July 3rd, 2008
03:56 PM ET
13 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. fighting the smears

    Honestly, anyone who is going to run for office is going to change their minds about things, so I don't understand the whole flip flopping charge. But if anyone wants to compare the amount of flip flopping on issues that Obama has compared to McCain, please go ahead and as long as your honest, you'll realize who the true Flip flopper is (hint, its not Obama).

    July 3, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. Love Huckabee

    CNN is a tabloid like Fox. For the record, Obama's only "flip" and it wasn't really because he said he'd work with the Republicans on finance.

    John Mccain is a snake. He talks about being honorable, but he's a lying hot headed Irish white guy, who's got a horrible temper with no plans. To be honest, he's in the same ship with Hannity, O'Riely, Limbaugh, and others. What do they have in common? Hot headed angry white men, which no solutions.

    I'd even take Hillary over them!

    July 3, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Janey/Michigan

    McCain is traveling to other countries because it is important to portray America as a world power who will cooperate to stay that way. Maybe, "people make no sense" should move to a less patriotic country. McCain is a patriot who would protect us and wants to make sure the world knows that!

    July 3, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Fish, MN

    This is a typical general election mode of Republican campaining point. Every four years they come with the same issue of flip-flop, patriotism, religion, and different types of name labeling as liberal, communist, and the like, to paint their opponent's image as someone who he doesn't want to be refered as. Media easily falls for that as they always need hot topics and controversies for their rating. I get frustrated when I find such news.
    I tell you guys, the real issues are what real people are faced in their daily life, and we'll only know that in November.

    July 3, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. Peter E

    People are talking about partisan gridlock as if it were a bad thing...
    Think about it this way: the more time they spend stonewalling and screwing each-other the less time they have destroying the country!

    July 3, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. Peter E

    Let this be a warning to Obama supporters: your hatefest does not work on McCain!

    July 3, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  7. mitchell hussein martin

    obama doesnt flip-flop.he adapts responsibly.mcclame flip-flops.

    July 3, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  8. Jeremy

    The politicians flip-flop and so will the voters. My choice will be the candidate whose current stance is most congruent with my own. Since I don't make more the $250,000 I think you all know who I will be voting for.

    July 3, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  9. Peter E

    Polls are for people who don't care about issues and who want to be told what to think.

    July 3, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  10. keith

    Well, I guess MoveOn and the extreme left now have a sick feeling in their stomach. Now they know how I have felt for the last 6 months.
    Flip-flop = PANDERER. There is still time to get the best candidate in...Denver....Hillary!

    July 3, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. Dave

    lol, Obama says the surge isn't, can't, and will never work. Now he is open to changing his Iraq policy because it IS working. It shows an incredible lack of judgement. McCain supported the surge, and had to drag the Bush administration to the policy. I look forward to Obama congratulating McCain on a well thought out stance on Iraq since he his willing to change his policies now, and admitting he was just plain wrong.

    McCain stance on Nuclear energy and a 300 million dollar prize for developing a battery pkg. for eletric cars is the right thing to do and is more forward thinking to end our addiction to oil, than anything proposed by Obama.

    July 3, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  12. Peter E

    Obams represents change! Specifically: changing his position on just about everything about once a month!

    July 3, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  13. RAY SF

    THAT PICTURE OF OBAMA LOOKS LIKE SHE SHOULD HAVE DROOL RUNNING OUT THE SIDES OF HIS MOUTH ! He looks a little mentally challenged in that picture. Finally a picture that reflects the candidate!

    July 3, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  14. Anita from Arizona

    Flip Floppin is a lot better than the STAY THE COURSE crap we've been spoon fed for eight years, but McCain has not shown that he is any different from Bush and any of his policies or what he stands for. How do I know for sure McCain will not Stay the Course when he is endorsing Bushes tax cut, oil drilling offshore and hiring his advisors to his campaign? Don't give me that crap offshore driling is a START is the Right direction speech. Yeah, if you want to stay a crack head for oil then lets keep feeding our habit.

