CNN Poll: Gender and income gaps in GOP nomination battle
February 14th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Gender and income gaps in GOP nomination battle

(CNN) - A large gender gap appears to be developing between supporters of GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, as well as a split between white collar and blue collar Republicans, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll also indicates that Santorum supporters are much more highly motivated than those backing Romney.

See full results (pdf)

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"The new numbers indicate a split in the Republican party that goes deeper than ideology, with signs of a gender gap and class warfare breaking out in the GOP ranks," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, released Tuesday afternoon, Santorum and Romney are basically all tied up for the lead in the race for the GOP nomination. Thirty four percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they back Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, with 32% backing Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has been at or near the top of national polling over the past year. Santorum's two point margin over Romney is well within the survey's sampling error.

The poll indicates that Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is at 16%, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 15%. Four other surveys released over the past day also suggest the race for the nomination knotted up between Romney and Santorum. All of the polls, including the CNN survey, were conducted entirely after Santorum's victories over Romney, Gingrich and Paul last Tuesday in caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota and a non-binding primary in Missouri. Santorum's sweep of the February 7 contests sparked his surge in national and state polling, and cemented the perception that Romney was having a hard time locking down support of core conservatives.

Santorum's newfound support may be coming from Republicans who backed candidates who are no longer in the race, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But the poll also indicates that Santorum's surge is also the product of a notable gender gap, with Santorum holding a 10-point edge among Republican men and Romney winning Republican women by nine points. And Republicans who describe themselves as blue collar are backing Santorum by 11 points over Romney. But among those who say they come from white collar families, Romney has a 10-point advantage.

The poll also indicates Santorum topping Romney 45% to 29% among self-described tea party movement supporters, with Romney edging out Santorum 34% to 29% among people who don't describe themselves as tea party supporters.

It's a similar story when it comes to self described born-again voters, with Santorum leading that group by a 42% to 24% margin over Romney, and Romney beating Santorum 40% to 26% who don't describe themselves as born-again.

"According to the survey, Santorum Republicans are also much more highly motivated than Romney Republicans, with more than half of Santorum's voters saying they strongly support him, compared to less than four in ten Romney voters - and enthusiasm for Santorum as the eventual nominee is highest among the four remaining challengers," adds Holland.

Nonetheless, an overwhelming number of Republicans see Romney as most likely to win the GOP nomination, and a majority continues to believe that Romney has the best chance of defeating President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Are Republicans happy with the remaining choices in the field? The poll indicates the answer is yes, but satisfaction with current candidates has slipped 11 points since the fall. And the eventual winner may receive a less-than-enthusiastic response from the GOP rank and file. Only a third say they would be enthusiastic about a Santorum victory, and that puts him at the top of the field. Only one in five say they would be enthusiastic if Romney were the nominee.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from February 10-13, with 478 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Also see:

Romney seeks to unite conservatives

Protestors disrupt Santorum event, get arrested

National Review calls for Gingrich to leave race

Pro-Romney super PAC increases buy in Michigan

soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. Daniel

    GO SANTORUM!!!

    – An Obama Supported

    February 14, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. Bachar

    Neither of them are cut out for the job!

    February 14, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. freidamurray

    Congratulations, President Obama, on your re-election!

    February 14, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. ok

    Imagine a government that really represented the people

    February 14, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. Steve Gastin

    I hope Santorum wins as Obama can get landslide victory. Romney would give a difficult fight to Obama.
    Democrats (CNN) pump Santorum

    February 14, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. Barry Soetoro 2012

    Ron Paul 2012 or Enjoy Your Enslavement. :)

    February 14, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. Robert

    Romney's plan would cut taxes, leaving job creators with more money to invest and create cheap jobs in CHINA.

    February 14, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Satberry

    We do not Willard because he ia pathological lier. Willard has no core.Willard will say anything or do anything to become president.We have not heard Willard articulate what and if he would do anything to improve the country.We have heard Willard attaching candidates with lies.We have seen Willard lieing on tape.Willard also does not keep his money in the United States.So basically Willard is a parasite on the American public.

