October 1st, 2008
06:42 PM ET

What John McCain needs to fix

Editor's note: See John King's full report on shifting polls in key battleground states on AC360° tonight at 10p ET.

John King
CNN Chief National Correspondent

John McCain has a problem with Baby Boomers – and if he doesn't fix it, it's hard to map out a Republican Electoral College victory.

First a national look: two weeks ago, a Pew Research Center poll showed McCain leading Obama 48 percent to 43 percent among voters in the 50 to 64 age group.

But in a new survey released Wednesday, Obama leads among those voters 51 percent to 39 percent.

One poll does not warrant panic.

But some new CNN battleground state polling shows a similar trend – as voters who are closing in on retirement, and who therefore arguably have the most immediately at stake in the financial crisis, trend toward the Democratic candidate.

Take Missouri, for example. In a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll three weeks ago, McCain had a narrow statewide lead - 50 percent to 45 percent.

A new survey released Wednesday, though, shows a statistical dead head: 49 percnet for Obama and 48 percent for McCain.

Again, a slide among Baby Boomers is a major factor in McCain's decline. In the early September Missouri poll, McCain led 53 percent to 44 percent among voters 50 and older. In the new Missouri poll, the two candidates are tied at 48 percent in this age group.

It is much the same in battleground Florida: Two weeks ago, the state was a tie; now Obama has a narrow lead, 51 percent to 47 percent.

And among those 50 and older?

Two weeks ago: it was McCain 48 percent, Obama 47 percent.
In the new poll, taken Sept 28-30: It was Obama 51 percent and McCain 46 percent.

Filed under: Barack Obama • John King • John McCain • Raw Politics
soundoff (116 Responses)
  1. Jackie

    I so agree with you Olga. I used to think Obama was so smart, but the whole Jermaih Wright thing did me in. Not too mention all his other character flaws...oh and how can anyone bare to hear Michelle Obama speak anymore after she said "For the first time in my adult life I am proud of my country"....dude what was up with that? If that wasn't racist I don't know what was. The two of them are fake & lack intergrity. It amazes that everything I learned in my Business Marketing class was true. People are so gullible, which is why marketing works so well. I know Mccain has his flaws, but you can't compare them to that of Obama....

    October 1, 2008 at 8:35 pm |
  2. Leasha

    This has turned into a joke ;-( McCain has selected a VP who has no intellect in regards to the issues facing this country-really I can see Russia or they fly in my air space. McCain seleted her to try to capture Hilary's followers-Hilary is a women with experience and knowledge of this county and the issues. For McCain to pick someone just to win votes is not country first-it is I want to win! McCain has run his entire campain on slandering Obama???? Why-if you don't know what to say then let's try to make the other person look bad-cheap shoot-stupied shoot. We the voters are pretty bright we see what is happening and sorry to say McCain we are losing respect for u which is sad because we all want to believe you are a good person. You flew to Washington to get photo ops and act like you were helping when your own party said NO don't bring any under issues into this challenge. Well you won the vote failed because of your GOP??? Then your first reaction is to blaim Obama and the Dem's??? McCain retire why you are still respected by the people-we are the voice and always will be-listen and learn-can we teach an old dog new tricks-dosen't look like it 😉

    October 1, 2008 at 8:33 pm |
  3. George

    There is nothing John McCain can do. I call him "The Fall Guy" after the 1980s TV show because he became a stuntman. Suspending his campaign....a stunt. Picking Palin as his VP....a stunt. What next John????

    October 1, 2008 at 8:30 pm |
  4. mendossa ferary delly

    the reason barack obama gains so many points like that people they d /ont trust john mccain they trust obama because obama say the true to people and mccain lie to people this is agood reason thanks

    October 1, 2008 at 8:29 pm |
  5. Kim

    in response to Olga Miller, I don't think it's very fair to bring up Obama's past with criminals. He may have known criminals, he couldn't help where he grew up, but he himself does not have a criminal record. HIS first hand experience is growing up in proof of how bad America is. That's possibly why his main focus is fixing America instead of Iraq. What does McCain know about the real America? It's pretty easy growing up the way he did. In my opinion Obama had more experience than anybody.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:28 pm |
  6. Perry Scope

    I'm not so sure these latest poll numbers are indicative of a fundamental problem McCain has with older Americans. Instead, it's a mere reflection of the support McCain has lost across the board due to the economy becoming the front and center issue and also Palin's poor media performances.

    I personally believe his biggest problem is that his campaign appears to shadow Obama's. Specifically, McCain tries to co-opt Obama's message and campaign tactics at every turn.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:25 pm |
  7. Carol

    John McCain cannot 'fix' the fact that he is 72 years old and has chosen a completely incompetent person to take over as president in the event of his death.

