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. Sherri

    Carolyn Kennedy is an attorney, having received her law degree from Columbia University; a writer, having authored several books on civil liberties; and a political activist, having served as the Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the NY City Dept of Education. She raised 65 million dollars for the Public Schools and accepted only one dollar in salary for her work. She is qualified. She is intelligent. She should be selected to replace Hillary Clinton.

    December 29, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. Jersey Voter

    Your wrong 'Dave, Illinois' and this coming from someone in the same state as Obama? According to the US Constitution she is qualified .. maybe you ought to read it.

    December 29, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  3. liz


    December 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. JO - another popularity contest

    We truly have political royalty in this country. The Bushes, Kennedy's, Clintons, Daily's in Chicago, etc. All were elected in substantial part because of their name. We wrote a fairly famous document called the Declaration of Independence because we no longer wanted to be ruled by royalty. People, stop turning our government into a high school prom contest of popularity/name recognition over substance! Read about the candidates, do research, ignore the 1/2 truth ads on television. Let's get off our collective butts and do our work so that we can avoid the representation that has us where we are.

    December 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. Maggie SC


    December 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |


    December 29, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  7. TooDarkMark

    I don't think you need experience to be a good politician. Just intelligence, charisma, and a backing. A known name helps as well. She might be smart, has backing and a name. But from these interviews I have read, and clips I have seen, she is lacking the charisma.

    Sarah Palin has charisma, but is a very shallow person. But Republicans have not been very concerned with intelligence in their leaders. Seems to be a detriment to conservative voters.

    December 29, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  8. Ann

    She is not qualified and she believes is entitled to get the position. Go away Caroline. You did enough damage.

    December 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  9. Barack Turned Me Republican

    The question is why does the press allow her to get by without answering their questions? Why doesn't she disclose her personal and financial records?

    If she was a Republican, the New York Times, CNN, and all the other liberal MSM would sic the entire investigative staff on her and rip her to shreds like they did Gov. Palin.

    The question is not about qualifications. If it was, Hillary Clinton never would have won it. In fact, she's got a law degree and uses her name to get by. Just like Hillary.

    December 29, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  10. Erik in Real PA

    Constitutionally, she's qualified. Is she experienced in the way informed New Yorkers would want their United States senators to be? Probably not.

    Gov. Paterson should appoint Andrew Cuomo.

    December 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. Shasta

    I'm a democrat and a woman, and I don't support Caroline at all. Convenient that she's all above political office until the one time she doesn't have to actually have a real campaign, and then she wants it. She hasn't done ANYTHING to qualify her for a senate seat.

    December 29, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Susan from California

    Not that my opinion matters being in California. However, to the extent that she wanted to keep her life private (which she is entitled to), she did very much so. When she wanted to sell books, she went on tours to sell books – i suppose forgetting about her privacy. In between, she remained the private person that she is. My feeling??? She unveils that secrecy when she wants to make money or a name for herself. If i think she is qualified? No, only her name carries her on. Neither her nor her husband have done things that they can credit as their own. Her supposed affiliations are all due to the Kennedy name. Caroline, stop all of your pretensions. You are not qualified.

    December 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Jasmine in Germany and NYC

    I support Ms. Kennedy as a senator. She worked hard for her law degree, she's championed better lives for all Americans, but mostly the working and underprivileged her whole adult life. She's sat at the round table with world leaders and she learned what diplomacy meant at a very young age. She's noble and righteous and this country needs more people like her to be willing to serve us. I think she's make a great senator and I'd be elated if she were to represent the great State of New York.

    December 29, 2008 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. RealityKing

    The progressive media just spent the last 8 weeks conviencing America that an unexperienced man is much better than an unexperienced women. It's called the Palin factor. Surprised!!??

    December 29, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Bob

    How about we have just had enough Kennedy's in Washington over the years. It's time for fresh names, faces, and ideas.

    Of course, some people seem to forget that this isn't up to public opinion, it only matters what the Gov. thinks. It is sad though that major media outlets and Caroline herself somehow think this is an election and feel the need to campaign for this position.

    December 29, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |

    I glad to read and hear she is being Palinized, she supported a man who ran against a woman, she did not touch her heart or worry about the consequences. Now, the Kennedys want to push everything Clinton out of sight by APPOINTING the backstabber in chief as Hillary's replacement.....NOT GANNA HAPPEN TED!!!

    December 29, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  17. Valerie

    i am from NY, and i am a Woman, and i say NO WAY!!

    December 29, 2008 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. Barack Turned Me Republican

    "She said her mother “loved campaigning,” and would have been very proud of her decision to run for office."

    Since when did she decide to campaign and run for office.

    She's begging for an appointment because of her name just so she doesn't have to campaign and run for office.

    December 29, 2008 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Will-South Dakota

    I think it's great and hope she is selected, we need more women in Congress.

    December 29, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  20. Kalara

    As a woman and a Democrat, I find Caroline Kennedy totally unqualified for the Senate. The Kennedy name is not a qualification. We are a republic, not a monarchy. The NY Governor should pick one of the many qualified applicants for the Senate seat.

    December 29, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  21. viole


    December 29, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  22. KJL

    Maybe some of these women think it's time to play catch-up, same as various minority groups who favor affirmative action.

    My feeling is that we have no idea whether Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be a senator or not, because the body of her work has been in an entirely different arena. There is no doubt that she is educated and hard working, but how well will she function as a highly scrutinized public servant? If she works her way up the ladder and runs for office her potential constituents will get a much better feel for what she has to offer.

    December 29, 2008 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  23. Pete

    You know, she sounds like um, you know, about as, you know, articulate as um, you know, our president elect, um you know, Barack Obama.

    And she makes Sarah Palin sound absolutely brilliant.

    December 29, 2008 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  24. John

    If her name wasn't Kennedy we wouldn't be having this conversation at all... she wouldn't be considered.

    December 29, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. TX_C

    Caroline is just as qualified as most of the US Senator's in Washington today. We need some "fresh" Senator's in Washington to help clean up this mess left in our country. She will get the job done - after all she is a women....

    December 29, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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