Obama, Romney Still in Dead Heat, Poll Shows

While the race for the White House between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney remains deadlocked, enthusiasm for Republicans is slightly higher than for Democrats, a new national poll shows days before the GOP convention begins.

According to a CNN/ORC International poll released Friday, 49 percent of likely voters support Obama, with 47 percent backing Romney. Given that the two point margin is within the survey's sampling error, the race can be seen as a tie.

However, 48 percent of likely voters who are independents say they support Romney, with 45 percent backing Obama. And 87 percent of likely voters say their minds are made up, with just over 10 percent saying they might change their minds on which candidate they'll back in the November election.

The survey also showed that 35 percent of registered Republicans say they are extremely enthusiastic about voting, six points higher than the 29 percent of Democrats who feel the same way.

According to a Fox News poll of likely voters released Thursday, the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket received the backing of 45 percent, while the Barack Obama-Joe Biden ticket garnered 44 percent.

Among the bigger bunch of registered voters in the new survey – as opposed to "likely voters" who are more likely to come out to vote on Election Day – the poll indicates that Obama holds a 52 percent to 43 percent lead. The results were almost identical to those from CNN's previous poll that was conducted earlier this month before Romney had announced Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate.

"Likely voters have traditionally been a more Republican group in past elections because they tend to turn out in higher numbers than Democrats, and 2012 looks like it is no exception," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "This explains why the margin between President Obama and Mitt Romney is smaller among likely voters."

However, Holland cautions, the race cannot be seen as getting tightened in the past few weeks because of the lack of movement in the results for registered voters.

In 2008, around two-thirds of Democrats were extremely or very enthusiastic about election with an 18-point lead over Republicans, which helped Obama overcome the fact that turnout has historically been higher among Republicans. Now the two parties are evenly divided, the survey notes.

In that light, some of Obama's supporters are not likely to vote unless something changes. "The challenge for the president in his convention is to fire up his base and to turn those potential stay-at-homes into likely voters," said Holland. "If he can do so, the likely voter model may not work as much in Romney's favor in September as it does in August."

The poll, conducted with 1,055 adult Americans which included 924 registered voters and 719 likely voters, also indicates that likely voters are divided on Vice President Joe Biden (46 percent to 47 percent), with a plurality having a favorable opinion of Ryan (45 percent to 39 percent). Fifty-one percent of registered voters rate Ryan as an excellent or good pick. And 52 percent believe he is qualified to be president if necessary.

"From a historical perspective, Ryan ranks in the middle of the pack among recent vice presidential nominees," said Holland. "He's not as well-received as Joe Biden or Dick Cheney initially were, but he's definitely not another Dan Quayle. Joe Lieberman is the running mate who put up numbers most like the ones Ryan now gets."

The survey also shows that two-thirds of likely voters believe that if Romney is elected he will work hard to implement GOP polices on the economy, and six in 10 think he will try to enact Republican proposals on health care. But only 43 percent feel he will work hard to implement the GOP's position on abortion.