    It is likely that the next president will make appointments to the Supreme Court. The voters simply cannot allow Sara Palin, (who cannot even name a case that has gone before the Supreme Court), to have that kind of power.

    This has gone way beyond ridiculous. The first thing McCain has to fix is his choice for VP.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  8. sam

    He needs to GO AGAINST THIS BAILOUT PLAN, which went from 700b to 850b, why dont they just say that all americans must mail wall street a blank check?
    I am sick of Polls, get it over with, Obama won!!

    October 1, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  9. Duncan, Connecticut

    I am a middle of the boomer generation person and was very likely to have voted for John McCain back in 2000 if he had not been smeared out of the race by the Bush team. The Bush tactics had me voting for Al Gore. Since then, I have gotten a little more familiar with the difference between the marketed McCain and the substance behind the candidate. Although the maverick label is what is claimed, I see a more applicable label. He appears to be just another plutocrat with same economic philosphies that enabled the greed and corruption leading to the current crisis as well as contributing to a less safe world. To this I say no thank you.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  10. Tim

    What does John McCain need to do? Yes, it's what everyone's thinking but won't say. The polite folks are saying his campaign is suffering because the economy is being put at his doorstep. Nope. The real reason is that while he likes to wrap himself in the flag and trot out all of the tired "I'm a patriot" garbage, putting Sarah Palin on the ticket was the most cynical pandering UNPATRIOTIC thing he could do. It was selfish, shortsighted, and displayed breathtakingly poor judgment. Now that everyone sees that she's an extremist and a dolt, McCain is dropping in the polls because people with conscience cannot stomach the thought of her in the Whitehouse. Plus, if this is the best he can come up with for a running mate, his judgment in making choices for cabinet positions and federal appointments cannot be trusted. Face it folks, he made an awful choice in running mate, and everyone sees it. The only hope for McCain is if Palin takes herself out.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm |
  11. Esfandiar

    Things can change if Congress passes the bailout plan, but I'm not sure whether it'll be good or bad for McCain. On one hand a resolution can be to his benefit, on the other hand it allows Obama to go into full attack mode again (something that he had to stop doing for the sake of bipartisanship in the bailout plan)

    October 1, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  12. Olga Miller

    Obama's relationship with some of the biggest criminals in Chicago have been virtually ignored. Add this to his 20 yr relationship with Rev. Wright (I'll never believe that video of rant against the U.S. was a surprise). I was an Obama supporter before all this came out. Why do you not question Obama's character? Why aren't you asking the hard questions. Are you so bereft of conscience that you will promote this person? Do you want a person with strong criminal ties in office? Our choice for president is a war hero with no criminal ties and a person with little experience who had strong ties with criminals in Chicago (one of the most corrupt cities in America) and racists and who somehow was elected to serve in the senate. He has no other experience, none. He has even refused to vote on issues, just voting he was present. Just what do you see in this person? Talk is cheap, his actions speak for him. I kind of wonder if someone is bribing you or if you are forced to do this to keep your job and either case, should we start looking for a money trail?Prove you have the courage to address these questions.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:10 pm |
  13. Ken

    It's impossible to fix something after you break it, and what McCain has broken is trust in his integrity and honesty. Very difficult to build that credit but all too easy to lose it. He may have meant well but the time for the Greatest Generation is over, and we need the younger generation to work on today's and tomorrow's problems.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:09 pm |
  14. Sandra

    I think age is really on the minds of a lot of the electorate. This has to work in Obama's favor. Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, one has to agree that the presidency is stressful, emotionally and physically.
    When I look at President Bush, I have to worry about him. The man looks not just exhausted but wizzened and worn-25 years older than he did in 2000. Is the strain too much for him? I could understand if it was.

    I wonder if McCain could handle it?


    October 1, 2008 at 8:08 pm |
  15. Mike

    I think the first presidential debate made significant gains for Obama. The reason, for the first time America got a chance to see Senator Obama vs. experience. America got a chance to see Senator Obama show bi-partisanship agreeing with Senator McCain on several issues. America got to see Senator Obama hold his own on foreign policy. America got a chance to see Senator Obama act Presidential by looking right at Senator McCain, where Senator McCain not once looked in the eyes of Senator Obama. Senator Obama proved to the American people on Friday he is ready to lead this country.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:03 pm |
  16. janey b

    I had hoped these 2 candidates would be at the less political end of the spectrum. I have been unpleasantly surprised to see too much sniping and generalizing. There's plenty of meaty issues. Raise the bar candidates and stick to legitimate issues. The American people are smart enough to take it.

