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. BigVin

    She has just as much experience as Hillary had when she took the seat from Moynihan.....NONE!!!!!! know.

    December 29, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Gail

    Change we can believe in! What BS.

    December 29, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  3. ch

    Let's get this straight:

    Hillary – smarter than EVERYONE

    Caroline – smarter than most people.

    Sarah – smarter than NOBODY

    December 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. NY republican

    @ suzanne – if you're reading this one too – the truth often does!

    December 29, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Jeff From Jersey

    So just what DOES qualify anyone for ANY elected or,in this case,selected office?

    The track record seems to suggest graft,sex offenders,sweetheart deals,influence peddling and every form of lying imaginable qualify most of them so maybe they're right and she doesn't qualify yet.It seems to me that she could learn them on the job since she would be working with so many very capable teachers.

    December 29, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Brian - Trinidad

    Caroline Kennedy is less qualified to serve in the Senate than Sarah Palin was to be Vice-President.So why the double standard?

    December 29, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  7. Joyce

    I am unaware of any specific qualifications required to be senator except a willingness to represent the citizens of their state. Caroline Kennedy is willing to do this. She also has the education and background (Law Degree from Columbia) to do this job well. Hmmm! It appears she has the same qualifictions that Hillary Clinton had when she became senator of New York.

    December 29, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  8. No Hillary = No Obama

    The only reason Caroline Kennedy suddenly wants Hillary Clinton's senate seat is to keep the Kennedy name in politics. With Ted Kennedy's health problems, the immediate Kennedy family is fading into history.

    December 29, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. gg, new york city

    She does not even realize she is using her name to step over others who are FAR more qualified. And, you know, she is a poor public speaker. If she is picked, it will be the worst case of insider politics. Hillary was ELECTED, but his woman wants it handed to her. Now that is entitlement!

    December 29, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. Diana Ewing NJ

    How many of these Men and Or Women have met Carolyn Kennedy?... and have come to this place of making up there minds... I have heard on the news that there are those offended and say " who does she thinks she is.... to be appointed...",,,'
    My question to them anyone who takes this office right now... will have to be appointed?... No??? and run for it again in 2010 and again 2012 and will be able to raise the money to do so..

    Where was the out rage when Obama chose her to help find him a VP... never heard any thing then...

    Also see that there are those who compare her to Sarah Palin and that just shows their stupidity.

    December 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. MUIN

    Who is going to say no to a Kennedy in American politics?

    December 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  12. Ann

    OBAMA/BIDEN December 29th, 2008 2:01 pm ET

    You are an idiot.

    December 29, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. H

    As much as people say that her name shouldn't qualify her, this arguement also suggests that her name should DISQUALIFY her. This position is going to be appointed, irregardless of any name or perceived experience/inexperience.

    Should a person be disqualified because a member of their family served in public office? No. Anyone who wants to serve should serve. We don't disqualify military recruits due to a family member's previous service. Service towards your country should always be respected and encouraged.

    For myself, as she has written a book regarding the constitution (which was good), this is a great start; some people in Congress have yet to READ the constitution.

    December 29, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. Fred in LA

    If her last name were not Kennedy, no one would even pay attention to this woman. It is insulting to the political system that she would even be able to throw her hat into the ring and attempt to influence her own appointment through this media campaign she has launched. It would be great if the media, and the rest of America would simply ignore her. Then she can go back to doing what she was doing before and hopefully the Governor of New York will appoint someone who actually has some qualifications and experience.

    December 29, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Gary

    We wonder why our country is screwed up? The only jobs which require no qualifications or experience are in high public office. God help us.

    December 29, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  16. Dave, Illinois

    Hey "Jersey Voter", there is a difference between being qualified on paper and actually having the skills and experience to do the job. Replace the name "Kennedy" with "Palin" and you would sing a different song – and Palin has more experience. The problem for the Alaska governor was that she does not have an adoring press like the Kennedys do. Honestly, for me, the only positive thoughts I have regarding the name Kennedy have to do with the space race. They are drowned out by negatives such as the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Teddy's joy ride ending in a woman's death, and rape.

    December 29, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Change 2008

    New Yorker December 29th, 2008 12:12 pm ET

    I wonder how many who think she is qualified know anything about her other than she is John F. Kennedy's daughter.
    She has a law degree from Harvard, has been working on improving education and women's issues for a long time, man. She is one of America's un-sung heroes who quietly work behind the scenes to effect change.

    December 29, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. J.P.



    December 29, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. deemarie Sweet Home, Oregon

    The New York Daily News estimated Kennedy's net worth in 2008 at over US$100 million.

    She's never had a REAL worry in her entire life. She's paid no dues. Has nevers broken a sweat out of fear.

    I'm with Dave, Illinois, "Only her name qualifies her." And then only to those who fear it or worship it.

    December 29, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. Albo58

    What people need to realise is that a Congressman or Senator is an employee of we, the people! Before we would ever hire someone, we'd verify their qualifications and work ethic. If we do this, then the answer of whether Caroline Kennedy is the one of the best choices is a resounding NO! Before she begins upon a journey to attain a prestigious seat in the U.S. Senate, perhaps she should actually work a full-time job for the first time in her life?#!

    December 29, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  21. Herbie

    Maybe you people who don't think she is ready for the Senate seat are just plain afraid of some new blood. Just because she has some stature and would bring new life to the already disgraced group of politicians already in office should take a look and ask themselves if they were qualified to be elected into an office that the people have put them into and then don't measure up. She sure is ready. GO CAROLINE!!!!

    December 29, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. paul

    one good point is, this proves that Voters in New York happen to be more ignorant then ones that voted for Obama.

    December 29, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. chuck


    December 29, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Jim O'Connor

    How about a citizen for a change instead of the “experienced??? politician”
    I’m ready for that change!

    December 29, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. jrzshor

    i say let Ms Rowling be named the senator for NY. She wrote a couple of books, is a billionaire, is really really more famouser, and she is a she.

    December 29, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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