CBS News Poll For release: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 6:30 PM EDT DRAFT Heading into the Conventions, the

Presidential Race Remains Close August 22-26, 2012

As the two parties prepare to hold their nominating conventions, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney are effectively tied in the race for the presidency. Eight in 10 voters say their minds are made up. Romney is seen as the candidate who would do a better job on the economy, while voters think Mr. Obama will do more to help the middle class. Eight in 10 Republicans are at least satisfied with Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his running mate, including 36% who are enthusiastic. A slight majority of voters says the Obama Presidency has brought more disappointment (55%) than satisfaction (45%). Most Republicans are disappointed, but so are 18% of Democrats.

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The State of the Race Heading into the parties’ conventions, President Obama and rival Mitt Romney are in a tight race among registered voters who lean towards a candidate; Mr. Obama has just a one point lead (within the poll’s margin of error). 2012 Vote for President (Among leaned registered voters) Barack Obama 46% Mitt Romney 45 Undecided 6 Won’t vote 2 Four years ago, the race was also close heading into the conventions. Barack Obama led John McCain by 45% to 42%. The President continues to lead among women -- by 10 points in this poll -- while Romney has a nine point lead among men. The race is close among independents, who favor Romney by just one point - within the poll’s margin of error. Who Would You Vote for if the Candidates Were…? (Among leaned registered voters) Obama Romney 46% 45% 40% 51% 5% 89% 40% 49 41 90 7 41

Total Men Women

Republicans Democrats Independents

White evangelicals, white Catholics, and conservatives overall back Romney by large margins, while liberals, moderates, and non-whites support Barack Obama. Lower income voters overall support the President, though white working class voters – white voters without a college degree earning less than $50,000 a year – support Romney. Younger voters and unmarried women – including those who are divorced, separated, widowed – support the President, while Romney leads among seniors and among women who are currently married. Who Would You Vote for if the Candidates Were…? (Among leaned registered voters) Obama Romney 46% 45% 44% 60% 50% 41% 48% 38% 82% 53% 21% 52% 43% 38% 73% 22% 34% 51% 45% 39% 37% 48 31 37 50 43 55 12 38 70 41 46 53 15 71 55 38 49 56 51


Married women Unmarried women 18-34 35-44 45-64 65+ Liberal Moderate Conservative College grad No degree Whites Non-whites White evangelicals White Catholics Income <$50K Income $50K-$100K Income $100K+ White working class

Just over half of the voters who back the President say they enthusiastically support him – far larger than the share of Romney’s supporters who say the same (35%). A third of the voters who back Romney say they support him with reservations, but 22% back him because they dislike the President. Just before the conventions in 2008, the pattern was similar: Obama voters were nearly twice as likely as those backing Republican John McCain to describe themselves as enthusiastic supporters. Enthusiasm for Candidate (Among leaned Obama/Romney voters) Romney Voters Obama Voters Enthusiastic 35% 59% Support with reservations 34 25 Party nominee 8 3 Dislike other candidate 22 11


There is some room for movement in the race – but not much. About four in 5 voters say they have made up their minds which candidate to support, but for about one in 10 the race is not yet over, as they say it’s too early and their minds could still change. Similar percentages of Obama and Romney voters could change their minds. Mind Made Up Whom to Support? (Among leaned registered voters with a candidate choice) Total Obama Voters Romney Voters 82% 84% 82% 14 11 14

Yes Too early

Voters’ attention to the presidential campaign has not changed much since April, when Mitt Romney all but locked-up his party’s nomination. Now, 45% are paying a lot of attention, including slightly more Republicans (47%) than Democrats (42%). Attention to the campaign was higher in August 2008. Attention to the Campaign (Among registered voters) Now 4/2012 45% 43% 34 35 20 22

