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. Josef Bleaux

    Romney is a stuffed suit, the Stepford candidate, a Ken Doll with nothing but air between his ears. Obama by a landslide.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Mike

    The final margin in November may be way more than 9 percent. Romney could be the GOP version of Walter Mondale.

    April 16, 2012 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. Jaime

    CNN is biased this poll is so biased its not true take it down. Every other poll has Romney leading or tied but CNN has Obama up by 9 come on who are you fooling.

    April 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. Switters

    But, but, but....Reince Priebus says,".............................................................................................

    April 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. Jim in Frankfort

    I care less about likeability and willingness to stand up for beliefs and more about the ability to get things done. Romney has the ability to get things done.

    April 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Jim Hahn

    Romney has nothing positive going for him, other than he isn't Obama. He takes care of the wealthy and leaves the poor and middle class to pick up the tab. Yes, he has run businesses, but he's also run businesses into the ground and sold the carcass off for scrap. Barack Obama may not be the best President we've ever had, but he's certainly more representative of the American people and that's who we as a Country want in the White House.

    April 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Zarzoor

    btw, how is Obama keeping his promises? I remember the clown saying I will go through the budget line by line, and item by item, and make sure to cut all spending, and then BEHOLD the US Governoment became the LARGEST employer under Mr. Obama....he has hired more hacks in his 4 yr presidency than any other president, and increased out dificit beyond imagination!!! please give me a break on the flip flop crap....Obama is a straight lier!

    April 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. Nice

    So people who can't figure out a way to make over 50K are essentially determining the race? That's comforting.

    April 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. Benjamin Forte

    This poll holds no validity and it should not be reported as so.

    April 16, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. Richard

    As I recall, 52% + 43% = 95%. It looks like more than a few, i.e., 5% of the Tea Party types are sulking and won't show up in November.

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. ryan

    Awesome... as we all know though elections aren't decided in April.

    Obama 2012!

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Jaime

    Gallup Romney up by 2% CNN want post that how come CNN??? because your poll is bullsh-

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. John

    hmmm and Gallup has Romney over Obama, and as for Flipper, REALLY fear, the democratic have been using fear in commercials and adds for YEARS AND YEARS, is your head up someones backside or what..... wake up. and racist. wow, get a life

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Jeremy

    That's too bad if true. I mean, I really don't like Mitt either...but we continue to add to debt in a debt crisis by overspending. Obama has done some good things, but his basic spending for programs policy is not going to work.

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Nuke da Souf

    Only the Republican party could be filled with enough dimwits to allow Obama to clench another 4 years.

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Emily

    So comment is "awaiting moderation." No cussing, no attacking, and my comment is awaiting moderation? Too funny. How do you stand your hypocrisy? Oh I see, only show the comments you agree with make it. Hilarious!!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. scdofi

    Good point Melin....this poll is way off from every other poll that came out today

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  18. wulfdiggler

    Funny thing, Mtt Romney seems like a very decent man to me! What's wrong with having made millions in one's life. There have been many wealthy rich presiidents in the past...Even Jimmy Carter has an estimated worth of about 100 million....and he was a pennut farmer!

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  19. Pollster

    Why is a poll 7 months prior to the election considered "Breaking News?" Answer: Because it shows Obama winning by a large margin! Remember, this is the guy that major media wants to win in November! No chance that a poll showing Romney in the lead would be considered "Breaking News." Keep the propaganda coming.

    April 16, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  20. Nuke da Souf

    Only the Republican party could be filled with enough doofuses to allow Obama to clench another 4 years.

    April 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  21. Jason Glugla

    Now, all of you Tea Party folks be sure and get out there to vote against your own interests. After all, how are Mitt and the rest of the millionaires and billionaires going to get their taxes lowered even further if you don't get out and work for them. Don't even bother to think about it when they tell you conflicting things like that guys like Mitt Romney pay all of the taxes and yet that it wouldn't raise any money if you raised their taxes.

    April 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  22. Sangeet

    Romney will lose to Obama big time..

    April 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  23. Paul

    Lesson learned America. This is the 99% you really do not want to make angry. Take it from a married guy.

    April 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  24. K2KR

    Registered Voter instead of "likely voter" polls are garbage. Garbage in, garbage out.

    April 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  25. mike

    This poll is not accurate. Gallup has Romney up. How can this poll be so lop sided. CNN you are better than this. Why not just say as of now CNN can predict Obama has won 2012 election. That what you are trying to do by these lies.

    April 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
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