CNN Poll: Gender gap and likeability keep Obama over Romney
April 16th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Gender gap and likeability keep Obama over Romney

(CNN) - President Barack Obama holds a nine-point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney thanks in part to the perception that the president is more likeable and more in touch with the problems facing women and middle class Americans, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday also indicates a large gender gap that benefits Obama, but the public is divided on which candidate can best jump-start the economy.

Full poll (pdf)

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According to the poll, 52% of registered voters say if the presidential election were held today, they would vote for the president, with 43% saying they would cast a ballot for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is making his second bid for the White House. The poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, a few days after former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania suspended his bid for the GOP nomination. Even though former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas continue their long-shot bids for the nomination, Romney is now generally considered the presumptive nominee.

The survey indicates women voters back Obama over Romney by 16 points (55%-39%), virtually unchanged from an 18-point advantage among women for the president in CNN polling last month.

The poll was conducted two days after Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Hilary Rosen created a controversy by saying that Ann Romney "never worked a day in her life."

"That remark may have little long-term effect on women voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "By a two-to-one margin, the women surveyed saw President Obama as more in touch with the problems facing American women today."

Half of those questioned say that Obama is more likely to stand up for what he believes, with only 29% saying that about Romney. Nearly half say that Romney is more likely to change his position on the issues for political reasons, just 39% saying the same thing about the president. Obama has double-digit leads over Romney on likeability, honesty, confidence, values, leadership and almost every other characteristic tested, with one important exception.

"Obama and Romney are essentially tied on who is more likely to get the economy moving again, and that may provide Romney an opening to chip away at Obama's current overall lead," says Holland.

According to the poll, Obama holds a 48%-43% margin over Romney among crucial independent voters. The survey also indicates s generation gap, with all age groups, except those 65 and older, backing Obama. And the poll points to an income divide, with the president holding a 20-point lead over Romney among those earning less than $50,000 per year, while those making more than that figure divided between the two candidates.

Obama's likeability and strong performance on personal characteristics helps explain why three-quarters of his supporters questioned say their vote will be a vote for Obama, not a vote against his opponent. By contrast, more than six in ten Romney supporters say their choice will be mostly be a vote against Obama.

"That's a significantly higher level of anti-incumbent voting than polls found in previous years. In 2004, for example, 55% of Democratic nominee John Kerry's supporters said their choice of Kerry was really a vote against President George W. Bush. The question for 2012 is whether Romney has to provide his supporters with more reasons to vote for him in order to win, or whether a negative anti-Obama message is enough, given that historically high level of anti-incumbent voting," adds Holland.

Two-thirds say they have made up their minds, with just 29% saying they could change their minds between now and November. As for handicapping the election, right now Americans don't think Romney has a good chance of winning the White House. Only 35% said Romney will be victorious in November.

"That is certainly not a prediction of what will happen, of course, but it is worth noting that in the last four presidential elections, the public was able to correctly pick the winner in polls taken in the spring or early summer," adds Holland.

Even though Santorum is out of the race for the White House and Romney is the all but certain nominee, the battle for the GOP nomination technically continues. According to the survey, 57% of Republicans say that Romney is their choice for the GOP nominee, with 19% backing Gingrich and 18% supporting Paul.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International April 13-15, with 1,015 adult Americans, including 910 registered voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

Also see:

Obama re-election team increases fundraising haul

Buffett Rule would barely dent debt but fits nicely into Obama's theme

McCain: I agree with Ann Romney

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (743 Responses)
  1. Maggie

    We know your CNN poll will be bias towards Obama so that's why its showing a 9 point lead. Lets have a neutral polling done and we will see the reverse to what CNN is showing.

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  2. J

    Do we chastise everyone that purchased a mega millions lotto ticket? No. So why should we chastise Romney for have lots of money?

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. downriverdem

    There is nothing the repubs can do between now and November that will result in women trusting them. Women will vote for Obama in droves. The repubs just want to take us back to the 1950s and early 1960s. They way Romney talks about women is just plain condescending.

