October 20th, 2008
05:45 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain's attacks are unfair, CNN poll says


A new poll shows a growing number of voters believe McCain is attacking unfairly. (AP Photo)

(CNN) - A growing number of Americans believe John McCain has attacked Barack Obama unfairly, a negative perception of the Arizona senator that could cost him at the polls come Election Day.

According to a new survey from CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation, nearly 6 in 10 Americans believe the Republican nominee has unfairly gone negative in his bid for the White House. That percentage is significantly higher than it was last September, when just 42 percent thought the Republican Presidential nominee was running an overly negative campaign, and is also considerably higher than the percentage of Americans who feel Obama has gone unfairly negative.

In recent weeks, both campaigns have stepped up spending on negative television ads and launched attacks at each other's record. But comments from both McCain and Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin questioning Obama's relationship with former 1960's radical William Ayers have drawn particular scrutiny, as has the GOP ticket's recent suggestion Obama will seek to carry out 'socialist' policies.

Obama's image may also be benefiting from his huge financial advantage, which has led to a massive imbalance in the number of ads he is able to air compared to McCain. Campaign Media Analysis Group's Evan Tracey, CNN's consultant on ad spending, says Obama has the luxury of running both positive and negative ads — simultaneously softening his own image and hurting McCain’s.

"McCain can't afford the positive ads Obama can," Tracey said. "It's not likely McCain can raise his own positives with only a couple weeks left - but he can hope to raise Obama's negatives."

But the clear perception that the Arizona senator has run a more negative campaign than Obama just may hurt the Republican presidential nominee's chances of a comeback in this long race's dwindling days.

"In previous elections, both candidates have been viewed as attacking the other unfairly, so the penalty for doing so has tended to cancel out in past years," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "But this year McCain faces that problem all by himself, so any blowback affects only him while Obama seems above the fray."

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Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (187 Responses)
  1. Felix

    People is tired of the tactics of fear. These won't work this time. Why McCain is still trying that card, when the polls show him that each time that he use it, the people react against it? I think because he does not have alternative, he can not say what is good about him, so he has to say what is "bad" about the other option.. McCain strategy is a bridge to nowhere, my friends.

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  2. Pat Pa.

    Yes, his ads are awful and I hope that they come back to bite him in the a... Actually, I hope that they haunt him the rest of his life. I'm glad that Obama took the stand that he did re: raising campaign money. At least it gives him a chance to fight this type of a campaign. The sad part is that the campaign is not done yet and God help us, we can expect more from the Repugs.

    People, do not get too sure of yourselves. Keep fighting so that Obama wins. We need him.

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Scott NYC Independent

    He will do anything, say anything and try anything just to ge elected. He no longer has any honor. He lost any respect I had for him and now I just wish he would leave the senate and disappear into the sunset.

    He time should be over.

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. tulsa

    lol... keep it up John.
    To Gene from another post,
    I agree, the majority of the posts from Democrats seem to be hopeful, happy and positive. Although there are a minority who like to display their anger at the policies and practices of the Republican party.
    On the other hand, I don't think I've read one hopeful, or happy word from the right.
    I'm with you and the other people who have decided that a house divided can't stand. Vote for the Union. Vote for Obama 08

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. Stevo

    As a percentage McCain has gone negative more. Each side can win this argument if you go by Obama's spending on negative ads, however McCain is desperate and running an anything goes campaign as his ship goes down. If Obama didn't fight back like Kerry did, then he'd be labeled a wimp. Obama keeps going back at McCain's delusional idea of the day campaign. Only two more weeks til this garbage is over.

    Obama/Biden 2008!

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. Lily


    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    Well....it makes sense to me. I don't know how credible CNN has become

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. luis in Miami

    Oh come on, the man is trying to win the election the only way the GOP knows how... cheating, stealing and manipulating...

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. milo

    McCain has run a horrible campaign, has he done anything that did NOT backfire and hurt more than it helped?

    Palin, attack ads, Ayers, Joe the Plumber?

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  10. Kenneth Rios

    Name calling has failed and thank god for that. We are not a nation of middle school children.

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  11. jfs Memhis, Tn

    I can not believe that McCain's campaign just doesn't get it ???? I have already cast my vote for Obama....but.....if something isn't working does it show good JUDGEMENT to continue down that course ??? Especially when money is soon to be an issue ???

    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  12. America For the Truth

    Joe the plummer is a fake and another illusion of the Republican game. His name isn't Joe, He is not a plumber, HE IS A REGISTERED REPUBLICAN and he owes $1,185 in BACK TAXES.



    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. Pam


    October 20, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  14. Briana

    Obama is going to win Virginia !!!!

    October 20, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. TMac


    As Soon as The Jews & Evangalists Figure out That Palin is a Pentacostal Christian.. Mc Same is Finished... Toast..!!

    October 20, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. george from alaska

    the new propaganda is that the "race is tightening". ..a ploy to make things seem close & allow the republicans to use computer tricks to steal the election again.

    October 20, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Paul, TLH-FL

    I think it goes without saying. The accusation that anyone not with them is Anti-American is tantamount to fascism. To be pro-American one only needs to support, defend, and protect the constitution - something that today's neo-cons know NOTHING about.

    October 20, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |


    October 20, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Dallas, TX – I haven't seen anything from the Obama campaign that is deeply personal and vile. Please enlighten me as to what attacks the Obama campaign has launched that qualify for these adjectives.

    ALL I've seen are ads that are either contrasting Obama's record with McCain (not personal but perhaps considered negative) and positive ads.

    October 20, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Eddie Bryant

    Where is Jack Cafferty?????????????????

    October 20, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. Alice

    Vote your hopes, not your fears!

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 20, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  22. Independent but Leaning

    Obama: Hope & Change

    Lets HOPE he doesn't CHANGE this nation into a Socialist state.

    Lets HOPE the international crisis doesn't CHANGE the strength of our nation for the worse.

    Let's HOPE he doesn't CHANGE the Constitution to fit his agenda.

    October 20, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. Scott NYC Independent

    So why hasn't CNN picked up on the Mary Kay Green v. John McCain, Sarah Palin and Rick Davis law suit filed in Western District of Missoruri – docket no. 08-0796-CV-W

    October 20, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. John

    I'm ashamed to say that the simple minded people in the state where I now reside (S. Dakota) seem to think McCain is Christ. If people would simply read news reports for 30 minutes a day, they would see the dysfunction of their GOP candidate. This is why there are fewer than 750,000 people in this state, hell I think there are more cows in S. Dakota with higher education than there are humans with degrees.

    October 20, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  25. al in memphis

    While we the voters are talking about negative ads, name calling, and debating whether Obama needs another 20 years before he has enough experience. Look at what the insiders who control Washington and our tax dollars are saying

    This is from Paulson

    There is enough money to go around, Paulson said.

    "Sufficient capital has been allocated so that all qualifying banks can participate," Paulson said. "Let me be clear that this program is not being implemented on a first-come, first-served basis."

    WE have got to get our government back to working for the people

    October 20, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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