Americans say Obama's ads are more honest, but expect both sides to lie, Esquire/Yahoo poll finds

In an election season that has produced reels of negative ads and dizzying spin, more Americans find that President Barack Obama's ads remain honest, giving his campaign a 12-point lead over that of his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, according to the Yahoo!/Esquire poll.

Many Americans appear to agree with Romney pollster Neil Newhouse's statement that "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," though perhaps not in the way the Romney campaign would like. Among the general population, 42 percent found that the president's ads stick to the truth, while only 30 percent said the same about Romney's campaign ads.

As for which side's ads contained outright lies, Americans view Romney and Obama as neck and neck. The margin of error for the survey, conducted shortly after the two national political conventions, is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

42 says Obama's ads are truthful; 30 percent say so about Romney's ads.
42 says Obama's ads are truthful; 30 percent say so about Romney's ads.

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But the sad truth is that two-thirds of Americans fully expect politicians to lie, as a rule of thumb. Most who hold that expectation are bothered by it.

In his interview with "60 Minutes" Sunday evening, Romney complained that the president and his supporters distort the facts to fit their narrative. But 60 percent of those surveyed found that Romney's refrain—that Obama has "failed" America in his first term—is too harsh an appraisal, with only 36 percent calling it a justified claim.

The poll was conducted among a random national sample of 1,002 adults from Sept. 7 to Sept. 10. The respondents were contacted by landline and cellular telephone. View the full results (pdf).