December 29th, 2008
12:03 PM ET
11 years ago

Poll: Gender gap over Caroline Kennedy’s Senate run


Women are more likely than men to see Caroline Kennedy as qualified to be New York's next senator, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Monday. (Getty Images/File)

(CNN) - A new national poll suggests that men and women don't see eye to eye on the question of whether Caroline Kennedy is qualified to serve as a U.S. senator.

Just over half of all Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday say that Kennedy is qualified to be a senator: 52 percent say she is, and 42 percent disagree.

Watch: 'Maybe that day is now,' Kennedy says of seeking political office

But the poll also indicates there's a gender gap, with 57 percent of women saying Kennedy is qualified. That number drops to 47 percent among men, with 46 percent of male respondents saying Kennedy is not qualified.

"Men may think of qualifications for public office in terms of work experience, while women may be looking at a candidate's life experience," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Caroline Kennedy has a personal history that may be compelling to many women, but her resume is not very long, and that may be a mark against her to some men."

Kennedy is one of the candidates hoping to replace Hillary Clinton as New York's junior senator if the secretary of state-designate is confirmed by the Senate as expected next month. New York State Gov. David Paterson, who has the sole responsibility to replace Clinton, has been the target of intense lobbying efforts by would-be senators in recent weeks. Whoever he picks would serve for two years before running in a special election in 2010. If the candidate won that contest, he or she would have to run again in 2012, when Clinton's current term ends.

Paterson is a Democrat, so there's no question that the seat will remain in in the party’s hands.

Kennedy, daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy and niece of longtime Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, has received the most media attention — and, since she's never run for or served in public office, the most scrutiny as well.

The new CNN/ORC poll suggests that the gender gap is not the only division among Americans when it comes to Kennedy - Americans are divided by party as well, says Holland, with 61 percent of Democrats and only 39 percent of Republicans calling her qualified.

When then-first lady Hillary Clinton initially considered a run for this Senate seat in 1999 — her first campaign for public office - 62 percent of all Americans thought she was qualified to be a senator. Clinton faced an even bigger gender gap, says Holland: 60 percent of men in 1999 thought she was qualified, and 77 percent of women felt the same way.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted December 19-21, with 1,013 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: Caroline Kennedy • CNN poll
soundoff (252 Responses)
  1. JM

    For the person bashing Peter King's qualifications. As a controller he was responsible for the budgeting and accounting functions of his organization. He actually ran for public office and won on more than one occasion. He has practical real world experience. He is not demanding he be appointed to his first public office strictly on daddy's name. Give me a break. Let her run in two years if she wants to be senator so badly.

    December 29, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. Declan

    So the un-elected governor of NY will be giving the NY senate seat to someone of his own choice. And they say that we live in a democracy?

    Why cant we have an election and then we can decide whether Ms Kennedy should be our senator?

    December 29, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  3. Mike Ft Collins , CO

    I don't understand the problem since she meets the qualifications listed in the U.S. Constitution. There have been many currently serving who are less qualified than Caroline in both the House and Senate. Sony Bono was less qualified and when he was killed in a skiing accident his wife was given his seat and she was less qualified but she was re-elected in the next cycle. If Caroline is put in Clinton's seat she will have to run in a couple of years and if she fails to win re-election so be it.

    Just a short time ago the President elect wasn't qualified either to some but he still won and I am sure he would feel that she was qualified.

    December 29, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  4. Change

    You know, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know, you know,Come on SNL you can have a field day with this super rich woman. Reminds me of the Uh Uh Uh man.

    December 29, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. JM

    I have to agree with my upstate NY counter parts. Atlease Mayor Brown has accomplishments of his own. He was a pretty popular state senator before becoming mayor of Buffalo. I am by no means a big fan of his, as a matter of fact I campaigned on behalf of his Mayoral opponent. However, for Caroline Kennedy to come and spend minutes in Buffalo and then to claim she understands the issues facing upstate New York is not only insulting to Mayor Brown's actual accomplishments but it is also belittling to the residents of Western New York.

    December 29, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. JMO

    Curious question – where is her wedding ring? all the pic's where I have seen her left hand, no ring. Her own comments make me question her being appointed. She sounds like it's a whim almost. And her main reason is her family name. That name is just a birth name. Nothing more. What has she done, personally, that would qualify her. She doesn't seem to speak well in interviews. If she wants to "run" for public office, start doing stuff locally, get current experience under her belt, then run for the office in 2 years (and use her own money – says she is worth $100 million). I bet most of her money is due to parents legacy, not her own work

    December 29, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Lucy Sommer

    Is Caroline Kennedy qualified to be New York's senator? She's better qualified than many senator's we now have! She'd have my vote if I lived in NY.

