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. Rob

    Our system is so broken... Just at face value, look at the math.. Candidates will raise and spend $100's of millions to get elected to a job that pays $400,000.. That is CRAZY and practically mandates corruption. PAC's and Super PAC's will "donate" much of the funds.. but if you don't think they run an ROI analysis on their investment, you are being naive.

    We are being sold out by our leaders... These candidates are all the same really, look at what is hapening, here and abroad.. Does anybody really believe Obama is THAT different from Bush ... Would Romney be any different than either? A VC that is going to make Wall St. work for Main St.. I can hear it now.. BS!

    No matter who wins... Get ready for the Fed to fire up those printing presses.. More of the same


    Dear Patriot Act.. I mean this in a non-violent / non-threatning kind of way.
    Dear Bilderberg.. Just venting... I always liked you guys.
    Dear ...........

    April 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. tammarella

    Yeah, we are so much better off right now (rolls eyes).

    April 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  3. Dave

    To downriverdem,

    Your comments are sad, biased and ridiculoulsy one sided.

    April 16, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  4. Mike from Calgary

    Romney got rich firing American workers, cannibalizing their businesses, raiding their pension funds and sending the loot off to tax havens based in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands (love Mitt and Ann's Cayman tans) and to the MORMON Temple.


    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. Brandon

    Ron Paul 2012!! Obamney is garbage... How can you vote for either of theses bums

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. dwp19542004

    this is c.n.nnnnnnn they are as american as castro...and the boy king is their god their lord their crake baby their every thing,,,,,i would vote for stalin ... adolf hitler osama before i would vote for a pice of sh it

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  7. Enough's enough

    Odd that CNN has Obama up 9 points but Fox News, Rasmussen and others have Romney up by a couple points... The scariest thing is that the public likes Obama enough to put him within 2 points of any opponent. Haven't we seen enough already?

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  8. Mittens Lies to Appease

    Another attempt by the media to lead the United States Citizens to believe that we have only two choices for whom to vote for. So pathetic. Ron Paul is going to have a sizable number of delegates to bring to the convention. I just wish that so many Americans wouldn't allow themselves to be persuaded that we have to police the world and be fear mongers in order to ensure our safety. It's so strange to me that so many people are turned off by Ron Paul's foreign policy of wanting to end pointless overseas wars, strengthen our military at home, as well as strengthen our borders. Well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised because fear is quite a motivational tool.

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  9. mike58

    CNN and ORG yeah that's not a unbiassed poll HAHAHAHAHAHA

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  10. native new yorker

    I can't wait to vote for Obama again. I'd never vote for Romney in a million lifetimes.

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  11. RonPaul2012

    Obama has bigger problems than a gender gap. He has an everything a president should do gap. He literally had the entire country in his pocket and sold us all out to the military and Israel for his political future. Obama is nothing more than an opportunist that will take credit for anything he can, and blame his opponents for everything he can – like the fake war on women, are you so blind that the "war on women:" looks real to you ? Its nothing but election year propaganda to manipulate you into voting for "your" camp instead of voting your beliefs.

    Deny the GOP and DNC this year and vote for anyone else – you don't really think your vote matters anyway do you ?

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  12. WDinDallas

    According to Gallup, 47 percent of voters polled are backing Romney, compared to 45 percent who prefer Obama. That's well within the poll's margin of error, which is plus or minus 3 percent.

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  13. Sarah R

    I "like" my local butcher and he is very friendly however I dont want him running our country (however he may do a better job)

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  14. Robois

    Funny...the Rasmussen, Gallup, and of course, the Fox poll all have Romney ahead...but the CNN poll (taken with a smaller sampling) is "BREAKING NEWS".....

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Don't believe it. Trying to convince us to give up..... make us think we don't have a chance of taking our country back!!

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Obama/Biden 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. The Situation


    Sure Rasmussen has Romney up by two points. More liberal bull crap. They want him to win so bad they will print anything.

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

    You realize Rasmussen is pro-conserative poll, like the boys and girls at Fox.

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. RetiredVet

    The "sheeple" have spoken.

    April 16, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. Dee

    exactly!! I did the same!

    Disclaimer: I'm an Independent voter.

    I can't wait to see these two debate. Obama is going to annihilate him. LOL

    I definitely like the President more. I went to Romney's website to research his policies and it was just a bunch of Obama bashing. I honestly wanted to see if he had views that I could relate to and support. Oh well.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. James

    CNN Poll?? That's as reliable as a rubber crutch.....

    Other polls like Rasmussen give Romney a d 4 point lead....

    BTW, Rasmussen was tied with Pew for number one in predicting the 2008 election....

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  21. Dick Cheney is the smegma of mankind!

    Well, of course there is a gender gap between Mr. 1% and President Obama!

    President Obama has 4 women or girls in his daily life and Mr. 1% and his 5 trust fund "babies", are all in training to be future Mr.1%'s, have only a Stepford wife to deal with on a daily basis!!

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  22. Debby

    Well considering Obama was up double digits 9 points isn't out of whack especially for this time of year.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  23. Jimbo

    Still don't think the polls matter too much right now. The primary just ended (OK, well technically it didn't, but Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich aren't winning and we all know that) so now Romney can start consolidating support, focusing exclusively on the general election, and so on.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Lucky

    Obama 2012! I have always been an Obama supporter. Obama seems genuine, honest, and really cares about the people. I think the worst thing that Romney has said to date was: I'm not concerned about the very poor. Romney can't truly represent America b/c a large percent of America are among the poor, low-income, or working class. I would want a President who cares and will stand up for all of America.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. LD Meyer

    A nine point lead over you libs ever report anything with accuracy. How about the 8.3% unemployment when its closer to 12%, you constantly distort all the news. Afraid of something?Like maybe "Broke O'Bomba" getting his ass handed to him in the next election, yes sir our "vactioner in chief" is a real winner out here in the "real" world! Well when you spend as much time on the greens at the D.C. clubhouse like the "Golfer in Chief" does you sort of lose touch with reality, like he ever had any connection anyway.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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