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. People call me "Willy"

    The fact that "Rmoney" even sounds like Reagan sometimes should work against him. Do we need another new guy to tell us that the economy needs help and that that he can fix things? LOL... I'll go with Obama – he just learned the ropes and seems to be getting a handle on things. After all... we paid for his training. Would be nice to see a return on investment...

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Dav

    Wow the CNN communist News Network ) poll has comrade obama ahead,no yellow reporting at CNN

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  3. Lets Be Real

    ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ho-ho-ho...good grief,, wish was November already

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

    What a shocker, a CNN poll that shows BO in the lead. I bet on Fox news it shows Romney in the lead. Seriously, these polls prove jack.

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

    oh a CNN poll we are soo scared!!!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Jaime

    Sounds a little shady to me. Gallup came out today with Romney leading by 2% 47-45. Plus leading independents by 6% over Obama. CNN has Obama leading by 9% and with independents. CNN you are full of it. Stop trying to manipulate the truth. Your poll looks like a joke and makes you look foolish. Take it down...

    April 16, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Good Golly Miss Molly

    Honestly.....I don't even understand how this can be. Romney might not be ideal but we have seen what 3 years under this guy has done. Not good. Likable or not, competence should count for a lot more.

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  8. Boone Lane

    Baloney! Both Rasmussen and Gallup have Romney above Obama. The CNN poll just looks at overall popularity and does not factor likely voter or registered voter bias. Obama is in trouble and the mainstream media is doing everything it can to prop him up. But, publishing a poll like this is out-and-out lying and they know it!

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. sam111

    Obama has my vote for four more years. Let him finish the job that he has a good start on. He's more in touch with the middle-class than his opponent who has no idea what the middle-class is. Neither does Romney's wife.

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. Greg

    Your poll is biased, because you do not include third parties including Gary Johnson who has polled as high as 7-8%.

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. podunda

    Can you say, "Landslide" ?

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. Peter Peirce

    Sorry, where's the poll with all the data you claim in the article? All you link to is poll data about if it's good for women to work or stay at home. Where's the Presidential polling data?

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  13. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    This is the benchmark point BEFORE the ALEC and KOCH brothers ads run. CNN will get back to us after we've been lied to by the right wing for a few months in 30-second ads. It'll almost certainly swing the other way.

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  14. MNResident

    The poll results are interesting, because the Gallup Poll today has Romney ahead of Obama 47% to 45%:

    These results are going to bounce around like Yo-Yos, and there is a LONG way to go before November.....

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. DRod

    President Barack Obama holds a nine-point lead over Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

    It will be even more than that in November.

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |

    Just Say No to Flipper. Romney has more than half the countrys support if not more. The fact that you had to mention his religion is very telling. Stop being a bigot

    April 16, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. Dvet

    A vote for romney would be a vote for self destruction of the united states and eventually the world.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  18. LOL Yeah Right!

    That poll must be from fantasyland LOL.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  19. Child of the Ghetto

    One must read the fine print or the instruction form that was lost before picking between the two. They both have person personal cross they bear. The results are Romey with his saving the the rich from having to get richer and Obama with making everyone pay fanyone who came to this country or live here and will not work. The middle class is gone. I lived in poverty for years as a child with seven kid sleeping in one room for ten years with little to nothing to eat when they built a new housing complex three blocks away and we could not qualify because me pappy made 100.00 a wekk that we had to pay rent,food and clothes for 9. Now as I get ready to retire, after paying medicare,SOS and into a retirement program the the government is trying to take over the past 35 years is a shame. The American ream.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. No More Hope and Change Obama

    Gallup and Rasmussen both have Romney up. Real Clear Politics have Obama up by 3. So with the margin of errors it is a tie. So sorry CNN how many dems did you interview?

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Andrew

    Isin't this obvious? President Obama is the only candidate with an appeal to the typical middle class american. A man woth 1/4 of a billion dollars can't appeal.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. commentary42

    How can there still be a question on who is better for the economy? Obama and the stimulus completely turned around the absolute economic disaster he was dealing with when he came into office. The GOP blocked every single jobs bill (except a deregulation package for small business investement. The GOP held the US government hostage last summer on the budget to the point that we had the first credit downgrade in American History – with blame falling unequivocally on the GOP. They cannot even bring the transportation infrastructure bill to a vote for cripes sake.

    What is the Romeny/Ryan plan? MORE tax cuts for the wealthy (including eliminating capital gains taxes which would give Romney a personal tax rate of approximately ZERO). MORE increases in military spending. DESTROYING the EARNED benefit of Medicaid with a highly questionable voucher program, continuing to defund every single program that helps women, families and the elderly, including the EARNED benefit of social security which lifts 20 MIILLION families and children out of poverty every single year.

    Tax breaks for wealthy people have been PROVEN to not create jobs – they just create more offshore accounts and car elevators. Tax breaks for big corporations have been PROVEN to not create jobs – they just use them to maximize shareholder profits, which is the only legal obligation a corporation has.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. John

    The GOP don't give us much choice. I was going to vote republican this year, but not with Romney running. I voted for Obama last time, and I am not happy with the results he has given us over the past four years. BUT his allot better than Romney.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  24. Nuckle

    Remember, stay divided Americans! Don't work towards a common goal. Hate your fellow man for having different beliefs than you do. Anyone who doesn't agree with you is evil. Stock up on guns and ammo. Keep buying things. Stay asleep.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. Marty, FL

    God bless President Obama for his integrity, values, and steady leadership even when faced with unreasonable opposition that has been unwilling to compromise for the American people.

    Our president may not be perfect, but he is definitely better than an inconsistent Romney who lies and flip flops way too much as a politician.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
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