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. J

    I watch CNN every night and 99.9% of the time when I change the channel or turn the TV off my thoughs about the comments by CNN "journalists" or the way "stories" are covered is always the same.
    CNN always claims to be unbiased but it is quite clear to any open minded viewer that you are in Obama's corner! I watch CNN nightly because I get a great laugh out of listening to you claim impartiality while you are doing the exact opposite. You should watch your own show if you want tl laugh along with me!

    September 26, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  2. John in Ohio

    Obama has higher expectations to meet because the media and the Republicans have held him to higher expectations throughout the whole thing. If Obama is good and McCain is mediocre, the narrative by the Republicans and the media isn't "Why is McCain so mediocre", it's "Why isn't Obama *great*?"

    It's ridiculous.

    September 26, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  3. Lu

    The stupidity of some of these comments from Obama supporters explains why they would vote for Obama.

    AUC – It's NOT his skin color, it's his EXTREME liberalism and lack of wisdom.

    September 26, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  4. Barbara

    I cannot believe there are some people who actually believe the blatant lies that the McCain camp are using. If they took a few minutes to actually fact check, they'd find that Obama's alleged "tax increase" is just the opposite: under his plan we would SAVE money (at least the average Joes would). "Socialized healthcare"? Again, not true. As for McCain "suspending his campaign, including advertisements" that's a crock also: I live in Pennsylvania and last night I must have seen the ad with the black cloud in the shape of the Capitol slinking across the country more than 4 times, and this was while watching the news!!

    I vote for the person I think would be help this country, regardless of party. In 2000 and 2004 I did not vote for Bush, because I got a bad feeling from him....he appeared incompetent to me. I can look back and be comfortable with the decisions I made, because I didn't go on PARTY, I went on COMPETENCE.

    Please people, this is about AMERICA, not Republican/Democrat, and definitely not a time for this "no blacks in charge of us" mentality that a shocking number of people seem to have. We are in dire straights here!! Just do some RESEARCH for goodness sakes!! Find out the facts!! McCain has said IN HIS OWN WORDS in his book that he makes hasty decisions and later often regrets being so quick on the trigger. We cannot afford a man like this in office.....I truly believe we will see WWIII if he is.

    September 26, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  5. lisa

    the debate will go on tonight. mccain has known all along that he would go. He is desperate at this point. First he picked the wrong VP. You know she is not qualified to be president. The he pulls this stunt like he owns washington.Mccain has the highest non voting record of any senator. 62.3%. Check it out for yourself.

    September 26, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  6. Stephen

    Hey Obamites, stop telling people to "wake up", and putting "pathetic" at the bottom of every post, it's really moronic. This may be hard to believe that not everyone thinks like you, in fact, almost 50% of the country doesn't think like you, so get over it. Vote for Obama, that's fine, but to say that the rest of us are idiots makes you just that, and idiot.

    September 26, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  7. M Smith

    still seeing McCain ads on TV, what's going on here?

    September 26, 2008 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  8. TG

    Keep making up your own reality. It's plain to see that McCain injected presidential politics into this problem. He has already said economics isnt his strong suit but he rushes back to DC to dig into the economic debate. I always liked McCain but thanks to the way he has run his campaign that has changed.

    September 26, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  9. John

    No win situation for Obama, if he wins, he should have, if it's even, he loses. All McCain has to do is show up...

    September 26, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  10. drahcir61

    Polls & debates are meaningless. The vast majority of voters already know which candidate they are supporting. McCain & Palin could stumble over their answers & sound like complete fools (& yes they will) but people will still vote for them. Biden could babble on & on & on until people are sleeping but it won't deter Obama/Biden supporters.

    It's scary to think this election will be determined by the "undecided" voters. After the past 8 years & the events of the past 6 months, how can anyone still be undecided? That is the scary part ... people making up their mind while they are INSIDE the voting booth. Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe.

    September 26, 2008 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  11. Candy West Virginia

    Why aren't we being subjected to Palin's pastor and church which she is a member of for 20 that is very anti semetic? They bashed Barack non stop about rev. wright so turnabout is fair play.

    September 26, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  12. JFK

    Actually Obama has to only show up to get high marks. Lets see if Mr McCain can multi-task?

    September 26, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  13. Marci

    Sarah Palin was put in this position by John McCain because she's a woman and not bad looking and yes she has some likable qualities...but that is where it ends...she is very obviously incompetent otherwise....and as a woman myself I am outraged that the McCain camp would be so careless to show how shallow they are and what they truly think of a womans value. I don't blame Sarah for this I blame John ...she is his puppet to "glamorize" his campaign and make him not look so old and out of touch.

    September 26, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |

    So, that would explain why he cannot keep track of the number of houses, without checking with his staff.

