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. SnotNose

    Obama is just drooling at the thought of watching Mitt & Rick destroy each other. If Rick actually gets the nod, it will be a lesson that once again, only the extremists vote in the primaries, and because they insist upon such 'purity', it virtually hands the election to Democrats. Just weeks ago, I read about voters think about who has the best chance of winning. That's the thing that has now been cast aside - the perfect conservative candidate with ZERO chance of taking any swing states.

    February 14, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. PoBoy

    What a waste of space. Remember when Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich et al, were in the lead at one time? These polls are a snapshot in time and we have absolutely no relevance after August. In fact, this will change again is a few days. The news folks are desperate for "Breaking News."

    February 14, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. john

    dumb and dumber......

    February 14, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Mark

    Rick Santorum would make a superb president, infinitely better than Obama. Rick has morals, ethics and is a true Christian. His stance on social issues actually reflects the majority in the USA, a belief in life and human value and dignitiy. Obama thinks of everyone as beneath him, dogs to throw scraps to from time to time. Rick is honest, Obama is basically a crook.

    February 14, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. DeeNYC

    this just shows republicans are in a tie with mental patients

    February 14, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. glorydays

    I'm sure Obama agrees with you, Will...

    February 14, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Jockhouse Johnny

    Vote for Santorum and get er done! Yeaaa haaaw! A vote for anti-gay people is a vote for America! wooot!

    *shoots self in face*

    February 14, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. lensmith

    I cannot imagine Rectorum winning this nomination. He is a person that believes only in himself and what is in it for him. I said from the beginning that he is in it for the money. He is really anti American and is not at all for all the people of this country. He would rather see many of them die that to admit that they have a right to live here.

    February 14, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Emmy Skaddittle

    it seems to me most republican really don't have much to gain by voting republican. I wonder if the democrats gave in on gun control and abortion if there would even be a republican party

    February 14, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Ms

    If Santorum wins you'll be able to hear Obama laughing halfway across the country.

    February 14, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Mike D

    Mitt beats Rick by nine points with there's a shocker. Given the "barefoot and pregnant" overtones of some of Santorum's rhetoric I'm surprised there are any women anywhere who'd vote for him.

    February 14, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Gimcy

    There's are reasons why Pa voters did not reelect Santorum. That doesn't ever seem to be mentioned in the press.

    February 14, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. markiejoe

    Yippee!!! As a Progressive Democrat, I love, love, LOVE the split in the Republican Party. Keep it comin'!!!

    February 14, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Bill

    Something else to note – I'll bet that, statistically, Stinky Santorum's blue collar voters are more susceptible to the influences of political advertising, which will be in plentiful supply – good for Romney, bad for Santorum.

    February 14, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. rcw

    How can people support Santorum? He is nuts! He keeps bashing everyone else. What is his platform for the economy? No one will care about the social issues when they dont have a job.

    February 14, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. Eric

    None of this matters if voters are dumb enough to re-elect Obama,

    February 14, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. works4me

    Why does Santorum always look like someone just beat him up for his lunch money?

    February 14, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. markinfl

    I too hope Santorum wins the nomination. Take that however you like. Just vote for him in the primary please.

    February 14, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Nd

    The match is on

    February 14, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. Vance

    The entire GOP field is weak. Their best chance was Christie. Christie dropped out because he was smart enough to know that whomever wins is still inheriting one heck of a mess. It's going to take years to get back on track. After the wars, housing bubble and financial mess, we have a long way to go. Americans have short term memory issues. The current administration has done a pretty good job. Not perfect. (perfection does not exist) Any yahoo that wants the job now is nuts. Why would you want a job that comes with BLAME and endless finger pointing? Smart money is on 2016 when we are clear of this mess. Let President Obama finish cleaning up. It's not pretty but it is working.

    February 14, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. ok

    This is what it has come too. Too bad the people can't vote

    February 14, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. brad

    Of course Republican men are going to back Santorum. They think he is going to put women back into the kitchen and pregnant.

    February 14, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  23. Dave

    Here we go again with the winners (Mitt) versus the player haters (Santorium). And the lame born agains versus the intellectuals. If Mitt doesn't get the nomination I am becoming a democrat, I am done with the player haters.

    February 14, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. Chris

    Two choices: Bad and worse. Thanks Republicans.

    February 14, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. Jim

    They all scare the crap out of me. I wish Ron Paul would win. The nomination that is, not the presidency. Obama is doing the best he can and he cares, even with the obstructionist party in lock step trying to prevent the economy from growing. If the economy gets better, the Greedy Old Pigs loose.

    February 14, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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