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. Kevin Ash

    Mr. President. I did not vote you in 2007, but I WILL VOTE YOU this year! You've been a hard working president, you've been representing middle class. You've show your integrity, your modesty, and youi've won my vote. Thank you for your hard work!

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. John the Historian

    The Reoublican party is for only for groups:The Christian Right(also for the the cult of Mormonism, remember mormons are not Christians), the military-industrial complex, Wall Street and the corporate elite, and the billionaires like Romney. If you are a women, Black, Hispanic, Gay, the working poor, agnostic, or believe in free education and global warming, you have no business voting for the Republican party.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. NHAZman

    President Obama's lead is no surprise. More success is likely on his way. Given the complete turmoil in the Republican Party, it appears his election to a second term is all but a guarantee. By far, he represents everyday Americans a whole lot more than Mr. Romney, who without question represents the ultra rich and powerful.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. sam111

    Romney has no plan before the wind blows. Whichever way the wind blows determines his latest stance. All he presents are lies about President Obama.

    April 16, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Jeff, Chicago

    Interesting poll, considering Gallup has Romney beating Obama by 2 points. It is going to be a very close election, with Obama probably having a slight edge because his base is nothing but ignorant sheep, who can't think for themselves.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. John Tapper

    This poll is laughable... There hasn't been a single other poll that suggested anything even similar to these ridiculous results. Note to CNN: When you manufacture results with sample bias it's wise to create results that are modestly credible.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. Dudley Doright

    Please Mitt, do not stop talking. Every policy statement, position, opinion or issue you speak too is another 1/10th of a point added to the Presidents lead.

    What would be scary would be if you started to put the nations interests before your own, the rich and the GOP. Then you might become a serious candidate.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  8. SA in OO

    Come on . . .
    What's not to like about Romney. He's stands for everything you're for. Unless of course you're not for actually for those things, in which case neither is he. How can you be against somebody who doesn't stand for anything . . . except of course beating Obama.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. rosaadriana

    Is that all! It should be more than than that!

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. k

    Poll never identifies D/R/I split and is not likely voters. More useful as a grill starter than anything else.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. josh

    this is breaking news? lol, this election has a long ways to go. It will be nearly 50 50 come november. CNN is sad.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. EsquireXII

    And now just after criticizing the president for his open microphone conversation with Russia, he is caught talking about what he will do after he gets elected. Positions that he shared with his elite fund raisers and not the American people.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  13. Indyswimmer66

    Actually... I'm surprised it's only 9 points! Romney has a LOT of baggage.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  14. VegasIdaho

    What about the Gallop poll over at USAToday that shows Romney over Obama by 2%? Look and see who sponsored this poll! Makes for a great biased headline and gets the hate posts going.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  15. IggyDad

    For those who shriek that CNN fixes the polls in Obama's favor, check the final 2008 polls. CNN poll 10/30–11/1/2008: Obama 53%, McCain 46%. Actual results: Obama 52.9%, McCain 45.7%

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. felix

    I'm not Romney fan, but I image that gap will close once PAC funded negative ad blitzes begin. Enough of the general public can be persuaded by misinformation that it can swing these polls left or right on any given day.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. John B.

    Vote out everyone that signed the Norquist Pledge or we're right back for another 4 years of the GoP Blockade.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. LOL

    Not even close to true, We need Romney to fix the mess Obama has inherited and made worse.

    April 16, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. gsquare

    Surprised it's that close. Forgot red-staters don't have caller id

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  20. Mike

    And, Obama hasn't really started spending money yet.

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  21. SF

    CNN and republicans made the whole Hilary Rosen comment more than it really was. i fully agree with what she was saying...Ann Romney HASN'T worked a day in her life! yes, i said it...cuz not everyone has the luxury of millions of $$$ at their disposal! "raising her kids" in that environment should be a piece of cake! talk to a suburban mother with children and one job or even two incomes with a mother AND a father in the picture...THEY STILL STRUGGLE! so spare me the fake war that republicans and Ann Romney tried to spew!!!

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  22. Spock500

    Significantly better than the final tally (53% to 46%) with which Mr. Obama clubbed Mr. McCain in 2008. With all due respect to Mr. Romney, of course.

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  23. hawaiirules

    Response to Flipper
    Hmmm...seems to me it is the Obama crew spewing hate and divisiveness...they have nothing else to run on becasue Obama is a total failure. Economy–failure, Energy–failure, Healthcare-failure, Governing–GSA–failure,
    By the way Flipper–you sure seem to have a lot name calling in your comment as well.

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  24. Brian

    let the Obama/CNN campaign begin...this is 5 points higher than the RCP average and they haven;t even stared running adds yet.

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. Leroy

    Re-elect Presidente Obama in 2012 !!!

    April 16, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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