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. NOvember 2012

    gallup released their poll and it has Romney ahead by four points...this is a typical CNN leftist poll. And, Romney has not began to run against barack hussain...

    April 16, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. Grampa

    Considering the campaigning and campaign coverage have been pretty one-sided so far due to the GOP nomination marathon, these numbers are pretty amazing. They tell us that a majority of the voting public are not taken in by conservative propaganda. That's pretty bad news for a party that doesn't have much else to recommend it. Obama hasn't even really started campaigning yet and is sitting on a mountain of cash. This could be a blowout.

    April 16, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. JJ

    Romney is as fake as they come.

    He was:

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

    But now he's "severely conservative".

    How dumb does he think the American people are?

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

    Gallup poll found them in a dead heat.

    April 16, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. gregor1971

    This poll is way out of balance. It has a lower presentage of Republican voters than 2008, and if 2010 was any indication, Republican will be coming back in droves. Voter registration among Republicans has increased dramatically since 2008 – so much so that there are now as many registered republicans as registered democrats in the U.S. Was not the case in 2008. Just very bad internals in this poll. Look at the Rasmussen general election polls this past week. When you balance out the dems and repubs, Romney has a 3% to 4% lead.

    April 16, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. DaTruff

    If the Truth isn't doesn't fit what the Liberal Media want, then they will make it up. Complete fraud poll.

    April 16, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. erik

    Read Romneys profiles online. He flips too much. He represents those who have invested in him and will change for money. The only people voting for this guy I feel are people with money in the stock market. I can not see any other reason for voting for him. Needless to say. I am not voting for either.

    April 16, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. SeeTheBias

    Gotta love how CNN has obviously biased polling techniques, just look at the latest Gallup poll, among others, that shows Romney up by 2%, and used a sample size twice as big. Where's the objectivity...I'm disappointed.

    April 16, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. Len

    Just Say No to Flipper,

    You are totally correct. The Republican party (with all there millioniares) feed the Low-Information voter with fear, hate and lies. The Low-Information voter only listens or watches Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. They are making 40 to 50 thousand dollars a year and yet will vote against their own interests. Amazing!!! And you are correct, somewhat racist.

    April 16, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Lance

    ...and you can find just as many polls showing Romney beating Obama. I don't trust ANY of them, whichever way THEY say the wind is blowing.

    April 16, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. JC in Western U.S.

    Most Americans want to be able to vote FOR someone, not AGAINST someone else. Romney will get the people who want to vote AGAINST Obama, but that's it. And he's not even going to get all of them, because a good chunk of them also want to vote AGAINST Mormons.

    Obama, on the other hand, will get the vote of people who like what he has done, but also will get the vote of people who don't want to be associated with the extreme rightwing minority and think that the economy and health care and the budget are far more important than gun rights and birth control and conspiracy theories and race.

    The choice is either vote FOR Obama or AGAINST Obama but voting FOR Romney is something that very few people are talking about.

    April 16, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. DAK

    Ron Paul is the ONLY republican I would ever vote for over President Obama. Mitt, Newt and Rick are all liars, cheats and thieves and would sell their own mother into slavery if it meant winning the Whitehouse. So, unless Ron Paul gets the nomination or runs third-party, I will be voting for Obama in November.

    April 16, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. NOvember 2012

    even if this poll were correct.... Romney is doing well...for not having began to run against the marxist.

    April 16, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Mitch Hixon

    This isn't an election for 7th grade class president. For goodness sakes....will you please stop with the popularity contest and begin some actual news reporting on the real issues that this country is facing??!!! 1) We're broke and in a fiscal nose dive while the out-of-control government spending continues, 2) We have no energy policy, 3) We have no budget, 4) This President & his adminstration IS TO BLAME for not putting forward anything to begin correcting any of these, and 5) how in God's name can anyone who is aware of these facts think for one minute that someone's popularity has anything to do with solving these and hundreds of other issues that need to be dealt with? Try reporting the NEWS, and leave the popularity contests to your chlidren (along with the debt we're putting on their generation).

    PS: Sorry for the politically incorrect reference to God.......

    April 16, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Taxing millions without work and who are struggling, and spending on useless, dead-ended ideas is, "more in touch with the problems facing women and middle class Americans"? Wow, who came up with that poll and who did they pay to give those responses, I wonder?

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

    Funny how both Gallup and Rasmussen polls show the opposite.

    April 16, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. mfx3

    Only 9 points? Well, it's still early and neither candidate has really hit the campaign trail hard yet. Then of course we have debates...this will be a slaughter. Republicans have gone so crazy with their anti-American, anti-immigration, anti-women legislation this year that the American public has that same bad taste in our mouths that we did when Bush was in office. Gross.

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

    Just CNN trying to make Obama look like he is still the "man". Most of us now know he is not.

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

    Maybe the Mormon Church elders can baptize Mitt's campaign, after it's dead...

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

    He's more in touch with OUR problems. . . Well he's the President.

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

    This race was lost for the GOP before it even started....

    April 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Johnson

    When the nation learns the real Romney (or I should say the Cameilion) there will be an even wider margin. Why wont he release those tax forms from the past 10 years like his father did? Something fishy here – perhaps to do with the Offshore Accounts.

    April 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  23. Phange

    This is quite a stark contrast to the just-released Gallup poll that shows Romney ahead.

    April 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  24. Rose

    Where was this poll?LOL Was it even on the CNN site for anyone to vote on it?

    April 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  25. nickd

    Black and Hispanic men vote too ! so the idea that white men will be the difference is stupid

    April 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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