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. doubleR

    Best news yet for the Obama re-election campaign.

    February 14, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  2. Jaun in El Paso

    If you are a liberal there is not need to comment; we don't care what you think. This is a GOP conservative primary and you have no business getting involved. It should be decided without liberal comments (poking your nose into our business). When you do comment you only make yourself look foolish and desparete as Obama is sinking every day.

    February 14, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. kkthanksbai

    In all honesty I think its way to early to even pay attention to either of these two pictured clowns, they are both 100% corrupted human beings. This is just a race to see who gets to be the next oil for blood monger of the planet next.

    February 14, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  4. Mr. T. Bag

    The Republican choices are:

    1:) A Christian-Taliban Fascist, OR
    2:) A Mormon-Cult Elitist.

    Choose your poison well...

    February 14, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. wallster

    decisions, decisions... do I want the multi-millionaire business guy with off shore accounts who believes corporations are people and enjoys firing them or do I want the religious jihad guy who wants a "small Government" that controls an individuals reproductive rights even if they've been brutally raped?? ('cause his God works in mysterious ways!) .... this is a toughy...

    February 14, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. NRC

    Santorum will get crushed in a general election. How do you argue obama's spending when you are responsible for $1 billion in earmarks. Any republican voting for him might as well scratch one up for Obama's second term.

    February 14, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. dongp71

    Heaven help us if Insanitorium wins. Religion has no place in politics, but he's what the religious idiots are pushing for. A very sad commentary.

    February 14, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  8. YourMom

    Looks like Santorum has really COME from BEHIND!

    February 14, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Malory Archere

    Half of the Republicans polled didn't even know what policies Republicans associate themselves with.

    Question: What is a Republican?
    Answer: "Well, I'm Republican because I live in da South"

    February 14, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. mfx3

    With the GOP split between these two, I think it's time to start prepping the "there's always 2016" speech.

    February 14, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. Spiffy

    If Santorum wins then it will be an easy election for Obama.

    February 14, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. Red Raiders For Ron Paul 2012 TTU

    ***RON PAUL 2012***

    February 14, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. Les

    Keep it up! One that is not concerned with poor people and one that would keep women in the dark ages. I can't wait!

    February 14, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. Marc

    This is not breaking news... Only idiots don't already know this.

    February 14, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. ann west

    ❌ Two Ugly Profiles, I mean that on more than one level 🅾

    February 14, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |

    Tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum-fantastic!-I wish I were on a Moon Base!

    February 14, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. CathyinK

    There is no way Santorum wins the WH. Moderates will run from him screaming and you have to have the moderates to win.

    February 14, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. reneeinINDY

    what happened to the education question

    February 14, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. jj

    Neither of them is going to win. The winner of the GOP primaries and caucauses is Obama. Obama will be relected.

    February 14, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Wassssuuuuup

    Romney Santorum has a nice ring to it.

    February 14, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Ralph

    When Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich decide it is time to go home....then it will be time to take or break......for Mitt

    February 14, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. rbe6f

    I don't like all these "poll" statistics. This one in particular questioned 478 people by phone. This is even less than the total turnout in Maine! But when you just slap a percentage onto it, it is quickly taken out of context and suggested to actually mean something. The polling information should be listed in the first paragraph so readers can decide if what they're reading has any significance.

    February 14, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. Travis

    Grow up Will... Santorum has not got the cash but still hangs in thier. The reason? He win debates. Im a Ron Paul voter, but I do like the message of Santorum as 2nd choice.. Again grow up Will......

    February 14, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Really?

    LMAO!!!!! @ Will!!

    February 14, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. mick

    I'm with you will, however it would be foolish to overestimate the intelligence of the American voter, as has been in prior elections.

    February 14, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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