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. Latina for Obama (nj)

    Of course they are..

    I VOTED FOR THAT ONE

    October 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Just think
    Scary Failin can go back to moose hunting soon

    October 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. american

    sylvia...good question...
    now, let's see if you can answer that all by yourself....

    October 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. SamSunny

    Every day McCain comes out with a new smear statement. Obama doesn't do it to McCain. Obama talks about policies, his and McCain's. McCain doesn't talk policies just low road rhetoric. John McCain is ruining the McCain brand. I'll never think of McCain in the positive view I use to.

    October 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  5. Dawn

    Boo hoo McCain... You have been hitting Obama for being a terrorist, then you hit him with Rev. Wright, now he's a Socialist? Gee Spread the wealth meaning that fixing roads, bridges. Please The U.S government does incidentally love to spend our tax money! Just ask Palin? She combined State and Church she used taxpayers money to take a revival.
    Everyone can think if Palin is ready to be the Commander in chief? This really scary....

    go and vote
    Obama/Biden08/12

    October 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. Tim

    As a lifelong registered independent and veteran, I am exactly who McCain/Palin should be targeting.

    Was a McCain supporter in 2000 – always dislike Bush the younger.

    Instead, they have driven me away.

    Just plain disgusted with their campaign methods.

    Go Obama/Biden.

    October 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. Majority of American's are stupid

    It's pretty sad when most American's have become so stupid and ignorant that they see Obama as a wise chose for this country. Get a clue. All Obama will give us are higher taxes and a weak country. Do the math you morons, how can 95% of American's get a tax break when 40% don't pay taxes. And I am sorry, I am with Joe the plumber, I worked for my money, I don't need some lazy jerk in the White House who can't even show up for work as a Senator to tell me I need to share my wealth with some other lazy @ss. If I want to give my money away I will...to the NRA. Obama has spent far more money lying to the American people and all you moron's are eating it up. Hope you all like cabage and potatoes, because that's all your going to be able to afford to eat in the Obama regime...welcome to the new found republic of the United Socialist of America.

    October 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. frances

    Do your background checks. McCain is telling the truth. Obama has
    a radical background all the way back to his mother. Check out
    the facts.

    October 20, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Felix

    McCain proposal: The Divided States of America

    Obama Proposal: The United States of America

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

    School librarian,
    Hear Hear!
    I think you are right. The world will rally to this man. Unite behind him and create a better, safer world.

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. redhead from Toronto

    If it were not for the so-callled Evangelical Christians,(Right wing idiots) Barack would be leading by a country mile. Hard to imagine that anyone could be afraid of him. What nonsense and not worthy of the GREAT US of A. Never mind, Can you spell L A N D S L I D E ?

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Ex-McCain supporter

    Well I agree we did not need a poll to tell us that. If we are all honestthis election has not been good for the Country. The total election has been too negative. But when people like Limbaugh says what he said today makes me wonder have we come very far. Doesn't Rush know a lot of us republicans have switched to Obama this year because he is simply the best of the two. And no Rush I am not black just an American who wants the best person running for President.

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. Obama Supporter

    The poll doesn't say anything factual, it just gauges the opinion of the people whom it asks. The perception, however, is very harmful for the McCain campaign. The M/P campaign has come across as erratic, vindictive, and without focus or platform. Not terribly inspirational in such uncertain economic times. McCain and Palin look like the most important thing to them is to win and go to the White House. Obama and Biden look like the most important thing is to keep on fighting for all the people who have come to their rallies, starting the day that they win the election. There's a big difference. I'll be voting for Obama on Wednesday in early voting!

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Paul C.

    LOL, Mike in VA, you're the example of why the Republicans including McCain will lose. All of that nonsense is exactly that, nonsense. You righties take a story and add about 80% lie and then try to convince everyone including yourselves that those are the facts when they have been disproven time and time again. You people better get used to the Obama Administration and those of us who don't have filth for brains in our heads will be watching people like you just in case anyone of you wants to put "country first" and do Obama. So sad to see how the once moderate GOP has collapsed into a cesspool of right wingers living in complete denial and self hate.

