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. WDinDallas

    5 days ago Romney had a 5 point thinks it is the pollsters and who is getting polled.

    April 16, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  2. Wo0Fy

    But he has the 1% locked down tight.

    April 16, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. ljburgher

    CNN/ORC International poll is not really a poll. Its a biased fluff poll which means absolutely noithing! If its not coming from Quinnapiac or some honest unbiased outlets it doesnt count. CNN is admittledy Liberal, so how could a CNN poll be taken seriously?

    April 16, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Rich Bowers

    BREAKING NEWS??? Give us all a break. CNN is lame.

    April 16, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. blah

    Only 9 points on a liberal poll? Buh bye Obama.

    April 16, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Nathan

    Pwned. Thats what Im talkin' about! O'12 !!!

    April 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  7. deerjerkydave

    This poll is very different from Gallup and Rasmussen which both have Romney leading Obama.

    Also, while Romney has a woman gap, Obama has an even worse man gap.

    April 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  8. Just vote for Obama

    Romney can take both sides of each issue!

    April 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. Jackie

    I don't understand why Gallup and Rasmussen's polls say that Romney is leading by several points. I think CNN is wrong, that perhaps the people most likely to participate in a CNN poll are people who lean liberal. Besides, it is what is happening in the swing states that really matters.

    April 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. Erick shows a different story CNN. Why are you not leading with this story? Biased much?

    April 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. John

    Hey everybody, It is a secret, but Obama is going to win by a landslide. Shhh it's a secret.

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

    These are jokes. Fox has romney up, cnn has obama up. Rasmussen has romney up and yahoo has obama up. blah blah blah blah blah. Gender gap or not...i think romney has the upper hand just because obama has proved nothing in 4 years. We need to see what Romney has to say for himself when he addresses all of us during the debates.

    April 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    flipper is an idiot...

    April 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  14. bosfaninva

    Romney's hidden tax returns won't help.

    April 16, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  15. MaryM

    Surprise, Surprise. Did the Red states really think they could pass all that ANTI-women legislation and we would not notice and we will NOT forget when it comes time to VOTE in NOV 2012

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

    More in touch with women? Obama is Pro-Abortion.
    and Abortion is murder period.

    April 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. JPM

    What??? CNN is saying something favorable about a Democrat over a Republican? What a shock.

    April 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. null

    obvious troll is obvious

    April 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  19. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    if somehow the Romney camp can get only white males over 50 to get out and vote then he'll have a chance. But fortunately for the president there are many others than can make sure he get four more years. Obama may never get that over 50 white male vote and no matter what he does it won't change. But that can be overcome too.

    April 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  20. Dan

    In before "CNN = liberal media skew"

    April 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  21. aggie95

    Go, Pres. Obama, Go!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. TownC

    Rasmussen Poll has Romney up 3. Don't get too excited Dems. Mitt will win in November!

    April 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. whoCares

    Just 9 points? You would think it would be more like 20 points. After all its Romney.

    April 16, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  24. Doug

    47 45 Romney, 3% sampling error so they are tied, lib cnn dream polls are amusing but fantasy. Pay for people from swing states to visit ultra blue America, make sure they walk down the street and have to drive on the roads, Romney would win in a landslide.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  25. BooBoo65

    CNN usually only tells you polls Obama is ahead. There were several last week with Obama behind. Also when you count polls of likely voters against polls of registered voters, Obama always does worse but "likely voter" polls aren't done as much since they are more expensive.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
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