    April 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. John Patrick Grace

    Republicans are now in the uncomfortable position of having to root against economic recovery between now and November. Another three or four-tenths of a percentage point drop in the unemployment rate and the Romney campaign may just as well pack their bags for an extended vacation. Of course the critical unknowns are: What will happen in the Eurozone, esp. re Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. What will happen with Iran's nuclear push? Will the U.S. be nudged into a war with the Syrian govt. alongside a coalition of moderate Arab states, France, the UK and maybe Germany?
    Can the Obama streak of a terrorist-incident-free U.S.A. homeland hold good? Will the big banks get on board with freeing up capital for small-business expansion or keep their foot on the brake? Any of the above imponderables could, and probably will affect the election. Barring any major glitches or downturns or new military involvements, however,
    Obama may be able to coast to victory.
    John Patrick Grace
    Huntington, West Virginia

    April 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. wulfdiggler

    Oboma won't have a chance after the October Surprise!

    April 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. dan

    Just a skewed poll from the Commie News Network .

    April 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. Mike

    We just can't trust a guy who has multiple tax evading offsore accounts while the rest of us are paying more than our fair share in tax.

    April 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  8. Popparollo

    Gallup has Romney up by 2, Rasmusson has Romney up by 3, and Fox has Romney up by 2...

    April 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  9. watcher

    who sponsored this poll? it is truly objective group or Democrat sponsored org?

    April 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Flexserve

    In other news... My poll, I created, has Romney at a 900 point lead over Obama! CNN – Can I get this posted as a news flash on the front page too? Meanwhile, Apple did something and we posted it as fast as possible in our tech section. Later, We will give you a story we don't have all the facts for and give it a biased and decisive headline! ..such a joke...

    April 16, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. angel611

    More like 20% lead, but a 10% lead will still get Obama elected.
    But we knew Obama would be two terms based on the actions of the Republicans blocking everything for almost 4 years.
    What they don't say much is that Democrats may take back the House.

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. Memz

    OH YEAH. Expect that lead to increase.

    GObama 2012.

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. helpuz

    CNN is a joke – Obama is toast.....

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. Emily

    This is "breaking news"? Well on CNN it is.

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. jcarter

    This is interesting since Gallup has Romney leading 47% to 45%. Gallup's poll included over 2,200 registered voters. CNN had just over 1,000, but included over a 100 voters who are not registered. Does not not seem to legit especially when they put the poll results as breaking news. A little sketchy.

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. lovethe usaorleave

    Well of course he does, I am sure that in any Main Stream Media poll he holds the lead because even if the facts showed other wise it would then not be reported. What is funny there are 5 independent polls that show Romney with a slight edge. Then there are the GOP polls that show him with the same advantage the CNN shows Obama having. Fact is polls are bogus and can show what ever results the particular polling organization wants

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. Marvel

    It is curious that polled voters favor Obama for President....yet believe Mitt is better for the economy. These two facts don't positions don't jive.

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Blake

    Did we mention that two other polls today (Gallop and Rassmussen) have Romney up by several points over Obama?

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. MP

    The tab with polling data links to the wrong poll – it links to a poll on gender perceptions. Please post the correct crosstabs of the poll so we can see what the underlying data is on Republicans vs. Democrats vs. Independents in polling sample.

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  20. cajr

    obama is more likable and in touch?? i never liked him and he has done nothing to help me period. no tax breaks, except the ones he says he gave but you never see it. so if you want to vote for him because he is black and its a feel good story whatever but im going to vote for the person who is going to turn this economy around and be more business friendly and sorry libs, thats romney..all day long.

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. charles

    Hahahah! CNN OVERPOLLED Dems again just like they always do. Let's remember CNN came in DEAD LAST in poll accuracies in 2010.

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Richard Manning

    what middle classs person in their right mind would vote for the out of touch millionaire Romney ?

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. Flywithme

    It wont matter to the weeks leading up to the election.

    Carter was winning until the last few weeks, but Reagan sweeped it.

    It'll happen again, dont get too excited libs

    April 16, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. jt_flyer

    meaningless statistic at this point. However I do agree it's either a Vote FOR Obama or a Vote AGAINST Obama. You could get a potted plant to play Romney's part.

    April 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. jpw2012

    Yup, the republicans should have been smarter to realize that the country doesn't want a fu cktard mormon as president.

    April 16, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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