By Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American women favor Barack Obama by a 14-point margin over Mitt Romney, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Tuesday, despite the recent partisan "Mommy Wars" flap over the role of women in society.
Fifty-one percent of registered women voters support the Democratic president, according to the poll, compared with 37 percent who favor Romney, the probable Republican nominee in the November 6 presidential election.
The survey was conducted Thursday through Sunday, after a Democratic cable television commentator said Romney's wife, Ann, who raised their five sons as a stay-at-home mom, cannot understand the economic challenges faced by many Americans because she has never had to hold a paying job.
The comment escalated into a fracas over the role of women in society seized upon by Republicans as a sign that Democrats do not value stay-at-home mothers.
But those allegations did nothing to help Romney boost the formidable "gender gap," he faces with women, who have favored Obama throughout the 2012 election cycle.
"I don't think that any of these debates are changing women's views about the politicians or their policies," said Ipsos pollster Julia Clark.
"Women have a formed views on all of this already. These debates, while interesting TV, are not going to impact on the political views of women in this country at this point," she said.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in early March showed Romney backed by 38 percent of women, just higher than in the more recent survey, and Obama by 54 percent, 3 percentage points higher than in the new poll.
The most recent poll showed Obama supported by 47 percent of men to 43 percent for Romney, compared with 50 percent of men to 43 percent for Romney in the earlier survey.
OBAMA STRONGER WITH WOMEN ON ALL ISSUES
In a potentially troubling sign for Romney as he tries to overcome the traditional gender gap, in which women generally favor Democratic candidates over Republicans, more women voters rated Obama stronger on every issue.
Forty-six percent of women said Obama was better on jobs and the economy, picked by a majority of women as their top issue, while 40 percent picked Romney. Fifty-two percent rated Obama as stronger on healthcare, while only 32 percent said Romney was stronger.
Despite Republicans' efforts to portray themselves as the party of the family, Obama even had a big edge on family values among women, with 51 percent picking him as better on that issue compared with 36 percent for Romney.
"It's not necessarily true that Romney has a lock on this issue of family values," Clark said. The poll question did not identify what those values might be.
Most Republicans, including Romney, are far more conservative than Obama on social issues such as abortion and contraceptive rights and gay marriage. Polls show women voters are generally more liberal on the range of such issues than men.
On foreign policy, 50 percent of women said Obama was stronger, versus 30 percent who favored Romney.
A majority of women voters - 51 percent - rated jobs and the economy as their most pressing election concern, by far the most commonly cited issue. Healthcare, at 16 percent, came second.
The two issues were also at the top of the list for male voters, with 58 percent of men putting jobs and healthcare on top, and 10 percent picking healthcare.
Among men, the survey gave Romney a slight edge on jobs and the economy, with 47 percent picking Romney versus 43 percent favoring Obama. More men backed Romney on taxes - 46 percent to 41 percent for Obama - although 49 percent view Obama as stronger on healthcare, versus 36 percent for Romney.
Men even favored Obama over Romney on family values - with 45 percent picking the Democrat versus 40 percent for Romney.
The telephone poll of 538 women and 506 men was conducted April 12-15. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points for all respondents, 4.3 for women and 4.4 for men.
(Editing by Doina Chiacu)