September 26th, 2008
09:15 AM ET
6 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama has higher expectations to meet in debates

A new poll shows Americans think Obama will win the debates.
A new poll shows Americans think Obama will win the debates.

(CNN) – It appears Barack Obama has higher expectations to meet at Friday night's debate than John McCain does, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll suggests.

According to the new poll, nearly 6 in 10 Americans think the Illinois senator will win the debates, while only 34 percent think McCain will come out on top.

But that's no guarantee Obama will be deemed the eventual winner, CNN's Polling Director Keating Holland said.

"Four years ago, voters thought George W. Bush would beat John Kerry in the debates but Americans who watched the debates generally thought Kerry was the winner," he said. "On the other hand, voters thought that Bill Clinton would win the debates in 1996 - and post-debate polls agreed with that assessment."

Obama clearly goes into the first debate with a clear advantage in the issues. The new poll suggests 60 percent of voters say that the Illinois senator aggrees with them on the issues. Voters say they trust McCain more than Obama in international issues like Iraq and terrorism - but Obama has a clear 10-point edge (53-43 percent) on the overriding issue of the day: the economy. (In a CNN/ORC poll released Thursday, 56 percent of Americans said the economy was the No. 1 issue.)

But the two candidates are statistically tied on the question of whether voters feel they possess the personal qualities a president should have (62 percent say McCain does, while 64 percent say Obama does.) And in good news for McCain, voters are also tied on what they care more about in this election - issues or personal qualities. Forty-three percent of voters say that the candidates' leadership skills and vision is more important to them than issues; 42 percent say issues are more important.

Americans are also split when it comes to the vice presidential debate, with 48 percent saying Joe Biden is the likely winner and 46 percent giving the edge to Sarah Palin.

"That's probably an indication that Americans aren't familiar enough with either candidate to be able to handicap their performance in a debate," Holland said.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. MarioB., Berlin FOR OBAMA/BIDEN

    I'm looking forward to that debate

    Maybe John McSame can explain, why he on the one hand suspend his campaign and on the other hand say nothing in the meeting and do nothing to unite HIS party to conclude that bailout plan, while OBAMA DID NOT SUSPEND HIS CAMPAIGN AND HAD A LEADING ROLE WITHIN THE MEETING!!!!
    So now ask again, who's the better leader...!!!!!!!!

    Obama/Biden by landslide!

    McSame is too much of a jerk

    September 26, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  2. Howards End

    So the three Democrats all won or will win the debates, even though most can remember Bush giving Kerry a good foreign policy spanking in the town hall debate. Obama has a "clear advantage" on the issues, even though voters say they trust McCain more on Iraq and terrorism? Where does Obama even stand on the economy?

    And please tell me how the oral shoe horn plans to defeat Sarah Palin. Is he just going to stand there and not say anything? Otherwise, I fear CNN will have to find more creative ways to bend polls in his favor.

    CNN, your bias is evident.

    September 26, 2008 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
  3. Mike from Texas

    It does not matter who is going to be President, Nothing is going to change in Washington until we put "Terms" on our Congressmen/Women. If they cant get it done in 8 years its time to move on

    September 26, 2008 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  4. Sue/PA

    The question isnt who will win the debate.....The question is...will this be a repeat of the 2000 debate in California between John McCain and George Bush..McCain was a no show.

    September 26, 2008 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  5. Dave in Indy

    What really disturbs me is the fact that 62% of the people polled said that John McCain has the personal qualities that a president should have. Are they comparing that to Bush's qualities (constant lying and underhanded tactics...etc.) or do people really not pay an ounce of attention to the race?

    September 26, 2008 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  6. let's take our country back

    The Obama-McCain debates will be close I think, but Obama has the delivery advantage over McCain.

    However, Joe Biden is going to ANNIHILATE Sarah Palin in the VP debate. No questions asked. I can't wait to see that one.

