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. Kingsley Orji, Oyigbo, Rivers state Nigeria

    Obama has consistently shown good judgement and wisdom in handling affairs. Obama is way above McCain and Palin put together.

    Anybody that hasn't seen this is either stupid or wants to revel in ignorance, which still translates to being STUPID.

    September 26, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  2. alvin

    AUC Why do you think Obama is black, his mom is white, why is he considered any more black than he is white? Seems to me he could be considered white just as easily as he could be called black?

    September 26, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  3. Matt in Pittsburgh

    Hello People!!! Tonight's debate which may or may not occur is on foreign policy not the economy.

    September 26, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  4. STRAIFGT TALK...

    DOES ANY KNOW WHERE THE STRAIGHT EXPRESS HAS GONE TO?

    September 26, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  5. Muhammad

    Above comments from "sm" really shows just how stupid Americans can be. McCain & Palin are a joke and will cause our country to further slide into stupidity.

    September 26, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  6. NC = Change

    Well sm,

    If McCain would have continued on with his campaign (another LIE) and NOT interfered with the negotiations, Obama would NOT had been summons by BUSH and things would have BEEN resolved. I‘ll get back witch you!!!!!!!!!!!!(Palin handed Couric a couple of index cards. One of them was headed "Iran". Underneath was written "1) Bad guys 2) Building nukes 3) Invade if necessary").

    Another Republcian PAID blogger that makes getting a check for LYING for McCain and Palin a SERIOUS mental condition.

    Obama 08

    September 26, 2008 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  7. PSK

    Mr. McCain- if you cannot take 2 hours to debate Sen Obama- stand up like a MAN- then what does that show me? That you run and hide when the chips are down? That a convenient excuse wins out over honor to a commitment? I do not trust you, Sir- nor do I believe your flimsy excuse for non-attendance. You will lose this election- and it will be of your own doing.

    September 26, 2008 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  8. simp

    This in response to SM's comments.

    Were you in the room? Do you know what happen? Hell no. shut up you loser. mccain return to DC was simply political, he is losing ground and he is stalling. He let that dumb palin loose yesterday and she made a complete idiot of herself, I would not have expected more after all, she is incompetent to be VP just as mccain is incompetent to be President. Before you start shooting off you big fat mouth know what you are talking about you are the one that's PATHETIC!!!

    Obama/Biden

    September 26, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  9. FLORIDA 911

    sm, evidently you have been in the dark too long. You, Rush and Sean need to face the fact that Obama is more qualified, honest, intelligent than anyone of you. McCain and Palin who both look like a dear in headlights when they are questioned about ANYTHING!!! You guys need to preach something else, because all the negative stuff you have been saying for the post several months about Obama is not working for you!!! BTW, go kill a moose and serve it up for you and the rest of the guys!!!

    September 26, 2008 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  10. Michelle

    Obama will be fine. I think all eyes will be on McCain, he is ready to explode. He is down in the polls, made fatal error for political gain on the wall street bailout, and then has to worry what Palin will say next. He must be shaking in his boots! McCain has no edge, McCain has more to prove now then Obama does.

    I am voting for Obama and Biden!

    September 26, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  11. Outsider

    Obama is the hope and future of the country. McCain is past. McCain=Bush. It's time to wake up. Another 4 years of Bush policy could just complete destroy the country we all love and live.

    September 26, 2008 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  12. Ba"Rock" the Vote!!

    Poor Little Johhny cant seem to multi-task. He can juggle all his homes, all his cars, his lack of closet space due to Cindy's ever increasing wardrobe...but he cant debate because of the financial crisis?? Perhaps he should send Falin in his place. After all, she is the best thing this country has ever seen since sliced bread.
    And with her experience dealing with Russia, since they are neighbors, and join each other for High Noon Tea on Sundays, she would be perfect to talk foreign policy.
    Come on John, just sen Falin an email to go in your place.

    http://www.john did imention i was a pow mccain.com
    http://www.sarah thanks but no thanks but we will keep the money falin.com

    September 26, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  13. Mark

    Another skewed left wing poll. You had Gore and Kerry winning the day of the election. You were wrong then as you are now.

