October 20th, 2008
05:45 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain's attacks are unfair, CNN poll says

ALT TEXT

A new poll shows a growing number of voters believe McCain is attacking unfairly. (AP Photo)

(CNN) - A growing number of Americans believe John McCain has attacked Barack Obama unfairly, a negative perception of the Arizona senator that could cost him at the polls come Election Day.

According to a new survey from CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation, nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe the Republican nominee has unfairly gone negative in his bid for the White House. That percentage is significantly higher than it was last September, when just 42 percent thought the Republican Presidential nominee was running an overly negative campaign, and is also considerably higher than the percentage of Americans who feel Obama has gone unfairly negative.

In recent weeks, both campaigns have stepped up spending on negative television ads and launched attacks at each other's record. But comments from both McCain and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin questioning Obama's relationship with former 1960's radical William Ayers have drawn particular scrutiny, as has the GOP ticket's recent suggestion Obama will seek to carry out 'socialist' policies.

Obama's image may also be benefiting from his huge financial advantage, which has led to a massive imbalance in the number of ads he is able to air compared to McCain. Campaign Media Analysis Group's Evan Tracey, CNN's consultant on ad spending, says Obama has the luxury of running both positive and negative ads — simultaneously softening his own image and hurting McCain’s.

"McCain can't afford the positive ads Obama can," Tracey said. "It's not likely McCain can raise his own positives with only a couple weeks left - but he can hope to raise Obama's negatives."

But the clear perception that the Arizona senator has run a more negative campaign than Obama just may hurt the Republican presidential nominee's chances of a comeback in this long race's dwindling days.

"In previous elections, both candidates have been viewed as attacking the other unfairly, so the penalty for doing so has tended to cancel out in past years," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "But this year McCain faces that problem all by himself, so any blowback affects only him while Obama seems above the fray."

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. Brandon from Ohio

    Kinda funny that they had to take a polling sample to see this as a fact. On my TV here in Columbus, all I see are negative ads from John McLiar. At this point I find them relatively comical. At the end of each ad we all talk along with John when he's doing his little one-liner only we change one word to make it accurate - "I'm John McCain, and I approve this lie."

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Jerry Atrick

    Dallas, you are kidding, right! It is common knowledge that McCain's ads which are full of lies far outweight any negative truth from the Obama camp. Be mad with your party and Fact Check, will ya!

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  3. Phoenix

    Guess what, we will be celebrating President Obama pretty soon. So...... No, McCain has openly tried to depict Obama as a scary black man. We can BS with this all we want, but at the end of the day everyone on here knows what's going on. Be honest with yourselves and your God.

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!!

    Obama/Biden 2008!

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  5. Matthew

    Socialism is what has protected countries like Cuba from economic disasters and has provided relief for many third world countries. It is funny that every black civic leader has in America been given that characterization, including Dr. King.

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Hillary Democrat

    I just voted early. Voted for Obama 26 times. THanks ACORN!!!

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  7. tulsa

    Dallas TX,
    Give it up man, your party is a disgrace. Your candidates can't get on the same page. Your ranting is just driving more people away from the right.
    Obama has been vetted for over 20 months straight. HRC gave him a better run than McCain ever could.
    You and your party need to go through some serious soul searching and do what is really best for this country.

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Betty777

    Matt, it seems that you have some real issues. You are already in an economic ditch and don't have the intellect to climb out of it.

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. go vote

    If McCain could come up with something original that was true whilst being negative then maybe it wouldn't be that big of an issue...

    It is the Lies and Fearmongering that is turning people's opinions.

    He's taking campaign direction from a man who misrepresented himself on the trail with "gotcha journalism" LOL their whiny little term... they clearly don't even know what socialism IS. If you are taking the time to read this .. you should take the time to seek out the Full interviews with Said Mr. Joe Plumber and hear the rest of his rhetoric. He is every reason that the rest of the World hates America.

    I don't think I need to elaborate on that.

    for the republican's on this blog

    Elaborate: to add details to; expand

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. Michelle, PA

    Don't we deserve better?
    Haven't we had enough?
    Aren't we smarter than that?

