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. Gene Kannee

    What difference does it make what the rest of the country thinks whether Caorline Kennedy gets the job or not. The only person that gets to make that decision is the Govenor of New YorK and he answers to the people of New York State.

    December 29, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  2. JDC

    Have we arrived at a place where YOUR NAME entitles you to an office?

    December 29, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |

    To all the repubs saying Kennedy is not qualified, Caroline would be such a "breath of fresh air" which was a valid qualification for repubs VP candidate.

    At least Caroline's damage would be restricted by the fact she is only one of 100 and not a heart beat away from being the leader of the largest democracy on the planet.

    December 29, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. Nanochristmas love

    Caroline Kennedy has admitted to only ever casting ONE vote for any office in her entire life, and it was for the city counselor in her area. She's admitted to never voting for her presidential pick, she's never voted for a senator, she's never voted for a congressman. THAT says something ladies and gentleman.

    If you don't believe me, look it up.. I kid you not people. This woman is not a responsible citizen, and therefore is not qualified to be senator for goodness sake.

    December 29, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. JM

    "But Uncle Teddy I want that Senate seat. I'm entitled. After all you traded on my dad's name all these years, how it's my turn."

    December 29, 2008 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. ran

    As a guy I say she is more then qualified. Also I can't believe anyone would deny her the chance to be Senator. She has proven many time over her commitment to the people. she could have done anything else with her life like make more money as a CEO or upscale Lawyer but she decided much like Obama to work for the people. We need more people like her in the Senate not more of the power hungry divisive type we now have in both parties. If after 2 yrs New Yorkers don't like her then they can vote her out but give her a chance because she will deliver for the people not only for New York but for us all.

    December 29, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. susan

    Count me with the other women. Of course, Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be New York's Senator.

    December 29, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. JM

    At least Hillary spent more than 90 minutes in upstate New York before trying to say she was qualified. Oh and by the way as much as I didn't vote for Hillary, she won an election to acheive her Senate seat. She didn't demand she be appointed.

    December 29, 2008 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Sweet Pea

    Sweet Caroline......good times never seems so good!

    December 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  10. energy

    She has many things going for her. First, she is the Obama candidate. Second, Dave Patterson does not want to be on record as the man who said NO to the last of the camelot. Even other candidates, such as Cuomo do not want to anger the Democratic establishment for prevailing over St. Caroline. Is she qualified? Hell No! She is not in league with Clinton or even St. Sarah!!

    December 29, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. AJ

    I am curious as to what she has done that make folks think she is even remotely qualified. Coming from a political dynasty doesn’t make one qualified. While folks knock Hillary Clinton and paint her with the same brush as Kennedy, these folks have short memories. Hillary Clinton was very involved in policy debates during her husband’s presidency and is well known as a policy wonk. Comparing her to Kennedy does Senator Clinton a disservice. Like her or not, folks have to admit she has been very involved in American political life for a long time. Caroline Kennedy on the other hand has shied from political life, until now when a very popular president elect is about to take office and the path for any Democratic Senator looks like it will be an easy one.

    December 29, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Iowa

    I should point out that women were not backing Palin over Hillary. Palin wasn't in the race until nearly two months after Hillary dropped out. They were never running at the same time.

    December 29, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. JM

    Gov. Palin was elections and wasn't appointed to her position as Governor. She was appointed to the Alaska Oil and Gas commission but resigned when she informed the sitting Governor at the time of the corruption that was going on and he refused to do anything about it. She then ran against the Governor in an election and won! Don't insult Gov. Palin by attempting to compare Caroline Kennedy-whatever her last name is to someone who actually worked for what she has achieved.

    December 29, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. Kid Politic

    Caroline Kennedy is about as qualified for that Senate seat as Obama is for the Leader of the Free World. (Which is, *cough* the fact he's not qualified at all!) He's not even a natural born citizen for heaven's sake!

    We need a president who can lead this nation through times of crisis, prosperity, and remain loyal to our roots. Which I why I say....PALIN TWENTY TWELVE!

    By the way, I'd like to make a comment about President Bush. As the First Lady and Secretary of State said, time will tell how great of a leader our president is. Everybody always talks about his so called "mistakes"–and criticizes him for no reason. Nobody EVER mentions the great things he's down for this country and the world. He's fighted AIDS more than any other president, he's had to deal with terrible natural disasters, and helped our nation recover after 9/11.

    I am very proud to say I am one of that 25% that is happy with our president.

    December 29, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. Molly

    Who cares? This is a matter for New York residents not the nation so national polls are worthless! There is way to much actual news out there CNN...go chase it!

    December 29, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  16. Danny, OH

    If George W. was qualified to be president of this Country then Caroline Kennedy should be qualified enough to be a senator.

    December 29, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  17. Sharon Kitchen

    Alot of people throughout American history have decided to run for public office. Many had no experience. Take sometime and review a few of them.
    Polls have also been known to be wrong. Again,take a look at a few of them.
    Who among us is realy in the judge seat to say yes or no ,to her "wish" to be selected for the "opportunity "to serve the public?

    December 29, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  18. sky

    My criteria; intelligent, ethical, honest, quick learner, common understanding of how Washington works. I am pretty sure Kennedy has all of that and then some.

    December 29, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. Vince

    Was this poll taken before or after we all heard her eloquent interview you know. She is dumb as you know a a Post!

    December 29, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Carolyn Kennedy has no experience in public office. It is audacious of her to think that she is qualified. She is no more qualified than I but I don't have a famous name so no one would take me seriously if I tried to be a senator without experience. Therefore, I don't take her seriously. If she wants to be in politics, she needs to start at the bottom and learn the ropes.

    December 29, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  21. Missouri

    Why the concern over Caroline Kennedy's qualifications to be a senator? We elected an unqualified man to be president.

    December 29, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. Teresa

    Get over it. Caroline is just as qualified as senators who are actively serving in the senate. Tell the politicians to get over themself. Just because you have been a politician for 20 years does not make you qualified to do the job. It is time for change. Go CAROLINE.

    December 29, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  23. NY republican

    why would a person need experience with Capitol Hill procedures when all they need do is pick up a phone and say "Uncle Teddy, I need ... done, thanks". I'm sure "Uncle Teddy" would be ther for her.

    December 29, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Jon Cruz

    Caroline Kennedy is not participating in a Senate "run." If she were "running" for Senate she'd compete in 2010.

    December 29, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  25. happy new year

    she's more qualified than most senators that are already in office.

    December 29, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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