    September 26, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  14. Doug R.

    Hey CNN, at least Obama is going to show up for this previously agreed upon debate. Who knows about McCain. It's obvious to me he's avoiding the issues that must be addressed. Tonight's debate should be about the economy. Oh, that's right, Mr. McCain lacks an understanding of basic economics. McCain tells us he's suspending his campaign but yet his surrogates and operatives are all over the television and his ads are still running. This man is a liar and a coward.

    September 26, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  15. Hercules Mulligan

    Funny No other but McCain is the one that has proposed to the friend of Tony Rezco and Ayers 10 DEBATES; of course he does not accept it

    What is he going to preach to us? INCONDITIONAL talks with the Fundamentalist gang that nest in Teheran. Perhaps; they say there about America THE SAME things that mr.Obama's pastor was preaching in his church in Chicago, Ill. without him withdrwaing from that nest of Anti-Americanism, until his real face was shown on those revealing videos showing to America the atmosphere of treason and hate against America. WAKE UP ! do not surrender yuour culture to foreign ideas and anti democratic conceptions of life.

    September 26, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  16. beevee

    McCain is using the bailout turmoil t his advantage and is trying to throw Obama off balance and off guard. His sudden announcement of suspending the campaign is a ploy. Neither of these two candidates are on any committees that decides the bailout plan. They can have their input on the plan while campaigning and debating and cast their vote on the bailout plan. Any presidential candidate should be able to handle these things at the same time. Looks like McCain is coppinng out of the debates because he knows Obama is doing better than him with the voters on economic issues and is hoping that something will happen by delaying the debates that turns the tide in his favor. Very crookish.

    September 26, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  17. Obama (President) Michelle (First Lady)

    I am in such disbelief how close of a race this election is with all the stunts the Republicans have pulled the past couple of days. Wake up, how can you guys be in such denial and vote for an individual who is making a mockery out of this election. This is a disgrace to the entire country and nation.

    What goes around...comes around, and coming November it is going to be OBAMA as the President and Michelle as the First Lady.....

    You can't hide for too long McCain/Palin... All the lies and deceit...I pray that it would hunt you both forever for playing with the lives of other innocent people in this country.

    Go Obama Go!!!

    September 26, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  18. Michelle

    Kool- Aid Man who wrote a blog earlier, I am glad you are reminding your Republican friends to Vote on Nov. 5th....................

    September 26, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  19. Ric

    McCain should be praised for his service to our country. However, this man should NOT lead our nation. I think many of us realize this comes down to choosing the lesser of two evils but come on people! Wake up and smell your rotting 401k...if you still have one. We need fresh thinkers, fresh ideas, and a renewed impression in the global community. McCain is a "has been" and must move on. I wouldn't be surprised if his campaign finds a way to suspend the VP debate in response to something else that occurs. I'm was an undecided voter until last week when the McLame floundered and suggested that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Time to retire and enjoy retirement in one of your seven homes. Sure he's nice and cute, but so if my grandfather.

    September 26, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  20. ConcernedAmerican

    How convenient that the debate my be pushed back... wake up America... the McCain/Palin camp is running around trying to figure out how in the hell they are gonna get Palin "ready" for Biden. They're buying more time – TOO LATE!!

    DO YOU SEE HER INTERVIEW WITH CATIE COURIC??? I mean c'mon?????? and the republicans say this woman is MORE QUALIFIED THAN OBAMA???

    Wow can I get what they're smoking cuz it sure does make you live your world in a fantasy!!!!

    Obama / Biden '08 – I have faith!!!!