    October 1, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  17. Marie

    I, for one, will be happy when the day comes that I do not have to listen to the results of one more poll or someones' commentary of what they think the average person wants. I think the next poll should be whether Americans are tired of poll results and tired of listening to a so called experts commenting on what McCain or Obama need to do next to get votes.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  18. Aaron - Seattle

    The underlying truth of the matter is he will maintain the status quo. His economic plan is no different than the Bush regime's. It is that economic mindset which people see as the culprit for the current situation we are in. If he was truely a "maverick" and truely meant change he would come up with another plan other than continued spending like a drunken sailor and tax cuts that do none of us any good. The solution to our economy is what Obama poses. We need to create new jobs in the country that will remain in the country for years to come through the investment in new industires such as alternative energy. By offering tax breaks to an already existing bureocratic industry all you are helping is the CEO's pocket book, as is evident on Wall St today. These tax breaks didn't create new jobs, they fattened up GOP bed buddies. My question is, where in the world has accountability gone? Instead of throwing more money at a futile situation (ie Iraq) why are we not making examples of these people and allow due process to take over?

    October 1, 2008 at 7:54 pm |
  19. Steven Davis

    What John McCain needs to fix?

    He needs to stop lying and running a dishonorable campaign.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
  20. Bret Peters

    It's simple really. Obama's economic plan has been posted on his web site for 10 months, and has changed very little, also it helps all Americans. Mcain on the other hand has bounced back and forth on all issues. Took Obama's campaign slogan as his own, when he rarely changed anything. The baby boomers know they have been lied too, are now realizing that the Health Care System is broken, and their nest egg has been eaten away with de-regulation. Obama's been the voice of reason and backs it up with offering real solutions, not sound bites.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  21. Dave

    Yeah – because: 1. McCain has consistently said he's not too knowledgeable about the economy – and it shows – 2. McCain is flip flopping on his messages from experience to maverick to change to his obession with Iraq 3. Palin could well be President in a year and she apparently knows next to global economics, and 4. McCain says he's going to Washington to solve the debt problem and after his 'help' the republicans in the house blow up the deal. People aren't stupid.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:47 pm |
  22. Steve

    Who would you expect Baby-boomers to trust? Particularly after the economy is in the tank and the Republican administration for the last 8 years has done nothing that has improved our financial situation and Bush policies have made things worse. I mean come on! It's simple. McCain voted with Bush 90%+ of the time. If you like this economy vote for McCain. If you think it sucks, vote Obama.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:46 pm |
  23. NickV

    Not surprising. Seniors have finally started to pay attention to what the candidates are saying. McCain is wealthy and could really care less about social security and health care for seniors. It's been there all along, they just had to start reading about it. Obama 08

    October 1, 2008 at 7:40 pm |
  24. Dave Murrow

    The more people listen to, and watch, John McCain the more his numbers will drop. He was one of the Keating 5 indicted for taking favors during the S&L crisis 25 years ago. He has not changed his position from the idea of surrounding himself with money (witness his gold-digger marriage to the daughter of a wealthy beer distributor, while he was already married!) and influence. He is for deregulation because he is told that story by his rich friends, not because he even understands the economy (which he admits he doesn't). He practically salivates when Iran or North Korea is mentioned, as if he cant wait to invade and teach them a lesson. And for pete's sake, he picked a running mate who thinks that Alaska's proximity to Russia counts as foreign policy experience.

    Cronyism, bad judgement, hot-headedness, thats what people see when they look at McCain. No wonder his poll numbers are dropping.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  25. Gloria

    America is finally waking up and realizing the McCain -Palin ticket represents more of the same that we have had for the past 8 years. His selection of a running mate to turn the tide of his campaign has failed, the Bush policies and strategies have failed. Enough is enough! It's time for some one new who truly has a new direction for this country. The last 8 years of Republicans have been a disaster and it's finally being realized by the majority of the country.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  26. karyb

    I am glad to see voters focus on issues.

    At times both McCain and Obama possess common beliefs.
    However, Obama's vision and approach are viewed as decisive and diplomatic. He is open to mulitple perspectives as he makes decisions.
    Yes, McCain is decisive. However, McCain's approach is "my way or the highway". The recent debate supports my previous statement.

    McCain is too erractic. McCain's recent behavior is a mirror image of how he would govern this country. We should not accept it.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:36 pm |
  27. Thed Weller

    He can't "fix" anything. He is who he is and it's not what America wants right now. It's not like he's "broken". He's doing what he thinks is best. And so's Obama. Like, if i don't like broccoli, what can been done to fix it? Put lipstick on it?

