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. rasabu

    It's amazing that those who feel Hillary Clinton carpet-bagged herself into the Senate seem to be from outside NY State. I was born and raised in NYC and had the honor of voting for her to represent my views in the Senate. As I recall in Her last Senatorial run, almost 70% of New Yorkers voted for Hillary. I don't think they would call her a carpet bagger. Where else were they going to move to?
    Now Caroline is another story. Where has she lived most of her life? You said where? Oh, New York. Each time I hear of all of the wonderful work Caroline has done for the Board of Education in NYC, I think to myself how hard she also worked to remain out of the spotlight. One cannot have it both ways. You cannot not vote and expect people to vote for you. And, it is not misogyny to support one women for the Senate and president and another women for the NY Senate seat and not support Caroline Kennedy. There are some highly qualified female congress members in New York that have earned that seat through their work, their commitment to New Yorkers. Caroline has done nothing compared to them. Some examples to google would include Carolyn Maloney, Nydia Velasquez, and Kirstin Gillibrand.

    December 29, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Soccer Nana

    If Bush was "allowed" to remain president and Palin was "allowed" to be on the failed GOP ticket (never properly vetted), then C. Kennedy qualifies to fill a soon-to-be-vacant Senatorial seat.

    December 29, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. LIP

    Do you suppose that Caroline is fearful that if she doesn't get this nomination, that she may be stuck with Teddy's seat when he finally retires?

    December 29, 2008 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |

    If you don't like any of the candidates then don't vote. You aren't forced to. Also, Matt, lord knows that douche-bag Palin is SO qualified for her job. OMG. And EVEN more qualified to be VP.

    December 29, 2008 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Soccer Nana

    @ matt, saltsman needs you to record another song to send to lush-oxycontin dumbaugh. Loser.

    December 29, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. ch

    She could never compare to Hillary.

    Hillary campaigned for over a year, visited all 62 counties, gave countless interviews, knew EVERY issue, scared Guiliani out of the race, dominated in three televised debates (remember Ricky Lazio?) and was elected and re-elected in 2 LANDLIDE elections.

    Nobody worked harder and nobody knew more than Hillary – New York's loss is Obama's gain.

    December 29, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Of course she is "qualiified" to be a senator. She is intelligent, well educated, politically aware of the issues, and willing to serve. In my view, she is better suited to the position than many who currently hold it. The fact that her name is Kennedy doesn't hurt, but that is not what qualifies her for the position. She will have two years to prove herself, and then the good people of New York can either retain her or move on with someone else.

    December 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Really

    Why is she even being considered? It is funny how with Palin, the left was up in arms about her qualifications. Now the same group is strongly supporting an unqualified person for the Senate.

    December 29, 2008 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. jaye

    Caroline will be an excellent senator – she is a brilliant woman.

    December 29, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. michal

    There seems to be sexism involved here, previous active political experience has not seemed to make most of our current sentators that effective, maybe its time for another outsider who has shown concern for kids, education etc.

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

    December 29, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Jerry Lincoln

    Can I be senator too?

    December 29, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |

    who ever thinks she is qualified needs their head examined.

    December 29, 2008 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. jess

    Caroline is indeed qualified to be the senator from New York. She is extremely well educated..she is an author..she knows the ins and outs of politics, and she has spent her adult life helping the less fortunate.

    Why is she being it because of her name...or, is it because she is wealthy? This is so unfair. I hope the people of NY will take their blinders off and give Caroline the respect and support that she deserves.

    December 29, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  14. michal

    folks, do your research, she has been actively involved in NYs educational system for years and has raised over 60 million dollars for the children of NY. The only qualifications for the Senate are, "the will of the people"
    on the voting issue, how many of you have voted in every single election...not just the presidential, every honest with yourself!

    December 29, 2008 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  15. TM in CO

    While she has championed many good causes, I do not believe that because she is a Kennedy makes her "qualified". She should stick to what she does best – Champion good causes.

    December 29, 2008 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  16. deb0155

    Other than having the last name of Kennedy – what has she done? Caroline Kennedy is so underqualified – and this is what's wrong with our whole government! We put pretty people into office – and when it fails – we're all surprised.

    December 29, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  17. arc, Lugano CH

    Lisa V December 29th, 2008 12:15 pm ET
    Interesting. . . considering most men are gaga over Palin. We ol' gals know what men really see as "qualifications."
    You are correct and your use of 'most men' is much appreciated. Cheers.

    December 29, 2008 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. dr.mimi de la cuz










    December 29, 2008 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Matt McCraney

    Just because you are a Kennedy does not mean you should automatically have the right to hold any office. All politicians should have to work from the ground up, yes that means working at McDonalds and or Wal-Mart at minimum wage and support their families on that for at least 5 years Maybe that will put them intouch with real americans and their lives. Maybe then they will have something to think about when they approve their yearly pay increase

    December 29, 2008 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Ann

    What reason other than coming out for Obama, and having the last name Kennedy, makes her a candidate? She was in obscurity to the media really until she said her children got her enthused about Obama. So does this mean she feels she is owed the seat? Would she have run for the seat at any other time or for any other vacant seat when she found it not important enough to even vote herself? Seems like qualifications no longer stand for anything in this election as long as you have a name going for you.

    December 29, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  21. J.C.

    Yes, work experience is also important. However, if you think those House representatives from NY have a better work experience, you will have to look at what they have done with their golden opportunity. I am not impressed. I would rather pick a new person with new ideas.

    Although Kennedy is not a new name, she has been out of public life for all her life while she was raising her kids. She represents new blood in the Congress, because she is new with a Kennedy name, which she has no choice.

    December 29, 2008 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  22. David

    Can we get back to having special elections to fill empty seats in Congress? This will make the candidates spell out how they will lead our country by campaigning. We the people should decide who is in office and not one person.

    December 29, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  23. j

    I don't believe she's qualified. If she's truly interested, she can run for the seat in 2010. It should not be handed to her because her daddy was a famous president.

    December 29, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. Steve

    Kennedy is at least as qualified as many of the candidates who have run for the Senate. She is well-educated, well-traveled, and intelligent. She can, and does, read newspapers and news magazines. She actually knows where countries besides Russia are.
    As near as I can tell, the only reason people are saying she isn't qualified is because she's not part of the good ol' boy network. She hasn't yet learned how to attach pork barrel riders to bills. She hasn't yet learned how to cut deals in back rooms of the Senate building. She hasn't learned how to obstruct bills that don't serve her own political agenda to her liking. She sounds like a great candidate to me!

    December 29, 2008 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  25. Kimberly

    Hey Guys

    What’s experience we elected George & Dick for two terms

    December 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
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