WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama holds a nine-point lead over likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney, thanks to a large gender gap and likeability factor, according to a new poll.
The perception that the president is more likeable and more in touch with the problems facing women and middle class Americans benefits Obama, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Monday. But the public is divided on which candidate can best jump-start the economy.
According to the poll, 52 percent of registered voters say if the presidential election were held today, they would vote for Obama, with 43 percent saying they would cast a ballot for Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is making his second bid for the White House.
The survey indicates women voters back Obama over Romney by 16 points (55 percent-39 percent), virtually unchanged from an 18-point advantage among women for the president in CNN polling last month.
Half of those questioned say that Obama is more likely to stand up for what he believes, with only 29 percent saying that about Romney.
Nearly half say that Romney is more likely to change his position on the issues for political reasons, just 39 percent 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.
According to the poll, Obama holds a 48 percent-43 percent 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 Obama 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, CNN said.
By contrast, more than six in ten Romney supporters say their choice will be mostly be a vote against Obama.