    October 1, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  28. Charlie, Pennsylvania

    Perhaps we are looking out for our grandchildren as well as our own retirement. Senator McCain seems to see only winners and losers. How much of our country is owned by the losers of World War II? Senator Obama has the wisdom and attitude that can restore our world image. Might-makes-right does not work in a world economy. We have to share the planet with the losers. Diplomacy can achieve the desired results and still have everyone walk away feeling like a winner.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  29. GI

    I don't think there is anything John Mcain can fix. I call John McCain "The Fall Guy" after the 1980's TV show because he become a stuntman. Going back to Washington for the bailout....a stunt. Having Palin as his VP....a stunt. What's the next stunt John????

    October 1, 2008 at 7:26 pm |
  30. brent sexton

    MR Cooper hey as a joke have the candidate's Obama and McCain send in their resume for a reveiw.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:21 pm |
  31. Charles

    What doesnt he need to fix!? Let's see ummm his relationship with Bush, his chosing of Failin Palin, (she says alot of nothing all at the same time, thats talent), his policies. You know what, lets talk about what he needs to keep. Hes a war hero and thats about it really. America really needs to wake up. Mc Cain Palin ticket, War in Iraq, his siding with Bush, that shows his judgement skills right there

    October 1, 2008 at 7:16 pm |
  32. Gene Penszynski from Vermont

    Top Ten save face moves for McCain (at this stage there are NO fixes) :

    #1 Get Rid of Palin
    #2 Get Rid of Palin
    #3 Get Rid of Palin
    #4 Get Rid of Palin
    #5 Get Rid of Palin
    #6 Get Rid of Palin
    #7 Get Rid of Palin
    #8 Get Rid of Palin
    #9 Get Rid of Palin
    #10 Appologize to the American people for choosing Palin in the first place

    October 1, 2008 at 7:15 pm |
  33. Ray

    Well, don't you think it's time that the Democrat take control? Republicans has been running the show for the past 8 years, time to take a back seat for the good of the country!

    October 1, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  34. john

    McCain needs to spell out the differences between him and his opponent in very basic and I would add stark terms; Obama is all about transferring wealth from people that work to people that don’t.

    Obama wants to give 90% of Americans a tax cut….how can you do that when 40% of Americans don’t pay taxes? Unless you’re not talking about giving them a tax cut and what you really mean is send them a check.

    If you work hard, earn a decent wage and pay taxes vote for McCain. If would rather stay home and wait for a check to show up vote for Obama.

    October 1, 2008 at 7:02 pm |
  35. Pat

    McCain can't fix anything now. He's just all over the place, trying anything...first he thought a woman on his ticket would help him win (she's a real winner, NOT)...looks like it's a sure backfire. Second, making nasty and misleading ads about Obama (that god for the truth squad!!!), Third he thinks he can stop what he's doing for the sake of all Americans and go to Congress to make a difference (didn't work), now he's holding Palin's hands in interviews (goodness) No one is perfect but this is just ridiculous. Overall, McCain is a worthless liar and will win at any costs....(having friends over for snacks and wine to watch the great debate, should be better than SNL!!!)

    October 1, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  36. nick in San Diego

    Um... John McCain losing is a GOOD thing. I hope he doesn't "fix" anything!

    nick c

    October 1, 2008 at 6:57 pm |
  37. Cynthia of Moreno Valley

    never ceases to irk me that, in this 21st century of the United States of America, some people of the so call "moral majority", "right wing voice of America", Republican, Democrat, white, or any other label you choose to call yourself, think they fool the citizens of your so called "minority" persuasion when you say the negative phrases regarding someone's ability to be fair is anything but racist of you, think again!! When I look at the vote for this blog, I am appalled at the insinuation that a respected newswoman as Ms. Ifill can be anything but partial. I am so disgusted at the whole process of this campaign with its innuendos of fair play in the face of citizens who have grown up in, been the brunt of, and some how thrived in the environment of the Jim Crow South. All of this seems like more hooded scare tactics to make any "minority" citizen keep their mouths shut and leave the running of this country to those "good ole boys" Well boys, think again. WE ARE HERE TO STAY AND WE WILL NOT BE QUIET ABOUT IT!!!

    October 1, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
  38. earle,provincetown

    Hello John, I would hate to say this,but the more you hear Obama speak, the more you question just where he's coming from? No offense to Senator Obama ,but he sounds more, and more ,like a lifetime (insider) politician, talking out of both sides of his mouth! I sense, "Buyer's Remorse",with a small portion of his base, but he still holds ,one great advantage to Senator McCain, and that being, the distain the public holds towards President Bush's ", ill gotten "War",and McCain's resolve to continue it! Thank you ...

