September 26th, 2008
09:15 AM ET
14 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama has higher expectations to meet in debates

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="A new poll shows Americans think Obama will win the debates."](CNN) - It appears Barack Obama has higher expectations to meet at Friday night's debate than John McCain does, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll suggests.

According to the new poll, nearly 6 in 10 Americans think the Illinois senator will win the debates, while only 34 percent think McCain will come out on top.

But that's no guarantee Obama will be deemed the eventual winner, CNN's Polling Director Keating Holland said.

"Four years ago, voters thought George W. Bush would beat John Kerry in the debates but Americans who watched the debates generally thought Kerry was the winner," he said. "On the other hand, voters thought that Bill Clinton would win the debates in 1996 - and post-debate polls agreed with that assessment."

Obama clearly goes into the first debate with a clear advantage in the issues. The new poll suggests 60 percent of voters say that the Illinois senator aggrees with them on the issues. Voters say they trust McCain more than Obama in international issues like Iraq and terrorism - but Obama has a clear 10-point edge (53-43 percent) on the overriding issue of the day: the economy. (In a CNN/ORC poll released Thursday, 56 percent of Americans said the economy was the No. 1 issue.)

But the two candidates are statistically tied on the question of whether voters feel they possess the personal qualities a president should have (62 percent say McCain does, while 64 percent say Obama does.) And in good news for McCain, voters are also tied on what they care more about in this election - issues or personal qualities. Forty-three percent of voters say that the candidates' leadership skills and vision is more important to them than issues; 42 percent say issues are more important.

Americans are also split when it comes to the vice presidential debate, with 48 percent saying Joe Biden is the likely winner and 46 percent giving the edge to Sarah Palin.

"That's probably an indication that Americans aren't familiar enough with either candidate to be able to handicap their performance in a debate," Holland said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    This just shows the ignorance of the American electorate. How on earth can 60% of those responding actually think that Obama agrees with them on the issues when he has done nothing to substantiate that belief? What are his stances on the issues? This irrational belief is what elevated him to where he is now and if folks don’t get a grip they will be sorely disappointed with the reality. Did anyone watch Obama during the primary debates? He didn’t do such a great job then, what makes folks think he will do any better now? Has he been given a script of the questions so that he can give scripted responses on everything? What on earth has Obama done to show that he can do the best job with our economy? He obviously didn’t do that great a job with his own budget when he had to go to Rezko in order to purchase a home that he really could not afford. I am no fan of John McCain and will not support a Republican for President but think it would be a good thing if folks would pull Obama off of the messianic pedestal they have put him on and look at him realistically with common sense and pragmatism. That I guess would be truly too much to hope for.

    September 26, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  2. G. Robinson

    November 4, 2008 11:35am on CNN:
    Wolf Blitzer:

    "CNN has projected, along with outher major news netwroks, that Senator Barack Obama has become the first African American President of the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a historic moment. He won with a landslide victory. We are waiting to hear from the McCain campaign. We just got word that they have called to congratulate the junior Senator of Illinois......"

    We will be partying all over America when this election is over. McShame has practically handed it over to Obama. Has anyone ever thought that McShame has done all this on purpose because he knows he's not fit to be POTUS? That's what I figured when he chose Palin to be his runniong mate. I can't stop laughing. One big JOKE is what they are. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! LMAO!!!!!!!!

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08/12 EASY!!!!!

    September 26, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  3. j

    Maybe if McCain takes an afternoon nap, it does wonders for my grandfather, he may showup for the debate.

    September 26, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  4. Hallie Conley

    This morning, I watched Barney Frank being interviewed by a CNN moderator (female). She is asking questions but does not allow Barney Frank to answer. She rudely interrupts, while he is trying to respond, and she asks another question before he can respond to the previously asked question and injects some of her thoughts. Would you please shut her up and allow those of us that do understand economics to hear what this gentleman has to say.