A lot Some Not much/none The President’s Performance

8/2008 51% 36 12

8/2004 48% 41 11

The conventions will undoubtedly offer reviews, from both partisan sides, of the Obama Presidency thus far. A slight majority of voters says that the Obama Presidency has brought more disappointment (55%) than satisfaction (45%). Democrats are satisfied, but more apt to be just somewhat satisfied (53%) than very satisfied (29%). 18% of Democrats are disappointed. Most independents (58%) are disappointed. Republicans, perhaps unsurprisingly, are very much so. While most voters who are disappointed with the Obama presidency are not supporting Mr. Obama this fall, 14% still plan to vote for him. Feelings About Obama Presidency So Far? (Among registered voters) All Dems Reps Very satisfied 13% 29% 1% Somewhat satisfied 32 53 7 Total Satisfied Somewhat disappointed Very disappointed Total Disappointed 45% 21 34 55% 82% 13 5 18% 8% 26 66 92%

Inds 8% 34 42% 24 34 58%


President Obama’s job approval rating among all Americans is now more positive than negative; 48% approve – a four-point increase from July but about where it was in April – and 43% disapprove. President Obama’s Job Approval Now 7/2012 4/2012 Approve 48% 44% 48% Disapprove 43 46 42 Americans have consistently said the economy is the top issue facing the country. On this, the President continues to receive low marks; a majority disapproves of his performance on it, unchanged from July. Now 39% 54 Obama’s Handling of the Economy 7/2012 4/2012 3/2012 39% 44% 39% 55 48 54

Approve Disapprove

On handling Afghanistan and foreign policy generally, the President gets more positive than negative reviews, though many aren’t sure. Obama Approval on Afghanistan, Approve Disapprove Afghanistan 45% 38% Foreign policy 45% 35 Views of the Candidates Mitt Romney (52%) has the advantage over Barack Obama (38%) on the nation’s most pressing concern - the economy and jobs- while the President is seen as the candidate who would do more to help the middle class (50%-42%). Voters also think Mr. Obama would do a better job on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. The President has small edge over Romney on the issue of terrorism and national security, but they are about even on the issue of Medicare. Who Will Do a Better Job On…? (Among registered voters) Barack Obama Economy & jobs 38% Terrorism & security 45% Social issues 54% Medicare 45% Helping the middle class 50% Foreign Policy Don’t know 18% 20

Mitt Romney 52 41 38 44 42

While Mitt Romney may be seen as the candidate who would do a better job on the economy, fewer than half of voters think either candidate has a clear plan for creating jobs. Just 43% think Mitt Romney has a plan, but even fewer -35%- think Mr. Obama does. The President, however, has a clear advantage on empathy. 54% of voters think he understands their needs and problems, compared to 41% who say that about Romney.


Obama vs. Romney: Creating Jobs and Empathy (Among registered voters) Barack Obama Mitt Romney Has clear plan for creating jobs Yes 35% 43% No 58 45 Understands problems of people like you Yes No 54% 42 41% 50

Most voters view Romney as a typical Republican, including six in ten independents. Among independents who view him a typical Republican, just a third are voting for him. What Kind of Republican is Mitt Romney? (Among registered voters) Total Reps Dems Inds 27% 33% 21% 27% 63 59 71 60

Different Typical

On the other hand, President Obama is seen by voters as a different kind of Democrat. Republicans, Democrats and independents are in agreement. What Kind of Democrat is Barack Obama? (Among registered voters) Total Reps Dems Inds Different 55% 53% 58% 54% Typical 39 43 38 37 As Mitt Romney prepares for his party’s convention, voters nationwide view him a bit more unfavorably (36%) than favorably (31%), but 32% are undecided or don’t know enough about him to offer an opinion at this point. 41% have a positive opinion of the President, while 44% view him negatively. Perhaps not surprisingly, he is better known to voters than his Republican opponent. Opinion of the Candidates (Among registered voters) Barack Obama Favorable 41% Not favorable 44 Undecided/don’t know 14 Paul Ryan Nearly half of voters nationwide are at least satisfied with Mitt Romney’s selection of Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, but Republicans are especially pleased. Eight in 10 Republicans are satisfied, including 36% who are enthusiastic about the choice of Ryan.

