CNN Poll: Gender and income gaps in GOP nomination battle
February 14th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
2 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. Truth Hurts

    Birth control gives women their reason.

    February 14, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. i_know_everything

    according to polls, is Romney just behind Santorum

    February 14, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. mike from iowa

    The thought of a tyrannical person like Santorum getting into office is scary. It would mark the end of Freedom and the begin of a new theocracy for America. Santorum, America's Ahmadenijad.

    February 14, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. bresson

    I hope Santorum wins because of his cute little sweaters... Rommy will just wear whatever he thinks will get him elected. Note to voters: DONT TRUST HIM

    February 14, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. My name is Jose Jimenez

    Well here we go again – another flavor of the week or is it the weak?

    Romney must be crapping his magic underwear watching the nomination slip away. The Republican party is not only destroying America, it is also destroying itself. Way to go GOP = GREEDY OPPOSITION PARTY.

    February 14, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  6. julien vergara

    I pitty the republican candidates. They treated by the votesrs ike a fool. U should unite guys. Obma is laughing

    February 14, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  7. Arthur

    the uneducated GOP members must be higher than I thought! Geez Santorum? Really?

    February 14, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. Imma Kookynut

    And kids, the moral of this story is. He who panders best and most often, just might win. Of course, the fact remains that the GOP resembles the INSANE CLOWN POSSE more than a political group. So, have fun dopes.

    February 14, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Dav

    CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser is getting the Communist News Networks spin machine in motion ,Romney ha a 3 to 1 delagate advantage over Santotm,using make believe polls is typical of CNN

    February 14, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    a whooping 478 people polled...

    February 14, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. calvin

    WEll the news has two men of the GOP to hit. what fun for them . get out the dirt shoves and go to town. at lease there were boen in the USA.

    February 14, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  12. king

    i hope that these females arn"t blocking romney because of his looks and are backing him because of substance. i know there is somthing with a pretty face that attracks females that goes beyond what the candidtates are backing i hope that they dont go holiwood up in here. whats that vampire guy name with that wolf guy. i bet they can run and get most of the female votes. dont get me wrong their are some very logical females out there but hey!!! reality is reality.

    February 14, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. atypical

    we don't live in a democratic society. we are an oligarchy. look it up and decide for yourself.
    the middle class is becoming no more.
    congress spends most of their time–while not on vacation–with lobbyists who dictate policy.
    kids are going into debt to get an education, while the gov makes money off their loans.
    a ceo of a company makes about 15k an hour, the worker on the floor averages $8.00 an hour, and the employee overseas, who makes the product, makes pennies an hour. where is the equality in that scenario?
    the lack of social mobility, the social and economic equality is on the rise.
    and NOTHING trickles down except bs.
    we must each do what we can to change the system. the change must come from the bottom. stay informed. oligarchies love dumb, loyal, fearful, patriotic citizens.
    peace

    February 14, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  14. Mike

    I hope Santorm wins. Mitt is too "polished", and will say anything to get elected; however, Santorm is the Republican's "Jimmy Carter". He is a great Christian, but sometimes we need someone shrud. I guess I am endorsing Newt...Heaven help us.

    February 14, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  15. Steven Bannister

    Juan in El Paso – Don't kid yourself. The majority of Jews will vote for Obama because the majority of Jews are leftists. They are the ones who financed Obama's campaign in the first place.

    February 14, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  16. ethandy

    It's not that they like Santorum. It's just that they dislike Romney that much.

    February 14, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  17. Silent Majority

    Wow, the GOP is a wreck. They've learned nothing from their mistakes. Heck, they haven't even admitted making any mistakes yet. Obama/Biden 2012.

    February 14, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. macbil

    Republican Party is screwed with either of them. Santorum wants America to be like it was in the 1950s (women don't work, no contraceptive choice for women, etc) and Romney wants America to be like it was in late 19th Century when rich, powerful "robber barons" did whatever they wanted to.

    February 14, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. rizzo

    @Juan in El Paso: Way to stereotype Latinos, guy. I'm sure at least SOME Latinos are smart enough to realize that contraceptives are an important thing and that Catholicism is a load of BS. I'd advise you not to speak for an entire population unless you have taken a poll.

    February 14, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. cali girl

    From a paragraph above, these are not my words, but the words of the American Public. .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.
    Doesn't sound so promising does it. Mitt is a lyring, two faced flip flopper who still can not come up with any viable solutions for the country, and Santo would rather lock up women and gays and shove Catholic religion on all of us.
    No thanks

    February 14, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. Mario

    It seems that Republicans either aren't satisfied with Romney or not convinced that he can beat Obama. So, each of the other candidates gets his/her 15 minutes of fame. However, no on feels confident that anyone will fare better than Romney in the general election. I think Romney should pair up with someone (Santorum, Paul, Guliani, Trump, Palin,...) and stop all the in-fighting. Otherwise it will likely be 4-more years...

    February 14, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Cynthia

    Santorum is an idealogue extremist who does not represent the mainstream in any way. He favors banning aboriton even in cases of rape, opposes birth control and calls it the root of immoral behavior, opposes Medicare and Medicaid, wants steep cuts in Social Secuirty, supports tax cuts for the richest 0.1% and for corporations and opposes environmental protection of all kinds. He opposes Pell Grants for students, increased funding for education and cuts in medical and scientific research. Give me Obama any day!

    February 14, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. I'm confused...

    HMM... this story says Santorum and Romney are essentially in a dead heat for the nomination. Meanwhile, most Republicans still think that Romney is the eventual nominee? Meh...

    Meanwhile, most Democrats believe that Obama will win in 2012.

    February 14, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. PacificView

    The GOP's pretend embrace of the tea party will be its undoing. What were they thinking?

    February 14, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Levi

    why do people follow politics?? All you need to do is follow bloodlines to see who will win. It's all a sham

    February 14, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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