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. Susan

    That remark (About Ann Romney) may have little long-term effect on women voters," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. Why would the remark have any effect? President Obama didn't say it, in fact he disagreed with it.

    April 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |

    Obama's lead over Romney is MUCH greater than 9 points – among Hispanics he leads by 85 points, among African-Americans by 87 points and among women by 65 points. And if dogs could vote he would lead by, well, how many dogs are there in the U.S.? That's how much he would lead by.

    April 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. OGR99

    Gallo has Romney leading Obama by 6 points with independents. Ahead 2% overall.

    Wow CNN. Don't you realize we have the internet?

    April 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. sdg

    I must be really jaded because I don't see that there is a real choice in this election. The clowns that have bumbled their way through the Republican primary process were/are so woefully out of touch with anything other than the rich or bigoted of our society. And the 'winner' of that process is the least honest of the lot (give Santorum/Gingrich credit for at least sticking to his ideals – as looney as they were/are). If Huntsman were still in the process I would at least have taken a look as he was the last voice of sanity I was able to detect willing to brandish a republican affiliation.

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

    Doesn't matter who wins...they're both basically the same – liberals who will create a more socialist state.

    April 16, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. scubadogs

    I wish the election was today so we could prove your poll as being wrong!

    April 16, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. sc

    even tho any of them who are elected their still not gonna make this econonmy better!! the only person i trust is RON PAUL!!

    April 16, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. bill

    FYI Republicans: Gallup polling samples a 10% higher rate of republicamns to democrats. During the 2004 election, this was revealed through systemtatic research and yet Gallup has not changed their practicves. For our won research, go to real clear politics and look at the polling data they provided and compare the Gallup data with other polling agencies. You will very obviosuly see that Gallup consistently polls toward republicans. So dont believe what you read either.

    April 16, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Patriot Awesome

    Obama's lead is only going to get bigger when people start paying attention to what the GOP wants to do.

    April 16, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. Lenny Pincus

    Every poll has Obama well ahead. Oddsmakers have him over 90% to win. Wingers can keep the conspiracy theories up, but the Republicans are gonna have a tough year and deservedly so.

    April 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. bookgirl

    That lead will grow. Romney is a fool.

    April 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. leeatmg

    I wonder why they polled 1015 people, but only 910 were registered voters. So 10% of those polled aren't even registered voters? Did they need to find a few extras to skew the results? Why would they even poll non-registered voters, when most reputable pollsters would tell you that even a registered voter screen isn't tight enough (you should poll likely voters to get more accurate results.)

    April 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Brandon

    All you Pinochio ( Romney) Loving idiots. Shut your mouths and get behind Paul if you want Obama out.

    April 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  14. Rickster

    Romney is an idiot, and only idiots will vote for him. Yes, am I dissapointed in Obama, but if Romney gets into office, it will be like the dumb butt GW Bush all over again.

    April 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  15. jb

    LOL, I hope CNN keeps telling that lie. It just energizes the GOP.

    April 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  16. pitdownman

    Thank you Obama for bringing down the gas prices. I'm sure the Repubs thank you too.

    April 16, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  17. billy

    Everyone knows Romney is just a corporate hack who is in the tank for billionaires and millionaires and couldn't care less about the Middle Class.

    People know who Romney stands for and it isn't us average Americans.

    April 16, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  18. todd ferris

    What a joke! #OBUMMER!

    April 16, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. Pedro

    I predict the race will tighten and Obama will ultimately win by about 4%.

    April 16, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  20. herchild


    April 16, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  21. TexDoc

    CNN has Obama ahead. FOX has Romney ahead in polls. I have an idea, why don't we have an election in November and decide.

    April 16, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  22. RS

    Definitely voting for Obama. I read the gallop poll and wonder who in the world did they call–and it's
    2% ahead. I guess they didn't call any women.

    April 16, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  23. Bootstomper

    Don't take anything for granted. Vote Obama Biden 2012! Squash Romney.

    April 16, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  24. Rodneu

    Some of you have a short memory. President Obama has Inherited a paramount of issues from the previous president. Let me remnd you about Congress, who enjoyed every minute of blocking the Presidents bills. The plan was to prevent anything the President wanted that would have to get Congresses approval. By doing this, it would show a lackluster performance with some of the things the President wanted. However, there are a paramount of other items the President has taken cared of. I should not have to list every approved, or disapporoved bill. We all know the President is doing the best he can with Congress ensuring he fails....Can we say Federal Budget each year Congress failed to pass!!!!

    April 16, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  25. johnny popper

    he's had 4 years to address Congress' insane acts of funding the economy with public debt and all he's done is open the flood gates by letting them and him by default, take out 8 trillion more dollars of debt which we Americans in theory are supposed to pay back. He has exercised zero leadership financially which was predictable as hes never had to truly work for anything long term. He's is the weakest of three weak Presidents in a row. Clinton simply got lucky the era of technology was improving productivity so, otherwise his inability to lead and his lack of real world experience would have come to bear more. The interest on our nations debt is $1,700,000,000 dollars a day, every day, 365 days a year and growing exponentally and CNN and the other media jokes are discussing how this guys more in tune wiht women's issues or the common man or that gold fish are prettier in the sun light or whatever. Surreal.

    April 16, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
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