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. iBod

    A majority of White Americans favor Obama.
    A majority of Men favor Obama.
    A majority of Woman favor Obama.
    A majority of African Americans favor Obama.
    A majority of Jewish Americans favor Obama.
    A majority of Latino/Hispanic Americans favor Obama.
    A majority of Youths favor Obama.
    A majority of Independents favor Obama.

    ...According to the aforementioned, there is basically no contest come November. Barack Obama has this one in the bag. But looking at this more seriously, the election will wind down to where the majority of Women and Youths fall...again. Women may hold the majority in the country, but even deeper is the fact that millions more of the newer Generation, like myself, are voting for the first time. It is unquestionable how large the number is of those who hold Democratic values as opposed to those with Republican values. I'm voting for Barack Obama - for certain. I know dozens of my peers who are, as well. And I would say all but a few women that I know are definitely voting for Barack Obama. Second Term? Outlook is good - and that's not even factoring in his accomplishments.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. electrovibe11

    To those wondering why these polls are different than the Rasmussen poll, Rasmussen polls based off of 'likely voters', so they don't poll young people, minorities, etc... because they are less likely to vote as a whole group. CNN polls registered voters, so it all depends on whether you think people who are registered will actually vote, which I hope they do.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. Sam

    A US President is more than, if not different from, a corporate CEO because a CEO will always make a decision that benefits the company even at a cost to its people but a President can't afford such decisions.

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

    Sham poll, people will speak as they did in 2010 and none of the media see it coming just like 2010.

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

    I'm not overly thrilled with Obama, but Romney is an idiot that's out of touch with the realities of life. And as for Mrs. "never worked a day in her life" saying she raised 5 boys, I raised 3 boys myself – alone and worked more than one job at a time so don't tell me how hard it is for her with a healthy income, reliable car, grocery money, money for sports uniforms, etc. So I'm guessing Obama needs to win this one too

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  6. Seriously?

    So 9 points? That's NOTHING...and it's CNN...there's no way there are enough idiots left that buy what Obama is selling for him to win! NO WAY...

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. The Real Tom Paine

    Its interesting that people were citing Rasmussen polls as somehow accurate: according to Rasmussen, 58% of people stil believe the country is in a recession. I wonder how they managed to skew that poll so badly?

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Charles

    Rasmussen tells another story.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  9. Bill from Cali

    CNN.. A proud branch of the Re-elect Obama commission. At least they're not as bad as MSNBC, yet.

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. Son of a Gip

    What was the percentage of republicans, democrats, and independents interviewed for this poll? Or is it another fake outlier poll from CNN to keep the "War on Women" meme going? ROTFL! The last 3 polls (Gallup, Rasmussen, and Fox) all have Romney a few points ahead. Nice try, CNN, but this is why you're dead last in cable news! Obama/CNN 2012!

    April 16, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  11. Jack

    It's a good thing Obama's made it so easy to collect food stamps/welfare checks for everyone, he's gonna need them after this November !

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. curiousmuses

    GASP :o, not! not a surprise that Obama is leading at all

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. bobcat (in a hat) ©

    You give President Obama the majority in the house and senate, and I gaurantee we will be thanking ourselves latetr.
    The only reason it hasn't improved more than it has, is because he has had to do it on his own.

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. Heidi

    Obama will win again. Romney cannot speak, has no connection, is uncomfortable with himself, does not have a clue what he is saying and seems very uncertain. He is also out of touch because of his money, hiding it offshore, filing for a tax extention.

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. John B.

    CNN's poll is hogwash...only Fox News polls are accurate.

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. Rick Simm

    As has been said, with Obama’s record, anybody that has not slept with a minor child, or woke up with a dead woman, will be able to beat Obama in the November, 2012 election.

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. rosaadriana

    Real Clear Politics Poll of all polls shows Obama up by 3. I don't know why the conservatives are cherry picking the Gallup and Fox poll and the libs are focusing on CNN. The average shows Obama ahead but it is close. It is more interesting if you look at individual state polls because really no one cares what is happening in AL. If Jesus himself was running as a D and Satan as an R, Satan would win in AL. However, Obama is way up in Colorado and up in North Carolina. Now that is interesting.

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. lardoggy

    CNN,come on you guys you can post up better than 9%,how about 30% that sounds better! LOL!

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  19. dad

    Cool! Guess we should forgo the usual election and give him another four years right now

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  20. curiousmuses

    not a surprise at all

    April 16, 2012 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  21. D Rufus Onfyre

    4 more years! 4 more years!

    April 16, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  22. disagreement

    I'd rather vote for Lizardman than Romney.

    April 16, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  23. LeftLeaningPress....

    Is this reporting the NEWS or Making a political statement of CNN's believes? PLEASE!.

    April 16, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  24. innersixx

    Until Paul and Gingrich drop out, no one can really judge numbers. These two are not head to head yet, and saying Obama i leading means nothing since there have been no 1 on 1 debates or anything really to judge this off of.

    April 16, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. Anyone But Obama '12

    Love how this poll directly conflicts every other major poll. I'll stick with myself and Romney edging Obama. CNN is a liberal haven for Democratic supporters. I take no heed to their word.

    April 16, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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