    September 26, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  21. Marik Bromine

    Everyone, please examine the tactic the Republicans are using with postponing debates, restricting media access, cancelling television show appearances, they're creating a false scarcity of the two candidates. A mild glance into human psychology and marketting and you'll understand that when we perceive something to be scarce, we value that thing more, the imagined worth is driven ever higher than it otherwise would've been. Supply and demand, diamonds, gas, gold, McCain, Palin, none have real value, only perceived value through scarcity. When none can have access to interview Palin, all will clamour to interview Palin, to be the first, to get the scoop, when they speak, people will cherish more their words, imagine the opportunity to be some sort of precious item, when really, it's just more of the same, presented to you in an, "act now," "supplies are limitted," "for a limitted time only" sort of advertising gimmick. Don't fall for it, please.

    September 26, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  22. Pat

    Alexander

    Well I'm sure there will no doubt who will win the VP Debate after Palin's comments on Interview with Katie Couric! She proved beyond doubt she is a total idiot! She said Alaska's neigbours, foreign countries are in the state she is executive of!!! I guess Russia and Canada should soon start paying US taxes. This unequivocally shows how demented McCain is given he choose this woman for VP!

    Quote: Palin defends claim that Alaska’s proximity with Russia helps bolster her foreign policy resume in an interview released Thursday.
    asked by CBS’s Katie Couric what she meant by that statement said: “That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land — boundary that we have with — Canada.
    “…our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of,” said Palin.
    HUH?

    September 26, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  23. brilliant idea

    Both candidates and the rest of the nation have already forgotten the few zillion dollars in profits that the oil companies have been making each quarter year since 2004. THAT is where all the gains of the stock market disappeared to, and THAT is where we can get the $700 Billion needed to recover the financial system! Rob this money back from the oil companies now!!

    September 26, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  24. BRENT A. POPE

    I'VE BEEN TRAVELING AROUND THE COUNTRY WORKING ( i'm lucky). AND THE BUZZ THAT IS OUT THERE IS ( I'VE SPOKE WITH MANY MANY PEOPLE ). OBAMA IS ON THE MONEY WITH HIS PREPARATIONS ON THIS DEBATE. HE HAS A FIRM POSITION TO ADHERE TO AND FILL. IT'S McCAIN WHO IS HIDING BEHIND POLITICAL ISSUES TO AVOID THE HIS FACE TO FACE WITH A SMART, STRONG, DETERMINED CANIDATE. McCAIN IS RUNNING SCARED. WHEN McCAIN ATTENDED THIS BAILOUT SUMMIT HE HAD ( NO ) INPUT AT ALL, AT ALL, UNTIL OBAMA ADRESSED McCAIN. THUS FORCING OR NUDGING ALONG. McCAIN TO BE APART OF THE PROCESS A VERY SMART MOVE BY OBAMA. LOOK THE BOTTOM LINE TO ALL OF THIS MESS FOR THE LAST 8 YEAR IS , CHANGE, CHANGE, CHANGE. McCAIN HAS HAD HIS ARMS WRAPPED ALL AROUND BUSH'S 8 YEARS OF FAILED POLICIES. A LIVING HELL FOR ALL OF US, EXECPT FOR THE CROOKS IN THE BANKING INDUSTRY. $$$$$$$$ 700 BILLION WON'T EVEN COME CLOSE TO THE MESS WE'RE IN !!!!!!!!!!! BELEIVE IN CHANGE AND CHANGE WILL COME. BELIEVE IN McCAIN AND NOTHING BUT THE SAME...........................

    September 26, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  25. Falmouth, VA

    It's fortunate that, if the numbers can be believed, there are more Dems than Repubs. Why ? Because those Repubs making comments on these forums are just blindly following their party line. There is no other logical explanation for the continued support for these two buffoons. I think as the country sees more of them it will come to realize how much of a disaster they are and vote accordingly. But again, the Republican base will vote blindly for them. I can't wait to see what new smears the Rovians will unleash at the last hour to lure witless voters to their candidate. I only hope there are enough "real change" voters to make a rational difference and make our country great again.

    September 26, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
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