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. josh rogen

    it's amazing how perception is 180 decrees off from reality

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Dolemite

    Gallup just released it's first Presidential Tracking Poll in a while and they have Romney up 47 to 45. Translation: CNN and ORC included 10% more self-identified Democrats in their survey sample so as to assure the outcome they desired.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  3. RonB in SC

    I have made this post before and now I am doing it again - Obama will win by a landslide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  4. Seth

    So much for that "birthday gift" Anne!

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  5. WW

    Who cares who wins. The little guy loses. We need to reorganize the whole darned government from top to bottom.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  6. Imright

    Anyone who isnt frightened by the creepy mormons being in power is a fool.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. Anomic Office Drone

    Maybe he should change his name to MItt Kerry.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. Independent Voter

    I agree

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Natalie

    The only ones who will vote for Romney will be the hard-headed, "don't try to educate me" Fox Noise trolls who feed on lies and exaggerations and take that as legitimate news. I was never so happy to hear about the "mole" that's ratting on Fox Noise; what a beautiful thing and so well deserved. Of course he's revealing nothing that we didn't already suspect, but it's validating nonetheless.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  10. Annie

    Breaking News? When is a poll result a breaking news? Seems like CNN is celebrating (a sigh of relief) that Obama is leading AGAIN.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. newideaman

    I have still not come across a single person in the last year who likes Obama, and I work with different people all day.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Holla

    What do u expect from flip-flop candidate like Mitt. He belives money can buy the presidency.Better days are coming in America. Strongly believe in Obama/Biden 2012.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. Don

    Romney, A greedy tax cheat who stashes his ill-gotten money in Swiss banks like the Mafia, I believe that there is something more than just the typical money laundering charge with people who hide their money in foreign accounts. by refusing to divulge it, Romney may be hiding something even bigger than just not paying taxes or the methods in which he obtained his wealth by stealing money from regular Americans, I think that there is something even shadier going on with the Mormon guy. I just can’t believe that Republicans would support this very very shady man.

    April 16, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. Retired Army

    No one should be surprised that so many women are looking to vote for Obama.....except for the husbands who are voting for Romney.

    Wonder how many of them know that their wives/girlfriends are going in the other direction (LOL) .......

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. aggie95

    Go, Pres. Obama, go! Four more years!

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. Imright

    Anyone who isnt frightened by the creepy mormons being in power is probably a mormon too.

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. Tom

    I noticed that CNN's poll somehow seems to be an outlier when you look at the RCP Average, which has trended towards Romney in recent days. The RCP Average has dropped from Obama +5.3 to Obama +2.0 in a week. Romney is now leading in three of the six polls.

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  18. The Man from Scene 24

    Sorry CNN, not everyone is buying into your propaganda. In 2012 we are KICKING OUT THE COMMIES and sending them where they belong.

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. BunnyBunny

    Romney has a nervous personality. You ever looked at a wild horse's eyes? Romney has that same wild eyed look.

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  20. Steve

    Who gives a crap?? It's April, and for the record they are both terrible.

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. derriquestuckey

    Yeah, right.

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Michael

    What the poll doesn't tell you is the majority of the people that voted are Democrats. Maybe they should do a poll on just independents.

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. josh

    Give me a break. I can't believe so called "journalists" (Liberals with an agenda) have the audacity to label that as "Breaking News."

    April 16, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. a cut above the rest

    Obama is a racist, too–he hates his other half–The Whites! He also wants to be king and turn the USA into a communist country and clense the country of babies, the disabled and the elderly with ObamaCare.

    Mitt is above Obama in the poles and will win...This is just CNN left wing propaganda–and since when does poll results become "breaking news?"

    April 16, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. ArizonaYankee

    Funny, Obama is down 2 points to Romney in a non biased Rasmussen Pole.. Nothing like CNN imposing it's own agenda with their own radically biased poles and opinions. You are a joke CNN (Communist News Network)

    April 16, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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