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. Hypocracy has no bounds

    If people think she is qualified while at the same time against Palin then they are hipocrits and are just looking out for thier party not the people of this country.

    December 29, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. Hypocracy has no bounds

    Lisa V Wrote

    "Interesting. . . considering most men are gaga over Palin. We ol' gals know what men really see as "qualifications.""

    Do you mean her last name.

    December 29, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  3. Rick

    I think she's qualified. I just don't think she should be handed something solely because of her last name. Gov. Paterson should appoint someone qualified who has actually had the courage to put their name on the ballot before. If Caroline Kennedy wants the seat she can run in the primary in 2010.

    December 29, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Rick

    You need more than a name to be qualified. Or maybe its just another big name blow hard trying to run our lives. Show us your real qualifications, oh thats right you dont have any

    December 29, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  5. therealist

    Experience has never been a qualification for the America system. Isn't it obvious??

    December 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. JonPeter Hartford, CT

    As a former resident of NY state I recognize there are plenty of other more qualified women. Better to appoint the most qualified person, man or woman. If the senatorial seat needs to be filled by a woman to satisfy some demographic group, then select someone with experience as an elected official and a proven track record.

    Chosing someone who has not even taken the time to consistently vote as a citizen sends the wrong message. The Kennedy name and all the politicing in the media is not enough to make up for that. Caroline is not qualified, let her first get some experience in a smaller elected office. that is is f she has the time and dedication to actually run for office.

    December 29, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Bily the Milkman and Nightime Lover from Ohio

    Lets see Bush became the president without any qualificatons. Oh now I remember, he became the worse president of all time and the most hate. A man that one day should go straight to the Hague for his crimes against humanity.
    CK will be a much better politician that is for sure. GO CK!!

    December 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  8. email4kh

    Considering all the incompetent Senators already serving, you've gotta accept the possibility that the opinion of the average voter, regardless of gender, is wrong.

    December 29, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Mike, Syracuse NY

    Since women tend to vote Democratic more than men, this poll is meaningless without looking at whether there is a difference between Democratic men and women. In any event, SHE IS NOT QUALIFIED, and if her last name were Smith the polls would show that overwhelmingly.

    December 29, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Bily the Milkman and Nightime Lover from Ohio


    southern Belle I bet you voted for Bush HEHEHEEHE!

    December 29, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. CH in Maine

    News flash I am a man and I support Kennedy. But I am from Maine so it doesn't matter. Why don't you ask the people from New York? They are the ones she will be serving>

    December 29, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. tjp

    We just elected a president with minimal experience so what does that have to do with anything. This woman is a flyweight who has never held a real job and gets by on her family name. She is an absolute joke. If she wants to be in politics she should run at the bottom and work her way up. But what the heck, New Yorkers voted for Ms Clinton and she had no experience and didn't even live there.

    December 29, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Neil Diamond

    Sweet Caroline...

    December 29, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. TexAnnie *-*-*-*-*

    I'm a woman, and I don't think she's necessarily the best candidate for the Senate seat.

    Caroline has done a lot of the same things I've done over the years- served on boards & committees & commissions, etc. However, above that I've also served a couple of terms to elected office (City Council), and I've worked in the political scene off & on for close to 35 years, and I've run two different non-profits as executive director, and I ran my own restaurant business at one point. And guess what?? I sure wouldn't consider myself qualified to be a U.S. Senator.

    Just having the Kennedy name and the Kennedy money doesn't necessarily make you a qualified candidate for the Senate.

    December 29, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Texas Teacher

    I suspect that if Caroline Kennedy would only wink and blink... and give them a few "you betchas"... men would be a little more inclined to support her! But no, this woman is well qualified and supports the issues of Clinton and Obama.... God forbid we should give her a chance! What they are looking for is Barbie Doll who simpers, smiles coyly and who will show her ignorance by doing whatever she is told!

    Kennedy will be a serious contender in the political scene. It's in her blood and the males out there know it! 🙂

    December 29, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  16. Greg

    It doesn't matter if she is qualified or not.....she supported Obama endlessly thus is owed a favor by him.

    Boy....he is runnin out of jobs to give away

    December 29, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. email4kh

    BTW, Sherrol, the fact that she's qualified to hop in the sack with me, doesn't lead me to believe she's quailfied to be a Senator, so keep your chauvinistic comments to yourself.

    December 29, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. Mark

    Aren't we all tired of the expectation that anyone named Kennedy is automatically qualified? Get real............ it's not like Ted has made any real contributions to society, and let's not go back too many years or we'll all get off on another rant about his antics.

    December 29, 2008 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. Maggie

    I'm a woman, an Independent, not a Kennedy hater and she is not qualified for the job. I was supporting her until she did her interviews with the press. She needs to go back to her private life and leave the politicking to her cousins. Caroline is her mother's daughter despite the fact she looks like the Kennedys. A senate appointment at this time in our country's history needs to go to someone who can hit the ground running. Kennedy cannot even complete a sentence without "you know." All that expensive education and life opportunities and that's the best she can do?

    December 29, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. JC

    She didn't even vote for the position in the last election. Her primary function in the Senate is casting votes, yet she has not demonstrated the capability to do so in a general election where it is voluntary much less a primary job function.

    When questioned on it she said she was shocked and appalled. she didn't even seem to know she hadn't voted or was it she was shocked and appalled that someone would question a Kennedy?

    December 29, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  21. shucks

    I would just like to see her appointed to see how many republicans take a bridge.

    December 29, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  22. Brian

    Read some of these comments below.. Men have a sexist view? I do believe that women are just as bad, if not worse. Not all men feel that a person with great legs or a pretty smile is suited for the Senate. We, men as a whole, are not that shallow. Saying that we are... wait for it...... is sexist. Go figure.

    A name qualifies no one. Having a law degree doesn't qualify you. Who am I to say if she is or isn't qualified since there are no real qualifications (although I did laugh at the comment about having a criminal record). Filling a Senate seat shouldn't be left to one man or woman to decide. It needs a public vote. Give the public what they ask for and they have to live with it.

    December 29, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  23. JO

    She is a Kennedy trying to ride in on a coat tail...She campaigned
    against Hillary so why does this quilify her to take her job???? How
    do the people in NY feel about someone that is taking Hillary's Job?

    December 29, 2008 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. roberta wickham

    Why does anybody care what people who don't live in New York think about whether Caroline Kennedy should be New York's next senator? Why would CNN even run a foolish poll like this?

    The fact is, New York has at least dozen far better candidates for that spot, who are more experienced, more committed to public service, better educated, with better personalities and a whole lot smarter than Caroline Kennedy.

    Why should better candidates be shoved out of the way to make way for this mediocrity with the famous last name? Just because out-of-staters don't know the names of New York's able public servants who should be filling that job doesn't mean they don't exist. CNN should know better than to run a poll like this. Shame on you, CNN.

    December 29, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. rachel

    who ever said people wanted Palin over Hillary is wrong, there was a poll done after the convention and Hillary beat Palin in a 2 to one margin. I agree with whoever said that Caroline is not tough enough. She seems a little timid to me

    December 29, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
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