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. natfka

    this is funny, because Gallup has Romney with a 2 point lead over Obama

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Joel

    Wonder what would of happened if you included Ron Paul in this survey, instead of assuming Romney is the nominee..

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. rrose

    CNN didn't post the Democrat/GOP split in this sample. It would tell a more honest story of the Obama lead.

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Your post sums up what Liberal Democrats are in this country.

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. John

    More office polls at CNN

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Dave

    These polls are pretty useless at this stage of the election cycle. One of the big determining factors will be the debates this fall...Romney has a tendency to make all sorts of gaffes, and Obama is a great debater. And, all sorts of world/national events could happen in the months leading up to the election which would might require Romney and Obama to state their positions, and that may or may not "define" the candidates in the minds of voters. No wonder that Romney's camp, along with the Republicans started "spinning" the President as having a "war against women." They read these polls and do nothing more than develop a talking point on how to use the opinions against the other.

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. Emily

    Awww. You guys are so happy, you don't know what to do. Breaking News! Pfft

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. ron

    And we all know CNN has no political agenda or bias.

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Big George in Big D

    You have totally described the liberal mind set. Kudos for you! Thank God YOU are POTUS!

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Kate

    Its way too early. As it gets closer likeability will not be as much of a factor. Alot of people love people from a distance but when you get up close they realize that person is not the right fit. Obama has not been good for the country for 3.5 years and when we get to November we are going to see him outed.

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. JacoL

    I feel like CNN's poll may be slightly biased but it gets the point across. Whatever side you stand on Mitt Romney has an image problem that may not be fair but has stuck to him. He's got his work cut out for him in the general election. but I feel like a lot can happen between now and then especially if Obama loses his health care law in the Supreme Court and if the OAS falls apart. hmm.

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  12. Joe

    CNN is proving how bias they are.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  13. wulfdiggler

    Oboma won't have a chance after the October Surprise!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. kat

    People are just plain ignorant if they would give this clown a second term. I would vote for anyone over him, and yes I work and pay taxes. I don't expect the government to support me.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  15. Bob

    Yet Gallup and Rasmussen have Romney with a slight lead......
    Dig deeper with the CNN poll, you will likely find they interviewed a disproportionate percentage of Democrats.
    Dont believe the liberal media!

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  16. Thayer

    9% will grow as more people enlighten themselves on the cult Romney belong to.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  17. John

    I'm a little shocked.

    After the divisive and rhetoric filled primaries, I'm surprised it isn't more.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  18. CJ

    Disclaimer: I'm an Independent voter.

    I can't wait to see these two debate. Obama is going to annihilate him. LOL

    I definitely like the President more. I went to Romney's website to research his policies and it was just a bunch of Obama bashing. I honestly wanted to see if he had views that I could relate to and support. Oh well.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  19. natfka

    Romney has a 2 point lead in the Gallup Poll that was just released. hmmmm

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. OBGYN

    Funny. The Fox News poll has Romeny up on Obama. Fox partisan media at it's best.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  21. 1twinsfan

    Mitt's jeans always look brand new and freshly pressed, you know. I can't wait to hear recall today's Red sox game. You know, some of his best friends are team owners.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  22. DJL

    He wont hold that lead for long!

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  23. Independent_Thinker

    They are both awful in their own ways. As long as we have a two-party system, America will continue to regurgitate liberal OR republican policies every so many years. Outcome will invariably be the same: CRAP.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  24. Alan

    More Liberal Lies..............

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. john

    President Obama may be likeable but this administration is not strong economically and has exploded the deficit. I do not want more big government policies either. We should have had a bustling recovery in the past 3 yrs, especially with all the deficit spending & stimulus...but its been marginal at best. I will likely vote for Romney based on economic issues and size/scope of government.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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