    BOJO 08
    FOR THE CHANGE WE NEED

    September 26, 2008 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  7. Anonymous

    How could anyone actually think that Sarah Palin would win a debate against Joe Biden??? She can barely formulate a logical thought. For those of you who haven't seen the CBS interview please watch it, it really is "um" special.

    September 26, 2008 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  8. Chris

    All eyes are on Obama mostly because of the stunt that John McCaine has pulled. So to be on the safe side, Obama has to prove without a doubt that he can come out on top.

    September 26, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  9. sophie

    After watching McCain run around with his pants on fire, while
    Obama has shown clear leadership in a crisis,I am sure these
    debates will be the frosting on the cake. McCain will show up,
    after pretending to bail out America, yet all pictures of him seem
    to be smiling or laughing for the photo op. Obama's judgement
    and commemts on this issue have been proof he is the one
    to guide us through this crisis.

    September 26, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  10. Jim Hall

    McCain and Palin are equal to Bush, Chaney, and Rice a bunch of blundering idiots. Bush the other night had no idea of what he was talking about on TV. McCain sitting at that table had facial features of a dumbfounded person. It was pathetic and we are republicans Obama Biden 2008 Jim Hall Kansas City, Missouri. Time for a change.

    September 26, 2008 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  11. Concerned Man

    A month ago it was drill..drill ..drill and drill now.

    Democrats come back from your break and vote for drilling.

    Today it is bail out....bail out....and bail out now

    Again suspend camgpain,Suspend debate, Suspend ad,all now.. and only now.

    Rush to washington now.... and fix the economy.

    AMERICAN VOTERS YOU ARE THE REAL FOOL.

    September 26, 2008 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  12. Chris from NY

    It's only by perception that people think McCain has the advantage on security than Obama. You acquire knowledge either by experience or by studying. None cancels the other. Experience doesn't make you any better than one who has the actual knowledge on any issue. Having knwoledge or experience doesn't matter if you don't apply either to make a wise decision. And that's what Obama has consitently demonstrated. McCain on the other hand with all his experience hasn't demonstrated much wisdom in his decision making. And ruling another human being requires wisdom more than knowledge or experience. So, go figure.

    September 26, 2008 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  13. AUC

    Wake up America. If you cannot see through this political BS from John McCanin and the inept Sarah Palin, and vote for Barack Obama for a chance at a future for all of us then God help you!

    If you don't/ won't vote for Barack Obama simply because of his skin color, you're a bigger Bigot that John McCain is an Idiot!

    And for you White Democrats, Chirs Rock said it best last night on Larry King, the African American community has always been loyal and supportive of any candidate you've selected and over 18 million peole have seen, heard and know that Barack Obama is the qualified person for this country at this time and if you can't see that then, you're idiots and God help you Too!!!!!

    Obama/Biden 08/12 – A sane and logical chance for our future!!!!

    September 26, 2008 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  14. glitch in the matrix

    Failin is a joke and if the reps say she is qualified to be vice pres, I'm not voting rep. I think Obama is the one and Mcsane is just playing POLOTRICS.

    September 26, 2008 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  15. chuks

    McCain is erratic and temperamental. They call that maverick. I call it madness. He is not fit to be president. God bless America!

    September 26, 2008 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  16. Mordeny from Asean, BD

    First & foremost, I am not American but I love the country. We, viewers from outside as far as from Asean countries can see and judge who's right and wrong, who's playing most of the political dirty game, who speak the truth and who is not, well at one point both lies, well they have too, but not to overdone it as it can be a disgrace campaign ever run. To us, it's a learning process about politics, culture and belief. There's a lot to be learnt out of this.

    Honestly, based on my humble opinion, here, I am not besiding any parties because of out-of-admiration of either candidates but more towards what I've learnt since the primary election, Mr. Barack Obama would be a better choice for President of the United States.

    September 26, 2008 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  17. Kool-Aid Man

    John McCain statement:
    Due to a worsening economic climate and my decision to suspend campaigning for a day, I am requesting that all Republicans vote on Nov. 5th. This will help ease traffic congestion due to the large Democratic turnout on Nov. 4th at polling locations throughout the US.

