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. Peter,NH

    Hey guys, Her last name is kennedy........and she supported OBAMA early stage. Isn't it enough for the senate seat. Wait for 2 years all the left wing will start telling us how qualified she is for the US President.

    December 29, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. No experience needed

    Hmmmm.....let's see. If she does a better job than some of those "qualified" people who have already been elected, which I think she will....then more power to her.

    December 29, 2008 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. Jon

    Caroline Kennedy has no credentials to join the Senate...other than her maiden name. Robert Kennedy Jr., on the other hand, has the credentials and would make a great senator.

    December 29, 2008 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Liane in NY

    Alan – agreed. 57% is not an overwhelmingly large majority of women. 47% of men is nearly 1/2.

    I am a female, mother of three and I certainly don't believe she is the most qualified for a senate position. I don't even think she is pragmatically qualified even if constitutionally qualified. She has never held and elected office or appointed office. She has a shaky voting record and has been noted by various accounts and shy, and someone who has shied away from public life. Now, she suddenly wants to jump into the ring with the likes of Pelosi, Clinton and snow and thinks she will be able to stand up to them? She'll be steamrolled by Schumar. So what if she is buddies with PEBO. So isn't George Soros, does that make him qualified to be a US Senator?

    December 29, 2008 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  5. bunnie jatkowski

    I laugh at the word qualified. What qualifications do you think there are to be an elected official? There is the age thing but there are no education or prior public service qualifications. Wives have been selected to their late husbands' seat. What were they're qualification; marriage.
    bunnie , CA

    December 29, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. jared

    i went on wikipedi and looked up congressman peter king qualifications on how he attained the office of congressman out of new york. and this man started just like everyone else. he has some nerve, what was he a comptroller before he ran for congress. then he has the audacity to question c.kennedy qualificatins. when he had none to start w/. its just ignorant jealousy on the part of envious people. you player haters

    December 29, 2008 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Pete

    Well, 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 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. Mary Ok

    Why do people say that Caroline Kennedy would be okay, because the experienced people in the Senate haven't done much for the country. Maybe they should be saying she would not be okay because the well connected, wealthy, well educated, Senators have not done their jobs particulary well. There are plenty of non career politicians that can be appointed to this seat, if lack of political experience is a key qualification for you Caroline Kennedy supporters. Let's at least find some one who has actually held a job and knows what it is like to have to answer questions posed by their bosses. Caroline Kennedy, right now, does not seem to understand that she will be a public official and owes it to the taxpayer to act as if this seeking of a Senate seat is not the latest whim of a bored housewife.

    December 29, 2008 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  9. Gordon

    How can a person who did not vote be entitled to a Senate Seat. What a great example to set. almost as equal as Obama letting his children listen to Rev Wright...Typical example of the young wanting it all with no real substance behind it...Leadership my buttt

    December 29, 2008 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  10. Steve, NY

    Qualified.....Until a week or so ago I don't think she was ever north of Weschester but I guess that shouldn't matter as most of the 'politicians' don't have an idea of what is north of the city. Really what are her qualifications for this besides her name?

    December 29, 2008 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. FreeNLovIt

    To Jon

    Then why doesnt Robert K Jr go for it? I dont see or hear him at all. If he comes out swinging like Caroline Kennedy, he'll get it, but if he just sits by the bus stop, she'll get it.

    December 29, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  12. FreeNLovIt

    This is America. If you have a dream, go for it!!! You're free to dream!!! and this is all that matters!!!

    December 29, 2008 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  13. cat

    Caroline Kennedy will be a superb NY Senator,
    For she is truly a remarkable woman. New York will never have a person who will love them more than Caroline; a good mother to her children will also be a good senator to her constituents.
    Many of the haters put blinders on and only see your name; they refuse to see the person behind the Kennedy name. But I see you Caroline, I know you to be a hard worker and dedicated to your causes. Good Luck Caroline, My best wishes be behind you to carry you unto your destiny.

    December 29, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  14. Steve - NJ

    Is she qualified, NO... but then again neither was Hillary and she got re-elected, just shows how ignorant the voters are.

    So the choice is her or her ex husband. That is IF Hillary gets confirmed, there are a lot of skeletons in that closet just waiting to come out.

    December 29, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. Mike in CA

    what about Arnold? What about Ronnie? They were actors? Who needs experience. It's only the govt. Life is a joke and so are politics. Let's have fun with it. We are only here for a short time and nothing really matters or will ever change. Look at Israel. My grandkid's grandkids will hopefully be agnostic and have no part in it but I am certain there will always be an aggressor and a "terrorist" ...

