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. Bob

    Two weeks ago Obama was 15 points ahead. Who cares, it's all about electorial votes. How do you think NY & CA will vote? LOL

    April 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Intelligent Response

    @Just Say No–how very tolerant of you. H y p o c r i t e. I suppose you donate all of your paycheck to welfare recipients, have no faith in anything, and believe people should be singing praises ala the German government in the 1930s. Ignorance will not fix anything, that's been proven. Please fix yourself, for the benefit of America, thank you.

    April 16, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  3. Jim

    Gallup shows Romney ahead of Obama by +2, breaking news CNN? Common man....

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

    CNN!!! LOL! Now there's some integrity for ya! LOL

    April 16, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Cheryl Jefferies

    And, a Gallup Poll and a Fox Poll both show Romney leading Obama among all sections of voters. Oh, Gallup is historically biased toward Dems. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Why don't you report those two polls, CNN? Never mind. Another instance of lap-dog mentality.

    April 16, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Greenspam

    All these polls are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    April 16, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Melinda

    According to a CNN poll. Must be true and accurate.

    April 16, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. Ivan

    How is this breaking news?

    April 16, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. lizard59

    Obama's job approval ratings are in the toilet! He can't win another term!

    April 16, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. bob_lawbla

    How is this breaking news? More CNN Propaganda.

    April 16, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  11. lkottis

    so what? You can see where all the "likability" and "in-touchy-ness" has gotten us over the last 3 years. He is an incompetent president and has ruined our economic present and future. Give me a successful man any day. We are not electing a pal.

    April 16, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Little Jimmy Truth

    Oh snap

    Obama already has parties too much. Why Clinton had fun in Columbia. Obama might dislike mothers. Why he let Rosen hurt Romney and mothers.

    April 16, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Just Say No to Communism

    Why is Romney a racist? Oh wait, I forgot, because the media say he is, just like the media says every Republican is. Easy response to that. Republican Party – the party of Lincoln, freed the slaves. Father of the Democratic party, Thomas Jefferson, slave owner.

    April 16, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. rc

    Just say no. You forgot one crucial demographic: those who would like to get or keep a job.

    April 16, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. Ugh

    Why is this breaking news? It's not a shock. I'm a registered Republican, but I wouldn't vote for Romney if he were the only person on the ballot. I don't trust him at all and I think he'll do much worse than Obama, not that I want to vote for Obama either. I'm holding out hope for a good Independent candidate that doesn't talk BS like Obama does and who is in touch with reality, unlike Romney.

    April 16, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. lizard59

    Obama's job approval ratings are in the toilet.
    There is no way he will be re-elected!

    April 16, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Phil from Licking County

    Mitt just doesn't seem genuine.

    April 16, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. Rich

    Go Ron Paul!!! Ron Paul would have be a tie against Obama because of all the Independent votes.

    April 16, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. Fox News poll has Romney ahead by 2%

    I guess it all depends on the bias of the site. Maybe the news people should stop trying to influence things either way and let the people's voice speak in November.

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. JC

    MEANWHILE – in an unbiased poll...

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. LibertyMonger

    Why aren't they showing how Ron Paul does in this Poll? Oh I forgot, they lie and manipulate to make us think Romney is our next puppet when in fact Ron Paul is the only one who can beat Obama and the only one who will give the country back to the people and not the banks and the corporations! Stop falling for it sheep learn the truth, support Ron Paul! We will get our country back with or without you so either wake up or get out of our way! Run RON RUN!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Tom

    This is CNN nothing else needs to be said...

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Joe The Pumber

    Obama owes Rush Limb-brain a big thank you for running his mouth about contraception and turning off the women voters! Go Rush Go!

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Granger

    no doubt Obama will go down as the worst president in history. CNN polls showing that this president relates better with middle what in the hill has this pres done for the middle class...uh, let's see? Raise gas prices, raise the national debt, raised unemployment. Come on ...give me a break.

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  25. Unknown

    Both are not perfect and have major flaws. But better the Devil you know than the Devil you don't.

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
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