    Obama/Biden aren't perfect but they speak for me and to me without insulting my intelligence. McCain/Palin only speak when their Neocon and Religious Right puppet masters pull the strings, and they sure as Heck don't care about moderate former Republicans like me.

    October 20, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. Arlene-- Illinois

    I think thats the first poll CNN has gotten right lately!

    By the way when are you going to let Jack Cafferty back on th air?

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  12. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    We know that we voters are not nearly as stupid as McCain seems to think we are. Insulting our intelligence does not translate into votes. I guess what McCain doesn't get is that people are tired of divisive anger and the rogue tactics of the Bush/Cheney/Rove administration.

    I cast my vote today for Obama/Biden. VOTE EARLY if you can - VOTE when you can. Do not let the GOP steal another election. Stand up to your rights and defend America by putting Obama in office in a landslide.

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. redhead from Toronto

    Can someone tell me what is going on in W.Virginia, I read that the voting machine levers were moving a Dem vote to a Rep vote. Please find out if this is true. Also, what was the news item about a republican aide conning people into registering Rep. Was he arrested? Shades of Florida 2000. Don't let them get away with it, If you can't vote on a machine demand a paper vote. There was a couple of posts from a great guy named Ty, he is in Iraq, he voted early, just wanted to say thank you soldier, keep your head down, stay safe and I will pray for your safe return. You are what's best in America.

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  14. Abby

    Well if that isn’t stating the obvious…

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. Obama Mamma

    McCain is a sour and desperate loser. At his age, he probably doesn't have another shot at the white house. Sarah Palin is also rubbing off on him, she sure is nasty. I don't agree with the way McCain has run his campaign at all and am glad to see that most of America feel the same way.

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. Lorna, NY

    And the polls will continue to show that John McCain is out of touch. I cannot wait until Nov. 4th when he will just go AWAY!

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. tulsa

    Dallas,TX
    Give it up man, your party is a disgrace. Your candidates can't get on the same page. Your ranting is just driving more people away from the right.
    Obama has been vetted for over 20 months straight. HRC gave him a better run than McCain ever could.
    You and your party need to go through some serious soul searching and do what is really best for this country.

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. NoMccain

    Not only unfair, but untrue.
    by the way, Rush Limbaugh is a pig... he should be thrown in jail.

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. NickH

    And they aren't just outright attacks they're truth twisting ones too like the taxes, and socialism stuff.
    That's not country first that's "get me elected first"

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. Ilona from Alberta

    CNN might be giving Lou Dobbs the Independent (what a joke) some material for his next show. I agree with Independent from TX.

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. JImmy in California

    I think both campaigns are running to many negative ads now but I feel the negative ads being run by the Republicans are divisive and wrong. The Robocalls are totally off the hook. Even though I was not a McCain supporter, I had a lot of respect for the man but now even that level of respect has been diminished by his "anything goes" approach to win.

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  22. hurriCAIN PALIN

    all mccain is doing is trying not to let the fate of the united states end up in the hands of an inexperienced empty suit socialist that can only give good speeches

    October 20, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. FFD Minneapolis

    Its too bad really...McCain has really undermined his reputation with the win at all costs campaign...his constant focus on negatives about Obama along with his inconsistencies in action and word show that he rezlly has no idea what he is doing or why he is doing it...he is frightened and just throwing everything in his best at Obama...he will lose and we are all glad!

    October 20, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. jaye

    Making excuses for John McCain is siding with his beliefs.
    All these panelist blaming McCain's campaign instead of McCain is just wrong. If McCain can't run his own campaign then he certaintly can't lead the country.
    He and Palin and their race-baiting, treason/terrorist accusations, socialist talking lies against Obama are just wrong.
    Palin needs to discuss her AIP ties....better still, CNN should investigate and report those ties.

    October 20, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. Nick

    CNN poll and other bologna. What a surprise.
    Anything from McCain campaign is bad...
    Why don't you put Obamas logo on your web site instead of yours?
    Bias, bias, bias...

    October 20, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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