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. DENNA

    Mitt Romney would be likeable if he chose a side and stayed on it. He is courting the ultra-conservatives now, then he will switch to the middle. The man is making me seasick. President Obama made no secret of the fact that he was courting the left, the middle and the right. He was recognizing all areas of the American electorate. That's why he won.

    April 16, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  2. Peikovianyi

    So great is the will to believe, and so constant is the propaganda, that if Obama loses to Romney the Obama voters will claim the election was stolen, and that the deciding issue was racism, and that the results had nothing to do with double-digit unemployment, bad war news, another stock market slump and $5 a gallon gasoline.

    April 16, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Atul Chaudhary

    If I say anything Pres Obama will get angry so I will just keep quiet and work to get him to go to Colombia with his secret service friends.

    April 16, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. Chris

    Stephen: Breaking news everyone is biased
    Moreover every Poll is showing one thing or another. Ruters, CNN, Zogby has the President winning with Fox and Gallup having Romney up. Why don't you people who seem to have an axe to grind with CNN go back to Fox News. All Media is entertainment first, used to rev people who would be manipulated up. Hate, hate, hate. If that is all your selling than go off and cling to your guns in fear. Before any of you couch bound hero's spout off about my own liberal bias I will tell you I actually have served in 2 theaters of war, which is guess is 2 more than any of you.

    April 16, 2012 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  5. Whatever

    CNN has finally jumped fully on the Obama bandwagon. They are no longer reporting the news as it should be.....Truthfully!!! This paragraph says it all........I am done with CNN. I used to like them as they would be middle of the line. Not now. Good bye 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.

    April 16, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. mrpopular

    Your twisted poll made me laugh. Let me help you pull your head out of the sand, CNN.

    April 16, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  7. Chad%Biff

    The Mormon god, who dwells at the star system Kolob, at the center of the galaxy, will not permit Mitt to lose this election.

    April 16, 2012 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  8. John D

    Communist poll.

    April 16, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  9. dd

    silly me, but i don't have to "like" the potus....he or she just has to do the job we pay them to lip service,no corruption,no over spending, no bull crap failed plans and policies.etc.....whats love got to do with it?

    April 16, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  10. Obama will Definitely Be Re-Elected

    Cannot wait until our Prez wipes the floor with Romney in the debates. Romney is one of the worst candidates I have EVER seen. He is beyond out-of-touch with women, latinos, independent voters and the average American in general.

    April 16, 2012 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  11. skeptical

    And Rick Perry had a 12 point lead...I guess we'll see

    April 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  12. NotFooledByDistractions

    I sure hope that all those folks who say they are voting for Romney to vote against Obama are actually listening to Mr. Romney and are doing research on what he (claims he) stands for like the Ryan "budget". Knee-jerk voting is a mistake – just look at all the clowns that were elected in 2010 – and their stellar 10% approval rating. Pay attention, do your research – it's not a game, it's our future.

    April 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  13. Rhope

    In politics, a week is a LONG Time. 6 months is LOOOONG.
    If you are Pro Obama, dont pop the champagne bottle yet... and if you are pro Romney – keep hope alive.. But do have Kleenex close by, lol.

    April 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  14. SNAPPA

    Mitt Romney will never, ever be president of anything let alone the United States. His cult alone precludes this by far. You have to ask yourself what's his agenda? Why has he run for president so many times? How much money has he spent trying to become president?

    For all you "deficit" junkies, ANYONE who is president ANYONE no matter what they spend even if it's day to day spending to keep the governemtn running will run a DEFICIT because we have a DEFICIT do you inderstand that? If you're running on debt and you borrow more money of course your going to add to the deficit. President Obama inherited a mess from the Republicans that it's going to take a lot to get out of it the first step will be to empty the house of republicans who caused this mess in the first place.

    April 16, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. John

    Mitt, good luck with shaking the perception that you destroy jobs, not create them. Good luck with shaking the perception that you've obtained wealth by depriving others. You can flip flop like a fish out of water but those perceptions will be with you no matter what your position de jour is.

    April 16, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  16. sammy zoso

    Wow, BeveryNC, right on. And I love your fire.

    April 16, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  17. fghjrtr545

    Safety Net does not equal a concrete floor below the penthouse! Middle class has to come FIRST (even before those on welfare). Obama has ignored the middle class. CNN poll = one sided. Of course, they wave the poll results like a victory flag as a main headline on their front page. Every CNN anchor/host should disclose who they voted for in last election! Lets see some transparency.

    April 16, 2012 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  18. Mel

    I voted for Obama, but will vote for Romney in November. I've seen nothing trust worthy or in-touch from Obama. His policies have failed and I'm not better off. Plus, he's selling our country out with illegal immigration and national security. He's a typical politician, except less experienced and more arrogant.

    April 16, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  19. Chris

    Gallup has Romney "Crushing with independents" by 6 whole people. This sample size is an even distribution of Republicans , Democrats and Independents not a actual representation of National Party affiliation which is overwhelmingly Democrat.

    April 16, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Bag of Hammers

    Show me a poll this October and I'll give a crap, until then, it's all fantasy.

    April 16, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. Frank

    I believe that when they hold a debate teleprompters are not allowed! Obama can't speak without one, he might look very foolish.

    April 16, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. American

    Godspeed President Obama...for a strong middle class, women's rights & fairness for all Americans.

    April 16, 2012 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. marjee123

    I see idiots like mike who doesn't know his butt from a whole in the ground are allowed to post and not moderated. I suppose so, because CNN is so in tune with the republicans. I can't understand how romeny is even that close he is going to loose in a landslide. It would be interesting to know how many of the republicans members of the house were asked to vote in this poll.

    April 16, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  24. pgraham52

    CNN polled Democrats asking who they would vote for and only won by 9 points its going to be a very close election. Rasmussen is the most respected polling company in America has Romney up by two points which is a statistical tie.

    April 16, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  25. MaryM

    If you dont like the polls at CNN, then go to faux news. They will have the polls you like. bye bye

    April 16, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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