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. mick68

    Funny, IPSOS/Reuters just announced Obama's lead dropped to 4% from 7%. No surprise CNN viewers would favor Obama, should be higher actually.

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

    Ron Paul is more popular than Obama.. How does your numbers work CNN?


    April 16, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. Don

    czar33 is a perfect example of what dividing and blaming is doing to this country. No one should wish cancer and anyone.

    April 16, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. TXnBud

    1st and only red flag needed – CNN Poll whose opinion was this article written??
    How about leaving "perception" to the side and go on facts.
    Talk about being detached from reality!
    I can't write LOL in big enough letters nor shake my head from left to right in any larger fashion to express how much comedy I read in this article.
    I can't believe people are serious about voting for Obama after all of his blatant lies, his spending and his lack of care for this country! I'm not a huge Romney kind of person, but dear Lord in Heaven...I'll vote for ANYONE besides Obama.

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

    This poll is a hog wash. Gallop poll says Romney leads obama by 2 poiints

    April 16, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. tonyl

    As the nation and the independent Americans see more of the Mitt Romney who is completely out of touch from reality and scrutinize his record as a governor and businessman and about having off shore bank accounts in Cayman islands and paying just less then 12% tax rate on over 20+ millions dollars of income every year, he about to get even get lower in the polls. He is uncomfortable in his own skin because he lies. The GOP has become a joke of this nation and the world. Romney represents top 1% rich and out of touch of our nation. He represents the wall street thugs, oil companies, insurance companies and large corporate interests. He is from the same crowd that is responsible for our economic crash during the Bush/Cheney corrupt term. It would be shame to hand the keys back to the criminals.

    April 16, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. Brandon

    When are you Romney loving idiots going to wake up?? This guy lies more than pinochio!! Ron Paul is the only one that can beat Obama. Wake up sheeple!!!!

    April 16, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. al in memphis

    All this means is that mud-slinging, fact twisting will be at a all time high. There is even be sighting of Reagan campaigning for Romney.
    I'm willing to bet there will be one or two manufacture crisis and threat of $6 gas before this election cycle is over. Maybe even a sighting of the dead Bin Laden . Anything that will keep Obama from a second term.

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. Ben

    Interesting that the Gallup poll has Romney up 2 points and the Rasmussen poll has Romney up 3 points. CNN, like most media that leans heavily to the left, should expand their polling techniques to match that of other unbiased polls.

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  10. Robert

    What do we care what an INTERNATIONAL poll reveals??? All we care is what Americans think. This is DUMB.

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  11. REG in AZ

    The question of "who is most likely to be able to jump start the economy", really needs to be considered in the light of jump start or benefit for "who" – the very few or the majority? Plus will the voters back their betting on Obama by getting rid of those who block and fault all efforts for their political strategies and to benefit "the few", their strong supporters or will they once again, like in 2010, vote in those Republican / Tea Party candidates who serve only their own interests and those of "the money" effectively inhibiting all progress? Ask the question, if the voters elect Obama and a moderate Democratic and Republican congress, would the people then have the confidence that they would serve the best interests of the majority? ... and the answer likely would be a very emphatic yes!

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. Jen

    I am a middle class working mother and I would like to see the economy picking up. I don't think Obama will be able to do it, I would give a chance to Romney since he is a doer and not a talker, not a good debater so far but a self made millionaire tells me that he knows what to do.

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Gallup has Romney up 2!

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. noel

    Exactly like I would expect the followers of CNN to poll. But in the REAL world, Mitt leads by a few. Wait until $5 gas this summer and 9% unemployment. Mitt is sitting in the catseat ,contrary to what you will see here in this most "unbalanced" rag! No wonder FOX kills these guys over and over and over....again...

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. pointless1

    headline should read "Blind pig finds an acorn according to CNN poll"....

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. MikeRight

    I find it a little curious that 2/3 of those surveyed were by landline and only 1/3 by cell phone. I'm no expert, but almost everyone I know uses only a cell phone and doesn't even have a landline anymore. I could see this easily skewing the results based on the demographic differences in those who use a landline and may not even own a cell phone versus what I would consider the increasingly common situation where someone doesn't even have a landline. I don't know which way it would skew it, but I'd be surprised if 2/3 of the responses coming from landlines doesn't over-represent a certain segment of the American public. Eh?

    April 16, 2012 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Jesse

    I believe that Romney feels in his heart that he will be President someday. I don't think he'll stop running until he does. I'm an African American and I like Romney as a man, but in my opinion, the one thing stopping him now is that he looks out of touch with the average American. Some say its due to his wealth, but I say that's an irrelevant excuse. Past Presidents such as JFK and FDR who grew up in an aristocratic environment still had that "I GET IT" mindset that attracted average to low income citizens to vote for them and Romney needs to find that if he's ever going to win.

    April 16, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  18. Investment Advisor

    @czar33...You represent the liberal mentality most adequately! Get a life1

    April 16, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. coastlinecascot

    I agree most other polls show romney up. However it does not matter till NOV 2.

    April 16, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. The Truth Hurts

    Thank goodness for this poll! Without it, we would have no idea about the 1,000 random voters who may or may not change their minds by November 6th. Thanks to them answering a phone call from a robotic calling machine, we now have headline news. HOORAY!!!

    April 16, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. Terry

    This poll is not worth the paper it was written on. CNN is a part of the Obama re-election campaign. Look at Rasmussen for accuracy. Obama is in trouble. Most likely he will be gone in 2013. Worst President in our history.

    April 16, 2012 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. No Kidding

    It's very SIMPLE, folks!
    1) If Romney is no different than Obama, why make a change?
    2) If Romney is truly a republican: Why vote for a party that has already demonstrated how much damage they can do to this country (just look at the 8 years of GW Bush).

    April 16, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  23. Gurgyl

    O-B-A-M-A 2012. We love you, Obama.
    By-American middle class.

    April 16, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. DNC-CNN

    A Gallup poll released today has Romney leading Obama by three points. Since CNN takes its talking points directly from the DNC, the Gallup poll is probably more legitimate.

    April 16, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  25. jackie treehorn

    jimmy carter was up 15 pts in the polls a week before the election... (he won one state) when the curtain is closed and the lever pulled... obama's on his way back to chi town...

    April 16, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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