CNN Poll: Gender gap and likeability keep Obama over Romney
April 16th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
2 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. A F

    And why is this news! CNN maybe you should report news a little more and try to stop making it. This is what happens when you have a 24/7 news channel. If there is no news you just make it up. CNN is one of the reason for the decline of this country, but of course CNN will likely censor this post like they do to most of the truth.

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  2. im rich

    obamas base, is cnn, msnbc, tree huggers,minorities,illegals, abortionists, banks, wall street, fannie, freddie, all of his bail out cronies, cash for clunkers, demonthugs, demorats, solyndra, fast and furious, atheist 47% that pay no taxes, fluke, trayvons followers like new black panthers, muslims, his mother in law and aunt and uncle that live off taxpayeres?? what a broad base or maybe a bunch of broads that pay zero taxes !!!!!!! GE< buffet, soros. haaaaa haaaaaaa

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. a realist

    I agree with Just Say No to Flipper. It sure is great to see Obama so far ahead. I know almost NO ONE who is not planning to vote or him. He will win, thank goodness, so the country can keep on making progress. Obama/Biden 2012!

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. Toonces

    Rasmussen poll just showed Ron Paul as the only candidate that can beat Obama. Wonder what's going to happen now that Ron Paul is picking up Santorum's delegates?

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. Tony Bell

    I would love to know who these pollsters go to because in over 40 years of being of voting age I have never Been asked.

    Secondly if you do the math and put some thought into President Obama's statements they hold as much substance as a fishing net.

    President Obama is a product of the news media. It is time for his show to be canceled.

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Allison

    No one should get too excited. There was a poll out this weekend that had Romney over Obama by a few points. The race hasn't even started yet.. We have 7 more months to go with this. If the ecomony or gas prices get any worse, Obama is pretty much done.

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. RA

    Great... But on the same day as Gallup showing Romney 47 – Obama 45, I'm not entirely where the disconnect between the two polls stems from. But that is the nature of polls I suppose.

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  8. Dee

    "Obama has double-digit leads over Romney on likeability, honesty, confidence, values, leadership and almost every other characteristic tested, with one important exception.:

    bottom line..

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  9. JO

    International poll means nothing. I know Canada loves him. But misery loves company. It will drag you down with it. While I dislike Romeny-I can't stand another 4 years of no jobs,higher prices,and inciteful speeches that divide us as a people.

    April 16, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  10. Seth

    The poll file doesn't include the first 17 survey questions, which must have been the questions pitting Romney vs. Obama. I wonder, since you reluctantly acknowledge Paul and Gingrich's continued campaigns, whether you pitted them straight up against Obama too.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. Bill

    Obama/Romney are tied among likely voters. Stop pushing these worthless registered voters polls on us.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Jose Herrera

    Sure–Obama in touch with America–sure....

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. naperlandian

    I think the strong Republican candidates were smart to wait until 2016. For all the complaining, Obama's actually done what he was hired to do: use government to stabilize the economy and get it growing again so the private sector can take over again while getting our military spending under control again. Very efficient and targeted operations seem to be his strategy.

    A strong VP candidate could help Romney close the gap, but s/he would probably appeal to the far right and simply shore up the base rather than pull in many independents.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Joe M.

    Funny, the Gallup and Rasmussen poll have Romeny up 4 points.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Dee

    and this: "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

    OBAMA 2012!

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Reagan80

    Another CNN poll of Likely Democrats. Gallup out today has it 47 Romney to 45 Obama. Rasmussen out today has it 47 Romney to 44 Obama.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. John

    This poll is way off. A Gallup poll released today shows Romney ahead by 3% at 49% to 46% amongst registered voters. I'm quite surprised by this, but then again, its a CNN Poll, so that explains it all. I would like to see the scientific method used for questioning and sample, I've very skeptical of these. Even via a margin of error it should not be that much off from Gallup (unless Gallup is wrong), but either way something seems incorrect.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. martín dapaah

    4 more years for obama

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Trey

    In other news... the sun sets in the west.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. ronjayaz

    Will post elsewhere.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  21. Ken in MO

    My issue with Romney is that when he was in MA he was MUCH more Liberal than Obama. I have to admit that I am fairly liberal but I am liberal all the time....Rommey was liberal when it suited him. Obama is at the very least, the same guy that ran for President...he did not completely change his view on every topic just because he ran for President. WYSIWUG (What you see is what you get) with Obama.

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Careful Thought

    1) Registered voters is different than Likely voters. And the difference is in Romney's favor
    2) 52+43=95. The 5% undecided usually go to the challenger. If you added that in now, it's 52-48. Factor in likely voters and Romney may be ahead
    3) This is before Romney is even decided as the candidate
    4) This is before any Romney-Obama debate
    5) Out of work people aren't going to vote for the nice guy. They're going to vote for the guy most likely to turn the economy around. Obama can't run on his dismal record

    6) CNN may as well admit they're openly rooting for Obama, and will only highlight news that favors him.

    7) 56% of people want Obamacare repealed (Where's that ironic story? More people want it repealed than want to re-elect Obama)
    8) 58% Believe economy STILL in recession

    9) The Democratic controlled senate haven't even TRIED to pass an annual budget the last THREE YEARS. Can you IMAGINE, if the newly controlled REPUBLICAN congress had failed to meet its legal requirement to pass a budget for one year much less three? it'd be top story on CNN. There'd be a clock "1012 days since Republicans passed a budget"

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  23. sayer

    Obama 2012!

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  24. im rich

    cnn, msnbc, tree huggers,minorities,illegals, abortionists, banks, wall street, fannie, freddie, all of his bail out cronies, cash for clunkers, demonthugs, demorats, atheist 47% that pay no taxes, fluke, trayvons followers like new black panthers, muslims, his mother in law and aunt and uncle that live off taxpayeres?? what a broad base or maybe a bunch of broads that pay zero taxes, all of obamas base !!!!!!! GE< buffet, soros. haaaaa haaaaaaa

    April 16, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  25. Sandy

    Let's see. The real Romney just told Obama to start packing.

    An excellent example of the ego-maniacal traits of a multimillionaire who thinks he can buy any toy he desires. Even the White House.

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
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