    Happy New Year! Maybe 2009 won't be as dismal as '08.

    December 29, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  16. AuH20

    Like so many profound liberal discussions, the question of this idiots qualifications to be a senator boils down to the timeless question of what the meaning of "is" is! If "is" means "as qualified as the many self serving simpletons already in the Senate", the answer is clearly that she is emminently qualified. If, on the other hand, "is" relates to intelligence, a strong work ethic, a devotion to our costitution, a commitment to our National Security, demonstrated willingness to put the American people first, government, leadership or mangement experience and the capability to serve effectively in Government office, ms well born is right where she belongs! Any idea where this dope would be if not for the name and grampas filthy lucre. Flippin burgers! You Know!

    December 29, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  17. Rob

    Apparently The Princess is in a tissy because they're not just gonna give her the Senate seat just because her last name is Kennedy.

    But then again, as Spider points out, experience no longer matters when it comes to public office.

    Maybe she should've gone on Oprah first. Anyone know if she's friends with any fiery, racist ministers? Any pictures of her doing coke?

    December 29, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  18. Rick

    She's a complete dunce which means she will probably be a fast-rising star in the democrat party.

    December 29, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  19. Rick

    She's a complete dunce.....which means that she will be a rising star in the democrat party.

    December 29, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. bernie from maryland

    There is a HUGE difference between being qualified enough to be elected to office and be qualified enough to be appointed to office.

    Clinton, Palin, and Obama were all elected to office.

    Some one who has not held any sort of elected office, or been a major player in any organization , public or private, certainly has the right to run for elected office. In that case, they get out on the campaign trail and experience the rough and tough political struggle with debates and hard questions from constituents and the press.

    Caroline Kennedy has the unmitigated nerve to think that she should be appointed even though she has done pretty much nothing that involves service to anyone outside of her immediate family. Where in the world does she get this sense of entitlement? She acts like she is doing us a favor by serving us.

    Certainly there are plenty of New Yorkers who have already proven themselves far more worthy of this job that Ms. Schlossberg.

    December 29, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  21. Ron Ft. Myers

    Ravi in MO, you just never get it. Do you even have a clue about anything? Do you think you are the only thinker and everyone else just dismisses Kennedy as a woman? Did it ever occur to you that there are people that do know the facts and circumsatnces osurroundiing our political arena and just do not think she is as good as some of the other candidates?

    December 29, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. MaryanneAZ

    Caroline Kennedy is imminently qualified to be a Senator. She is well aware of how government works and understands writing legislation and voting procedures. There are no resume requirements for a Senator, especially a junior senator. I think I understand Caroline's new found fervor as an awakening from her insular life with her kids and education causes when she realized that change begins with each one of us. She was inspired by Obama (as her father inspired so many of us in the '60s) and now she wants to do all that she can to improve the lives of New Yorkers in the Senate. There is nothing that would preclude her from becoming an excellent senator if given the opporunity. Many of us had withdrawn from politics, stopped voting, stopped caring and now have been reinvigorated by Obama's charisma and leadership. I'm in! And I think Caroline shares my enthusiasm – she wants in too. I say she should get it if she wants the position. She brings everything to the table that is necessary to succeed in the job. What more can we ask?

    December 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  23. Tova S.

    The inappropriateness she has displayed in waging a public campaign to force the hand of the Governor offers a telling glimpse into the over-arching sense of entitlement she would drag into the arena with her. Her "fight" would not be for the people but for her own posterity and Kennedy longevity. Since when does shool fund-raising constitute qualification for state senate? How utterly absurd!

    December 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Joe

    LOL, You know, you know, you know , you know. (Caroline speaking)

    If Carolin is qualified , then Sarah Palin was for sure qualified to be VP.

    At least Palin ran for Offices, won 2x. Mayor, 1x Governor (Palin has raised a family and worked her way up the political ranks becoming one of the most popular governors. ) and earns the tittle via hard work and on her own power, voted by citizens .

    And Palin has stamina, is energetic , can take a punch and stay cool under pressure.

    But if forgot why the media is so sweet and nice for Caroline; she is a lib and then experience isn't needed anymore.

    Only a well known family name and a lot of money!!

    December 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  25. umu ule

    She is the best for the job. we will all jubilate when the Governor of Newyork picks her as the right candidate

    December 29, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
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