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. DeniseGA

    People are already supporting Obama, BEFORE they gave to him, in order to raise that much money

    Wow Common Sense people, just Common Sense! Think about it!
    McCain how about talking about YOUR policies, instead of Obama's!

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. Janine

    John McCain has been running only negative ads in the beginning of his campaign. Only recently has he been running negative ads with a sprinkle of positive.

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. Roger from CA

    Wow! The McCain trolls are out in force today!!

    Other than that, frankly, weak ad about McCain not knowing how to email, there hasn't been one Obama ad that could reasonably be described as an unfair, negative attack on McCain's (or Palin's) character.

    Simply pointing out differences in policy in an ad is NOT equivalent to vicious, rumor-mongering, deceptive, and often outright dishonest attacks on a candidate's character or trying to imply a lack of honesty, patriotism or loyalty.

    Very simply, McCain is a desperate man who sees his one chance to take the big prize slipping away, and he is selling his soul to try to make it happen.

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  18. REDNECKS LOVE OBAMA

    McCain IS attacking Obama UNFAIRLY because...... MCCAIN IS ERRATIC AND UNSTABLE..... he can't help it.

    October 20, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. Rickymo

    The danger with this is that it could make Obama supporters complacent. All of this needs to be ignored and in order to stop the possibility of another dreadful 4 years like the last 8 we need to continue to get out the vote and highlight the dangers of an McCain/Palin presidency. This is our chance...lets not blow it!

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

    Good to see that people are waking up to these kind of tactics.

    But do not be complacent people. It ain't over 'til it's over!

    VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE

    Obama/Biden '08!

    October 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. A NATION OF WINERS

    MOST AMERICANS ARE TIRED OF MCBUSH & BUSH.

    WE ARE NOT EVEN CONSIDERING HIM FOR PRESIDENT.

    HE IS PILOTING HIS CAMPAIGN

    WITH THE SAME EFFICIENCY,HE PILOTED HIS PLANE.

    October 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. FactCheck

    > Higher corporate taxes = inflation

    We've had low corporate taxes over the last 8 years. Remind me again how that all worked out?

    October 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Sarah- ARIZONA

    It is true... mcains attacks have gone way too far. These robocalls are dangerous and its mcain who use to hate them. Ppls children are listening to these robocalls and its frightening them. Shame on mcain.

    Mcain/palin = dishonerable, desperate, not putting country first.

    Democrats dont become complacent. Republicans have a way of stealing elections from us.

    October 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. teresa

    McCain never told me a thing – seems all he did was bash Mr. Obama – the last straw was calling him a socialist-Pretty low. Why is it when the USA provides billions of aid overseas we are good samaritans -when someone suggests helping the poor at home then it is socialism?

    Seems to me the republican VP's main objective is – no experience required – just do a major bash job on Ombama.

    Seems all the republicans did was copy-cat democrats – no fresh ideas.

    One more thing – McCain says he is not Mr. Bush – well, perhaps citizens are thinking in terms of 16 more years of republican policy not Mr. Bush personally. Everyone knows we are talking republican policies not persona.....

    I don't know if citizens cannot figure it out.

    JUST SICK OF THE BASHING – MR. MCCAIN AND MS PALIN SHOULD HAVE A PLATFORM--BEEN WAITING ALLLLL THIS TIME TO HEAR IT. JUST DISGUSTED WITH THE WHOLE THING.

    October 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  25. hurriCAIN PALIN

    ken in dallas and all the ill-informed kool-aid drinkers

    Sarah Palin has, as governor of Alaska, imposed a windfall profits tax on oil companies producing in Alaska and used the money to issue checks to all the citizens of Alaska. Palin raised taxes in Alaska so she could spread the wealth. Evidently, socialism works for Sarah Palin.
    ______________________________________________________

    get your facts straight, the alaska permanent fund dividend check has been around for decades long before sarah was in highschool, when she was 12yrs old to be exact

    October 20, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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