September 8th, 2008
06:45 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN poll: Convention bounces cancel each other out

The presidential race remains close with just 57 days left until the election.

The presidential race remains close with just 57 days left until the election.

(CNN) - Why is the presidential race dead even after both parties have had their conventions? In a nutshell, it's because the conventions have not changed the basic dynamic of the race.

Earlier: CNN poll shows race dead even

New numbers released by CNN Monday explain just how the presidential race remains so close with 57 days to go until voters weigh in at the polls: the conventions were so successful for both parties that that each essentially canceled the other out.

The candidates' favorable ratings are identical (60 percent) - and almost identical to what they were before the conventions began. The GOP convention made Republicans more enthusiastic (an increase of 17 points). But Democrats are more enthusiastic as well (up 14 points), so an 11 point "enthusiasm gap" favoring remains: 71 percent of Democrats say they are enthusiastic about the election, compared to 60 percent of Republicans.

The candidates' strengths and weaknesses on the issues also have not changed over the last month - Obama retains his edge on the economy and health care; McCain's advantage remains on Iraq and terrorism.

Full poll results [PDF]

In fact, the Iraq issue is instructive of just how effectively the conventions molded public opinion. Before the Democratic convention, McCain had a 9-point edge; after the Democratic convention it was a tie, and now McCain has a 14-point lead on Iraq.

But not every convention theme appears to have resonated - although the GOP convention portrayed McCain as a maverick reformer, more Americans see Obama as a "real reformer" (48-41 percent) and as someone who is "not a typical politician" (56-34 percent)

Who would Americans be prouder to have as president? That's a tie - 46 percent say Obama, 44 percent say McCain, despite the emphasis on McCain's war record at the GOP gathering in Minnesota. On the other hand, McCain may have managed to best Obama on values (49 percent say McCain is more likely to share their values compared to 45 percent for Obama; in mid-August Obama had a 4-point margin on that measure).

It appears McCain was able to gain some ground on "change," a theme that the Obama campaign has long called its own. But in the wake of McCain's pick of Washington outsider Sarah Palin, the Arizona senator has narrowed Obama's lead on that item from 18 points to 8.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland says both party's conventions clearly had their desired effect.

"Although McCain's acceptance speech did not get the same rave reviews as Obama's speech, the two conventions appear to have had the same overall effect - 48 percent said that the GOP convention made them more likely to vote for McCain, 51 percent said the same about the Democratic convention and Obama," he said.

But even as polls tighten in McCain's favor, a slim majority (52 percent) of Americans still think Obama will win in November.

"We'll see if that number changes later this fall once the public sees the latest round of polls," Holland said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Extra • John McCain
soundoff (304 Responses)
  1. Vic, Ohio

    Considering Obama has barely gotten a headline in the last week he's not doing so bad.

    Just say McSame.

    September 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. george

    cnn please comment that mccain had 34 million viewers for his convention, while nobama only had 30 million.
    obama's paris hilton effect is finally getting tired.
    despite the 80,000 people at his coronation all throwing out the flags they were waving once the tv cameras turned off, and despite the styrofoam greek columns, and despite the media fawning over him, he still had fewer viewers.

    also, wasn't mccain behind before the conventions? now he's ahead by 6 points according to the latest gallup poll.

    September 8, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. alvino

    $10 Billion a week on an unnecessary war, and John McCain is favored on this issue?

    September 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Rodger

    Once the American people learn more about Palin and the lies that McCain and Palin continue to tell are exposed, the poles will make their swing to a landslide for Obama/Biden.

    September 8, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Frank (Ohio)

    I feel the race dynamics havnt changed for months. The reason. Everyone has already made up their minds. When the News reports 10% undecided or So many votes dont know Obama or something, I dont believe it. I think nearly everyone has made up their mind and did so long ago.

    September 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |

    McCain/Palin now lead in every poll... first time this election...

    I'd say their bounce was a bit better than Obama's who lead by 7 going in... twist it any way you want CNN... it's all bad news for Obama..

    Guess Hillary looks pretty good now!

    Thank you DNC...

    September 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. Christian Vreeland, Traverse City Mi

    Nothing that really needs saying hear, maybe 10,000 people on a random call list poll.... and those numbers represent all of America two months before the election? not really feeling it.

