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. caeser

    I'm confused.
    Why did Republican's purge their moderate's and embrace the radical "Tea Party" movement if they are just going to nominate Mitt Romney.
    Seem's like a lot of crowing just to lay an egg.

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

    This Independent voter is voting for Obama!

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

    Who cares about any of the polls. They all are not accurate. Presodent Obam is going to wipe the floor with old flip-flopper Mittens. The Republicans should be ashamed of themselves passiing this man off as a conservative nominee for president. Mittens begged them to let him be the nominee because it is his turn in line to run for the presidential office. These republicans are so childish. Please vote for the only adult in the room, which happens to be President Obama hands down. Like another blogger wrote, the unamerican republicans made sure that they voted no on everything that was sat before them to make him fail and they will pay for their lack of leadership come November.

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

    Obama is an absolute joke.

    He and Moochelle probably laugh each night on how they have bamboozeled the American people

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

    Thanks for the well-wishes Mick! On the other hand – we are all in this together (kind of like it was when Bush decided to 'spend the political capital' he thought he had during his re-election). It'll be all right – you'll see.

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

    This JUST in!!! apparently "Other" is leading this pole by 99%..

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

    Of course Obama is more in tune with the middle class. He is from the middle class as opposed to Romney who has had a privileged life and now worth $250 million yet only pays 15% taxes. Though he gives to Charity more than half of his charitable contributions are to the mandatory 10% of income donation required by his Church.

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

    Funny, I saw a poll that had Romney ahead just last week, and CNN failed to publish it on the front page. Gee, I wonder why.

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

    Mitt Romney+Sarah Palin= Oboma OUT!!!

    April 16, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. No Kidding

    How can Obama be ahead of Romney, the Etch-a-Sketch candidate? Romney can show you anything you want to see on his Etch-a-Sketch!

    April 16, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. John Herling

    According to, Obama is ahead of Romney in three polls by 7, 8 and 9 percent respectively; and Romney is ahead in three polls by 2, 2, and 3 percent respectively. Obviously, some or all of these pollsters must be either lying or using bad methology in order to produce such discrepant results.

    April 16, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Chad Corwin

    Wake Up Peaople. Ron Paul is still in this race.

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

    Get ready Conservatives, this is gonna hurt.

    April 16, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. mdodge1974

    This is obviously communist propaganda. No way they'd get away with that if Santorum were the nominee; his massive national popularity would make this fake too obvious.

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

    One of the most popular NEWS organizations in the world is showing this amazingly weak article under "breaking news." HAHAHA.... Let's find some real news, ladies and gentlemen of CNN, and make CNN.COM interesting for a change.

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

    Who would want to vote for a flip flopper in the first place. We do not what this Mitt the flip flopper stands for now and can anyone predict what he would do if he becomes the president. Obama may have failures in his plate and some wrong starts. But at least, he is predictable, honest and we know what his focus is. This country will not benifit at all from a unpredictable self-serving flip-flopper in White House.

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

    Must be those shining examples of respect for the taxpayers and fiduciary trust at GSA and Solyndra.

    $4 billion borrowed and poured down the rat hole per day.

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

    I do not subscribe to your small, calculated poll. Obama loses 52% to 46% in a landslide and the dems know it. Good luck Mica / Joe with the on going "Romney is so stupid" BS. See you at the bottom of the ratings in 2014. JOE, still looking for a FOX job? Go away D***head and run a bait shop. Good luck!

    April 16, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. Joi Gibson

    @Just Say No to Flipper
    You are so corRect. Willard has an every thing problem. The guy just comes off as not sincere, even his laugh is phony. He seems so uncomfortable talking with himself when he's not in his "crowd," how can he possibly relate to us little people.


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

    I don't believe this for a minute. Virtually every other daily tracking poll has Romney with the edge. Why don't you report that CNN?

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

    This poll brought to you by PRO-OBAMA CNN.

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

    I look forward to that gap widening over the coming months. Obama 2012!

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

    If you want to USA to turn into Greece, re-elect nObama.

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

    Obama is going to win... like it or not. I'm not even going to take a side here... Romney is just so out of touch with normal people that even Republicans are going to find it hard to vote for him. He has no plan for anything. You had your chance, conservatives, and you blew it. The crazy clown parade is coming to an end.

    April 16, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  25. Truth001

    With an economy in the tank and the future looking dim Romney should be leading by 40 points. It just goes to show you how weak Romney is. I think the GOP should vote for a different candidate at the convention.

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