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. Etesot Obe

    Of course, of course, of course. You don't need to poll this. It is a waste of time and money!

    April 16, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. ricke1849

    Focus on the polls? The debt is ballooning, gas costs much jore and Iran is going nuclear. Obama care will be voted down and racial tensions are at an all time high. We have alot of problems that have not been solved.

    April 16, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. nik

    Yes the rich must, have to, pay more they benefit the most from this country heck its your obligation to pay more if you are extremely successful because that money wouldn't have happened had it not been for the services provided but who cares if that bridge colaoses full middle class workers at rush hour lord knows wealthy only work a 4 hour day

    April 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. travisgentry

    Funny how every single poll except for Fox News shows Obama with a clear lead. Wonder why that is.

    April 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. Dinosaur

    I'm.. ..soooo in loooove with yoooooou...

    April 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. pseudosciencebuster

    No doubt due to those shining examples of respect for the taxpayers and fiduciary trust, "take the fifth" GSA and Solyndra.

    April 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  7. ladyfon

    Hard to believe this survey when it states 11% of Republicans will vote for Obama. Laughable!

    April 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  8. Ralph N

    Paul, its April... and your point is?

    April 16, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  9. Steve M

    "Suppose that the presidential election were being held today and you had to choose between Barack
    Obama as the Democratic Party's candidate, and Mitt Romney as the Republican Party's candidate."

    Suppose we take a poll right here and now..... If the readers had a choice would they like to see other candidates included in the questions?

    April 16, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  10. travisgentry

    Funny how EVERY poll except for Fox News shows Obama with a clear lead. Seriously, Google "Obama Romney Poll". Obama is clearly in front, except at Fox. Wake-up you paranoid, brainwashed GOP sheep.

    April 16, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  11. John

    So, as a Mormon President, does this mean my alcohol, coffee, and cigerettes will go up? Can I trade my wife in? Go to Salt Lake City and try to buy a beer! Go to Ogden, UT. for your new wife...
    Just sayin'.

    April 16, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  12. Republican Not Voting For Romney

    Obama will win, plain and simple.

    April 16, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  13. THE TRUTH

    If anyone here was a smart and informed person, they would vote for
    the one and only RON PAUL. Any other choice shows your ignorance.
    "obamney"=godman sachs puppets. WAKE UP PPL. How much money did Ron Paul take
    from lobbyist's??????? Obama has not stopped any wars. Wake up and Think People.
    Vote RON PAUL or let the corrupt politicians vote in another of their own.

    April 16, 2012 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  14. Jake Kaas

    Both Gallup and Rasmussen have Romney up by +2 and +3 respectively. I think I'll trust them over a democratically owned new company.

    April 16, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  15. Scott

    Rasmussen did a poll the other day and Ron Paul was the only candidate that could beat Obama. Not only that, he just won delegates in Colorado and Minnesota to the national convention. Come on CNN, why don't you report this information also?

    April 16, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  16. Dinosaur

    Also if you think Fox is news you probably think Scooby Doo is Unsolved Mysteries. CNN is where it's at.

    April 16, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  17. Ann Romney

    Mitt hasn't made up his mind who he'll vote for in November.

    April 16, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  18. Carol

    It's Obama, all the way! He'll jump start everything, espcially with a Democratic Congress, and Senate.

    April 16, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. James

    Romney is up 3 points in pretty much every other poll out there, nice job CNN.

    April 16, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. Obama will Definitely Be Re-Elected

    Sorry all you haters, but our Prez will win in November, no doubt.

    April 16, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  21. Between Unemployment

    It's time to move over Romney. Paul is the only true conservative left in the race...and Paul has Obama's disaffected '08 supporters.

    April 16, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  22. Frank

    And yet the Gallup Poll released today show Mitt with 47% and Obama with 45%. Why doesn't CNN show those numbers as well?

    April 16, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Stephen

    BREAKING NEWS: CNN is biased

    April 16, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Blue Collar Worker

    @im rich: your'e off your medication again.

    April 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  25. kristinewt

    shush let's keep this quiet.

    April 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
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