July 3rd, 2008
03:56 PM ET
14 years ago

CNN Poll: Voters say both candidates likeable, flip-floppers

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/01/art.poll.ap.jpg caption=" Obama and McCain are viewed favorably...as flip-floppers."](CNN) - How do voters feel about the two major-party presidential candidates this year?

As the marathon 2008 campaign for the White House enters its final four months, a solid majority views both Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain favorably. At the same time, a majority of voters also believes both men are flip-floppers who will change their opinions for political reasons. Voters are also skeptical that either man will be able to end the partisan gridlock in Washington.

According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, 63 percent of registered voters have a favorable opinion of Obama, while 59 percent have a favorable opinion of McCain. Roughly one-third of voters hold a negative view of both candidates.

Compared to President Bush, whose approval ratings continue to hover around 30 percent, both candidates are seen in a remarkably positive light. Judged against the favorable ratings of past presidential nominees at this stage of the campaign, however, Obama and McCain are registering typical favorability numbers.

"In previous elections we have often seen both candidates get favorable ratings over 50 percent at this stage," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In mid-summer, both parties tend to be unified behind their candidates but the negative ads have generally not yet started."

The poll also shows both candidates improving on their perceived weak points.

The number of voters who think Obama has enough experience to be president has increased by eight points since March (40 to 48 percent), while the number of voters who say McCain cares about people like themselves has increased by seven points (51 to 58 percent).

McCain, however, still holds a sizeable advantage over Obama on the issue of experience, with 76 percent of voters saying the Arizona senator has the right experience to be president. Obama, on the other hand, continues to hold a significant edge on the question of caring, with 67 percent of voters saying the Illinois senator “cares about people like you.”

Do voters believe that the two presumptive presidential nominees are willing to stick their principles regardless of the political consequences? Not exactly.

Sixty-one percent of voters believe that McCain has changed his mind for political reasons; 37 percent do not. Fifty-nine percent of voters believe that Obama also shifts positions with the political winds; 38 percent do not.

That's a change from 2004, according to Holland. “One of the reasons President Bush won reelection in 2004 was that only one-third of voters believed he would change his policy positions because of changing political dynamics. Most voters, on the other hand, believed that John Kerry was a flip-flopper.”

As the general election continues to heat up, charges of flip-flopping and political opportunism are becoming a more regular occurrence on the campaign trail.

On Tuesday, while en route to Colombia, McCain argued, “I don't switch my position depending on what audience or what time it is in the electoral calendar…. I believe that [voters] will more and more see where Senator Obama has switched his positions on fundamental issues. The one thing they want is trust and confidence in their leadership, and I think I will win in that area.”

Campaigning today in North Dakota, Obama replied by saying that McCain “is a person who opposed Bush's tax cuts before he was for them, who opposed drilling in the continental shelf before he was for [it]. [McCain] has reversed himself on a range of very substantive issues during the course of this campaign, and so I'd be happy to have a debate about consistency with John McCain.”

According to CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider, the flip-flopping charge may not resonate as much with voters this year as it did in the past. “So what if voters think both candidates are flip-floppers?” asked Schneider. “After eight years of George W. Bush, voters may welcome some pragmatism and flexibility in their leaders. Times change.”

Finally, the latest CNN poll results indicate that, regardless of who wins in November, most Americans do not believe the bitter partisanship that has characterized national politics in recent years will come to an end.

Only 43 percent of voters believe that Sen. Obama can end the partisan gridlock if he is elected; 52 percent do not. Thirty-one percent of voters believe that Sen. McCain can end the gridlock; 64 percent do not.

The poll, conducted June 26-29, surveyed 906 registered voters and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain • Polls
soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. from NH

    I only regret that neither one of these candidates are Independents. To be able to think for your self and not have to be hog tied to a party with ideas that are no longer part of the American dream.

    To be able to have the ideal vision of peace and prosperity for our country. To be able to help those that deserve it and stand up to the "freebees" so they have to work for it would be fantastic.

    The idea that I was born so therefor you owe me is becoming the slogan of the future. I earned my way and I am where I am today by hard work,saving and not squandering on what I would like but what I needed.

    We need to educate the younger generation that they can't have it all or mayb e it is the parents not giving it all to the young generation so they can earn their rights.

    July 3, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  2. Sherry

    To all you McCain supporters who can leave your blog on fox news...
    They wont let me leave mine because I 'm voting for Obama....Fair and balanced?

    I think not

    Fox news is unfair and unbalanced they talk down about Obama and put McLame up on a pedestal

    CNN is fair and balanced

    Just deal with it bacause Obama will win by a huge margin

    July 3, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  3. Iam4mycountry

    Timber: He did not change is mind. He just had to clarify it again today. People don't seem to listen very well. he said he will be as careful getting out as we were careless going in. 1 to 2 Brigades a month so all the troops should be out with in 16months. You also forget one thing. He cannot just pull all the troops out. We already have a bad rep. As it is, at the end of the year; if the Iraqs don't want us there we will have to leave anyway.Obama wants to do this, but he still needs congress to approve it. If republicans get in to the senate and the house enough to get the majority; Obama will have a hard time getting them to bring the troops back. There was a reason why this country was sent up with checks and balance. But it only works if people don't vote an party lines only.

    July 3, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  4. tom, boston

    AVOID CNN and other CORPORATE MEDIA, and

    go to DEMOCRACY NOW and get the truth and insightful analysis.

    July 3, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  5. yns

    Hey Peter E... have you noticed the media chose BHO already. He was chosen months ago..... look at how they kept calling for Hillary to get out of the race.

    Wake up People.... BHO is another "typical" politician and he will say and do ANYTHING to get your vote.

    July 3, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  6. Charles

    So let me get this straight. The majority of the people that have responded thus far have Obama as the main culprit of this trend. He changed his mind on public financing, opting to take the money of people who decide to contribute to his campaign personally instead of tax money that people may not want to go to him. He has modified his stance on guns. Yes, that's a bit of a flip flop. big in some eyes, not so big in most. Last time I checked, the economy was the biggest issue and McCain, who once admirably denounced the tax cuts that have us realing right now, embraces them fully and suggests they be made permanent. McCain also opposed drilling for oil, another admirable move. Now he is all for it. Which of these is more important to you? Which of these makes the most difference in the grand scheme? But I guess when you've made up your mind about a person, there's just no changing some people.
    And to the affirmative action comment above, you are the problem in this country. You are the reason any minority individual feels hated and abandoned. The fact that CNN posted your comment worries me.

    July 3, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  7. An unknow black man from Canada help blogged 4 Obama since primary.

    Susie, what does Obama flip flop on?

    You guys wants to portray Obama in a negative light at all times, if you don't like him or you do not what to say about him please stop.

    I have not seen any changes from the Obama camp.

    If you guys have no issue to tie him to, you will call him names, he is this he is that. Is there no honest opinion minded person anymore?

    Just lease Obama alone if you nothing to say about him. He will win Mccain in general election, Mccain can't keep staff and can't keep his words.

    I can tell you that Mccain tried 3 times before he get the reality about house foreclosure crisis.
    Mccain does have ability to structure staff and that is dangerious. People need job to support their family, they can't be fired just like that.

    July 3, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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