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. S Callahan

    What people are forgetting is the impact she made on NYC schools...
    including that she secured much needed funding that enhaced and improved many schools. She is capable of working with people, she is intellectually capable to carry her own, and political swavy encough to move through the waters of rough sea in NYS politics.
    I don't care that her last name is Kennedy...I think her ambitions alone is evidence she can handle this role and I personally, as a NYS citizen, would welcome her in this role.

    December 29, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. JB

    And yet a large majority of women thought that Palin was unqualified. A woman who ran for office and was a Governor. Clearly women define qualfications based on issues and not work experience. There is a difference between whether someone is qualified and whether you agree with the positions that person takes. Just another example of liberals (most women are liberals) refusing to accept that others may have differennt beliefs, and, that is OK.

    December 29, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  3. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    Men have screwed up this country long enough.......I would like to see 53 percent of Congress made up of women, to match the population.

    Now, watch CNN and see who is the "angriest....." in the crowds....
    99 percent are men.

    Men are hot headed, short fused, time to get more women in office to bring sanity to our country.

    December 29, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    It is disappointing that she hasn't voted in every election (I think that I have missed a few in the past 10 years - school boards). With that being said, the constitution only has the age and being a citizen requirement. I don't think that she isn't qualified. It is that people think that there could be more people who have more relevant experience that could help the state of NY which the person would represent.

    December 29, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Steve

    Like, you know, uhhhh, gag me with a spoon! You know.

    December 29, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. Joey G

    Caroline Kennedy should not take things for granted. She might be a Kennedy, but is she fit to fill the shoes of Hillary Clinton?
    Can we not fill the vacancy with a person that has no Kennedy name on his/her lapel?
    I for one does not agree that because she is a Kennedy, she is well qualified for this vacant position.
    So be it.

    December 29, 2008 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. Cynthia in MI

    Why do we need a national poll on Caroline Kennedy? Only New Yorkers should be asked their opinion on whether she is qualified.

    December 29, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  8. John, Brooklyn, New York

    To Jeff Spangler,

    If I were to select a surgeon, I would indeed evaluate her education, her training, her experience performing the type of surgery I needed, and her board certifications.

    However, elected officials are not surgeons. They are representatives of the political ideals, values, and policy goals of the people they represent. Unlike medicine, there are no particular graduate schools for Senators, senate "residencies", or boards for Senate candidate certification. The only qualification that a senator (or any elected official, for that matter) must have in a democracy is the will of the people to serve.

    I have no doubt that Caroline Kennedy can adequately represent my interests as a New Yorker in the Senate.

    December 29, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  9. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    I support Caroline Kennedy's bid to be Senator. She is as qualified as anyone else and I think she would make a good Senator.

    December 29, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  10. Susan

    Just because her last name is "Kennedy" it doesn't make her qualified....

    December 29, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  11. Matt

    Typical of the democrats to choose someone because of their social ties and appearance instead of their ability.

    Look at the President Elect for example....

    December 29, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Change 2008

    She is more qualified than many sitting senators, folks. I am a man, too but wonder why men seem to think that someone with a law degree, who has worked most of her life defending the poor and needy, is not qualified to be a US senator. Sexism at play, pure and simple.

    December 29, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |

    I still remember her as a kid saying goodbye to her father as the cason went by. However, she has tried to stay out of the public eye and suffered much, the death of her father, then her mother and then her younger brother all played out in the public eye. So, I understand her not wanting to be open with the press, but it does seem that she is not strong enough for the rough and tumble antics of politics or the public scrutiny. Plus, I think she is being pressured by her own family.

    I think she would be better off working in the background on the Obama team by bringing some of her past eductional fund raising and expertise to the table. Of course, that could just be that this old man wanting to be the "father" and protect her from the MSM, a bias not shared by younger folks.

    December 29, 2008 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  14. EW

    After reading an interview she gave very recently she doesn' think very highly of anyone but herself. She can't even tell reporters what made her decide to want to be a Senator. She told them she would think about it and get back to them. More like give her time to make up a touchy-feely story that wouldn't sound like she thinks she's entitled to the Sneate seat.

    December 29, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  15. Melinda Charlotte, NC

    Gender gap, huh? Not for me. I am a female, and I do not feel that Caroline Schlossberg is in any way qualified to be a US senator. She has never even had a job, for goodness sake. How can someone who has never had to work for a living possibly understand the needs of working Americans? Short answer, she doesn't. She has also said recently that if she is not appointed, she will not run in 2010. The only way you learn about the real needs of Americans and New Yorkers in particular is to get out and campaign. If you are unwilling to work for the job, why in the world should you get it? I think Mrs Schlossberg is disconnected from reality. I really do. Caroline, if you want the job, do what every other pol does. CAMPAIGN AND WIN THE VOTES. We do not love in a monarchy; we live in a democracy.

    December 29, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  16. liz

    What are the "qualifications" to be a senator?
    Lately it seems as if you deserve to have a criminal record, that's about all that's necessary.

    December 29, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Apples for sale

    Honesty should trump all cards in this day and age.She is qualified.What happened to Mike Connell and why did his plane run out of gas?

    December 29, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  18. Gohi

    The senate seat is democrat,so it will remain democrat. Caroline K is the best candidate to fill that position. If Paterson picks someone else he be reelected, so we, the Obama people have the last word in New York, noone can deny that.
    Be careful Mr. Governor don't be fool by the media. That is another way to combat Obama disciple Caroline Kennedy, so don't let them accomplish that.

    December 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  19. Charles L. Shaw, Liverpool, NY

    Thanks CNN for sensoring my comments again...
    Hey I only have to live here in NY.

    December 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |

    @Lisa V an astute and unfortunately, probably an accurate explanation of why Palin was a hit with men and Caroline is not!

    December 29, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  21. obama-mama

    I don't think she's tough enough....Hillary was tough

    December 29, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |

    Glad she's not in my state!

    Look, like that other idiot who can see Russia from land, also, too, doesn't know what newspapers she reads or what Bush's doctrine is or know any other supreme court ruling besides Roe v Wade--she is not qualified, also, too, you betcha, also, too.

    December 29, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |

    I believe and don't shoot me for saying this but men do tend to look at work experience and woman tend to over look that. Life experience plays an important part but work experience is better for certain positions and I believe work experience in this case should win out.

    Just remember a big percentage of women wanted Palin over Hillary, which backs up my work experience over life experience theory. Even though we ALL know Hillary was FAR more qualified, women chose Palin because she has five kids.

    December 29, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  24. Robert

    As much as I'd like to see more women politicians, Kennedy never suffered like a poor person. I'm sick of people born into rich families running things. Lets put some people who came from the streets.; Obama is a good example.

    December 29, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Sherrol in Canada

    Men saying she shouldn't be Senator has nothing to do with her qualifications. If she was someone they felt comfortable fantasizing about, they'd be on the bandwagon to send her to Washington.

    December 29, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11