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. FJM25

    CNN with old news again... TODAY (not last week) both Gallup and Rasmussen have Romney 47-45.

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

    Actually now that I look, even the CNN/OR poll is trending towards Romney, down from an 11% gap last poll.

    April 16, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. speak freely 22

    What a ridiculous article. Obama's more in touch with women voters and why would that be - the White House pays women less then they do men. Or is this because of the whole contraception issue which was utterly ridiculous - Fluke or whatever her name is goes to a religious college and then wants them to pay for her contraceptives - whose paying for her to go to an expensive college - they can pay for her contraceptives also. Furthermore, it turned out she was just another activist trying to make a name for herself. So I can't really understand how Obama can be more favorable to women, but then mainstream media is hardly ever honest about what he says and what he stands for.

    April 16, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. RE: Just Say No to Flipper

    Just Say No to Flipper, I bet you're on welfare – You parasite.

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

    I don't like any of them. But between a great white and a murena I'd most likely survive the murena.

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

    Gallup Tracking 4/11 – 4/15 2265 RV 45 47 Romney +2
    Rasmussen Tracking 4/13 – 4/15 1500 LV 44 47 Romney +3
    FOX News 4/9 – 4/11 910 RV 44 46 Romney +2

    April 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. derriquestuckey

    Yeah, right. If there's one thing proven not to trust the Obama administration on, it's 'numbers'. Incidentally, I find this humorous that it's a 'CNN poll'. In other words, Obama only has a nine point lead with his own party. That's pretty sad.

    April 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. LG

    Funny Gallup, Rasmussen, and of course Fox have Romney in the lease as of YESTERDAY... But CNN, of course just like Fox, are going to skew it in favor of their candidate.

    April 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. Christopher

    I can't believe the GOP is really going to manage to screw this up. Is this really the best they can come up with? A rehash of a former candidate (who was lackluster then).

    April 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. ThePastaSauce

    Why do news casts publish polls like they are stock prices that change daily? But more importantly what is the "CNN/ORC International Poll" – are US elections now INTERNATIONAL????

    April 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Jeremy

    My fellow Republicans, if Romney is the best we can muster, we deserve to lose.

    April 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. Lorraine

    Lord have Mercy... I sure hope Romney can pull it off 'cause this country won't survive with what we have as a president now.... oy vey!

    April 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. me123me

    Well if CNN did the poll then it has to be fair. They give such a balanced approach to both parties. DOHHH.

    April 16, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. Jaime

    Cnn is so biased this poll is so unbeliavable. Gallup which is a true poll. Says today Romney is up by 2%. But CNN has Obama up by 9% bullsh–. CNN you try so hard to show your biased we all know it.

    April 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  15. Jake90

    Not only is Mitt Romney low on the polls, but we could see some traditionally conservative states won by Obama. The only way Romney could win is to win these states; and so far he has won only liberal states in the primaries, which have voted Democrat in at least the past 5 elections.

    April 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. louise

    Romney is heartless, look what he did to his poor Irish Setter, Seamus.

    April 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Freeb

    Sweet, another 4 years. God Bless Obama..

    April 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. pjc722

    Surprising that a FOX NEWS poll and yet another poll put Romney ahead of Obama but that's not BREAKING NEWS!!

    Seriously, breaking news is a tragedy, an earthquake, a violent crime, a death, an election victory, etc. Not a poll that could change tomorrow and have Romney up by 9pts. Of course, then it isn't BREAKING NEWS

    April 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Romney is fake on every level.

    He was:

    Pro-Gun Control
    Pro-Gay Mariage
    Pro-Birth Control
    Pro-Government Run Health Care
    Pro-Wall Street Bailouts

    But now he's "severely conservative".

    How dumb does he think Americans are?

    April 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. scat398

    I'm voting for Ron Paul no matter what and so are at least 10% of republicans. Romney is a nonstarter for the office but unit the GOP wakes up this what they can expect.

    April 16, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. Lili

    I'd rather jump in the Hudson River than vote for that nitwit Romney.

    April 16, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. Jake

    Funny that both Rasmussen Reports and the Gallup Poll have Romney beating Obama. How accurate has CNN polling been in past presidential elections? Fox News also has Romney beating Obama, but they have an agenda like CNN too. I'll stick with the non-media polling, it seems to be more accurate.

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. Just saying

    Romney is basically Obama lite. Bring Ron Paul into the picture and then you'll have an opponent. Just look at all they diverse crowds in the tens of thousands he has been drawing lately.....Romney stands for nothing than the same old power politics and government controlled taken over from Obama after Bush. NDAA is all we nee to look at. Both these guys are basically the same outside of skin color

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  24. Food4Thought3

    I love polls, they can say whatever you want them to.

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. John

    Well, we might as well not hold the election in November. What a bunch of hooey this article is, nothing but biased journalism.

    April 16, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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