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. Independent Jack

    Its no suprise the president is ahead.The american people see that romney wants the middleclass ans working poor and women/seniors to make all the sacrafices whilke the rich get all the goodies and contribute even less.Romney wants to see wages get even lower with less benefits to americans while the seniors have to dig even deeper even though they r on fixed incomes.I think Americans can see Romney is Mr Etch A Sketch and do not trust him at all.

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  2. gballlen

    @Just Say No to Flipper

    Preaching a whole lot of a hate arn't you u st upid lib.

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  3. PitBull

    If CNN had anything to do with this "poll" and given that there is a 3-5% error margin either way, I'd say that makes them equal or Romney possibly slightly ahead!

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. gregor1971

    The problem with this poll is in the internals. It has way too few Republicans voting, and we know that Republican voting registration is way up from four years ago, yet this poll has the same voter ID as 2008.

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    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.
    --------------
    We've already jump started the economy. That's what got us into this big mess in the first place. "Jump Starting the Economy." is is a conservative talking point. Liberals talk about education, health care, highways, and railways, which make up the core infrastructure of this country and its' population.

    For conservatives, money is the most important thing. For liberals, the people are the most important thing.

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Flailing quails

    Yes! My faith in America just strengthened. I love this country.
    OBAMA 2012.

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. Franky

    Are seniors delusional , ok, the Ryan plan calls for cutting medicaid , medicare, and SS in extreme ways, especially, letting states decide what they will pay out. I'm all for MM and SS reform but the republican philosophy puts the entire sacrifice on the middle and poorer classes, they never want to ask anything of the wealthy, I don't understand this mentality at all.

    April 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. mike58

    CNN who did you poll the White House??

    April 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    And this is "Breaking News."

    April 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. Rory

    What is the comparative breakdown between registered democrats, republicans and independents in this study? Is it representative of the actual % that is found among registered voters? You need to address this in the write-up.

    April 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  11. nautiusm

    A CNN poll is about as valid as a FoxNews poll.

    April 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  12. NameVern4prez

    What would be so wrong if we elected an actual hard working American instead of a career politician?

    April 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  13. DC Observer

    This too shall pass -- by the end of August Romney will have 10 points over Obama - The country cannot afford 4 more years of Mr Do Nothing

    April 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. Patrick

    Only 9%? Well, if he selects Sanitarium or any of the wackos from Florida, it will jump to over 20%

    April 16, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. demogoat

    I wonder if Mitt will ENVY Obama, or maybe he will propose to eliminate the Office of the Presidency.

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

    why is this breaking news?

    April 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. thes33k3r

    I know this seems credulous, but I'm amazed that over 40% would vote for Romney.

    April 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. AL in West Palm Beach

    Romney is only winning those who don't need govt. vote...

    that's a 1/3 of the population.... Hey republicans, this guy is going to lose. Pick another funnier loser. At least I'll have a laugh while watching him go down in flames.

    April 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. mason

    Romney's message...."your job will be outsourced...but hey you can keep your guns"

    April 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. parrothead

    I am not sure I would pack my bags yet , Mr. President...

    April 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. TJW68

    Where's the political breakdown of the respondents??
    Without it, the accuracy of the poll cannot be evaluated.

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

    Is this poll taken from registered voters OR registered voters with jobs and pay taxes???

    April 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. John

    I hope the lead widens to 15 by November!

    April 16, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. nautiusm

    A CNN poll about Obama winning is as valid as a Foxnews poll saying Romney is in the lead.

    April 16, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  25. LG

    Funny Gallup, Rasmussen, and of course Fox have Romney in the lead as of YESTERDAY... But CNN, of course just like Fox, are going to skew it in favor of their candidate.

    Just Say no to Flipper, your comments are just lame... I would tell you how but I fear it would just fall on def ears!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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