    His single functioning brain cell can hold only one thought at a time.
    Therefore, when he remembered to drink his prune juice, the number of homes was replaced and lost forever in the great void in his cranium.

    September 26, 2008 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  15. Greg Absher

    Shame on John MCcain, for putting politics before his Country and run away from the debate. Now he is IN Washington DC trying tolook as if he, all the sudden an economic expert and look Presidential

    What A Shameless joke of a Man!

    September 26, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  16. b. jones tulsa,ok.

    i sleep so much better a night now that i know sarah palin is ready with her high powered rifle to shoot down incoming russians. wow, and those pesky canadians.....well she has are back there also.

    barack the vote people!!!!!!!!!!

    September 26, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  17. Josh

    McCain should not have left the campaign trail in the first place. He has done more harm to his campaign than good. There are 400+ representatives and 98 other senators in congress that were already hashing out a deal. McCain did not NEED to return to D.C., McCain wanted to return to D.C. as a means of propelling himself into the spotlight as he always has throughout his career.

    September 26, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  18. Debra

    The GOP is finally supporting a welfare plan! It's called the Wall Street Welfare Plan or WSWP. The major difference between this plan, and say, food stamps, or housing programs, is that with WSWP they want no accountability, no paybacks, and no interest! What a concept.....

    September 26, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  19. Keith

    Barack should enter with the life-size cardboard cutout of J Mac that the press brought aboard his plane and prop it up against the empty chair. Whatever the cutout would have to say would be at least as interesting and probably more truthful.

    Imagine telling David Letterman that you couldn't do a guest spot you had agreed to, one hour before airtime, because the economy "cratered" and you had to suspend your campaign and fly to Washington asap. Then you head over to do a Katie Couric interview in the same building and get a good night's sleep. And only then do you head off for the airport the next morning! What a lying creep you'd be. You wouldn't do that would you? Not if you were a politician running for high office and wanted to be taken seriously.

    September 26, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  20. Candy West Virginia

    Truly American – as a rethuglican you couldn't be a true American because the rethuglicans have sold our country to China. China owns us, get real. We've already lost hundreds of thousandsof jobs already thanks to the rethuglicans and the current administration or didn't you know. It's over 700,00 and counting, and that is since January.

    September 26, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  21. Anthony Johnson

    I'd like to know how anyone is still in support of the Republicans?It's obvious that John McCain wants to dodge both the debate and the issues, Sarah Palin can't keep her lies straight, and Republicans are the ones stalling a solution to the financial crisis.I can only think of one reason why people are even pondering the idea of voting for these idiots and that's racism!Call it playing the "race-card" call it lack of experience on Obama's end (Palin has a journalism degree, Obama a law degree.constitution anyone), but that's the real reason!Are the people in this country that stupid, that you'd pick the wrong option AGAIN rather than put race aside because we are in dire need of real leadership?!

    September 26, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  22. Jeanette Amodio

    John Mccain's rush back to Washington was nothing but a political move. I beleive the whole issue will back fire on him. He looks scared, and his action support my belief.

    September 26, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  23. Victor from MI

    It won't matter because McCain will chicken out.

    September 26, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  24. Sue

    I think the Bail-out excuse for McCain is a joke. And for that matter the whole bail-out itself is ridiculous. My brother-in-law relayed to me a better solution to this mess. I do not know if it is an original idea but it makes more sense to me. Divide the 700 Billion between the working taxpaying public. Give them each 250 thousand of which they pay taxes on, the balance to be used to pay off all or a piece of their mortgages and any revolving credit. They must sign on to this to get the money. whatever is left they keep and to put back in the economy. There would have to be stipulations that you couldn't get a home equity loan or credit cards for 5 years. The government gets their taxes. The banks recover their debt. Americans get free from debt. This would be a win-win-win situation. Each 2 income household would get 2 pieces of the pie. How simple it would be. This is something most Americans could get behind..It makes more sense then what is being floated out there now.

    September 26, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  25. Bill Charlotte,NC

    I am not sure John Wayne McCain will be able to be there. He has been soooooooo busy solving this "bailout" problem. He has had to appear on every news show, stop for every reporter and pose for every picture. Why it took him 22 hours to "rush to Washington for this urgent situation." He was only 1 1/2 hours away, but he was traveling in all fourteen of his cars and like those of us in the South, he kept having to wait in line for gas.
    He also suspended his campaign... translated that meant: His campaign went on in battleground states; you could still contribute; his pundits, armed with pre-arranged talking points, appeared non-stop on any and every t.v. spot to tell us John had suspended his campaign and was putting America first; and "John Straight Talk" himself didn't miss a single opportunity to tell everyone what a maverick he was and how all this was not about politics.
    You could fly that private plane of his over any field and not have to fertilize it for years.

    September 26, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
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