CNN Poll: Gender gap and likeability keep Obama over Romney
April 16th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Gender gap and likeability keep Obama over Romney

(CNN) - President Barack Obama holds a nine-point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney thanks in part to the perception that the president is more likeable and more in touch with the problems facing women and middle class Americans, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday also indicates a large gender gap that benefits Obama, but the public is divided on which candidate can best jump-start the economy.

Full poll (pdf)

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According to the poll, 52% of registered voters say if the presidential election were held today, they would vote for the president, with 43% saying they would cast a ballot for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is making his second bid for the White House. The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, a few days after former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania suspended his bid for the GOP nomination. Even though former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas continue their long-shot bids for the nomination, Romney is now generally considered the presumptive nominee.

The survey indicates women voters back Obama over Romney by 16 points (55%-39%), virtually unchanged from an 18-point advantage among women for the president in CNN polling last month.

The poll was conducted two days after Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen created a controversy by saying that Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life."

"That remark may have little long-term effect on women voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "By a two-to-one margin, the women surveyed saw President Obama as more in touch with the problems facing American women today."

Half of those questioned say that Obama is more likely to stand up for what he believes, with only 29% saying that about Romney. Nearly half say that Romney is more likely to change his position on the issues for political reasons, just 39% saying the same thing about the president. Obama has double-digit leads over Romney on likeability, honesty, confidence, values, leadership and almost every other characteristic tested, with one important exception.

"Obama and Romney are essentially tied on who is more likely to get the economy moving again, and that may provide Romney an opening to chip away at Obama's current overall lead," says Holland.

According to the poll, Obama holds a 48%-43% margin over Romney among crucial independent voters. The survey also indicates s generation gap, with all age groups, except those 65 and older, backing Obama. And the poll points to an income divide, with the president holding a 20-point lead over Romney among those earning less than $50,000 per year, while those making more than that figure divided between the two candidates.

Obama's likeability and strong performance on personal characteristics helps explain why three-quarters of his supporters questioned say their vote will be a vote for Obama, not a vote against his opponent. By contrast, more than six in ten Romney supporters say their choice will be mostly be a vote against Obama.

"That's a significantly higher level of anti-incumbent voting than polls found in previous years. In 2004, for example, 55% of Democratic nominee John Kerry's supporters said their choice of Kerry was really a vote against President George W. Bush. The question for 2012 is whether Romney has to provide his supporters with more reasons to vote for him in order to win, or whether a negative anti-Obama message is enough, given that historically high level of anti-incumbent voting," adds Holland.

Two-thirds say they have made up their minds, with just 29% saying they could change their minds between now and November. As for handicapping the election, right now Americans don't think Romney has a good chance of winning the White House. Only 35% said Romney will be victorious in November.

"That is certainly not a prediction of what will happen, of course, but it is worth noting that in the last four presidential elections, the public was able to correctly pick the winner in polls taken in the spring or early summer," adds Holland.

Even though Santorum is out of the race for the White House and Romney is the all but certain nominee, the battle for the GOP nomination technically continues. According to the survey, 57% of Republicans say that Romney is their choice for the GOP nominee, with 19% backing Gingrich and 18% supporting Paul.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International April 13-15, with 1,015 adult Americans, including 910 registered voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Also see:

Obama re-election team increases fundraising haul

Buffett Rule would barely dent debt but fits nicely into Obama's theme

McCain: I agree with Ann Romney


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (743 Responses)
  1. avd

    CNN, you can keep saying it, but that doesn't make it true.

    Latest REAL polls show Romney up on Obama, not the other way around. But here's the kicker. Show me polls that actually were what the real public voted, so far in this election?

    April 16, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. Edward

    The Gallup poll just published their first poll results with Romney ahead by 2 percentage points over Obama.

    April 16, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  3. TS

    This is fantastic. Now we can collapse like the USSR under Obama's Marxism. Yes, I know the definition of Marxism. IF only we could skyrocket that debt some more. That should be healthy.

    April 16, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  4. JoJo

    It isn't that Romney "won't stand up for what he believes". It's more that he doesn't seem to believe in anything except whatever has the best chance of getting him elected at the moment. And he has about as much appeal to the common man as Marie Antoinette had to the poor of France.

    April 16, 2012 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I think that Mittens should try to get a Romney/Cheney ticket. That should bring together chicken hawks and those who want to destroy our country.

    April 16, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Not believable poll after the spin they put on the Trayvon Martin Coverage.

    April 16, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  7. parentof6

    Hmm. Gallup and Rassmussen have Romney up 2 and 3 percent respectively. Strange, almost seems like CNN is in the tank for Obama or maybe just a little insider polling?

    April 16, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  8. Tex71

    Watch the President's lead increase by 1% every time Romney tries to "relate to the rabble"; 2% every time he sticks his foot down his throat trying to explain it away; and 25% after the first ad that mentions magic underwear.

    April 16, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  9. Bob

    Those that cheated to get past the third grade will vote for the Whamway salesman! Anyone that earned their education will choose wisely....again!

    April 16, 2012 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Douglas

    WHY ARE CNN AND ABCNEWS trying to USE FALSE POLLS to MOVE THE NATION? Gallup has Romney up by 3? And the PPP polls? They have it tied. Rasmussen? What gives?

    April 16, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  11. TheMovieFan

    That's probably the best any Democrat could do but the election is just over 6 months away. The GOP sleaze machine has plenty of time to narrow that.

    April 16, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  12. Jim Brody

    So voters who are old, white, conservative, rural and Southern are in the Romney camp. Everyone else? Obama! Looking good.

    April 16, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  13. Dave

    Two comments on this article: 1. I doubt the polls are true based on Obama's dismal performance over the past 3 1/2 years. 2. CNN is evidently gleeful, which casts doubt on their professionalism in reporting.

    April 16, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  14. cas

    I would like Romney, if I knew which one is which?

    April 16, 2012 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. maria

    Obama 2012

    April 16, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  16. Normal in NH

    Let the shilling for President Obama by the MSM begin...

    April 16, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  17. Tea party patriot

    I am voting for Romney because he is WHITE. Can i say that? Of course i can. I am a card carrying NRA and life long republicon. Not to mention the fact that i have a swiss bank account and my company is incorporated in the Bahamas. Say i got some change in my pocket, now which one of you unemployed would to be tricked down on?

    April 16, 2012 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  18. Skeeve

    @BrentAZ Interesting... did you noticed this link at the top of the page that said "full poll.pdf"? Well it is all there. Just be prepared it might be difficult to read – whole 30 pages of text after all.

    April 16, 2012 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
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