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. Carol

    Interesting how this poll show Obama over Romney by 9 points when Rasmussen, Gallup and Fox all show Romney over Obama buy by a smaller percentage. David Axelrod accuses other pollsters of targeting Republicans to get their results. Obviously then the logical conclusion is that CNN is targeting Democrats.

    April 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Charlie

    November is a long was away. Once Gas prices jump again in another month and the economy tanks around October it will all change.

    April 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Clinton

    love it when a poll comes out like this... bunch of idiots jump out of the wood works trying to claim bias and say that the numbers are flat out wrong... .how ignorant are you? It's a survey.. just because the results don't reflect what you want them to doesn't negate them. If it was a Romney lead, the same people calling this poll bogus right now, would be defending it as legitimate. .... morons...

    April 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. Educated Voter

    Obama leads in a CNN sponsored poll? The liberal-leaning CNN? I'm shocked...shocked I say!

    April 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. nik

    I guess they gotta falsify polls helps ratings. should be 50point lead Romney is a scrub

    April 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  6. jpw2012

    The republicans should have been smarter to realize that Americans don't want a cultist mormon as president.

    April 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. Don

    I'm tired of Obamanomics of hating and blaming everyone else. When will this Country work together for a change?

    April 16, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. mike

    The republican party is so conceited that they think that they can pull a fast one on many of their supporters by reference to idealogy.The republicans care not that their policies caused many of their own to be layed off.They cared little that their attacks on unions was an attack on many of their supporters.They care not at all that some of the supporters were looking for a strong christain and they backed a cultist .They wanted a person of the people and got an corporate raider .By using Congress to wage their anti- obama campaign,the republican party has done a lot of collateral damage.Romney got to mend a lot of bridges just to get to obama.

    April 16, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. really

    Since the Dems are pouring so much money into propaganda, I'm not surprised the polls have him ahead. My wife gets poster sized info pacts from the DNC talking about how the GOP wants to take away her health insurance at least twice a week now. Plus you can't go online without a side ad about "support" Obama either. When you have 90% of the media on the pay roll, your message gets out, even if a lot of it is fear mongering and propaganda. The left never needed talk radio or Air America... they had the mainstream media at hello. The Marxist will never need to fire a single shot to take this country because the masses will vote them in at the promise of a bigger piece of the public treasury pie. On the flip side, The Republicans are either i d i o t s or are being paid to take a dive because there sure isn't any real leadership coming from the GOP. Unfortunately, the majority won't "get it" until it's too late and I really do blame Bush for making this Obama con artist possible.

    April 16, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. Josh

    Honestly, we need a lame duck president to make the tough decisions to jump start the economy. If Romney is elected, he won't be able to create real change because he will be too worried about re-election. Obama won't have that problem, so may actually get something useful done this time around.

    April 16, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. jpw2012

    You go ahead and review every comment before posting cnn.

    April 16, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. Tyler

    Of course, CNN doesn't tell the whole story. They failed to mention that the Gallup poll released the same day has Romney and Obama tied. The Gallup pole is more credible. (see below)

    "The Gallup poll has a larger sample (2,265 registered voters vs. 1,015 adults including 910 registered voters in the CNN/ORC International poll) and its surveys were conducted over a longer period (five days vs. three days for CNN)."

    April 16, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  13. Juanito

    Gallup has Romney up by 2, conviently release of this poll hey CNN? Why do you want Obama to win so bad?

    April 16, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. plaztikjezuz

    The election is 6 1/2 months away and a lot can change in that amount of time.

    April 16, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. LAL

    While I like the results of the poll, a lot can and will change between now and the election. This poll is fairly meaningless in my opinion.

    April 16, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Lee

    Romney says he's "severely conservative".

    That's so laughable on so many different levels. I haven't seen someone THIS phony on the national stage in over 50 years, and that's saying something watching all the politicians. It's hard to believe that someone could be so transparent in his pandering, in his own running away from his own positions.

    There is no integrity to the man.

    April 16, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Joe

    Such a sad day when only 6% of those polled say "NEITHER" or "OTHER". At least the number is growing.

    April 16, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. Forrestal

    "Just a skewed poll from the Commie News Network."

    CNN will jeopardize it reputation to help Obama. That makes a lot of sense.

    April 16, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. open400

    Obama is just more level headed and sensible than his GOP counterpart. At least with Obama you got a guy that can
    identify with working class families. Romney just can not relate to the average working stiff, when he does he looks like a phoney.

    April 16, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. urthat

    Why do the Republicans insist on nominating someone so elitist? The Republicans need to rethink their entire process. The Republicans need to come up with a candidate who actually appeals to the voters–not the lobbyists.

    April 16, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. Whatever

    President Obama is more in touch with the aliens on Saturn then he is with women and the middle class. He has not clue what is right for us. Can't wait until he loses in November. I pay 7% more in taxes then he does and I make 10 times less. A majority of the Middle Class pays way more than he does in Taxes. Wow! Talk about NOT being in touch with the middle class.

    April 16, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. John Smith

    This goes on to show that an ignorant loud minority is not representative of the will of the people. Way to go! Obama – Stoltenberg 2012

    April 16, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. Junior

    9 points is nothing. A couple of 3's from downtown and a little D and Mitt's back in it. But really, the election is 7 months away does it matter 1 iotta who's up in the polls now? NO!!!!

    April 16, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. Jason

    You can't trust the media. CNN, MSNBC and other liberal networks lie so much you can't trust these polls. I predict Romney wins the next election by 4 percent.

    April 16, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. I thought obama was going to not be the regular old lying politician....what happened?

    you go america! keep listening to cnn and obama's media groupies when they sell you LIES about the buffet rule...what a joke america is ....buffet takes salary in investment earnings. his 1% secretary gets hers in regular salary... the whole argument is pure political sleight of hand, which if you remember, is precisely what obama said he was not going to be....remember????? .... the best in all of this is that obama is paying LESS in taxes than his secretary!!!! can you imagine that! what a farce america is becoming under obama the angry socialist divider. Its amazing how in the tank CNN is for not journalism, its propaganda.

    April 16, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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