    February 14, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Lance

    How is Santorum even an option? He's a freaking Nazi.

    February 14, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. SPA Knight

    Santorum is gaining momentum because he is the only true conservative and his political philosophy is rooted in a moral code of ethics.

    February 14, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  11. ProperVillain

    This country has gone off the cliffs of sanity straight in to utter lunacy. What kind of a world do we live in where a right wing wack job and a clueless multi-millionaire are the top contenders for one of the most influential jobs in the world? The collective IQ of the US must be somewhere in the single digits....

    February 14, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Larry

    Wow! The overt racist is tied with the anti-christ.

    February 14, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  13. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Just roll the dice, it's a crap shoot.

    February 14, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  14. Jaun in El Paso

    Great! With the way Obama PO us Catholics (we latinos are really mad at him right now) Santorum has got 26% of the voting population wrapped up. With the way Obama has treated the Jewish community there is another 10% of the voting population. Add in the conservative wakos and there is another 30%. GOP will win by a landslide!

    February 14, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  15. Dave

    The Republican base is unable to decide between a One-Percenter, Vulture Capitalist, true "face of the party" and a guy who wants women pretend the 20th century never happened.

    No matter how you look at it, President Obama is the winner.

    February 14, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. rizzo

    Ha I hope Santorum wins so Obama can eat him alive in debates. I saw him speak during his first term, guy has nothing at all going on upstairs.
    Oh and he's a horrible misogynist who wants women to die horribly because of back alley abortions. He might be an idiot, but the misogyny is worse.

    February 14, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  17. Katie

    Obama 2012 for sure. Romney is too progressive and moderate for the right wingers, Santorum too crazy right wing for the regular GOPers. (Plus Santorum is a complete hypocrite when it comes to abortion. He thinks it should be banned outright – no abortions for anyone for any reason, and late term abortions are especially heinous. His wife had one at 19 weeks – that's considered a late term abortion, folks.) I like Romney, I think he'd do fine. His health care plan in MA is a MAJOR achievement, not only are 100% of children covered, 98% of all residents are covered. And guess what? Health care didn't go up because the legislators, medical people, and insurance bureaucrats sat down together to make sure it wouldn't happen.

    February 14, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  18. Nova703

    At least you know what you're going with Santorum. Romney is a phony.

    February 14, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. Rick

    Oh Oh, the christian taliban is catching up!

    February 14, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Gary

    Watch out for the book lernin It may fill up your brain!!

    February 14, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Ritt Momney

    Hmm...neither one will win so it really doesnt matter. Both are completely behind the times and have no real knowledge of anything real humans do. Both are extremely hung on the God complex and are hypocrites. A vote for either it a vote for ignorance.

    Taliban 2012!!

    February 14, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. Christine

    Great poll cnn. As far as I can tell from looking at the actual poll, no one from the age of 18-49 was surveyed.

    February 14, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    They're both not worth anything, but I'd take Santorum over Willard any day. At least Rick can stand by his convictions whereas Willard's changes depending upon who he's pandering to. He has NO CORE!!!

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012
    ELIZABETH WARREN 2012 & BEYOND

    February 14, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. ok

    I have not yet met anyone speak of Romney...anybody ?

    February 14, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  25. GOP Voter

    ***"The new numbers indicate a split in the Republican party that goes deeper than ideology, with signs of a gender gap and class warfare breaking out in the GOP ranks," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. ***

    Is it so hard to find an honest Republican with core values and a brain? I am consistently dismayed at what our party continues to muster. If all we have now is Santorum or Romney to decide between I don't see how that is any better than the status quo. Both have an established history of catering to an exclusive group, no mater how they attempt to position themselves as populists. And we all know this. Which makes the election even more of a sham by virtue of our participation in it. Can I please hide for 4 years? :(

    I'm voting for Ron Paul. I don't give a damn if the media has already christened him a disaster.

    February 14, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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