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. Steve

    In order for us to see progress in this great nation, Obama MUST be elected. This is a fact, we cannot go on with the "business as usual" mentality. ENOUGH!!! Obama said it best.

    Vote for Change
    Vote OBAMA '08

    September 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Ardnuas

    This is so sad....... the Republicans HAVE DESTROYED our great country..... and some voters want MORE of the SAME. McCain has voted with Bush 90%, WHY would he be any different? HE WON'T

    September 8, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. A comedian as President?

    Hillary broke through the 'male only' presidential candidates club, so McCain thinks just any creationist woman will do for v.p. to get him some votes from women voters. Sarah Palin does brighten up his lackluster slate, but she is more of a 'hockey mom' than national leader. When she cracks those one-liners, I just can't help but see her as nothing more than a glitzy stand-up comedian doing her female politician schtick. The thought of her being behind ole geezer McCain, just a heartbeat away from replacing the oldest person to ever run for the office, should scare any rational person. Palin does not believe in evolution, or that humans caused global warming, or in a woman's right to choose. I guess McCain-cient thought Sarah Palin was more qualified for v.p. than Tom Ridge. Sorry Mac, I am voting for Obama now that you've stuck her in our faces. She is ready to be the president, the president of her local school board.

    September 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. Florida Gal

    these polls are done by home telephone. So they don't count.

    September 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. Frodo

    The only poll that matters is on Election Day (and it's not the exit polls).

    The ballots are the real poll. It's clear that polls have been put together to sway the vote. Each organization reports totally different numbers, and strangely they usually support the bias of the particular media reporting the numbers. Or rather, the media shops around for numbers that they use to support their case.

    Unfortunately, people put value in the polls–especially the exit polls which sways the west coast when voting.

    How about we all, as Americans, Everyone, Democrats, republicans, libertarians, independents, greens, whigs...

    EVERYONE make a pact here and now to

    NEVER ANSWER A POLLSTER ABOUT AN ELECTION. We can return democracy to America!! Yes we can!

    September 8, 2008 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Obama keeps giving speeches that are only 'preaching to the choir'

    McCain is not only speaking to those that believe in every word he says (like Obama) but ALL AMERICANS

    McCain is not perfect but then Obama only gives speeches to those who think Obama is.

    Haven't those Obama supporters ever heard the phrase 'if its too good to be true IT IS' (no wonder internet fraud is so profitable for crooks)

    September 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  7. BJ

    While it may be true that the VP pick has energized the Republican base and boosted the poll numbers for now, I just don't see how the change argument will hold up. Change? What a surprise that a republican candidate picked a running mate who is under investigation for ethics violations and is as far to the right as George Bush. I can't believe that they're trying to say she's a change agent and a maverick because she held other members of her own party accountable for their behavior a few times. Isn't that what party members should be doing? And what about her record? Is she for or against earmarks I can't tell. She says she's against them but her bahavior says otherwise. Was she for the bridge to nowhere or against it. I can't tell either. Granted she has some limited "executive experience" but then again so did George Bush. And after listening to her acceptance speech it was clear that this "bulldog with lipstick" will continue to perpetuate the divisive atmosphere that permeates Washington and poisons the political process. Change? Give me a break!

    September 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  8. Jill American

    Obama supporters should be worried. If they weren't so blinded by the glow they would have been able to see this months ago.

    September 8, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. Survival of the Fittest

    CNN...if you do your homework and talk to Alaskans about Sarah Palin, then you will report that she is vengeful, sexist, racist, and vindictive. The problem is, none of you have th eguts to ask her (and McCain) any meaningful questions. Can you ask her while she filp-flopped on the Bridge to No Where (she was for it before she was against it – sounds familiar?) Ask McCain why he voted against the GI bill. In other words, do your work as journalists should.

    September 8, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  10. American

    CNN... The voters are still waiting on the story of the Palins belonging to the group who want Alaska seperated from the United States.

    If this had been linked to Michelle it would have been played 24/7.
    Gov. Palins husband really pushed for this ...Please report.

    September 8, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  11. Edward the GREAT

    Did any of the conventions change my mind about who I will vote for....NO
    But I tell you one thing the DNC represented America a lot more than the RNC...

    We live in a very diverse society now days and the RNC just doesnt get it.

    September 8, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. Bob

    It's really pretty simple.

    People (except for the Obama fanatics/Republican haters) are realizing the following:

    1) McCain is NOT the same thing as Bush, no matter how "clever" some of the Dem bloggers get (McSame, McBush, McShame, McWar)...etc. It's really pretty McSilly.

    2) McCain realizes that the Republican Party needs to change, and he couldn't have been more clear of that in his acceptance speech.

    3) McCain is very experienced and will change things up.

    4) Palin is smart, change-oriented and pretty down to earth. And NOT evil like some scared Dems would have you believe.

    5) Obama is a very gifted speaker, but the "bloom has come off the rose" with him. Except for the Kool-Aid drinkers, most people see him as about the same level of caliber as McCain, but with less experience.