    September 26, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  5. Kent D

    McCain's willingness to play brinkmanship"in a time of statesmanship is appalling. I guess he did go back to his Naval ways an stick a torpedo right into the side of hard fought negotiations.

    Unbelievable. He knows the stakes, yet he is willing to push us to edge just so he can try to get his name on the bill and shore up his Republican base. John, this is no time to play hero.

    This insurance scheme is ridiculous. How does it help these troubled lenders? There is no new capital in the system and the loans are still on the books to clog up the system. Then, when these institutions fold, we are on the hook for the debt – with no equity and no control on executive pay. Is that his plan?

    John McCain – It would be a farce, if it wasn't so tragic.

    September 26, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  6. laughing all the way to a democratic victory

    He already won the debate. After the John McCain fiasco with going to Washington to save the country, americans have seen right through the paper thin campaign that Mr. McCain is running. He will stop at nothing for a photo-op, or to make believe he has made any difference in the negotiations. If anything he is to blame for the stalling. I'm sure the republicans who broke down talks, only did it to pretend that they are not with president Bush 90% of the time. How very sad for the Republican party. I feel so bad.

    September 26, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  7. Carol

    I still say " talk is cheap." Actions speak louder than words. I want an Ameican President I can feel has the PRIORITY of the Americsn Nation and it's People and Security as first on his agenda. This is not about who can talk a blue strea,k but WHO has the EXPERIENCE and determination to LEAD this nation into a prosperous future. We already have enough RICH people who are only concerned with how much they can take from the "little guy". Wall street is a prime example of this. THEY PLAY, WE PAY ( forever) ! Totally UNFAIR. I work, pay my fair share of TAXES and NOW I should have to PAY more ? UNFAIR. This BAIL OUT won't hurt the culprits of this mess one little bit. They will still sit in their nice houses and drive their nice cars and go on vacations and SPEND the fruits of their STEALINGS.
    John McCain put this crisis FIRST. He stepped up to the plate to take a crack at bat. Not all "batters" hit the ball, BUT WHAT IS IMPORTANT HERE IS, John McCain STOOD UP FOR THE AMERICAN TAX PAYER AND TOOK HIS TURN AT BAT.

    McCain/Palin '08 (in God we trust, the UNITED STATES of AMERICA)

    September 26, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  8. dwmulenex

    call it "Johnnie on the Spot Misses the Mark." McCain's "it's all about me" campaign has even the POW worshipping David Brooks looking into the past, and lamenting that McCain equals Bush doesn't have a central message for his campaign, while Palin is just variants of "I can see Putin's face in puffy clouds over Alaska. It would have been one thing if McCain had knowledge of the economy or Wall Street finance, but by his own admission he doesn't. It would have been one thing had he expressed a point of view on the bailout in response to Obama's direct question at the White House, but he didn't. It was have been one thing if he had left the White House to go back to the House to crack heads with the rebelling conservative Republicans, but he instead went to home 3–or is it 6 – after leaving the White House by the back door withoiut comment. It would have been one thing if he had cracked heads in his own party to get the rebels to participate in the bipartisan evening session on the bailout, but he didn't. Where is McCain? Does leaxdership consist in doing his very best to avoid Ole Miss, and fair questions about Rick Davis and his lies, Phil Gramm's "whiner" remarks, and Carly Fiorina's claim that McCain couldn't run a company, which suggests he can't run an economy. And foreign policy? Look at Pakistan and Afghanistan and tell me his is the hand we want on the tiller.

    September 26, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  9. Debbie

    Am I the only one who saw the interview between Katie Curic and Sarah Palin yesterday? It was shocking! Palin could barely string a sentence together, and clearly had no idea what she was talking about. Not only does she lack the intelligence, thoughtfulness and experience for the job, but she clearly caves under pressure. If sweet, unthreatening Katie Curic causes Palin to cave, how will she fare with Putin? Is this the person Americans want to have her finger on the proverbial button should McCain meet an untimely end? Scary!

    September 26, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  10. Jorge

    This campaign looks more and more like a dysfunctioal family being ruled by a recalcitrant mentally unstable child.