    In any event....

    Obama 08

    September 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. S.A.M. from Virginia

    We'll get all the bounce we need after the debates. Maybe even sooner if Hillary rips this wanna be politicain a new one. 600,000 people in Alaska. There's twice as many of people in Brooklyn. Let's see if she can be a mayor of a real city before you knucklehead repubs try and send her to the White House.


    September 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. John McCain

    Did I mention I was a POW?

    September 8, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. RDS

    thank you for explaining this to all the McCain people who are happy about their convention bounce. National polls really don't matter look at the electoral map. Obama is already at like 243 while McCain is still at 189. You only need 270 to win and that's actually leaving off some of the battleground states that are heavily leaning Obama. So enjoy the bounce while you can 😉

    September 8, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. James

    There's been a trend with Obama and the race card. Obama tends to pull out the race card when he is in decline in the polls. I suggest everyone keeps a good eye out for the race card. Barrack"s got his fingers on the deck and selecting the card to pull as we speak.

    September 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Obama-Junkie, IL

    Polls! Schmools!

    I can't believe polling firms are polling people based on enthusiasm? What about the issues? Are the people polled enthusiastic about the state of the economy?!?! Are people polled enthusiastic about the War in Iraq or War for Aghanistan?

    The real story behind this polling relative to the candidates is by what margin do people believe Obama/Biden is better on the economy vs McCain/Palin better on national security.

    September 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Dave L

    Wake up, McCain has surged ahead in the polls. McCain – Palin rock! Obama is done. It is over.

    September 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. John in Ohio

    Actually, the Republican convention bounce hasn't finished wearing off. Look at the polls around 10/4, that will give you a good idea how the election will go.

    September 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. June

    As a military wife, I could never voter for McCain! McCain chooses Palin....Palin! Are you kidding me! If you think for one second I can put faith in an elderly man potentially putting my husband's life in the hands of a "hockey Mom".....NO WAY!

    September 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. tedious898

    John McCain / Sarah Palin = teaching our children the honorable way to serve the greater good of this fine nation.


    Now those are values all christian can respect and admire.

    September 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. Sen. Barack Obama

    Except for the significant lead McCain currently enjoys. 😦

    September 8, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. People make no sense


    Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colo., Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said, "The fact is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers. The McCain-Palin administration will make them smaller and smarter and more effective for homeowners who need help."

    "Too expensive to the taxpayers?"

    They're private entities.

    September 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. Rick

    Looks like the ticket of Ears & Hairplugs is a rapidly sinking ship.

    September 8, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  20. Oh, the're like a feeding tube, but love it!!

    But, it's about the issues, plain and simple...

    If you believe that trillions of dollars in debt is ok,
    oil will last forever,
    Iraq and the rest of our relationship with the Middle East is fine,
    and thousands of our troops dying,
    global warming is a hoax,
    and people don't have the intelligence to make their own marriage and conception decisions
    then vote for McCain.

    I want to go forward....Obama/Biden

    September 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  21. fella from Chicago

    Three debates and world affairs. That's what its come down too. Palin is the wild card. If she survives "Troopergate" and holds her own against Biden in their debate, McCain will be the next President. Palin will take the Republican reigns in 2012 due to McCain's age and run against in all probability Hillary Clinton. And that will bring your first female President to the White House..

    September 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. Griff

    It's a matter of whether you all live in: "Little Town's", which make a Country. Or whether you still need to stay a "Super-Power"? Your Country is Divided. A Democratic USSA..."Due to collapse", like the USSR...

    September 8, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. Janis Jaquith

    George W. Bush is the original maverick. He wrestled the Republican party away from real Republicans and lied us into a war against the wrong country.

    Sure, McCain's a maverick, and he's cut from the same cloth as George W. Bush. You want more of THAT?

    September 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  24. Peter

    Obama will still win

    September 8, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  25. Quinn - Houston, Texas

    Sarah Palin gives a speech loaded with more INSULTS than IDEAS and gets rave reviews.

    So many parts of the speech were bold-face lies, and yet the McCain campaign can use "sexism" to make the media afraid to point them out.

    John McCain is playing everyone!

    ...Especially women voters and the media!

    September 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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