September 22nd, 2008
04:03 PM ET
14 years ago

CNN Poll: GOP takes brunt of blame for economy, Obama gains

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The nation's economic woes appear to be taking a toll on McCain."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll suggests that by a 2-to-1 margin, Americans blame Republicans over Democrats for the financial crisis that has swept across the country the past few weeks — one factor that may have contributed to an apparent increase in Barack Obama’s edge over John McCain in the race for the White House.

In the new survey, released Monday afternoon, 47 percent of registered voters questioned say Republicans are more responsible for the problems currently facing financial institutions and the stock market, with 24 percent saying Democrats are more responsible. One in five of those polled blame both parties equally, and 8 percent say neither party is to blame.

Watch: No 'blank check' for Wall Street Obama says

The poll also indicates that more Americans think Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, would do a better job handling an economic crisis than McCain, the Republican presidential nominee. Forty-nine percent of those questioned say Obama would display good judgment in an economic crisis, 6 points higher than the number who said the same about McCain. And Obama has a 10 point lead over McCain on the question of who would better handle the economy overall.

Watch: McCain calls for oversight board

These numbers appear to be affecting the battle for the presidency. Fifty-one percent of registered voters are backing Obama, who now holds a 5 point edge over McCain, at 46 percent. McCain and Obama were tied at 48 percent apiece in the previous CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey. Obama's advantage, while growing, is still within the poll's sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Where did Obama make his gains?

"In two core McCain constituencies: Men, who now narrowly favor Obama. And seniors, who have also flipped from McCain to Obama," says CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.

When including only those people most likely to vote, the results are pretty much the same: Among likely voters, Obama has a 4 point lead, 51 percent to 47 percent.

The new CNN poll of polls also shows Obama with a similar advantage — 49 percent for Obama to 44 percent for John McCain.

"The economy has always been considered John McCain's Achilles’ heel, and the CNN poll of polls started to show an Obama edge in the middle of last week - just as the financial crisis began to hit home for many Americans," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The poll also expands to include third party candidates. When included in the results, Obama has the backing of 48 percent of likely voters, three points ahead of McCain at 45 percent. Independent Ralph Nader has the support of 4 percent of those polled, with Libertarian candidate Bob Barr and Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney each at one percent.

A couple of other factors in the survey appear to be contributing to Obama's slight rise and McCain's slight drop in the polls. Fifty-three percent of those questioned say McCain, if elected, will mostly carry out the policies of President George W. Bush, who remains extremely unpopular with most Americans. That's up 3 points from our previous poll.

The survey also indicates Obama's recaptured the advantage on "change": Just after the Republican convention, Obama's lead had shrunk to 8 points when voters were asked which candidate would be more likely to bring change. It's now up to 14 points in the new poll.

Another factor could be McCain's running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. Thirty-five percent of those questioned have an unfavorable opinion of her, up 8 points from our previous survey. And two-thirds believe she and her husband should testify in the Alaska investigation into her firing of a state official.

"Change has always been Obama's strong suit, but McCain and Palin clearly made inroads into that issue during the GOP convention," said Holland. "Palin, in particular, was seen as an agent of change when she made her first appearance on the national stage. That may be changing now."

The poll also sheds more light on how Americans feel about the financial crisis. Twenty-two percent say they are scared about the crisis, with two-thirds concerned. Eleven percent say they are not worried.

Most Americans think that the programs to deal with the financial crisis currently being worked on by Congress and the Bush administration will be unfair to U.S. Taxpayers - but they think those programs will ultimately help the economy.

In general, six in ten believe that federal government should step in and address the financial crisis; 37 percent say the government should stay out. But when it comes to last week's bailouts, support slips to 55 percent - and given the concerns about how future programs will affect taxpayers, it conceivable that public support for the plans that Congress and the administration are working on could fall even lower.

The survey comes out just four days before McCain and Obama face off in the first of three presidential debates. Will the debates make a difference? Probably, since the poll finds that 14 percent of Americans say they haven't made up their minds yet.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, and included interviews of 1,020 Americans, including 909 registered voters and 697 likely voters.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • CNN Polls • John McCain
soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. Irma in North Carolina

    There you go John and Sarah that article should tell you some thing. If people vote for you two , that will be four more years of Bush. As Sarah talks about God Task, well you two he is going to perform a big one taking you two out of the election.

    September 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  2. Diane

    How can it be so close? We have a crazy, stuttering, liar of an old man against an articulate well educated man. Please people of Ohio, use your brains and vote for change.

    September 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. RapidRay

    Simple math rules!!!!

    8 years + one candidate = 4 more years

    $700,000,000,000 = our pocketbooks saving Wall Street's idiots from themselves.

    2 Million homes in foreclosure – $700,000,000,000 = no help at all.

    11.3 trillion dollars of debt = our future.

    So which lever are YOU gonna pull come election day?

    September 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. V Obama

    We don't need you honkies, we have the momentum now. Obama will win no matter what!!!!!!!!

    YES WE CAN!!!

    Obama '08

    September 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  5. Reagan

    I have a better plan than both candidates.

