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)

    Any lead right now is big deal.. long ways to go. Romney is going back to most end of right with NRA.. that usually gives single digit lead in the polls for short term.

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. tom Harris

    Well I like ice cream more than Kale too, but if I want look and feel better I know which one to eat. You guys really tried hard to make Obama look like he was up in a poll, not one that matters.........

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  3. matt

    "Rmoney" I like that.

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. Aknoth

    A CNN poll.
    Accurate to within +/- 27 points.
    The poll - posted adjacent to the onslaught of "Are you in?" ads.
    Are these people as fatuous (to use a Piers Mor(o)n term) as they seem?
    This place isn't worth the humor value any more.

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Terry

    That's all Obama's plan is, "Steal From the Rich." Same as picking their pockets or breaking into their houses. [Not to be racist, but.....] Once the rich are poor like everyone else, then what? On the other hand, Romney has spent his life turning around failing businesses. The U.S. economy is a failing business right now. Let Romney turn it around, and we can all be prosperous.

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  6. DTD in New Mexico

    Flip "Etch-A-Sketch" Romney flip-flopped on virtually EVERY issue in his crass attempt to appeal to the right-wing extremists of the GOP.

    All the progressive PACs have to do is show the before and after of Romney's stands on abortion, contraception, immigration reform, gay marriage, the auto bailout – and the list goes on and on – in an advertising blitz this Fall, and the American people will CLEARLY see what a slithering slimeball of a snake Flip Romney truly is.

    We all watched Flip's sickening little two-step to the far right to appeal to the wing-nuts, now we can sit back and watch his disgusting, yet most entertaining little attempt to slither and slink back to the political center in his pathetic attempt to appeal to moderates and independents – the ones who REALLY decide presidential elections!

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  7. The Gipper

    That's exactly what the polls were saying about Jimmy Carter in April 1980.........

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  8. independent voter

    This poll is garbage – all other polls show a dead heat – CNN should join MSNBC and just get it over with. The methodology is very one sided. Gallup et al, show a different outcome – better structured questions.

    April 16, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. MDL

    How do you correlate your poll, which asks just about womenโ€™s role in society against Romney vs. Obama? The poll isnโ€™t tying against your reporting. It gives the appearance you are making numbers out of thin air. While I'm not sure yet who is going to get my vote, I look to the major outlets for core data to help me build my case for either. Did you expect your readers not to click on the poll itself?

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. GMAN-64

    Of course Obama is "more in touch with the problems facing women and middle class Americans".....he created them.

    Keep dreaming on these polls CNN.

    The Dems and Obama have been beating up on Romney for months now. Unfortunately for you and them, we're now going to start discussing Obama's record of incompetence and by the time we get to November, Obama won't stand a chance.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  11. shut_up

    mr obamas base, is cnn, msnbc, tree huggers,minorities,illegals, abortionists, banks, wall street, fannie, freddie, all of his bail out cronies, cash for clunkers, demonthugs, demorats, atheist 47% that pay no taxes, fluke, trayvons followers like new black panthers, muslims, his mother in law and aunt and uncle that live off taxpayeres?? what a broad base or maybe a bunch of broads that pay zero taxes !!!!!!! GE< buffet, soros. haaaaa haaaaaaa

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  12. Looking for Decency from Mitt

    If he can treat his dog the way he did when he hosed him off while still locked in the cage on top of the car, and then driving off with a wet dog at 65mph, imagine how he would treat ordinary US citizens?

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Reagan80

    If CNN isn't trying to hype Obama, they need a new polling firm.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. dwl that i assume you mean successful? Your president wont pay enough taxes in his life than romney will pay in a year.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  15. lisasc

    How far ahead of Romney was President Obama two weeks ago?

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  16. cvf

    CNN is off and running...

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. MTB

    Just Say No to Flipper
    Thanks for the insightful analysis. You are very unbiased and obviously an astute political observer. Can i be in your class....

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    Wow shocking. CNN poll shows that. Again Shocking.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. naperlandian

    I think the strong Republican candidates were smart to wait until 2016, when one will likely win. Obama's actually done what he was hired to do: use government to stabilize the economy and get it growing again so the private sector can take over again; get our military spending under control again by ending wars and using efficient and targeted operations to protect our interests.

    A strong vice presidential candidate could help Romney close the gap, but s/he would probably just shore up the base rather than pull in many independents.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. Joe

    Great liberal bias article.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. SA Wallick

    I just finished reading on another site that they were tied. You are all fibbers. Can't believe any of you.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Patrick Casey

    What's the Dem/Rep/Ind. split on this? I can't find it in the doc.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. Zarzoor

    BREAKING NEWS!!! that is laughable!! ๐Ÿ™‚ that's great!! Mitt is only 9 points behind Obamaba and the race havent even started!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I love the CNN drama with BREAKING NEWS!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ LOL Mitt 2012

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. John Prinelli

    What is the Democrat/Republican Breakdown of the Poll Sample?

    This poll means absolutely nothing if the Dem/GOP ratio is not included. Pay no attention, readers.

    April 16, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. cnnmembuh

    Speaking of fear, lies, hate, ignorance and propaganda, what specific evidence do you have of Romney appealing to racists?

    April 16, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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