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. Observer

    Its because there's really no excitement.... like Obama picking Hillary!
    Yeah.... we could GO FOR THAT! He'd have the entire campaign wrapped up already!

    September 8, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  2. Kaching

    Gov. Palin is not the issue. The issues are: Children, Abortion, Civic Duty, Civility in the public square, the Problem of Conservatism, Consumer Issues, Corporations, Crime, Corporate Crime, the Distribution of Income, Drug Use, Drug Laws, the Economy, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, the Environment, Family Values, Foreign Policy, Homelessness, Legal Immigration, Illegal Immigration, Decaying Infrastructure, Justice, Law, Marketing and Advertising, Medical Care, Methods of Government, Native Americans, the Population Problem, Poverty, Private Life, Public Life, the Religion Problem, Science and Technology, Secularism, Separation of Church and State, Taxation, Veterans of Combat, Voodoo Economics, Voters, Wages, War, the War on Terror, and Women's Issues.

    The Republicans want the issue to be personality. If they discuss the issues I mentioned above, they will lose. If they are able to make the campaign be about personality, they will win.

    September 8, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Cecil

    Hard Working Dads For


    September 8, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  4. Ted

    When undecideds watch a speech about hope from a person with little history to back it up and a speech about "God, Family and Country" from a person who lived it... a clear choice unfolds.

    Then you combine that with a young maverick woman like Palin and it's a winning ticket all around.

    It's going to be an interesting 50 days as the Democrats find a way to win back the "change" promise.

    September 8, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  5. J from DC

    We went to Iraq to disarm their government from WMD's
    If the serge did not find the WMD's,
    How is it a success???
    Oil and War is all I hear form he republicans.
    Housing Market Breakdown.
    And the same administration that ignored this problem is taking it over. I guess more government intervention is the right answer after all.
    Can someone say hypocrites

    September 8, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  6. Dave g, Minneapolis

    I agree with Anonymous! do your own research!!!!

    Everybody has so much fun just bashing "the other" rather than really looking into the issues and thinking about the big picture.

    Please understand that the Democrats and Republicans are just trying to preserve their power. They do this by supporting special interests. The special interests fund both will win and their own needs will be met. No one loses except us.

    The bailouts are one example. We pay taxes on our property. Now our mortgages will be owned by the government, so we are paying interest TO THE GOVERNMENT (a tax?hmm...) then you will also have your taxes raised to bail out the mortgages that you as a taxpayer are paying interest on!!

    Stop the madness. Vote for Liberty. Vote Libertarian.

    September 8, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  7. Careful now..

    Obama: "Waaaah someone stole my campaign motto. People really believed it."

    "Waaaah the media doesn't love me anymore."

    "Waaaah I want the Clinton's help.... I wanna be President!!!"

    PEOPLE. "Change" is not owned by Obama. Many politicians have used it over many years (Bill Clinton, anyone?). What proof does Obama have about change? Speeches and flip-flops on his "proposed" policies.

    What proof does Palin? She has a proven record of shaking things up as governor...and it really works. As VP, Obama and his supports are shaking as they should be.

    September 8, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  8. jm for sc

    Obama did not make a mistake by not selecting Hillary as his VP. Anyone who are voting for McCain because of that reason were going to vote against Obama anyway. The facts are, Hillayr and Obama voted exactly the same except for a very few things. Their differences are like day and night from that of McCain/Palin. Hillary is still supporting Obama because she knows that she was not selected because she was still running for president until about two weeks ago when she released her delegates.

    The problem is, Obama & Hillary will be okay if McCain/Palin wins; what about you? Unless you are in the top 5% income bracket.

    The American people will choose the best candidate this election which is Obama by far.

    September 8, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  9. Cecil

    SuperDads For


    September 8, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  10. Chut Pata

    Did anyone notice that Obama hat speaks for him while McBush hat does not speak for McBush, just against Obama.

    The message is, McBush has nothing positive to offer, just negativity against Obama.

    September 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  11. Jeff in Illinois

    Random polls are going to yield something close to 50/50 every time these days. What really matters is voter turnout.

    While uninspired Republicans cower in fear of terrorism, gays and half-Black presidents, Democrats are going to flock to the voting booths in droves, full of logic, inspiration, and TRUE Patriotism.

    Obama Landslide.

    September 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  12. Sandra Cleveland, Ohio

    Change is put into action because of entrainment...the rtythum and pulse of the nation will determine the next president. My advice.... Believe that the interestsof the nation will be best served by the canadates who are open to the entrainment of change in favor of all living and senient beings.Like the rock tossed into the creek...waves of ripples will be unleashed and affect and effect every living being on the planet...based on the mirror image that each and every voter carries in his soul...what will the world look like "this time next year?

    September 8, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  13. nick in San Diego

    yah... it seems like CNN is making it seem a lot closer than it actually is... i've also heard a lot of speculation about the polling data not factoring newly registered voters, which might give democrats a substantial advantage in swing states.

    gosh, i hope Obama and Biden win!

    September 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. Cecil

    SuperDads OBAMA / BIDEN


    September 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  15. Charles in Cincinnati

    Why is the presidential race dead even after both parties have had their conventions?



    If it weren't a tight race, the media, including CNN, loses gobs of advertising revenue and viewers, both of which bring in a majority of their revenue. By helping to keep the race close, the major media outlets ensure that the once-every-four-years golden goose lives to lay another egg.

    Why in the world else would McCain, who was down by 16 points in many polls back in June, now be tied with Obama when nothing about either platform fundamentally changed between early June and late August when the polls were suddenly about even?