    When McCain is elected (oh ya) we pack up Obama/Biden and ALL of the people who voted for Obama and bus them to Mexico, tear up their SS cards. We then take an equal amount of Mexicans back into our country and call it even. Obama can run a socialist government, and we get mexican people who are thankful and hard working to live a life that the Obama people take for granted.

    Yes we can!!!!! McCain/Palin 08

    September 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  6. Sian

    I guess lack of exeprience counts for something. If you're not there you can't be blamed and Senator Obama surely wasn't in Washington when the key players were being put in place. what a sad state of affairs for this country.

    September 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. Charlotte

    There is plenty of blame to go around. People who bought houses they knew they could not afford, are the real cause of this. Unsavory lending practices are the secondary cause. Money is not the root of all evil, the love of it is. Everybody wants a piece of the pie and will do anything to get it. The cost of living keeps going up and up. Wages can not keep up, thus a major correction will occur. A depression is looming and there is little that can stop it. A Greenhorn from Chicago, is sure not the answer. Bill Clinton was a Governor with some executive experience, Obama is Senator with more experience at campaigning, then representing his constituents. I am worried about this country. This is way to serious to turn over to novice like Obama.

    September 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  8. EBJ

    hmmmm... I as starting to think after putting George Bush in office for back to back terms that our country had been blinded by the right, especially after how close this election seems to be along with the fawning over Gov Palin. Maybe, just MAYBE the country is waking up and starting to smell the coffee or perhaps I should say the STINK of reality this time.

    September 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. Mike

    Well finally people starting to realize what a mess has been done by Republican party.

    We can spend 10 Billion dollars a day in Iraq but can't do anything for our own economy.

    How anybody can think about voting Republicans again.

    Go Obama/Biden

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Dem for Unity

    Testify Obama! He is the one with a brain in this election

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  11. Selah Brown


    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. This is funny

    Say what you want Obama has shown proven judgement.
    He is young, but see how he handled this finacial chaos.
    McCain has repeatedly shown poor judgment. Obama is principled and has shown good leadership.
    McCain should do well to follow his lead.

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. R. Cooper

    You see... we are not stupid after all McCain? McCain and Bush are joined at the hip!!! They can't fool us!

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. hurriCAIN PALIN

    yess, look to the democrats messiah to fix the problem. just because

    his a new face, doesnt mean he'll be able to fix the entire nation. he

    can be totally opposite of serendippity

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. Cornell in Oklahoma

    Glad to see the numbers indicating a swing in favor of Obama, but I have to take issue with one thing you said Bill. After stating that Obama now has a 5 point lead over McCain you then proceeded to say that Obama's lead is still within the margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. Huh? How can a 5 percentage point lead be within a 3 percentage point margin of error. If you are going to push this race-is-so-tight narrative on us, at least get your "facts" straight.

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. CR in WI

    I want ot know what's up with the 1/3 who think Dems are responsible?

    "2005 McCain proposal revamping fanny and fredie was defeated by the democrats" – umm, they didn't have control 'til '06. And the president does have veto power, which is the leading reason they are the do nothing congress. . .

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  17. Jill- IN

    Oil up $25 Barrell today due to the 700 billion dollar bailout.

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. Lynette

    the debates will make a huge difference. McCain will drive up in one of his 13 cars after coming from one of his seven houses and say we're doing great and the American worker who just lost his job is strong at heart, then he will proceed to blame Obama and the New York Times for all of the financial disasters that currently face this country. But mostly he will talk about the billion dollar a month war being successful after the surge and my friends we will win. Scary.

    September 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |

    Yeah right.........Obama has a great plan for the economy. Tax small business owners and corporate America out the wazoo. Even liberals know that will never fly. Obama's whole approach is wrong. Tax increases have never, repeat never, led to improved economic activity. Tax cuts for 85% of Americans? Fools! 50% of Americans pay zero taxes! What, we all get yearly rebates? From who? The rich? Get real. We need to cut spending across the board and lower taxes for businesses. That will spur the economy. Nothing less.

    September 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. Jon

    How is a five percentage point lead within the three percentage point margin of error? I'm not a math genius, but...

    September 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. sam

    Is it any wonder that cnn only shows when the polls are good for obama. why is the media so biased?

    September 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. lulu

    Let's see...Obama and Chris Dodd have received more money than any others from Freddie and Fannie and one of the CEO's, Jim Johnson, was an Obama advisor.

    Of course the dems would think the repubs are the cause of this mess.

    Now, can we blame the mess in South Chicago on Obama, the community organizer, or is that the fault of repubs, too?

    September 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Wal

    Mccain's temper is not what we need for the economy and the nuclear button.

    God helps us if Mccain is elected.

    September 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Eating Buffalo Wings in Heaven with Russert

    I see the Obamabot whaaaaaaambulance is running its siren at full volume today...

    September 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  25. Fighting for Obama Since he is too political correct!

    Note for latter ticker on Palin and her lies:

    Mizz Palin Can you please cite examples so we can look up what lies you are talking about on Fact Check? Sorry dear, the American people are soo fed up with the Repubickans, that your LIES and fear tactics aint gonna work no more sweetie!

    September 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
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