    October 1, 2008 at 6:37 pm |
  39. Linda M

    John Mc Cain needs to throw in the towel , He made a mistake when he chose Sarah Palin, being a republican, following the the disaster of President Bush 700,000 billion dollars in the whole he has put this enconomy in. Now Mc Cain wants to talk change, coping off the Obama Campain, lets look at this Mc Cain made it through his father back and Palin had to go to 5 different colleges to get a Bacholar Degree John Mc Cain graduated at the bottom of his Class. Ok people do we really want uneducated people running this country.making the same mistakes or new ones. Obama Graduate from Harvard, and Biden lots of experience in forgien Policy that is what is needed. Thank You

    October 1, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  40. Susan

    As a baby boomer, I can relate and as a 59-year old, white, married, Christian woman, I may even be able to explain. First of all, it matters NOT to me - not one iota - which of our candidates are orange, blue, yellow, white, green, brown, red, or black by skin color - and, of course, it shouldn't. Our God in Heaven made us all equal before His eyes. In addition, I think we all realize that Sarah Palin is extremely unqualified to be Vice-President of the United States (indeed, a heart beat away from the Presidency) and many of us simply do not agree with her values, her beliefs, her ethics (or lack thereof), and her rudeness She is no Hillary Clinton and she is not even in the same league with many, more qualified Republican women.. She's set up so perfectly now that if she manages to say "Boo" at tomorrow's debate, many will see that as successful - what a sad shame! As a baby boomer, I'm looking for an intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate leader who can lead us through these difficult days and restore our image in the world.. I'm looking, too, for change, not more of the same. I'm also looking for the candidate who can avoid as much "attack" and negativity as possible while still defending himself. I believe that candidate is Barack Obama and I can't imagine anything that would change my mind.

    October 1, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  41. MaryAnn

    John McCain is not trustworthy. He is not considerate to Americans. He is so arrogant to the point that I think he really he does not care what America thinks about him.

    No way do I want McCain to represent our country. He is bad news.

    October 1, 2008 at 6:10 pm |
  42. Maritza


    I find it amazing Obama is gaining ground , inspite of what this candidate represents in reality , put the" Change" / Hope" without substance aside, it's like the sheep being lead to the slaughter house mentality , rather than putting all of the pieces together to form the whole picture, people are being mislead because he points that index finger in his speeches, with the performance of the next debate I think the polls will be more relevant , we all know dems vote pro Obama on CNN polls / conservatives vote McCain on FOX polls . We owe it to our democracy/freedom to research , analize and really concider what we have in a free America right now.


    October 1, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  43. Mary Jane Kelsh

    Why doesn't John McCain wear a flaf pin? Look at his photo ops.

    October 1, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  44. Sandra

    McCain needs to be more forceful and remind everyone that years back he warned of the Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac disaster that would come.....but was over ruled by Democrats, like Barney Frank. He needs Bill Clinton to do some more interviews. He needs to expose more of Obamas policies that will raise taxes (all taxes, except income) and cost more jobs. He needs to remind people who Obamas "friends" are and his ties to ACORN.

    October 1, 2008 at 5:57 pm |
  45. Cindy

    The polls aren't as bad as you all make them out to be. It's not like Obama has a huge lead or anything. John will continue to do well and will get better results once this bailout bill goes through and people don't have to worry anymore.

    If they vote for Obama they won't have any money to live on for retirement because he will tax us to death to pay for his socialized health care and every thing else. Where do you think that money is going to come from? He has a plan alright...higher taxes!


    October 1, 2008 at 5:54 pm |
  46. larry

    As much as the obama tries to link McCain to Bush; McCain needs to tie Obama to the outfit called ACORN and how it is a beneficiary of the bailout bill.

    October 1, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  47. Brenda

    You guys are so fickle, it has known to be said that
    Americans need a person in the Whitehouse who is for the people, and one of the people, relates to the average person, etc... etc...
    Well I think that Sara Palin is about as Joe six pack as you can get, and those were her words.
    I think in 4 years we will be sounding off about how lousy the President is as I think it is a pleasant fiction that anyone can make a marked difference at this point. Good luck and I give both candiates credit for wanting to try.
    Scratching my head in Canada

    October 1, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  48. Lamont austin

    His whole life needs to be fixed for it to be o.k. for him to be president in this day and age...


    October 1, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  49. Lilibeth

    John, please don't give McCain any tips. 🙂

    October 1, 2008 at 5:47 pm |
  50. Maureen / Newman, California

    John McCain is beyond repair.

    October 1, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
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