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. krippendorf

    The GOP understands math about as well as they understand science or economics, which is to say, not at all. They screwed up the caucus count in Iowa and in Maine, to the point of needing a recount of 14 votes (not enough fingers). Only the equally ignorant would vote for anyone in this group of clowns, racists, and hypocrites.

    February 14, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. JT

    If the Republicans nominate Santorum, they will get what they deserve.

    February 14, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. ShellyGirl

    Santorum brought to you by the Christian Taliban. Wow, I never thought the Evangelicals would commit suicide so quickly.

    February 14, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. open400

    This is the best the GOP has? If the GOP ran Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels and just stuck to the economy, the GOP would win in November. When you put the rest of these GOP bozos on stage for all theses debates, you hear all kinds of craziness: Gengrich and his moon colony; Santorum talking about war with Iran; Rick Perry going blank on a question; Ron Paul want to repeal the twentieth century; Romney trying to run away from his record , past statements made and his tax returns. Then you have the all host of GOP “maybe” candidates: Don Trump’s “investigation” of Obama’s birth certificate; Sarah Palin ignoring the fact she resigned in the middle of a governor’s term of office. Then there is all the hate radio led by Rush Limbaugh.

    I am independent and I sorry, I do not trust any of the GOP candidates in this position of great power and leadership.

    February 14, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Norris

    Even if Santorum can't win the general election, we need to send a message to Republican party leadership that they need to behave like conservatives and not liberals. We need warriors who will actually walk the walk, not just panderers like Romney.

    February 14, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. Jim37

    Bottom line is simple, if you believe in family values you should vote for Santorum. He is the only one who will fight the people who trying legalize gay marriage. He will ban gay marriage.

    February 14, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. huh?

    Wow! They took a vast, sweeping sample of American Republicans: 478. I guess this must be authoritative though...

    February 14, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. Buster Bloodvessel

    I love it! Obama by a landslide. The end of the GOP has arrived.

    February 14, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. Steve

    I love how the rich have been destroying unions and sending millions of jobs overseas and when the American People ask for them to pay a fair percentage in taxes, it is suddenly Class Warfare.... Give me break!!!

    February 14, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. Boo

    One right wing pundit said Santorum would make a great president....in the thirteenth century.

    February 14, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Obediah

    I just need to know how Obama had 'badly' treated the Jewish community....anyone please?

    February 14, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Translation

    Uneducated white religious men loooove Santorum, got it. Santorum is the new Palin.

    February 14, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. Kaliman7

    Weak is a severe understatement, it is a tragedy. So many capable people out there and this is as good as it gets? Seriously?. Palin's opinions front page news?.

    Uh, Larry, Moe....

    February 14, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Nancy

    OMG! When will the GOP realize that in they've presented us with the most uninspiring slate of candidates in history? No wonder there's no consistency in results - they're all equally unattractive. What a collection of political hacks! Romney's the only one I'd even consider voting for - and that reluctantly. And only if none of those barbarians (Gingrich, Santorum & their fellow-travelers) is on the ticket! I'm very much afraid we're in for 4 more years of Obama. I just hope we survive 4 more years!

    February 14, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Steve

    I love how the rich have been destroying unions and sending millions of jobs overseas and when the American People ask for them to pay a fair percentage in taxes, it is suddenly Class Warrfare.... Give me break!!!

    February 14, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Dan Jones

    The poll failed to ask the real question, and that is one of ethics. I think Americans, at least some of them, are getting tired of the liberal, destructive, agenda we see so much of. We need to reinforce family values, honest government, civic responsibility. This doesn't mean persecuting gays or support for a state religion. But the endless assault on Christians and our Christian heritage needs to end. We started out as "One nation under God with liberty and justice for all" and that is the formula that made us great. "One nation of atheist with an intolerance for every other world view" is not working and has given rise to some of the most irresponsible and offensive people this planet has ever seen. I support Rick Santorum...

    February 14, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. candy

    Neither one is going to win because President Obama is going to get 4 more years....Mitt dont know what is going on in this country.And Rick is out of touch with females......

    February 14, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  18. gary

    Just because Santorum's grandfather worked in the coal mines does not make Santorum a blue collar worker. After high school he spent eight years in college and then four years working in a law firm. From the law firm to the house as a congressman and then onto the senate. This person has never worked in a blue collar job in his life. Just another liar claiming to be one of the working people. He believes in home schooling for his kids, keep the wives in the kitchen, and military women do not have the mental capability to do the job. He needs to return to the caveman days.

    February 14, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. steve

    Santorum's first act as president would be to make Google remove his listing. After all, we can't have a president whose name is synonymous with an anal discharge.

    February 14, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  20. Ivanhoe

    Obama is going to win, idk even know why they try! lol

    February 14, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  21. Arick

    Just think, after the election we can all enjoy living in a Christian version of Saudi Arabia!

    February 14, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. Buster Bloodvessel

    "CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser is getting the Communist News Networks spin machine in motion " Oh no! They've discovered our Secret Leader and are giving away ALL our Secret Plans. How are we going to force the GOP to nominate Romney now? Oh, wait . . .
    Guard yourself, Steinhauser, or the teabags will bomb your house. They'll say you are from Kenya and are a socialist.

    February 14, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. David

    Can you say Vote Fraud and media complicity?

    February 14, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. michael

    itl be a a cold day in hell before santorum wins. if he does this country is in the toilet and we deserve all coming to us

    February 14, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. michael

    santorum is gay. he protests too much

    February 14, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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