December 29th, 2008
12:03 PM ET
12 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. Pete


    It was never about whether or not Sarah Palin was qualified, it was about what she represented, conservative American morals. Kennedy doesn't represent that, so her qualifications should not be questioned.

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

    The idea that Caroline Kennedy is qualified to be a Senator just because she is well-educated and authored a book is absolutely crazy. There are thousands of people who fit under that mold but who are unfit to be a Senator. Sarah Palin had so many more qualifications to be the VP than CAroline has to be a Senator. This is a joke. Democrats appoint their party's officials based first on their name recognition, and then everything important comes second. I love how women are rallying around this woman who has only been successful because of her family name and yet they were rallying against Palin despite the fact that she worked hard for her political career without the help of anyone. It goes to show you that these women truly are NOT feminists.

    December 29, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  3. Gloria - Minnesota

    I really respect Caroline Kennedy. She is 99.99% more qualified as a candidate for the Senate than the so-called Governor of Alaska was to run for VP of the U.S. Kennedy is very well-educated, intelligent, a great speaker, and has the broad based life experience needed. (Besides, I am certain that politics are in her genes–how could it not be??)

    By the way, I haven't heard, but is she divorced from Schlossberg? If not, why has she dropped his name?

    December 29, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Mr. Lugo

    I really don't care for this story because I am not from NY but isn't it funny that more men approved of Sarah Palin to be VP and less women when her qualifications sucked too?

    That's because most men think with the little head, and Caroline isn't as hot as Sarah. If she was ten years younger the poll would have been the opposite.

    December 29, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. a demo

    I think New York could do worse than select Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. She does need more experience, and I"m disappointed she didn't vote in all the elections. Maybe Paterson couldn't come up with anyone better.

    December 29, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Frankie

    I'm a woman, and a liberal. But I don't think she's all she's cracked up to be. She's never worked a day in her life. The stuff she "authored" has been shown to be mostly cut/paste jobs and quotations of others' work. Despite her vast wealth – some say in the neighborhood of $400M - she has given very, very little to charities or even political causes. She is appallingly out of touch with the "common" people. Sure, she went to Harvard. So what? Bush went to Yale and look where THAT got us. An Ivy League degree and a famous last name do not qualify one for a public office like Senator. For heaven's sake, that pathetic excuse for a candidate, Sarah Palin, has more experience. Get the stars and fairy-dust out of your eyes, people!! Caroline hasn't got the chops!

    December 29, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    I suppose in the end–this decision should be made by New York voters. I do not believe it would be appropriate to just appoint someone who has been an inconsistent voter–and has no executive skills–no matter who they are.

    As a Kennedy heir-and as a corporate lawyer–I'm sure her credentials are valid. But exercise of the responsbilities of a U.S. Senator (especiall sage judgement and collaboration) my be beyond her grasp.

    Let the citizens decide!!!
    Run her up against the competition–then for sure the citizens best interests will prevail.

    December 29, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  8. Mike - Houston, TX

    I agree with Cynthia in MI. Why is this a nationwide poll? That senate seat represents only those residents of New York.

    But, if I had to throw in my two cents then I would say she is not qualified. It has nothing to do with gender or her name.

    It also helps to perform your civic duty as a citizen. VOTE!

    December 29, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Bob

    In Wisconsin they had a man run with no background. What did he have? Money, lots of it. Nobody runs against Kohl and he still is less qualified than the janitor at my work. There are no real qualifications for this job: Listen to the people, make up your mind and vote. 1/2 the Senators don't listen to the people buy just the lobbyist. I tend to think Kennedy will listen which makes her as qualified as you need to be to cast a vote on the floor of the Senate for the next two years before she'll have to run anyway.

    December 29, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Noah

    Caroline Kennedy, you know, is not qualified to be Senator, you know. However, NY elected Hillary Clinton, you know, when she had not done anything substantial politically, you know, other than to have a husband who was President.

