July 3rd, 2008
03:56 PM ET
6 years ago

CNN Poll: Voters say both candidates likeable, flip-floppers

 Obama and McCain are viewed favorably...as flip-floppers.
Obama and McCain are viewed favorably...as flip-floppers.

(CNN) – How do voters feel about the two major-party presidential candidates this year?

As the marathon 2008 campaign for the White House enters its final four months, a solid majority views both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain favorably. At the same time, a majority of voters also believes both men are flip-floppers who will change their opinions for political reasons. Voters are also skeptical that either man will be able to end the partisan gridlock in Washington.

According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, 63 percent of registered voters have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 59 percent have a favorable opinion of McCain. Roughly one-third of voters hold a negative view of both candidates.

Compared to President Bush, whose approval ratings continue to hover around 30 percent, both candidates are seen in a remarkably positive light. Judged against the favorable ratings of past presidential nominees at this stage of the campaign, however, Obama and McCain are registering typical favorability numbers.

"In previous elections we have often seen both candidates get favorable ratings over 50 percent at this stage," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In mid-summer, both parties tend to be unified behind their candidates but the negative ads have generally not yet started."

The poll also shows both candidates improving on their perceived weak points.

The number of voters who think Obama has enough experience to be president has increased by eight points since March (40 to 48 percent), while the number of voters who say McCain cares about people like themselves has increased by seven points (51 to 58 percent).

McCain, however, still holds a sizeable advantage over Obama on the issue of experience, with 76 percent of voters saying the Arizona senator has the right experience to be president. Obama, on the other hand, continues to hold a significant edge on the question of caring, with 67 percent of voters saying the Illinois senator “cares about people like you.”

Do voters believe that the two presumptive presidential nominees are willing to stick their principles regardless of the political consequences? Not exactly.

Sixty-one percent of voters believe that McCain has changed his mind for political reasons; 37 percent do not. Fifty-nine percent of voters believe that Obama also shifts positions with the political winds; 38 percent do not.

That's a change from 2004, according to Holland. “One of the reasons President Bush won reelection in 2004 was that only one-third of voters believed he would change his policy positions because of changing political dynamics. Most voters, on the other hand, believed that John Kerry was a flip-flopper.”

As the general election continues to heat up, charges of flip-flopping and political opportunism are becoming a more regular occurrence on the campaign trail.

On Tuesday, while en route to Colombia, McCain argued, “I don't switch my position depending on what audience or what time it is in the electoral calendar…. I believe that [voters] will more and more see where Senator Obama has switched his positions on fundamental issues. The one thing they want is trust and confidence in their leadership, and I think I will win in that area.”

Campaigning today in North Dakota, Obama replied by saying that McCain “is a person who opposed Bush's tax cuts before he was for them, who opposed drilling in the continental shelf before he was for [it]. [McCain] has reversed himself on a range of very substantive issues during the course of this campaign, and so I'd be happy to have a debate about consistency with John McCain.”

According to CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider, the flip-flopping charge may not resonate as much with voters this year as it did in the past. “So what if voters think both candidates are flip-floppers?” asked Schneider. “After eight years of George W. Bush, voters may welcome some pragmatism and flexibility in their leaders. Times change.”

Finally, the latest CNN poll results indicate that, regardless of who wins in November, most Americans do not believe the bitter partisanship that has characterized national politics in recent years will come to an end.

Only 43 percent of voters believe that Sen. Obama can end the partisan gridlock if he is elected; 52 percent do not. Thirty-one percent of voters believe that Sen. McCain can end the gridlock; 64 percent do not.

The poll, conducted June 26-29, surveyed 906 registered voters and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain • Polls
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. Sick of Bush!

    Why don't you Obama haters just admit that you can't bear to see an African-American be president of the United States of America?

    You'd rather see a white McBush while your standard of living keeps dropping, the environments keeps destroying our planet, etc... than to see a darker man really care for everybody, not just the rich and powerful!

    July 3, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  2. Michelle

    The way for Obama to improve on his weak points is to go back to
    the Senate. Only 143 days of experience. That's it.

    July 3, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. wood burns

    With Obama's recent stance on Fisa and Faith based funding, my recent stance on supporting him in this election is changing as well.

    July 3, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  4. zius

    ILL TAKE OBAMA OVER MCCAIN ANY DAY ANYTIME ...NO TO SENILITY ..YES FOR BRIGHT AND FRESH..THATS .OBAMA 08

    July 3, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  5. Len

    Obama not only flip-flops, he also flop-flips.

    Any position he takes may change hour to hour.

    July 3, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. David Newport, OR

    Since when has changing your mind become synonymous with flip-flopping?

    July 3, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  7. Jaime in Texas

    Obama flip-flops and you all know it, so stop acting like he doesn't.

    July 3, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  8. James hussein, SC

    In order to become a leader who is receptive to ALL Americans a candidate must adjust his position and broaden his message. Obama IS dong that. We have just suffered 7+ years of Presidential favoritism. Do we want more of that?

    July 3, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  9. BK

    Obama is not going to get the troops out of Iraq any sooner than McCain. McCain is just honest about it and Obama will tell people anything to get elected. Obama just another politician and I don't trust him. He is now back peddling on everything. He is afraid of a debate. He just wants to spew the rhetoric. I wonder how long its going to take for people to figure this fraud out. His sheep will make excuses for him no matter what he does.

