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

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

 Obama and McCain are viewed favorably...as flip-floppers.

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. Oops

    I Wish people were more open to switching positions on issues. Issues always come up where different perspectives or ideas may change your view. Both candidates have done it good or bad. It’s actually a healthy thing to see since they are not so stubborn to think that their stance is always correct.

    You can't just rip a band-aid off the wound and hope it is healed.

    July 3, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. Mrs.L

    Brad from SC you are the only one on this blog that has any common sense. The rest of you people need therapy, Oh and who ever "People make no sense" is I agree with you also.

    What a bunch of followers: Wake up and realize we are all doomed if Mc Cain wins.

    None of you, (US), Society can survive another 4 years of the current situation.

    WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. tedious898

    Vote for the smart guy!

    July 3, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. Andrew Abramowitz

    Maybe if Obama picks Hillary as his vp choice many of her supporters will come back to the democrats. Thats why McCain is doing very good in the polls because he has many of her supporters. One good thing about McCain if he wins in the fall, Hillary will run again in 2012. People were so hungry for change they just went for the guy how said it the most and didn't bother thinking who was the most experienced and best choice for president – HILLARY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Ardnuas

    ONLY a FOOL refuses to change his mind if he gets new information on a subject. McCain is FULL OF ANGER, AND LACKS JUDGEMENT.

    July 3, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  6. Lynn E

    Both these guys are losers. Obama actually won a primary against a more qualified candidate because he claimed to be different as in "not a politician". He does need to go. Mc Cain can stay as the best Republican, but do we want either of these guys? I think the Democratic convention needs to choose someone else and find someone who is qualified and a centrist with a slight leftist bent. We have a guy now who loves the extreme left and right without having tolerance for the center at all.

    July 3, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  7. @HusseinIsAmerican2

    John McShame put Mexico and Colombia first by going there to dine and wine with drug lords and trade lobbyist; his campaign financial donors.

    Instead of talking about creating jobs for americans by americans; he is going to Mexico and Colombia to sell american jobs & souls to the devil. the same countries that George Bush outsourced american jobs to!

    Shame on John McSame!!!!!

    July 3, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  8. ron

    obam tried to totally destroy Hillary Clinton's credibility he ridiculed her he misquoted her accused both her and her husband bill of playing dirty politics, did everything he could to discredit her. NOW that it seems he can't get elected without her support she as become WONDER GIRL, and cannot say enough nice things about her, almost to the point of making us think we chose the wrong nominee. give him credit where it's due, but tell it like it is if we elect this guy we have to live with it and he does do a lot of flip flopping

    July 3, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  9. SANTE




    July 3, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  10. S Liles

    To the slimey snake commenter. Get over it Hater. You "will" have a Black president in January 2009. Like it or lump it!.

    July 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  11. Jessy From Florida

    To all of you McCain supporters out their, let me see if I got this straight.

    You would rather vote for a man who supports the Iraq war [which has already killed countless lives in just 5 years], who would put oil rigs in the very waters that supply our fishing industry, who would most likely get us involved with a war with Iran, who even admitted that he doesn't know how to run the economy [let along a computer], and who supports NAFTA [a mismanaged organization that resulted in countless job losses in the blue-collar states]? Are you all serious?

    You would all rather vote for a such a man over Obama? Have you even read his proposals on his website? He has all of them outlined for everyone to read and they are very sound and justified.

    I for one am against McCain's proposal for the off-shore oil drilling because we as Americans have to learn to not only ween ourselves from foreign oil, but from oil altogether. Creationg those off-shore drilling platforms will not only encourage a negative habit [our dependence on oil] but they will have a negative impact on the fishing industry.

    I am against the "gas-tax holiday" that McCain proposes because of the fact that world demand for oil will only grow as fast as we can save money on gas. Therefore, the gas-tax holiday is pointless and the difference in savings will be little to none. That's why we as a nation have to set an example to the whole world that we Americans will be soon be INdepedent from oil. By setting up oil platforms off shore, we're sending the wrong message to the world that we Americans are too lazy to ween ourselves from oil. Looks at China, China's economy is a copy-cat of our own and look at how much oil they are consuming because of us.

    July 3, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  12. Mike

    OK, So polls say they are both likable and flip flop. But one of them,McBush, admits to knowing nothing about the economy and pledges to continue the war in Iraq indefinitly.

    July 3, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Indiana

    McBush is a FLIPPER FLOPPER. A real FLOPPING FLIPPER. I mean today its Mcflipper and tomorrow, yup, you guessed it, its Mcflopper. Obama just flips a little here and flaps a little there...never flopps.

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. aware

    Obama cares about changing America to fit his image of what it should be.

    Obama envisions a nation that keeps people in victim, dependent mode (easier to control) instead of victor mode. His give-a-ways will result in an American deficit of 1 Trillion dollars! 😦

    These are the tenants of Liberation Theology, hard core Liberals, Progressives and Multiculturalists! This is the ideology that will continue to send America into a downward, backward spiral in an Obama presidency!

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. mitchell hussein martin

    just because you say obama flip-flop doesnt make it true.obama has been consistent on his positions throughout his candidacy.republicans lie!

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  16. Bayou Joe

    Flip Flop Flip Flop. Do I hear Kerry's footsteps here. Oh no now
    Obama is changing his tune on Iraq. Will the Real Barak Obama please stand up.

    July 3, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  17. km

    When Obama flip flops it's because circumstances have changed. When McCain does it it's because he can't remember what his orginal position was.

    July 3, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain wants to retire as president, a lot of good that will do the country. Obama isn't looking at retirement, but a better future for America. I'll stick with Obama who is the future of our country.

    July 3, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  19. Griff

    Flip/Flop... Barack Obama is the expert to talk about Military Enlistments for the Furure of the USA. A none combatant, talking to Prog's on how to defent their Country. A guy with no Military Training.... That Flip/Flop, would work on no Circuit Board.

    July 3, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Travis (in the real world

    McWar wins this hands down. I'm keeping track and McSame does it at lease twice a day. Or was it "I mispoke " ( that's a catchall phrase.)

    Let's call a spade a spade......McWar is lying through his teeth every time he opens his mouth.

    July 3, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Truely a Democrat

    Barack has NOT changed his position on bringing the troops home. CNN just reported this information on the Ticker prior to this one. Please be fair in your comments on Obama. Afterall, he WILL be the next POTUS.

    Obama 08

    July 3, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. not important

    Well Mcbush flip flops more. Plus Mcsames economic advisor is Phil Gramm.

    July 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. Loretta from California

    Well, John McCain Flips and flops on every issue. Oil drilling, immigration, 100 years in Iraq.......and the list goes on and on..


    July 3, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  24. Daniel

    Obama is a joke. Grow up.

    July 3, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  25. Bob S Philadelphia, PA

    As a life long democrat this year i will spend my time and money try to help John McCain win the election. There is NO WAY I will vote for Obama he is a flip flop and I don't feel I can beleive anything that comes out of his mouth, It's hard to beleive him when he talks out of both sides of his mouth. I would rathe have 4 more years of George Bush then to vote for Obama.

    GO McCain "08"

    July 3, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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