    Palin / McCain 08'

    Hail Mary Times 9/26/08

    September 26, 2008 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  18. Tammy

    I can not believe that this bill would allow CEO's of failing companies to continue to receive paychecks of possibly $1,000,000 a month. In addition, this bill would allow for these companies to give raises to their CEO's also. WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If your company fails, how can one possibly expect to continue to receive this type of paycheck? How does this make sense? I think all of the Congress people really need to do their job and protect the American people.

    I also hope that the moderators ask these Senators about this!!!

    September 26, 2008 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  19. sm

    Obama is out of touch and tethering on Hypocricy.
    He said it was unwise to inject Presidential politics in the on-going negotiations in DC.
    At the White House meeting the leader of the Democrats defered the negotiating to Obama.
    Obama went on to hammer the House Republican leader.
    He was not seeking common grounds.
    He cannot work across party lines.
    He caused the break down of the meeting.
    McCain left the negotiating to the Republican seniors.
    McCain went to DC not to throw a wrench in the works but to talk to House Republicans who were reluctant to spend Tax Payers Money.
    He never went into the negotiating room.
    McCain wanted to bridge the gap. he is the Maverick.
    It was Obama who brought in Presidential politics to DC.

    Now, with this Financial crisis still looming he wants to go to Mississippi to debate FOREIGN RELATIONS.
    Obama looks to be the Village Idiot.
    Obama is ALL TALK with NO ACTION.

    Pathetic !!!

    September 26, 2008 07:12 am at 7:12 am |
  20. Susan

    Why is McCain threatening not to show up at the debates until his armour is nice and shiny as the knight who saves America, but on Brian Williams last night he started again on the town hall meetings? Why, if he suspended his campaign, are they still running ads on TV, his surrogates are all over the television, his field offices are open and it is business as usuall? This man has again LIED to America! The only thing he has done by his actions is to screw up any deals, and right after things blew up, Washington Mutual Bank collapsed! Can somebody answer me?

    September 26, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  21. Danel

    Mr. Magoo went to Washington to shake things up. It sure did. Outcome?It didn't go the way it was intended to do.

    September 26, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  22. Pascal

    Yeah Obama rip McBush in this debate! McSame is even worse than Bush and I have absolutely no idea how in this world someone can support such a liar. But I'm even more looking forward the Vice Presidential debate. Miss Alaska is the biggest joke I've ever seen!

    September 26, 2008 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  23. Chris from NY

    It's only by perception that people think McCain has the advantage on security than Obama. You acquire knowledge either by experience or by studying. None cancels the other. Experience doesn't make you any better than one who has the actual knowledge on any issue. Having knwoledge or experience doesn't matter if you don't apply either to make a wise decision. And that's what Obama has consitently demonstrated. McCain on the other hand with all his experience hasn't demonstrated much wisdom in his decision making. And ruling another human being requires wisdom more than knowledge or experience. So, go figure.

    When King Solomon was annointed the ruler of his people he was much younger than Obama. God asked him (Solomon) what he needed to be able to rule his people and he asked for wisdom. And did God bless him for that. You don't rule one another only by being knowledgable or having experience. You do so with wisdom. Not just any kind of wisdom but the wisdom of God. And wisdom is nothing but making decisions through applying knowledge or experience.

    September 26, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  24. Bev Wadas

    I truly believe of both canidates, neither one of them will win. There is too much controvisity from both sides, for there to be an honest election.I also believe there will be a lot of write-in votes for the favor of someone that can bring this country to the way our fellow forerunners meant it to be when the CONSTITUTION was written. How come people of today do not recall their history, to remember that?? Why has'nt the voyting machines of Florida been fixed for the people of Florida to have an honest voting system??Can anyone tell me why??

    September 26, 2008 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  25. DA

    mcCain has really messed up with this little stunt of his. I hope he don't show up.

    September 26, 2008 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
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