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. charlie

    please not santorum, he wants to impose his cult's will upon the US.

    He want Church to marry state, and only have the rules of his Cult governing the US

    February 14, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Parsley

    If the battle comes down to Obama's liberal elitism versus Santorum's popular appeal with working-class white men, I'd at least think twice before putting my money on Obama. Nothing is for certain in the general election.

    February 14, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. Ted Ryder

    Santorum is getting votes because he's young and his hair is darker. He is looking more confident these days and people like confidence–period. He could say he likes shooting heroin as long as he said it with confidence.

    February 14, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Stan

    What will happen to a country ,which elects candidates who want to go back to the stone-age? Why are Americans so obsessed with gay marriages, infidelity, abortion, when the real issues is that higher education in America is becoming more unattainable, jobs are scarce even for highly educated individuals, the country is run by corporate conglomerates, the military is used for dubious purposes. Do you really believe that "we fight them for our freedom" ? Do you really feel that you are the freest person in the world, because you live in America? Why no one talks about anti-intellectualism that is persisting in America, about the generation of dumbified kids,who speak no English, cannot express their thoughts, and cannot compete with Russian, Indian,Chinese kids, who will take the high tech jobs of tomorrow. Just visit any exact sciences department, and you will see.

    February 14, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. heloise8

    Reblogged this on The Trough.

    February 14, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. dreamer96

    If we elect Mitt or Rick, there will be no separation of church and state..just an American Taliban religious leader in control of our military and highest governmental office...a lot like in Iran..

    February 14, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. sayer

    Doesn't matter. I don't think the Repubs really want to win in 2012.

    February 14, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  8. James David Chamberlain

    CAGE MATCH!!! My money is on $antorum.

    February 14, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  9. Mario

    Well put, Cynthia. I am Independent and perfectly open to someone better than Obama. But, Obama beats the pants (and pant suits) off anyone the GOP has endorsed, so far.

    February 14, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. Josh Jones

    Its very simple,The only chance the Republicans to have is Ron Paul coming in and putting a show on like Reagan and bringing both the young generation and conservatives back to fight for the Republicans. These kids right now have no chance, people want an adult for president not two kids fighting on a playground. If you don't think the social liberal vote matters your already on the wrong side of this conversation and are lost in the modern world. No one cares about who sleeps with who, no one cares who shoots at who in combat as long as they can do the job and no one cares who smokes what in the privacy of their own home. That is where its heading in this country like it or not, that is freedom and if you don't like it, sorry life sucks get a helmet.

    Former USMC

    February 14, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  11. Brian K

    BREAKING NEWS: GOP race so tight Jerry Sandusky tries to shower with it!

    February 14, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  12. gizmoduck

    Obama will handily beat either of these guys. The Dems must be licking their chops for November.

    February 14, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  13. N.D.J.

    My dog could govern better than the current president and these two clowns. I vote we take one random legally-registered voter and make him President. I mean what is he or she or it going to do? Bankrupt the U.S. more? It can only get better.

    February 14, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Valentina

    @Will – stupidity is forever. But back to the subject at hand, Santorum's awkward and out-of-touch views about women will drag his numbers down in couple of weeks. And if he does become a GOP nominee by some miracle, the defeat is guaranteed – Obama wins in a landslide. Thus, a vote for Santorum = 4 more years of Obama!

    February 14, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. Publius Novus

    Wow. So Ricky wins among white, blue-collar Tea Patsy men. Willard gets white, white-collar, GOP establishment women. Where is Rosemary Woods when you need her? Maybe she could help Willard twist and stretch himself sufficiently to grab off some of the white, blue-collar, Tea Patsy men. Or some blue-collar establilshment men. Or maybe some white Tea Patsy wives who are subjected to their GOP establishment husbands. Or whatever.

    February 14, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  16. hardright

    i personally wish we'd just get a no-fault divorce and have two countries. i'd like to be free and clear from all liberals, progressives, socialists, communists, rhinos, and big goverment types so we could ALL go live in peace (and some of us properity). i have a dream and it no way does includes ANY democrat and probably 25-50% of so called conservatives. I don't want any of them having any impact on my life and liberty anymore. you go your way, we'll go ours. why should we continue to be forced to exist together. it's counter-productive for all involved. if i could find an island somewhere, i'd already be gone. the last 100 years has proved to be the downfall that always comes from freeloaders, crybabies, and mooches.

    February 14, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. Nick

    50 years from now history will look at bigots like Santorum the same way we look at segregationists like Strom Thurmond today. I just don't understand why so many people hate gays for no reason but that they are different. Especially since so many of these hatemongers claim to be acting on the will of a man (Jesus) who taught love, tolerance, forgiveness, and a separation of church and state.

    February 14, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. mark

    Santorum wants to make the race about social issues and that is not going to win against Obama. It's not about birth control or abortion. It's about JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! and Santorum has NO plan for the economy. In the words of a famous politician. It's about the economy stupid!

    February 14, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  19. Jake

    I will be voting Obama!

    February 14, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. Gary C.

    I love how they don't even acknowledge Paul

    February 14, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  21. Josef Bleaux

    Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber, great choice.

    February 14, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    If this election is about ethics, the GOP will be wandering in the desert for 40 years as their penance for their utter lack of them. Its ironic that a party that talks about faith has embraced Ayn Rand as one of its philosphical guiding lights when she was an atheist who hated religion and spoke of it in almost Marxist terms.

    February 14, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. John

    This is spot on here! Because we all know that 0.0003% of the nation's population represent the views of 100% of us. Polls are infallible, EVERY TIME!!!

    February 14, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    Take your choice (either is way bad). The American Taliban or a One-Percenter.

    February 14, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  25. Demo Victory In November

    Anyone who criticizes the number of people polled has no clue about the science of statistics. They must be Santorum supporters.

    February 14, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
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