    July 3, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  10. carlo

    McCain's campaign has been on a rampage feeding these "flip flop" accusations against Obama, but if you took the time to do a little research, you would find that he has not flip flopped. Would you like another stubborn, head-strong President who is also idiotic like Bush? Then McCain is your guy.

    July 3, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  11. Peter

    Truth is both guys have had to switch positions on issues and adapt to the greater good. The difference is Obama has worked his way to the middle and McCain has worked his way to the right.

    Who should the President represent? The large number of people in the middle or the the smaller number on the right? Seems simple to me.

    July 3, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  12. Georgia

    If you're fed up like me, Vote for Ralph Nader '08

    July 3, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  13. U.S. Common Sense

    Where is the full poll results, CNN?

    July 3, 2008 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  14. mike obama

    Obama is absolutely right . He is a candidate of change. Yes he has changed his positions several times depending upon the wind flow. Our ignorant youth followers did not understand what he meant. They blindly followed the pied piper over the mountain, the valleys and tover the hills. It is not his fault when half of the ignorant youths dont know who their state senator is, who their vice president is, who their secretary of state is. They just jumped on the bandwagon of the charasmatic pied piper with socialist agenda selling them snake oil and painting rosy dreams.

    July 3, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  15. Paul

    I get it. Mc Cain "flip flops", Obama "adapts responsibly". You Obamatrons never fail to amaze. Putting blinders on is one thing. Being totally blind is another.

    July 3, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  16. Jason, Texas

    McCain is like a cake on the griddle... flip.... flop... Obama makes informed decisions that are incredibly timely.

    July 3, 2008 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  17. ET from OMAHA

    THANK GOD THERE IS A NEW TECHNOLOGY CALLED INTERNET.
    I KNOW WHO IS FLIP FLOPPING AND I DON'T NEED TO LEARN THAT FROM THE BIAS MSM.
    THE SWIFTBOATING CREW IN ON TARGET.
    THE MEDIA IS THE CAUSE OF OUR PROBLEM IN THIS COUNTRY NOT THE POLITICIANS.

    July 3, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  18. Raymond Duke

    Both of these people are flip -flopping Idiots. Since the only canidate with a brain was shafted by the democrat leadership and the news media I guess I will go for the guy with the experience and doen't hate america along with all his terriost friends. John McCain it is. Hold the nose and vote. As far as all those people crying about our soldiers. It is an all volunteer military. If you feel so bad for them you can join. I spent twenty years in the army and it taught me this is the best country in the world even with it s shortcomings and the idiots in washington. Serve this country for four years in the military and you might come to appreciate how good it has been to you. Then maybe you will see Obama and his friends for what they really are, when they say GO@@mnn America and for the first time I am proud of my country. No thank you. I will hold my nose and vote for John McCain.

    July 3, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  19. tedious898

    America....let's take the less travelled path in voting this year!

    Let's just "Vote for the smart guy". We will come out better – I'm sure of it.

    July 3, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  20. al

    *********************************************
    I DONT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH FLIP-FLOPPING. ITS UNAVOIDABLE. EVERYBODY MAKES MISTAKES IT JUST THAT SOME PEOPLE MAKE FEWER AND MORE SERIOUS THAN THE OTHER.

    THE PROBLEM I HAVE IS THE REASON FOR FLIP-FLOPPING.
    IF YOU FLIP-FLOP FOR PERSONAL GAIN THEN ITS WRONG.
    BUT
    IF YOU FLIP-FLOP FOR THE GREATHER GOOD THEN I THINK ITS JUSTIFIED.

    STOP THE MADNESS. VOTE OBAMA.

    July 3, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  21. Peter E

    These polls... despite the concentrated effort by CNN to paint McCain as a madman and Obama as the second coming of the Savior... I guess they might not choose the president for the public afterall...

    July 3, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  22. Peter

    "POTUS is not an Affirmative Action position."

    Sounds a bit racist, doesn't it?

    July 3, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  23. Allen from Hartwell, GA

    Back in 2000 according to pollsters, more people would rather have a beer with G.W. Bush than Al Gore. How'd that work?
    Some people might like McCain the senator today, but would they still like him in four years if they elect him as president? My guess is that after four more years of Bush's politics, McCain's voters would be as ashamed for voting for him as Bush voters are ashamed of their past votes.

    July 3, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  24. A nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Obama wins the trophy for being a misguided and unprincipled back sider and flipper. Ask his preacher or his Grandma.

    BTW, this guy, Obama, has to the idiot of all times.. What does he think will happen, if we unilaterally pull out of Iraq in haste. He has no sense.

    Iraq will become easy pickings for Iran to send their terrorists into Iraq and create the kind of atmosphere that some countries found themselves in during the great Blitz Krieg of 1939 -1940 ie Norway, Denmark, Poland, Belgium and Holland to name a few. Hitler wanted to protect these countries from outside enemies and overthrew their legal governments. Iran would do the same to Iraq in a heartbeat.

    Let's not let the liberal senator recreate history and lose this valuable resource to the western world.

    Give me a break send Obama packing back his ultra liberal roots.

    July 3, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  25. RRRrrrr

    i decided to wear a blue shirt today, instend of the red one i picked out the night before, i guess im a flip-flopper too... nevermind the red shirt had a big stain on it

    July 3, 2008 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
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