    December 29, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. Jim from West NY

    This woman should never be allowed to be a Senator, she has lived her whole life in New York City, as someone from Buffalo i am tired of NYC only being represented in the Senate, my choice is Byron Brown. HE IS THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB, kennedy should do us all a favor and leave the public eye forever...

    December 29, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. Apples for sale

    Shes more than qualified.I just hope she builds a wall around NYC so they cant get out when the sludge hits the fan.

    December 29, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. Kimn8R

    Just look at the mess that so-called "qualified" Senators have created. The great state of New York should hold a lottery using all registered voters as eligible participants, have a blind drawing, then have the winner hold that seat for the remaining time. Why not let an average citizen get a taste of government in action?

    December 29, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |

    Caroline wants to sneak into the back door of the US Senate on the strength of her family name. Surely she can find other ways to service the country besides this ploy.

    December 29, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  15. Herman Monster

    The difference is between 6 (57%) out of ten and 5 (47%) out of ten. Is that really a significant difference?. A difference yes, but still eye to eye. The problem with Caroline is that too many people remember her as a child and do not consciously judge her as a 52 year old. Let the Governor decide and let the bloviators blow. Me, I am going to finish my book on John Adams as if nothing was at stake for me.

    December 29, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. Noah

    DJ- Sarah Palin was far more qualified than this lady. She is a Kennedy. That is her only qualification. Democrats care only about name-recognition in their politicians, not what they have ever accomplished. We know that because they voted for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, both individuals who had no significant political accomplishments in their entire lives when they were elected.

    December 29, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. NY republican

    @ Jerry – sure, you just need to move to New York state long enough to rent a place. You certainly have the name recognition!!! 🙂 Happy New Year

    December 29, 2008 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. kelly WI

    She's more qualified than Obama was when he was elected Senator.
    I still think there should be an IQ test given before a person can vote.
    There are plenty of Kennedy in congress. I suppose she thinks she has to replace Teddy when he quits with his brain tumor.
    Next thing we know it will be Chelsea wanting to get appointed.

    December 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  19. David

    The position is the position of junior senator. What qualifications are we talking about here? I'm not 100% sure about the constitutional qualifications, but they're something like 30 years of age, 6 years a US citizen and having lived in the state for some period of time. Caroline Kennedy clearly meets all of those qualifications.

    Again what do we mean by qualified? The position is senator, there are 99 other equivalent positions in the United States, all whom would have great clout (due to seniority) anyways. Do we think that being a major CEO or an attorney or a lobbyist or a former politician would necessarily make one more qualified here? Why should every senator hail from one of those backgrounds? What happened to diversity of voices here?

    In any case, the woman is educated, intelligent and well informed politically. Being a Kennedy, she almost has to be, and her work has long been in the public eye. What more are we looking for in a senator?

    December 29, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. VON BISMARK,Vienna.

    Did they also say Obama is not qualified? I am an American admirermand I am so surprised there so many unintelligent Americans to whom history means nothing.

    December 29, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Vic

    come on people, the only reason she's being considered as a possible candidate for Hillarys senate seat is because she's a woman and her name is KENNEDY. if u can't see that you've got ur head in the quiksand.

    December 29, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  22. Denise

    I think, um, you know, she isn't very, um, articulate. You can only, you know, take so long, um to um introduce a bill, you know. If she ever, you know, became President, um I think the State of the Union you know, address might take, um days. But, you know, what do I know, you know?

    December 29, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. The whole Caroline Kennedy thing....

    is just another political deal hatched last year by Ted Kennedy and Obama-she's not at all qualified--she's just a name-

    December 29, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Jerry Centralia, Illinois

    It's time for new blood out with the old in with the new not yet corrupted.

    December 29, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  25. strong

    Jeez, not another Kennedy. Another 'family" (read: dynasty) that just won't go away. Same old faces, same old families. This is change ??

    December 29, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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