Romney 49%, Obama 48% in Gallup's final election survey
President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are within one percentage point of each other in Gallup's final pre-election survey of likely voters, with Romney holding 49% of the vote, and Obama 48%. After removing the 3% of undecided voters from the results and allocating their support proportionally to the two major candidates, Gallup's final allocated estimate of the race is 50% for Romney and 49% for Obama. The survey was conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Nov 1-4.
Much of this year's campaigning has focused on women and swing voters, and the race concludes with each candidate holding equally strong advantages with one gender and closely matched in support by party identification. Romney holds a 10-percentage point lead among men, 53% to 43%, while Obama is winning by nearly the same margin, 52% to 44%, among women. The two are roughly tied among independents -- 46% favour Obama and 45% Romney. Each candidate has the strong support of his own party, with 96% of Republicans backing Romney and 93% of Democrats supporting Obama.
Current voting preferences mark a return to the status of the race from October 1-7, when Obama and Romney were tied at 48% among likely voters. After that, Romney moved ahead in mid-October during the presidential debate period, holding a three- to five-point lead in Gallup Daily tracking shortly before superstorm Sandy devastated many areas on the East Coast. Romney's and Obama's current close positioning in the November 1-4 poll was measured as the Northeast continued to recover from superstorm Sandy, and after Obama's highly visible visit to the region.
Between Oct 22-28 and Nov 1-4, voter support for Obama increased by six points in the East, to 58% from 52%, while it held largely steady in the three other regions. This provides further support for the possibility that Obama's support grew as a result of his response to the storm.
The poll also shows Americans giving Obama high marks for the way he dealt with the storm: 68% of likely voters approve of the way he handled "the response to Superstorm Sandy," by far his highest approval rating on any of four issues Gallup asked about in the final poll. Obama's approval rating among likely voters on the other three issues ranges from 46% on foreign affairs to 42% on the economy, and 39% on handling the situation in Libya.
Obama's overall job approval rating is 49% among likely voters, and 52% among all national adults in the Nov 1-4 poll. Historically, presidents with a job approval rating above 50% in Gallup polling prior to an election have won their bids for a second term; however, given the Republican advantage in voter turnout this year, and Obama's resulting 49% approval among likely voters, his national 52% approval rating may not necessarily put him into the safety zone.
3% of likely voters in the final poll are undecided, expressing no candidate preference. Another 7% name either Obama or Romney but say they are not totally certain they will vote for their candidate of choice and they could change their minds, even at this late juncture. By 94% to 92%, Romney voters are slightly more likely than Obama voters to say they are certain in their vote choice.
32% of likely voters interviewed Nov 1-4 say they have already voted, while another 6% still intend to vote before Election Day. Early voters' preferences closely mirror the overall result, with 49% having already cast their ballot for Obama and 48% for Romney. As Gallup.com previously reported, there are highly significant differences in the rate of early voting by region, extending from 9% in the East to 50% in the West, with 25% early voting in the Midwest and 43% in the South.
Given practical difficulties in reaching a representative sample of portions of the region affected by superstorm Sandy, Gallup did not interview between Oct 29 and Oct 31, and resumed interviewing Nov 1. Gallup carefully monitored the sample throughout the Nov. 1-4 survey period and determined that the coverage problems did not produce any political bias in the resulting sample that required a correction.