    December 29, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    I understand that just because your last name is Kennedy you should have any thing you want..but seriously..what are we thinking, I live in Illinois and I was hoping to get the senate seat here lol but no ..what is going on people to the world we was once proud is changing for the worse right in front of our eyes, No one in accountable any longer for any thing they do, The president pardons the same few hundred people we wasted our time and tax dollars to convict, well I want someone to bail me out it does'ent seem to matter that we pad everyone's pocket ..we live in a world were politicians lie and steal, they do things they know are wrong but they do them anyway because george will pardon them right scooter ..would someone please check on the small americans we are still here plugging away hoping for a better tomorrow

    December 29, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. Sean

    This women has never held a job. She is no better the Paris Hilton, she just is quiet about it. She lives off of family money and thats it. We need people in the government that knows what it means to squeeze a penny. Do understand that sometimes you go for ground beef on sale, not prime angus. She will do nothing more then think everyone is as well off as she is. And she had the nerve to go on the air and talk about how she has to work twice as hard now. Really? Tell that to the people that work 4 jobs, and still find time to take their kids to practice. We need people that understand how to balance a check book, not how to swipe a credit card.

    December 29, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. chuck


    December 29, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. Boston Irish

    Michal "quote" If her name wasn't Kennedy folks wouldn't be dumping on her.

    If her name wasn't Kennedy she wouldn't even be in the running and you sure wouldn't be making comments if she was qualified or not. Personally, I feel if you want to bring up the Kennedy name to see if someone could live up to it, just think about Teddy and then think about Mary Jo Kopechne. Doesn't seem like a name anyone would want to live up to. More like a name I would run from. She should have stuck to her married name.

    December 29, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. obama08

    I admire her for wanting to serve after supporting Obama this year. It showed that anything is possible. However, I think she carries some baggage for living such a private life for so long. First, is the need for full financial disclosure, which she has refused unless she is selected. Not acceptable. What does she have to hide? Secondly, is her fund-raising capability. If Paterson chooses her now, there will be the appearance of quid pro quo in 2010 when HE runs for re-election, and SHE is campaigning for HIM. I think she has a sense of entitlement due to her name. I don't doubt her sincerity in serving the people of NY, but she needs to earn their trust.

    December 29, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Reid

    Just because Caroline Kennedy is a Kennedy does not qualify her for a Senator's seat. If she actually has some actual qualifications, I have not read about them to date. But then, who of our Senators is really qualified for the position? They're done a pretty good job of selling the American taxpayer down the toilet - virtually all of them!

    December 29, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. jrzshor

    to steve from NY

    your statement ms kennedy "Until a week or so ago I don't think she was ever north of Weschester ", is inaccurate.

    London is north of "weschester" as is Paris, Berne, and Moscow. Rome is just little north, but Venice is way north.

    so, you are plainly WRONG.

    she has been north of "Weschester"

    December 29, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. Jake

    Why can't she be a senator? Is she anymore or less corrupt than any other politician? A real change in our political system is long overdue.

    December 29, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. Stephen

    Experience alone is overrated. Bush's cronies supposedly "had experience." Yep. Serving themselves more thoroughly and criminally than we've ever seen at this level.

    December 29, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. Barbara NY

    I'm a woman and a life long resident of New York state. I don't believe that Caroline Kennedy should be given Hillary Clinton's senate seat because she is not the best qualified person for the position. If she is handed this position, I won't vote for her in the next election.

    December 29, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. Rick

    Will someone please explain to me what the perceived qualifications are for becoming a U.S. Senator? Everyone is harping on Ms. Kennedy's apparent "lack" of experience but haven't all these so-called "qualified" senators gotten this country into its present mess?

    I believe it is time for a change and Ms. Kennedy is intelligent, well-spoken, thoughtful and perhaps most important, independent (please read this as "cannot be bought").

    December 29, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. hillfany

    if she is looking for a throne than its her if NY senator need to be qualified person than she is not the one. If she had moral she will have never seek this position with no experience.

    shame on you Caroline!

    December 29, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. jan

    Caroline is not qualified for this position. Just because her last name is Kennedy does not mean she should get this position. It should go to someone who is. Whoever said politics are fair though. Look is the president elect.

    December 29, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. MikeH

    She's like Sarah Palin, but with a famous last name.

    Sorry gang, she's not the best we can do, who's next on the list?

    December 29, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  22. Boston Irish

    Gordon – "How can a person who did not vote be entitled to a Senate Seat."

    I guess she can just vote Present all the time and then when Obama is gone, she will be qualified to take his place as President. I mean if it's good enough for Obama, it's good enough for her.

    December 29, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  23. tony smith

    will you guys ever get it? this gender gap is largely a political party gap. more men are republicans.

    December 29, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  24. I live here...

    Well, I happen to actually LIVE in NY. Why does this even matter what the rest of the country wants?

    We've had enough of these political stepping stone politicians, Hillary was only here for the step up, thats it. Now this one?

    NO, we don't want you, go back to your millionaire 212 area code and lets find someone who cares about the REST of NY.

    Its a big state, its not just the 5 boroughs the city you know...

    December 29, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. J.C.

    I like Caroline Kennedy, because she doesn't automatically say she would support a Democratic candidate for mayor. I like her courage to stick with principles and not to bow to partisan nonsense. I will never vote for somebody because of party affiliation.

    You may not have noticed, but a lot of voters are very tired of partisan politics.

    December 29, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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