Mitt Romney 31% 36 32


Enthusiastic Satisfied Dissatisfied Angry Don’t know

Feelings about Ryan as VP Choice (Among registered voters) Total Reps Dems Inds 17% 36% 2% 15% 32 45 19 32 27 10 43 27 5 1 8 5 19 9 27 20

Still, most voters, including most Republicans, say Ryan’s addition to the Republican ticket will make no difference in whether or not they support Romney for President. Congressman Ryan remains unknown to many voters nationwide; half are undecided or don’t know enough about him to have an opinion. 24% view him favorably, while 27% view him unfavorably. Opinions of Vice President Joe Biden are more negative than positive. While women are split in their impressions of Biden, men view him more unfavorably than favorably. Both men and women are divided in their opinions of Ryan. Opinion of VP Candidates (Among registered voters) Joe Biden Paul Ryan Favorable 28% 24% Not favorable 37 27 Undecided/don’t know 35 49 Voters divide on whether Romney’s running mate would be able to serve as an effective President if that became necessary, but three in 10 don’t have an opinion. Views of Joe Biden’s ability are also split. 61% of Republicans think Ryan has the ability to be an effective president, while 65% of Democrats say that about Joe Biden. Independents are divided on this measure for both candidates. In October 2008, when Joe Biden was running on the Democratic ticket with Barack Obama, more voters – 65% - said he had the ability to be an effective President if necessary. Has the Ability to be an Effective President (Among registered voters) Joe Biden Paul Ryan 40% 36% 44 34 17 30

Yes No Don’t know

Abortion and the Akin Controversy Nearly half of Americans think abortion should be permitted in all cases or permitted with greater restrictions than it is now. 27% say abortion should be allowed only in the cases of rape, incest or to save the woman’s life. Another 10% think an exception should be made only to save the woman’s life. One in ten thinks abortion should never be permitted. Men and women generally hold similar views on abortion, but women are more likely than men to say abortion should be allowed in all cases. There are striking differences by political party: Democrats are more inclined to think abortion should be available, while Republicans think it should be restricted to cases of rape, incest, and to save the woman’s life or not permitted at all.


Views on Abortion Total Permitted in all cases 35% Permitted with greater restrictions 13 Only in cases of rape/incest/save woman’s life 27 Only to save woman’s life 10 Not permitted at all 11

Men 32% 15 27 9 12

Women Rep 38% 17% 11 13 26 35 12 16 10 17

Dem 49% 11 24 4 8

Inds 35% 14 23 12 10

A majority of voters who think abortion should be permitted in all cases or with greater restrictions are supporting Mr. Obama for president, while those who think abortion should be allowed in just a few cases or not at all say they plan to vote for Romney in November. 2012 Race for President (among registered voters) Permitted in all cases/ Permitted only in few cases/ Greater restrictions Not permitted at all 61% 29% 30 61

Obama Romney

Total 46% 45

Still, 57% of registered voters say it’s possible they would vote for a candidate that disagreed with them on the issue of abortion. 34% of voters said they could not support such a candidate. Women and Democrats are more likely than men and Republicans to say they could not vote for a candidate who disagreed with them on the issue of abortion. Women who won’t do so are more likely to be Democrats and to think abortion should be allowed in all cases or with greater restrictions. Possible You Would Vote for Candidate That Disagrees (Among registered voters) Total Men Women Reps Dems Yes 57% 62% 53% 68% 56% No 34 29 38 27 37 With You on Abortion Inds 50% 37

Republican Congressman Todd Akin, who is a Senate candidate in Missouri, recently made some controversial comments regarding rape and abortion. More than half of voters have heard or read about these comments, including 35% who have heard or read a lot. Democrats are more likely than Republicans to say they have heard a lot about Akin’s statements. Heard or Read About Akin Comments (Among registered voters) A lot 35% Some 21 Not much 41 59% of voters (including a majority of women) do not think Akin’s comments reflect the views of most Republicans. But a quarter of Democratic women think Akin’s statements represent the views of most Republicans and they are strongly supporting Barack Obama.


Akin’s Comments Reflect those of Most Republicans? (Among registered voters) All -- Women -voters Total Reps Dems Inds Yes 13% 13% 5% 24% 9% No 59 54 66 44 56 Don’t know 27 33 29 32 36 ______________________________________________________________________
This poll was conducted by telephone from August 22-26, 2012 among 1,218 adults nationwide, including 1,051 registered voters. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample and the sample of registered voters could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.


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