    Even if McCain's behavior is on a medical basis, it's time for the adults to take control and stop letting the dysfunctional child jerk them around.. That includes the main stream media and the presidential debate commission..

    Obama has made a good start by behaving in a civilized manner in accepting Bush's invitation to yesterday's meeting and by standing firm in his determination to go on to Oxford today for the debate. Let's hope he sticks by it and doesn't let McCain's grandstanding and apparent sabotage of yesterday's meeting derail the debate.

    McCain's behavior today reminded me of a child who gets the other kids fighting and then just sits back smiling and watching the show.

    September 26, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  11. Jaybob

    Nothing like a little pre-emptive skewing of public opinion by the Obama Supporters formerly known as CNN.

    What a pitiful disgrace CNN has become.

    This is a typical democrat ploy taken straight from the Clinton playbook.


    September 26, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  12. Felicia

    This is a REALLY dumb poll!

    September 26, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  13. Edwin, Fayetteville, NC

    I think that we should refrain fron name calling and stick to the issues. I also feel that race, age, and gender will play a part in this election but I feel if we focus on the issues and not the attempts to distract voters, we should all be able to make a correct and informed choice as we see in.

    Obama/Biden 08-16

    September 26, 2008 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  14. Ken

    Debates are not important, especially in this current economic mess. Obama "talks" about the crisis, calloing it the worst in history, yet he would rather debate than help fix it. Some leader.
    John McCain suspended his campaign to help get this resolved because People First, not politics. As far as McCain's TV ad's, these are bought ahead of time and it sometimes takes a few days to pull all of them.
    In the end, McCain/Palin will be the winners and in the White House. Our nation needs people that will take action, not talk about it.

    September 26, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  15. Paul Robinson

    Obama shouldn't have too much of a problem if, as looks likely, he is the only one that shows up.

    Oh, and I won't be in the least bit surprised if a deal for the bailout goes through today. Why? Because the only reason that it stalled yesterday was to buy McCain time in an attempt to reschedule, if not avoid altogether, the Presidential Debate, and especially the VP debate.

    The reason they don't want Palin in a debate and why there is a media blackout on her is because she is a political moron, to use a Paul Begala phrase!

    September 26, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  16. Brent

    What I do not hear is that they are Senators... this is still there job... and it maybe one of the greatest messes that as President McCain or Obama will have to deal with. If I were running in this election I would have been in Washington days ago.

    September 26, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  17. BT in Ohio

    To truly American – wake up!
    It is because of the Republican greed machine that so many people are without jobs now. Have we forgotten who got us into this mess?
    THE REPUBLICANS! (and their De-regulation ways)
    America has wised up to the fact, but you sir are only fooling yourself.
    Why then have so many Republicans distanced themselves from this administration? Many are afraid to say they are Republican today.
    McCain is for McCain, Palin just isn't smart enough to run this country or Alaska. We have only ONE HOPE left for our country and that is to vote DEMOCRAT. McCain does remind me of Hoover – and accordingly we need a new FDR to help this country regain its posture in the world. We need Obama/Biden!
    White, middle-aged woman who is sick of this Republican created mess.

    September 26, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  18. jt

    Bush is supposed to handling this crisis, why Obama has to take the blame for this, by the way McCain has not suspended his campaign ads are still running, he's still campaigning what different did McCain did than Obama...need real change folks.

    September 26, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  19. liberal observer

    In all this mess Americans need to elect Barak Obama to be pesident
    and get into deeper waters.
    Sorry guys , you were WRONG giving G. Bush your vote and now again
    will do the same giving it to B. Obama.
    Wake up Americans see the facts you need someone who will be able to get you out of mess, Obama is not one.

    September 26, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  20. Sue

    Who out there can Possibly be taking McCain seriously after all this? And Palin?...Katie Couric could have eaten her for lunch but was too kind to completely destroy the candidate when Palin is obviously not living on the same planet as everyone else. America, Get a Clue!

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 26, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
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