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CNN Political Unit

Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney is all tied up with President Barack Obama in a likely general election matchup, with the president showing signs of weakness on the economy and Romney seen as out of touch with ordinary Americans, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International Poll released Monday also indicates that Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is also even with Obama in another possible showdown this November. The survey also suggests the Republican advantage on voter enthusiasm is eroding, which could be crucial in a close contest.
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According to the survey, if the November election were held today and Romney were the Republican presidential nominee, 48% say they'd vote for the former Massachusetts governor, with 47% supporting the president. Romney's one point margin is well within the poll's sampling error.

The poll also indicates Paul statistically tied with Obama, with the president at 48% and the longtime congressman at 46%. But according to the poll, the president is doing better against two other Republican presidential candidates. If Rick Santorum were the GOP nominee, Obama would hold a 51%-45% advantage over the former senator from Pennsylvania. And if Newt Gingrich faced off against the president, Obama would lead the former House speaker 52%-43%.

Enthusiasm in voting in the presidential election this November now stands at 54% among registered Republicans, down ten points from last October. Meanwhile, enthusiasm among registered Democrats has risen six points, and now stands at 49%.

"In a race that tight, turnout is likely to determine the outcome, and the Democrats have begun to close the 'enthusiasm gap' that damaged their prospects so badly in the 2010 midterms," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

While the Obama re-election campaign and the Democratic National Committee have all of the GOP White House hopefuls in their sights, they are directing most of their firepower towards Romney, and the poll indicates why that is the case.

According to the survey, both men are seen as strong leaders, and both are viewed as having the personal qualities that a president should have. Forty-eight percent of Americans say that Obama agrees with them on the issues they care about - not great, but better than the 43% who feel that way about Romney.

"But on the economy - issue number one to most Americans - Romney has a clear advantage. 53% say the former Massachusetts governor can get the economy moving; only 40% say that about President Barack Obama," says Holland. "But the numbers are reversed when voters are asked whether the candidates are in touch with ordinary Americans. Fifty-three percent say that Obama is in touch; only four in ten feel that way about Romney."

Obama and Romney are virtually tied on whether they are seen as strong and decisive leaders. The survey indicates that by a 61%-34% margin, Americans say Romney changes his position on the issues for political reasons. By a 56%-42% margin, the public feels the same way about the president.

The poll was conducted for CNN by ORC International from January 11-12, with 1,021 adult Americans, including 928 registered voters, conducted by telephone on January 11-12, 2012. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.