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. livingston

    Merlin- This poll is different because the republicans have insulted women's intelligence for the last time. And in case you haven't noticed more women vote then men.

    April 16, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  2. Tom

    As of today's polling Gallup and Rammussen have Romney ahead by 2 points. CNN is to liberals as Fox is to conservatives, but I doubt even Fon would release such a slanted poll.

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  3. Peter

    It's gotta be hard for Republicans who in their heart of hearts believe that the middle class, the very people on whom they depend for winning an elections, is something to bloodsuck from. Of course, as we now all know unless we're dumb is that people like the Koch brothers attempt to brainwash as many in the middle class that support for the middle class is socialism. Unfortunately, many are brainwashed and believe that baloney–those who do are called the Tea Party.

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  4. Alex

    I used to Like Romney when he was the MA governor. But he has totally turned me off by what he has done the past few months. All politicians lie but this guy has taken it to the next level. Flipped on every imaginable issue. He is pandering to the extreme right and he will pay for it. You dont win elections because of your base. You win elections because of the independents you attract. Romney has lost that group and he cant catch up.

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. Zarzoor

    all my comments are "awaiting moderation" ...hence a Mitt supporter 🙂 thanks CNN!

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  6. Ntrain2k

    And now even the liberal polls have numbers that are dropping...

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. Nuke da Souf

    Only the Repugsy could be filled with enough small-minded folks to allow Obama to clench another 4 years.

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  8. telman68

    Obama has a intelligence gap and is very inexperienced just look at the economy.Its time for a change in the leadership once again because Obama has not impressed me at all,just alot of talk and no action and he is living off the stupidity of the voters who just want something for nothing.

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  9. James

    New poll shows that for people with half a brain, both candidates are completely out of touch with most Americans and the poll also shows that most people consider CNN just a tier above the National Enquirer and come here for entertainment purposes, mostly....

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  10. NameFrank Deery

    9 points is almost a dead heat! And Romney is Not that popular to the GOP base. What it clearly shows is that Obama is in trouble!!
    Principles matter, not just Perks, liberals, but they always blow it! Hilary Rosen proved it!

    April 16, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  11. M Kelly

    Another CNN poll for Obama-no surprise. Romney appeals to a
    lot of people, including me-a working woman!! I think its time for real Hope and Change!

    April 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  12. Matt

    Obama's likeability? Some people consider him likeable? Really? Personally, I can't stand to hear him talk. Mightier-than-thou, condenscending, you don't know what you need to I'm here to help. Pfft. Can't wait for January 2013 for when he's gone.

    April 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  13. Becoming Europe

    The masses would rather elect a guy they "like" than swallow the harsh pill of reality that we are broke. Obama only cares about himself and being re-elected.

    April 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  14. leelanau

    Obama likeable? hehehehe Yes I'm prone to liking people who waste no opportunity to wag their officious finger at their political opponents with unprecedented condescension, and then have the AUDACITY to hope no reasoned person noticed it.

    April 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  15. DB

    So what is Fox news talking about???! they got Romney and the president tide, according to their bias polling...

    April 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. dan5404

    With the far right policies the GOP preaches now, I'm amazed Romney is even near in ratings. If the GOP should win or keep enough obstructionists and racists in power, this country's problems are minor compared to what would happen. Women, minorities, the middle class and the poor can keep that from happening by simply voting...if their state laws don't make it difficult to vote.

    April 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. NOW WHY

    OBAMA 2012
    DEMS take back the HOUSE
    DEMS 60+ in the SENATE

    Only way this country will be as great as it can be

    April 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. there goes this country

    wake up people he is trying to run this like a socialist, he must go!!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  19. JG

    @Capitalists. Did you ever think that maybe you are the one "out of touch"...?

    April 16, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. Murshin

    Whoever gets catholics will win

    April 16, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  21. d4164

    I am curious to know where these "other polls" are. Checking out a couple of sites, I see nothing related to Romney over Obama anywhere except on a couple small questions related to handling of specific subjects. So, if anyone has a link to an ACTUAL poll (not the "In-My-Head" type), please show us, otherwise what you are saying is useless opinionated info.

    April 16, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Warlock

    I find it interesting that these results are so different than Gallup's results that were just released:

    April 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  23. DSO

    I wish we used better criteria for selecting a President than likability and ability to relate. We're not picking a best friend or a prom date here. We're choosing someone to lead/govern the country. Policy, ability, and experience would be better criteria. Not saying that changes the choice, but it sure would be better criteria. Don't want to elect a "nice guy" who can't fix the economy, or manage the budget.

    April 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. Foreverwar

    To all the GOP trolls: HA HA!

    April 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. The Situation

    Let me against Repubs, CNN is pro Obama and that why he is up 9 points?

    April 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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