    July 3, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. Peter E

    These polls, if reliable (and we've learned this past primary season, they're not) only show two things:
    The media has not given enough information about the candidate's stances and records for people to genuinely distinguish them, and people place too much trust in media hype and don't want to think for themselves.
    Seriously, did you count the number of articles the main stream media presented on issues lately, compared to the ones that talk about irrelevant campaign strategies and personal stuff?
    No wonder people have no clue!

    July 3, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  16. Cracka lova

    the Obama 16 withdrawal was clearly not gonna happen in 16 months when he commented during a debate that he would consult with the boots on the ground in cjarg in Iraq.......It is ironic how the GOP will cry over the most petty things knowing this war was initiated on their watch......and they can't touch Obama with a ten foot pole because Hillary did him a favor by airing his dirty laundry during the primary so they are trying to make similarities between their candidates weakness and Obama
    Nice try but only hate filled Americans can buy into the nonsense

    July 3, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. will

    this is absurd. the opposite of flip flopping is stubbornness. if no politician ever changed position we would still have, slavery, no rights for women, legal drugs.....well i guess that would be ok.

    July 3, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  18. zius


    July 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. Nija


    July 3, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. Carrie USMC

    I am a democrat now first and foremost,and before I give my vote to the republican I will vote my financial, gas, home, healthcare, education interest,and the democrat will best serve those needs.
    BUT I want Mr. OBAMA to note that I am saddened by his lastest stances. I will vote democrat in Nov.but my enthusiasm level has been drained.

    July 3, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  21. Peter E

    To Jessy from Florida: I respect your entry because at least it addresses issues. That's way better than what the main stream media does.
    I also agree with you about McCain being wrong on several issues.
    What I disagree with you on is that Obama is a better choice. He's not.
    Yes, Obama's dubbed the anti-war candidate, and his rhetoric seems to support that. However his record doesn't. He has a number of times voted for continued funding for this war.
    Obama himself has changed positions on NAFTA in the past too. Not to mention him breaking his word on Campaign Finance reform.
    As for the gas-tax-holiday, I would agree with Obama on saying no to it because it is indeed just a short-sighted spending that will do nothing for the economy while driving up deficits... yes I would... except within one week Obama came up also with an 'economy stimulus package' of billions of dollars of short term spending to pump up the economy which would also just be another deficit spending.
    I agree with you about off-shore drilling, even if the majority of America does not.
    So yes, I would agree with Obama on some of these issues if I could trust him. But his record tells a different tale.
    I am not voting for McCain, but you can't argue to me that Obama is any better choice.

    July 3, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. Annette, Washington, DC

    Who coined the phrase flip-flopping? If every item word a man say will be judged by the media?? then who will judge the media? McCain has changed positions from his last run for president to now. A 360 degree change with no premise as to why? Obama premise has not changed. We are in Iraq, with no premise? We need to get out of Iraq, as Obama has said all the time, we need to be careful getting out of Iraq, just as careless as were going in. Now, careful to me means judging all aspects of the situation before doing anything. However, McCain has said as long as 100 years, and then back to 5 years. What do you call that?

    July 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  23. TonyinKentucky

    McCain has flip/flopped on his entire "Maverick" image and more so the Constitution, in order to pander to the neocon right.

    Unless he plans to flip/flop on the Republican platform, then he is nothing short of toxic to America, her citizens, and her ideals.

    July 3, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. Ed, Fl

    As a diehard Obama supporter, I can say for real they both flip flop. But i guess it is no news, that's the way that it usually goes as they are approching the general elections.

    July 3, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  25. Enlightened Voter

    Hey Val and all you Mccain supporters – GOD bless and protect you cause if he gets in your gonna need all his protection, blessings, prosperity that he can give and I still don't know if that will help.....good luck guys, you'll need it.

    July 3, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
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