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. Roger from CA

    To "Timber" and the rest of you whining about Obama's position on Iraq, at least state correctly what he said during the primaries: that he would BEGIN withdrawal within 16 months. He didn't say all troops would be home within 16 months, and he always said the nuances were subject to the facts on the ground.

    In any event, where exactly has he now said he was backing off that 16-month START for withdrawal??? See the other article. As much as I dispise the Iraq war, I would HOPE that Obama would act in light of the facts on the ground at the time. Naturally, if there was some dramatic change in the circumstances, I would hope Obama would adjust his withdrawal plans accordingly. Otherwise, he would just be like Dubya.... and McCain.

    July 3, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  2. David

    McCain has changed his position on torture, on tax cuts, on gay marriage, on abortion, on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, on whether to embrace right-wing religious leaders like Hagee and Falwell, on whether or not he's an economics expert, on whether or not he meant that we'd be in Iraq for another hundred years, on offshore oil-drilling, on immigration, and on campaign finance.

    Obama decided not to take federal funding for his Presidential campaign. He had to hold two press conferences today to make the mainstream media actually listen to him say that he has not changed his position on Iraq AT ALL!

    Flippy McSame: 11 Obama: 1

    I think that Flippy wins the flip-flop sweepstakes....

    July 3, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |


    July 3, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  4. Dem Switching

    This person writes:

    WHY, CNN, why? Why do you keep using that particular shot of Barack Obama? The man is actually photogenic, yet you manage to capture him in one horrible pose and eveidently have to use that picture every day.


    July 3, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |

    Hmmm and it became a SIN to change your mind....... when????

    July 3, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  6. vick

    mccain is the real flip floper

    July 3, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  7. Samina from WI

    ok cnn..its time to change the pictures of these two candidates..I am sure your photographers would have better file photos than these.

    July 3, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  8. Lance

    People make no sense

    what a great name for your ridiculous comments.

    unlike Obama when McCain is the member of an important commitee, he does his job. As the chairman and ranking member of the Armed Forces Comittee it is needed for him to do this.

    July 3, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  9. Chris in Va.

    By all means vote for McCain! He won't stop at the blood of other people's children, he thirsts for the blood of YOUR child also. Concerning Willy's racist comments, I thought the purpose of moderation was to keep this racist BS off the blog.

    July 3, 2008 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  10. Lilah

    I like McCain about as much as I would like a tape worm in my gut. And I'll bet the tape worm would be a more worthy candidate.

    July 3, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  11. Hispanic For McCain

    Hispanic people Yes the LATINOS across this Great nation of ours don't trust OBAMA that right can't trust OBAMA. the Puertorican, Cuban, Mexican, Colombian, and all the Latinos will support and vote for McCain. CNN, MSNBC, and all those Pundit YOU GUYS DON'T SPEAK FOR ALL HISPANIC (LATINOS) about OBAMA winning the Latinos vote don't think so!!!!. There will be alot of Dem Hispanic voter that will go to McCain!!!!

    McCain will win OH, PA, MI, FLA, all of the South And the West. The Rep party will send out the DOGS in the next three months!!! So Liberals Dem WATCH OUT AND DON'T CRY!!!!

    July 3, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  12. Independant , FL

    Obviously the media is not doing it's job if Mccain and Obama are almost even on a flip-flopping poll. To go back on Public financing just makes common sense when you are the unknown candidate and 10% of americans still think you are a muslim. Obama needs the extra money to introduce him self to the voting public. To say tax cut for the wealthy offend your conscience and then change your mind about your conscience is a character issue. Obama changes in position are minuscule in compared to McCain. Even if you think Obama flip-flops you can only point to a couple things.On the other hand:

    MCcain flip-flops:
    *flip-flopped on finance reform during the primary
    *Bush tax cuts for the wealthy
    *would vote against McCain-Feingold immigration bill(yes McCain as in John McCain)
    *would stay in Iraq 100 years, changed to would be out by 2013
    *against offshore drilling , for offshore drilling
    * called the religious right, agents of intolerance,then asks for there endorsement, and then rejected there endorsements
    *attacked Obama for be willing to meet with our enemies, yet he said , in 2006 on video we should be willing to engage Hamas
    *there is the thing about caring for the environment, yet saying we need more nuclear plants and need to drill off shore. (I know if it qualifies as a flip-flop but it sure is contradictory.

    July 3, 2008 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  13. Saad from NJ

    Likeable and flip-floppers... Oooooook, so what's different between these two versus 75% of the politicians here in the U.S. and 90% around the world? When you look at people like Putin and Zardari, these two are god sent.

    July 3, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  14. rexx

    Obama is a pure Chicago machine politico. Maybe Jimmy Hoffa can "help" him win. lol. Welcome to President McCain

    July 3, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  15. Surge

    "obama doesnt flip-flop.he adapts responsibly."
    "times change, responses change due to current changes."

    Sounds like obama apologists making excuses for obama's doing anything he can to get elected.

    He changed. He has become what he railed against. He lost his integrity right after he won the nomination and started changing in order to get elected. That's not what we were told we were voting for. The only real question was whether or not he intended to change all along. Given how tightly run his campaign was, I'd say he knew all along he would change once he won the nomination which means he was lying. Like he lied when he said the reason he flip-flopped on public financing was due to the fact that it was a 'broken system'. Even his supporters knew that was a lie.

    Now you know what his face looks like when he's lying. That's one thing that doesn't change.

    July 3, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  16. RJ, CA

    Loved the bumper sticker I saw yesterday:

    Work - Succeed - Be Happy!

    July 3, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |

    Clinton/McCain...... Remember Obama was suppposed to be different from all the other politicians. McCain never made that promoise. Out you go Obama!You are an IDIOT
    McCain never made that promoise......He is too OLD to make a PROMISE and can't remember what he said without Lieberman

    July 3, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  18. Ian M

    I'd appreciate it if CNN didn't use horrible pictures of Obama and McCain.

    July 3, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Code Blue

    I don't like Obama one bit. But McCain has got to be the worst pick for the Republicans. Is Ron Paul still in it?

    July 3, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  20. Fay Tx

    susie...........Obama kept saying in his speeches he was for change. Within a month he flip-flops on issues. He is unbelievable.Mr Cain
    Flip Flop as well..........The sun may shine in the AM and RAIN in the PM .............NEXT!!

    July 3, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  21. charles

    Where is McCain's flag pin, he must be anti American

    July 3, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  22. JIM...TX

    "Flip flopping" if situations change one way or the other OR stay the course come hell or high water......lets flip!

    July 3, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  23. Timothy

    To all Democrats hold your grounds the Republicans are trying to paint Obama as a flip flopper LOL. Mccain is the Biggest flip flopper his name should be Mccain more of the same flopper LOL.

    July 3, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  24. perception50

    Well of course CNN favors liberal Democrats because their staff is made up of liberal Democrats.

    America's mostly liberal MSM wolfpack press does need to "implement affirmative action programs" to include not exclude more moderates and conservatives............

    And we need to go to 100% public financing of Federal campaigns to get the dirty money and influence out of Washington DC.

    July 3, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  25. DannyCali

    Obama already flip-flopped since he was start campaign and your guy just know now.........? your guy so stupid and don't understand the politic
    at all. All the politic when their say and talk I already know that's their are
    lie about 90% and when their get President or the job their not even
    do what their said in the campaign. This is a liar.....all politician is lied.

    July 3, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
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