    If the media reported fairly and evenly - kinda what it's supposed to do - in this economy and with an unpopular war, history tells us that things would be looking very grim for the incumbent party. The fact that they're not suggests the media's vested interest in a close race is having some effect.

    September 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. Les-Wa

    McCain/Palin is good for the country. The bridge to nowhere with an earmark of $230 million doubled than the actual budget. for building the bridge, the state of Alaska can build it cheaper. The money was not returned to the federal government, why should they return it? Alaskans are paying a lot of taxes, its their tax money to begin with. The money is being use right now to build roads all over Alaska which is badly needed and benefits more people than few people in Hope where the over a quarter billion dollars bridge. If there's a bridge that should be built, it should be done at the Cook Inlet right in Nkishki for the city of Kenai. It would shorten travel from Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage to an hour instead of 3 and 1/2 hours, the area is heavily populated and connect to other cities like Soldotna, Homer, Ninilchik.

    If there's one LIAR in this general election; it is OBAMA.

    here are some of his lies:

    1. He lied about NAFTA (wink to Canada he didn't mean just political maneuvering)

    2. He lied about FISA ( he did not filibuster it as he promised, he VOTED FOR it.)

    3. He lied to the people of Chicago in 2004, he told them he will not run for President because he need more experience. 143 days in the US senate, he start running for President.

    BTW, the earmark of NObama is $932 millions. That is one million a day he serve in the US Senate.

    September 8, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  17. Survival of the Fittest

    National Polls do not give you the true picture. State polls do. And by that measure, Obama still leads in electoral college votes. That is what really counts. He will soon hit the 270 mark when Palin and McCain are revealed for who they are: liers, like Bush-Cheney!

    September 8, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. LB

    Palin says she has executive experience, but she doesn't even know how Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae work. Right that's who I need in the White House to run the economy. NOT NOT Knothead Palin & McCain.

    September 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. Mccain A sheep In Bush clothing

    you have got your perfect pick

    September 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. BKOI

    To All Women who value their right to choose , who want equal pay, who want the right to decide for themselves what happens to their bodies, BEWARE PAlIN ! Her extreme views will put womans rights back 100 years !! This person does not represent you, she is not YOUR FRIEND ! To all men who value their right to speak out on womens issues , BEWARE PALIN ! She thinks she has the right to bulldoze anyone who opposes her !! This person is a right wing extremist, and we are just finding out now that she is a religious extremist as well !! PALIN represents everything that has held women back from taking their rightful place in the American landscape. Her extremist views , and agressive , insulting , overbearing manner, are NOT representative of the Womans movement in America today !

    September 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. Aaron


    Why don't you report on the lies and misleading information? So many people are confused on the facts, primarily because McCain/Palin are preaching outright lies.

    It would help the viewers/voters if you published a report that compared our candidates positions and solutions. Ask the candidates to sign off on your report so there is no debate....we might even be able to hold them accountable after the election.



    September 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. Donna in ID

    It seems that a lot of Obama ites aren't as brainwashed as he would like. They are starting to do some research and really asking questions. They are finding that McCain is NOT the OLD TIME Republican Party Clone. He is his own man and own thinker. He has already shown he can make changes in both the party and work with all sides of the isle in Congress and Senate.
    I think that he and gov. Palin would be able to handle crazy woman Pelosi and her sidekick Reid. It would be nice to see them replaced and get someone who does NOT want to play politics with the American peoples expense. But I don't see that happening.

    Be an independent thinker and ask questions and keep digging for answers. OBAMA IS SCARY.

    September 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. Lucy in Chicago, IL

    I would like Sarah the Moosehead to actually have some foreign policy experience. I don't care what McCain's wife said about Russia being close to Alaska. Obama is right McCain doesn't get it. He thought he could pick a woman and win, but it wasn't about a women- it was about Hillary. Sarah Palin is NOT Hillary Clinton.

    If the economy is still so horrible on election day the Republican's should run for the hills. Sarah Palin is Dick Cheney with a dress on.

    September 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. Big D

    I am appalled at anyone who bounced over to support McCain and Palin after the RNC convention. That convention was all negative – filled with lies and smears and distortions. Palin's speech was the worst. She mocked and insulted, lied and distorted, wthout any suggestions or solutions or proposals or plans. So why would anyone bounce over to support them? The DNC convention was filled with hope and inspiration, plans and proposals.

    September 8, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. Clinton Supporter

    Of course Palin's claim to stop the bridge to nowhere is a lie. Most of what little she says is a lie, or a gross exaggeration at the very least.

    Trouble is, nobody's listening to Obama any more. He is suddenly the Establishment candidate. We've got "mavericks" now.

    Add to that his constantly shifting positions, and you've got John McCain and the Deer Hunter in the White House.

    Oh, well. Today the Gallup Poll, which includes cell phone, came up with McCain 50% – Obama 46%! CNN keeps calling that and others "tied." No, that is not a tie, folks. That is the squashing of Obama's so called "bounce." The Ben Hur event was just erased in a day.

    Obama: "Hillary standing next to me as VP – or – Hillary sitting next to me next term in the Senate."

    That was the choice, and BO made it – trouble is he made the wrong one...

    Now I and so many others will probably have to put up with McCain for 4 years because of Barry's enormous ego.

    Clinton is out there, but she is not a candidate. It's up to the duly SELECTED candidates to make their case successfully. Nobody will be voting for Clinton this fall, so her power to "change" the outcome is minimized.

    With luck we'll have Hillary to look forward to, NOT a rerun of BO. If he loses, watch the Democrats gobble him up. They have a bad habit of eating their young...

    September 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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