CNN Poll: Gender and income gaps in GOP nomination battle
February 14th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Gender and income gaps in GOP nomination battle

(CNN) - A large gender gap appears to be developing between supporters of GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, as well as a split between white collar and blue collar Republicans, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll also indicates that Santorum supporters are much more highly motivated than those backing Romney.

See full results (pdf)

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"The new numbers indicate a split in the Republican party that goes deeper than ideology, with signs of a gender gap and class warfare breaking out in the GOP ranks," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, released Tuesday afternoon, Santorum and Romney are basically all tied up for the lead in the race for the GOP nomination. Thirty four percent of Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP say they back Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, with 32% backing Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who has been at or near the top of national polling over the past year. Santorum's two point margin over Romney is well within the survey's sampling error.

The poll indicates that Rep. Ron Paul of Texas is at 16%, with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 15%. Four other surveys released over the past day also suggest the race for the nomination knotted up between Romney and Santorum. All of the polls, including the CNN survey, were conducted entirely after Santorum's victories over Romney, Gingrich and Paul last Tuesday in caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota and a non-binding primary in Missouri. Santorum's sweep of the February 7 contests sparked his surge in national and state polling, and cemented the perception that Romney was having a hard time locking down support of core conservatives.

Santorum's newfound support may be coming from Republicans who backed candidates who are no longer in the race, like Texas Gov. Rick Perry. But the poll also indicates that Santorum's surge is also the product of a notable gender gap, with Santorum holding a 10-point edge among Republican men and Romney winning Republican women by nine points. And Republicans who describe themselves as blue collar are backing Santorum by 11 points over Romney. But among those who say they come from white collar families, Romney has a 10-point advantage.

The poll also indicates Santorum topping Romney 45% to 29% among self-described tea party movement supporters, with Romney edging out Santorum 34% to 29% among people who don't describe themselves as tea party supporters.

It's a similar story when it comes to self described born-again voters, with Santorum leading that group by a 42% to 24% margin over Romney, and Romney beating Santorum 40% to 26% who don't describe themselves as born-again.

"According to the survey, Santorum Republicans are also much more highly motivated than Romney Republicans, with more than half of Santorum's voters saying they strongly support him, compared to less than four in ten Romney voters - and enthusiasm for Santorum as the eventual nominee is highest among the four remaining challengers," adds Holland.

Nonetheless, an overwhelming number of Republicans see Romney as most likely to win the GOP nomination, and a majority continues to believe that Romney has the best chance of defeating President Barack Obama in the November general election.

Are Republicans happy with the remaining choices in the field? The poll indicates the answer is yes, but satisfaction with current candidates has slipped 11 points since the fall. And the eventual winner may receive a less-than-enthusiastic response from the GOP rank and file. Only a third say they would be enthusiastic about a Santorum victory, and that puts him at the top of the field. Only one in five say they would be enthusiastic if Romney were the nominee.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from February 10-13, with 478 Republicans and independents who lean towards the GOP questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Also see:

Romney seeks to unite conservatives

Protestors disrupt Santorum event, get arrested

National Review calls for Gingrich to leave race

Pro-Romney super PAC increases buy in Michigan

soundoff (258 Responses)
  1. logicnLA

    So santorum is ahead with those that want religious leadership and not government leadership. He is ahead withthsoe that feel people should fend for themselves with no help from the government. He's ahead with those that feel our personal freedoms should be limited to their way of thinking.
    We are lucky that Obama will beat him or any of these choices.

    February 14, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. DoNotWorry

    Republicans say they are for smaller government, but have never actually created a smaller government. They just voted in the use of drones in U.S. airspace for "domestic operations" against U.S. citizens by the military and homeland security... also by civilians... which would mainly mean that massive corporate army owned by Halliburton, et al. Now that is big government.

    February 14, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. me

    The poliical circus happening now doesn't hold a candle to the nutballs and fruitcakes responding on here.

    February 14, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  4. Ben James

    Oh good, a race to the bottom!

    February 14, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. Moe Vee

    The Republican cannibalism is a beautiful thing. When the haters hate and devour each other it will leave a second term wide open for our President. Then we can cram important issues down the throats of the Conservative fools. Immigration, decriminalization of marijuana, better tax structures, reduction in military spending, abortion, gay rights, proper gun control, a good energy policy can get solved and America can be a better place. I hope for it and I will give some political donations to make sure it happens.

    February 14, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. tonyl

    It would be nice to see a more bloody fight among the religious right wing extremist and wall street GOP thugs. It's good for the nation to see the true colors of these crazy fools and how far right to the extreme they are willing to go for getting blessing from the fanatic religious base. There is no difference between religious fanatics in GOP and Muslim brotherhood of Egypt. GOP heros Bush and Cheney are responsible for the destruction and depression of our economy. Now letting GOP take over the reign of the government would be not only stupid but down right dangerous for the existence of this nation.

    February 14, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Casan

    Are blue collar GOP voters finally figuring out that they have been the fools all along. In the past 30 years, the GOP was more likely to lock blue collar white voters by appealing to their sentiments than their out for that black man watch out for that illegal alien....blah distraction while many of them get robbed blind by businesses such as Bain Capital. ..Are they finally waking up from their stuporrrr?

    February 14, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. Michael

    I love the "post attack" of Anti-Santorums. A bunch of paid off Romney supporters trying to keep their candidate above water as every single Non-Romney opponent has come and gone.

    Santorum isn't perfect, no one is every perfect. Romney is a moderate that leans left and isn't a "Republican" candidate for the presidency. Santorum is going to get beat up by the liberal media just like every other frontrunner has over the recent months. I guess if you're trying to buy the presidency like Romney is, anyone can post whatever they want about Santorum or the front runner at any given moment.

    I have alot of liberal ideologies but our fiscal policies trumps all that and no Democrat can cut the spending needed to preserve our nation. Not that any of the other candidate do either (except Paul) but we are picking the lesser of all evils here.

    February 14, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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