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. nocloudydays

    mccain has showed dome poor decision making again; not showing up for the debates communicates an attempt to hide a behind the bailout; my sense is he is not prepared and does not what the bailout to be a discussion topic. my guess he thinks the avergae citizen really belives he is the one and only saviour of the financial mess. hard to win a debate if u do not show up/

    September 26, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  2. R. Cooper

    Don't lie to yourself people. 48 percent for Biden and 46 percent for Palin? Katie Couric soft pitched a couple of balls to this lady, and what was her responses? Check out the interview or text. "Uh, I'll get back to yA!"

    September 26, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  3. TexicoFrom Mexico

    Shame on McCain...nobody likes this bailout and its the fault of BOTH parties and this current administration. But, it has to be done or else we might as well just scuttle the boat. McCain has offered nothing new in Washington, in fact he said little until the very end of the meeting. This is all a play by the Republicans to stall, and try and make McCain look good. If I were Obama I would go for borke now..hold a press conference reveal all and then fly down to Ol Miss and wait .....if McCain does not show up, well there you have it America..he can't take 4 hrs out of his life to come debate! He owes the public and WE THE PEOPLE have a right to hear our nominees speak and debate the issues! One of these two is going to inherit this mess and we need to know who can do the best job! McCain has been playing a game all along, hiding Palin, only allowing photo ops...the two times she did speak in interviews she sounded less mature than my 14 year old daughter. Not a coherent sentence out of her. All you republicans should feel ashamed today, in light of the fact that your nominee picked someone so inept just to try and win the Wal Mart mom vote...it's pathetic! Hillary has ten times the brains that this woman has and all you PUMA's that are going to actually support this ticket out of spite better think again. You think you will get 40% of the parties vote in 2012? Did you not hear Chris Rock last night on Larry King? He said that Black people have been voting white people in office for years!!! If you people other than the 20% radical right in thsi country do not see whats going on then wew are in trouble...in fact maybe its best just to sell this country to the highest bidder right now!

    Veterans for Obama

    September 26, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  4. Truly American

    I will be posting on this board every day when you whining bleeding heart dems loose your jobs if Hussein is voted in. A smooth talking Hussein is not what this country needs.. Wake up.. You sheep make me sick..

    September 26, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  5. Republican not voting for McCain/Palin

    I certainly hope McCain isn't wearing a wire so he can receive the answers. There is no doubt McCain cheated in the Saddleback Debate. McCain answered the questions before they were asked.

    Palin who? The only reason McCain wants to stop the debate tonight is to delay the VP Debate. If I were him I would, too. McCain should have vetted Palin. All of the people in Alaska are Foreign Policy experts. Well, with the Russian planes flying in the air space above Alaska. Wow!

    Barack Obama is going to be one of America's greatest Presidents in history.

    September 26, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  6. PAT California

    Voters are not as deaf and blind as McCain believes. . When a plan iscomplete, by both sides, why does it all of a sudden fall apart the minute McCain appears on the scene, and the Republicans pull out.?Is it a stall so he can get his thoughts together for a debate? Is it a ruse so that today's debate is cancelled and he can use Palin's debate date? Or does he want to hang around until a plan is in place and make it appear that he saved us all from ruin? He doesn't want Palin to debate AT ALL!!!! How could the Republicasns put such a man and woman up for the highest offices in the country??????? SHAME ON THEM!!!! We are serious people with dire needs, right now! STOP THE GAMES!!!!! Admit your mistakes and take your lumps.

    September 26, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  7. Rachielle from VA

    We all know that McCain is going to show up. He's just trying to gain some sympathy and attention. I see right thru it. He's a joke. He'll be there tonite, definitely. I hope Obama does well.

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

    Did you people even watch the the Dems primary debates??? Hillary beat Obama everytime. Take Obama away from a teleprompter and he is terrible. Why do you think he refused to do the ten town hall meetings with McCain? McCain will win this debate just like he did in Saddleback.

    September 26, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  9. scoot

    First Barrak is the one that has started playing Presidentail Politics. all you genuis out there I have a hard time saying it but McCain has done the right thing . this is a issue that needs to be solved in a smart manner and McCaine needs to be in Washington reminding his peers that they need to get it done . Also tonites duel is suppose to be about Foreign affairs not the econonmy.

    September 26, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  10. Lilly 2

    Obama said a president needs to know how to do more than one thing at a time so why isn't he doing his job as a senator and helping to try to solve the financial crisis. Oh right, that's probably not in his script.

    September 26, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  11. JDM

    40% Rep – 40% Dem – 20% independent
    The independent vote is the most important vote.
    Everyone else is in the tank for Mac or OB
    Debate-Debate-Debate!
    Anything else is a GAME.
    I am tried of games!

    September 26, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  12. Impoverished Voter

    McWar is running away from the fight. He could take a couple hours off for this debate without interfering with his supposed role in the finance crisis. Obama will school him in the debate and he is afraid.