    Overall, the McCain/Palin ticket is seen as JUST as viable as the Obama/Biden ticket. Some Obama fanatics can't except this, and of COURSE that means folks are racist (vs. realists). But keep clicking your heels and praying and maybe you won't wake up.

    September 8, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  13. Gramma Faye

    John has been around DC and worked both sides. He actully KNOWS what things and how to change things and I for one would really feel better with some more experience running this govt. than Obama offers.

    September 8, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. SS

    When it comes down to the numbers I believe it's between the GOP female voters VS the DEM female voters...

    September 8, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. Lisa

    it's an important point because she has little to go on to give her a track record on good judgement. The republicans are all into her good judgement as justification, as opposed to experience.

    September 8, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  16. Frodo

    imagine what the media would have to talk about if these polls were illegal...

    Based on their current content it would be 50 days from now of crickets chirping. They don't do analysis, they just talk about this poll, that poll, what we think about the poll, what others think about the poll. poll.poll.poll....

    If there weren't polls...they (and we) would have to talk about [OH, MY GOSH] THE ISSUES!!! and THE CANDIDATES!!.


    September 8, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. Survival of the Fittest

    CNN...and the media: why can't you report on who Sara Palin is: she cut funds for sex education including abstinence-only programs and see where her daughetr is? She cut funds for children with special needs and yet, shamelessly puts her baby out there appealing to our sympathy and votes? An investigative report would be good, then you will see different results in your polls.

    September 8, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. steve dumford, Scotts valley ca.

    Notice on most of these stories on the ticker that the Obamabots seem to be in full panic mode. When McCain goes up in the polls the bots start getting this warning..."cannot compute" "cannot compute" "cannot Compute "Can..................." CNN doesn't want to report the Gallup Poll that has McCain up by 6 points and up by 9 amongst "likely voters."
    Obamabots have resorted to what they did to Hillary in the primary. You could almost count on every comment starting with calling her a liar. Now they all want her to fight Palin for Obama. Forget it. She ain't gonna do it. He'll have to fight for himself.
    They're all in a frenzy over the bridge thing. Of course Obama hasn't flip flopped on anything but....let me see.......Offshore drilling....NAFTA.....whether the troop surge worked.......rescinding tax cuts for the wealthy.......the Patriot Act........and, Oh, I forgot....he once thought about joining the military.
    For one thing the Dems messed up when they dumped on Hillary and "chose" Obabibi. Then Obama messed up when he didn't choose Hillary for VP. If he had, McCain wouldn't have been able to choose Palin without looking like a copycat, he would have had to choose some other stodgy politician. So much for Obamas 'judgement." Looks like he judged wrong. Oh well, he'll have alot of time to be :present' in the Senate.

    September 8, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  19. tedious898

    Ok....I get it now. McCain has found a new voting bloc. The "Low Level Intelligence" vote.

    Think about it ! Putting Pahlin on the ticket meant that all she had to do was read a speech / wave / and smile. No interviews required because if she opens her mouth "unfiltered" she would struggle to answer questions intelligently.

    How about thinking Fannie and Freddie are owned by the Government? So being a governor of Alaska qualifies her with executive experience. HA HA. My ten year old knows more than this Hockey Mom and he's not even running for VP

    September 8, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. John

    CNN's poll of polls is misleading. Two of the three polls they consider were before the RNC ended. McCain is up five to ten points over Obama according to polls taken after the RNC. Why won't CNN report this?

    September 8, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Jerry

    Where is they getting these polls I wondering do they go to the African American neighborhood and ask them to do a poll I guess no because nobody ever call me or come to my neighborhood to do a poll

    September 8, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |

    P A L I N ' S---E X E C U T I V E--–E X P E R I E N C E --–

    C O N T R A S T E D--–T O---O B A M A ' S--C O M M U N I T Y--

    O R G A N I Z I N G--–I S--–C O S T I N G-–H I M--–I N--–

    T H E---P O L L S

    September 8, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Dejon

    The American people need to slow down because this Palin had lied about the Bridge to no where and this Palin is still under investagation and I don'nt want my family in the hands of this women concerning Mccain age 72. Please people don'nt let the Republicans fool you again!! How can we listen or trust the Republicans to change anything!! is because of the Republicans that our ECONOMY is in a mess. This is Bush=Mccain and Cheney=Palin Please American people not this time are jobs and heathcare and education is a stake in this election Obama/Biden is our only change and hope think, think don'nt be fool again by Mccain/Palin just like we was fool voting Bush twice don'nt reward the Republicans for failure please, please don'nt do it!!!! Mccain/Palin is going to transform the same platform of Bush and Cheney!!

    September 8, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  24. Bruce

    How gullible are we? The RNC reveled in its sarcasm, proudly expounded on the virtue of tax cuts and deregulation, ignoring the disastrous consequences of tax cuts for the wealthy, deregulation and high defecits since 1981. Their self-serving policies have been tried and exposed as the fraud that they are. They have zero credibility after lying about everything under the sun and looting our treasury through subsidies and giveaways, various financial scandals and of course, the great reduction on taxing capital. But they call themselves mavericks and reformers and suddenly they are in the mix. Will we never learn?

    September 8, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. jimmy


    September 8, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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