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. Scarecrow

    So America its time to choose:

    Goldman Sachs War Party Candidate A: Obama


    Goldman Sachs War Party Candidate B: Romney

    The Peoples Candidate: Dr. Ron Paul

    April 16, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. angryed

    Who in their right mind would vote for Obama given his record?

    April 16, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. dallas.alphonso

    There a lot of 65 and older white men on here, lol, no blondes to watch on FOX at the moment, lol

    April 16, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Duane

    Stop the blackout! Ron Paul for the people! Ron Paul for Liberty !

    April 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. NamePamma

    God help us all if this poll is correct!!

    April 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. bb

    I am a registered voter and no one contacted me. Who are these people they supposedly poll?

    April 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  7. KJ

    Wait til Obama gets a hold of Romney in the debates.

    April 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  8. SB

    The latest Rasmussen Poll has only 1 Republican winning in a match up against Obama. That Republican is not Romney or Gingrich and he has pulled over 50,000 people out to his campaign stops in the past month alone. You'll have to look for somewhere other than CNN/MSNBC/FOX to hear that story.

    April 16, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  9. Ruth

    Dear CNN, your PDF poll is not this poll. None of those questions were asked. Please put up the real poll numbers. They're not here.

    April 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  10. Edward

    This is trouble for Romney. You know why? The economy is only going to get better. Which means that it Obama wins in this economy how will Romney fair if it gets better?

    April 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  11. Todd in DC

    I'm an Obama fan, and this is good news, but the election is still over 6 months away. Polls like this won't even start to matter until September.

    And to all you Paul-bearers out there, Ron Paul is not going to be the GOP nominee. Deal wtih it.

    April 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. Richard Wad

    CNN polled its liberal viewers and found that 9% more would vote to re-elect President Barrack Hussein Obama. This is news?

    April 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. Obama

    Hahahaha Gallup a real polling company has Romney up 3. And crushing in independents. Thanks CNN try polling likely voters

    April 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    Let's have a poll and ask a real question.
    Which of these 2 candidates would you want managing your money!

    Enough said!

    April 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. mike58

    Keep pushing this story maybe one day even CNN will believe it

    April 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. Jimbob

    Romney is a corporate raider. He doesn't help companies in trouble, he buys them for a dime-on-the-dollar, then fires everyone, sells the company assets and banks the money. Do you think he cares about businesses?

    April 16, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  17. Spencer

    Hmmmm....who do I trust more, a CNN poll or polls by Gallup or Rasmussen?

    April 16, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  18. bullock w

    I like support for roomey

    April 16, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  19. Allyse

    I saw a poll with ROmney ahead on politico this morning....

    Dont get too comfortable oBama

    April 16, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. n

    Mr Obama will win election. Romney is only for rich people.

    April 16, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Lets ask a ral question.

    Which candidate would you prefer handling your money.

    Enough Said!

    April 16, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. zzzzz

    "... except those 65 and older..." – Go figure the old people, more they get abused, more they vote for GOP. Mitt and Ryan will kill Medicare and tax SS and they still vote for Romney. If they do not want SS or Medicare they can get out of it.

    April 16, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. GASPS!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    you go mr president michelle kids & BO- dog 2012

    April 16, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. Guest1m

    via Ann Romney
    "Mitt hasn't made up his mind who he'll vote for in November."

    Thank you Ann. That was excellent.

    April 16, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. Name Pamma

    When will the independents wake up?
    This prez is killing the great country!!

    April 16, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
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