    Palin finally shows up on film in an interview and made herself look like a complete idiot. Katie Couric would be a better vp than her. So would I for that matter. McWar has nothing to say either ... the republican ticket is a disgrace and the fact that they have a chance of winning is completely sickening. What is wrong with you people?

    September 26, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  13. DWoods

    The point should be made that McCain needs to appear at the debate. They would be in and out of Ole Miss in less than 5 hours. What's the problem?

    September 26, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  14. Richard

    If McCain is a no show tonight they should still hold the debate and ask Obama the questions anyway! If McCain complains he deserves equal time they can tell him he was invited and was supposed to be there – his choice not to show. DON'T penalize the voters for a political stunt of not showing up.

    September 26, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  15. Spencer from VA

    Well of course people have high expectations because Sen. Obama actually has an economic plan to debate.

    September 26, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  16. right source

    CNN you are truly bias when it comes to reports for Obama. You're not a creditable network and I know you're rating has to be dropping. If you post something positive on Obama it ALWAYS ends with a negative. America just want to hear the FACTS; not bias input from CNN.
    Thanks from the formally known RED STATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 26, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  17. Yankee Air Pirate

    Anyone who has seen Obama without a teleprompter knows what an idiot he is.McCain will crush the empty suit on his way to the Presidency.

    September 26, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  18. You Can Run But You Can Not Hide!

    That is top of an iceberg! The more people see the true nature of McCain/Palin candidacy, the more obvious it is to them that McCain/Palin wants to pull wool over their eyes!
    The drop is McCain willing to gamble with the lives of millions of people, in a critical financial melt-down situation! He couldn't even put the people and country first? On the contrary, he put politics first! What a hypocrit!
    Not this time, Enough is Enough!

    September 26, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  19. Debra

    McCain is doing a Bush move...instead of being a leader and going to the debate...he is trying to distract the public into thinking he is going to save our country instead...if he is going to save our country where has he been for the past year while everything was slipping away...why didn't he or Bush for that matter step in along time ago? I find it hard to believe that our politicians expect the American people to believe that the same Morons that got us in this mess can get us out.....I mean if they have all the answers why wasn't something done BEFORE it became a national crisis.

    September 26, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  20. jg

    The funny thing is that Obama has to be prepped for the debate for 3 days and all he will do is spit out what his prep teachers told him, where with McCain he knows it there is no prep work wtih this guy to me that is scary when you need a tudor as Obama does.

    if you need me call me no matter where you are and no matter how far the words of wisdom from Obama...now that is real scary and it is not even halloween yet

    September 26, 2008 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  21. Tony former democrate

    If McCain is afraid of debating what makes you think that Obama can help the American people. Just remember when he was running for the democrate nomination he stated you cannot change unless you change Washington. I believe the democrates have controlled the Senate and what have they done in the last two years. I believe you must change all those politicians who have special interests. Now is the time that we should be on the correct side if we do nothing for the economy what do we have to look forward too. I worked for a company that filed Banckruptcy and no political party help us. McCain has offered to suspend his campaigning until this is resolved and what does the people do they criticize. Good luck when you are taxed and cannot afford it so lets leave the status quo and then explain in four years what went wrong.

    September 26, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  22. TESAP;SAVANNAH, GA

    WHAT EXACTLY IS IT THAT MCCAIN WENT TO WASHINGTON TO DO. HIS PARTY IS THE HOLD OUT, THE LONGER WE WAIT, THE LONGER IT WILL TAKE EFFECT, AND THE AMOUNT MAY RISE...... MR MCCAIN RAN TO WASHINGTON LIKE MR MAGOO... ALL REPORTERS HAVE STATED THAT MCCAIN DIDN'T EVEN SPEAK IN THE MEETING THAT HE AND BARACK ATTENDED............ SO WHAT EXACTLT IS IT THAT HE IS DOING THAT WOULD KEEP HIM FROM THE DEBATE... BUT IN THE SAME BREATH STILL STATES HE WANTS TO HOLD TOWN HALL MEETINGS WITH OBAMA..........

    OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHH YEAH........... HE'S RUNNING FROM DEFEAT...............YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN NOT HIDE SENATOR MCCAIN.............

    September 26, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  23. Dee

    That's if McCain shows up. He's bailed before, remember?

    http://digg.com/politics/2000_GOP_Primary_McCain_Backs_Out_of_Debate_In_California

    September 26, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  24. Jan

    Did you lefties and Anderson Cooper and Katie Couric miss all of Obama's debates where he stuttered and stammered and did not answer questions properly? How soon we forget! Palin has had far less time than he did to perfect her answers to shameful interrogations like Couric did the other day. John MacCain is showing the leadership that Obama has never had. I agree Obama would never put his political neck on the line for the good of country. I weep for the American people if Obama pulls off a win.

    September 26, 2008 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  25. Morals and Values for sale!

    After the Katie Couric interview, in which I have no idea what Palin was talking about... The mere fact that 46% still think she will win a debate with JOE BIDEN is SCARY.

    Americans are flat out stupid.... Even the most racist of racists have to look at her and say, "I may hate the black guy, but man is she dumb"

    September 26, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
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