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

CNN poll: Convention bounces cancel each other out

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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. Schneider (I) - CA

    Average Americans don't believe that the Earth was created 7000 years ago; We don't ignore overwhelming scientific proof about global warming; We don't support Jews For Jesus; We don't support states seceding from the country; We don't support eminent domain; We don't support banning books; We don't support using political power for personal gain (Troopergate); We do support abortion in the case of rape or incest; We do support sexual education that deals with pre-marital sex, STDs and contraceptives
    Palin should not be allowed anywhere near the White House!

    She is an extreme religious fundalmentalist.

    She lied about being a major corruption foe (she accepted campaign contributions in the same fundraising scheme at the center of a public corruption scandal that led to the indictment of Sen. Ted Stevens). She lied about being against earmarking (she requested $27 Million for tiny Wasilla – even McCain criticized her). She lied about her initial support for the Bridge to Nowhere (only reversing her opinion when it became politicially beneficial to do so). She does not support alternate energy sources. She is anti-environmental. She even lied about winning Miss Congeniality!

    Extreme is an understatement.

    So you really want a "Warrior For God" one heartbeat away from our nuclear arsenal? I thought unstable, belligerent religious extremists were our enemies…not our representatives.

    September 8, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. Bob

    Florida Gal:

    For the nth time, these polls DO INDEED INCLUDE CELL PHONES! Do you not read? They DO count. But keep telling yourself they don't.

    September 8, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. tedious898

    Sarah Pahlin = Gaffe

    Fannie / Freddie "too expensive for the tax payers"

    1. Fannie and Freddie not owned by the Feds.
    2. The next administration will need to actually know something about the mortgage crisis.

    This woman knows ZIP! As soon as she opens her mouth without a written speech, you'll see what I'm talking about. The McCain campaign will not be able to tutor her fast enough to slip it past the american voters. However, However, ........there are the "Low Intelligence Voters" who'll see one of their own and vote for Pahlin anyway.

    September 8, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. jimmy

    ALL HILLARY CAN DO IS FOLLOW THE SAME FORMULA THAT OBAMA HAS USED ALL ALONG HIS CAMPAIGN : KEEP PUSHING MCCAIN INTO THE SAME CAMP AS PREZ BUSH. AND THAT AINT GONNA WORK BECAUSE OF SARAH PALIN , THEY ARE BOTH
    MAVERICKS AND THEY ARE AIMING FOR REFORM-WHICH IS THE REAL CHANGE NEEDED IN WASHINGTON.

    September 8, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  5. Jeff, Az

    Obama is still way ahead in the Electoral college polls, and his lead will surely grow once the debates begin. Obama will look presidential and McCain will not. In the VP debates, Palin will actually have to answer questions......if she is still on the ticket.

    September 8, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. N-E-Way

    I would like your help with something:.....A poster here signed "James" says that we should look out for the "race card" that Obama pulls out every now and then. I work and run a household so I can't watch the News 24/7 so I've missed him pulling out this card. Everything I have heard about his race has come from the media, not him. But could you maybe tell me where I could pick one up? A race card? Being a life long non-card carrying African American, I think that it just may have come in handy in the past, if I had only had one. So if you know of a website or place where I could sign up....I would apprieciate it very much. Just think, working my way through college, serving in the military etc....working hard for everything I have and helping so many along the way...could have been avoided if I had just gotten my card! Dang! Who knew, and why wasn't I told?!?!

    September 8, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. Michael, North Carolina

    I feel that when comparing the amount of money that Sen. Obama has raised vs Sen. McCain it should be a no brainer. Sen. Obama has out performed Sen. McCain in every way. Just as Rollin Martin said the polls do not matter at this point. What counts is what is happening on the ground in the key battle ground states. In my opinion it is going to come down to Colorado, and Virginia. If Sen. Obama can get one of these two states, he will be the next president of the United States.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    September 8, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. Funny

    No-bama, change? What change? Does he or Biden have an original idea or any specific other than changing the USA into a Socialist or Marxist nation? Oh, that's right....Biden was unceremoniously booted from the 1988 presidential campaign in large part due to his law school plagiarism. Guess maybe he'll have to "hit the books" for some good ideas.

    September 8, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  9. If you liked Bush- you will love McCain

    Les you might want to check you facts

    Obama hasn't asked for any earmarks this year. Last year, he asked for $311 million worth, about $25 for every Illinois resident. Alaska asked this year for earmarks totaling $198 million, about $295 for every Alaska citizen.

    Palin has cut back on pork project requests, but under her administration, Alaska is still and by far the largest per-capita consumer of federal pet-project spending.

    September 8, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  10. Roderick Bourgeois

    I personally feel that john mccain will do absolutely anything to win this election, well should i say his supporting cast will, because it's more than obvious that mccain is not in control of anything regarding his party, that was plainly obvious with his vice presidential pick. I really wonder how john mccain truely feels about women being in power. Sarah Palin is being used by the republican party, and is being used by john mccain, is this what politics has truely come too, lieing to the american people, as a matter of fact this isn't even about Barack Obama and John McCain, it's about Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, republican party can you stoop any lower.

    September 8, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Patty

    All I see here on the blogs is the same people trashing Palin that were trashing Hillary. And you call yourselves Americans – wow.

    September 8, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  12. Fred

    Do you want to be part of the past problems....or the future solutions?

    Which side of history do you want to be on?

    September 8, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. Mick

    This is not rocket science...Obama is a spender and he's ready to spend your hard earned bucks! When running against Hillary he spent nearly 3 times as much as she and he barely had an edge...now, he's spending more, not giving back to the communities, and he will continue to do so in the White House should he be so lucky to get that far. Additionally, his choice of Biden is a CLEAR REMINDER that OBAMA is a "typical politician".

    Use the abortion issue...as if women really "want" to have abortions! If you mongrels were more supportive of women we wouldn't have to choose!

    McCain/Palin 08'

    September 8, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Bob

    What is the Obama campaign's current "message of hope"????? All they're doing is attacking. They are on the defensive. If there truly IS substance behind the Obama style, NOW is the time to see it. Or would you rather just continue to take the low road and attack Palin??

    Not EVERYBODY in America is soundbyte-oriented and has the attention span of a gnat; many of us actually think about things and so we DO notice when the content isn't there. That's why Obama is losing his edge. More and more people realize the "emperor's clothes are missing".

    September 8, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. Independent in DC

    NEWSFLASH: National polls don't win elections. Ask Al Gore. By all accounts, Obama is ahead in electoral votes. The keys to his victory will be Michigan, Virginia and either Colorado or New Mexico. He doesn't even need Ohio and Florida.

    September 8, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  16. gmania

    I beleive we are going to see just how smart law makers are and start to appreciate them for their law degrees which have prepared them for the job they have to tackle.

    Don't get me wrong because I believe a regular mom or dad can make a decent congressperson, senator or President. But with that said, lawyers have to learn about various subjects and thus have a greater understanding of how local national and global business and governmental systems work. This is crammed into 2 to 3 years of learning and then they enter the work world and learn more through experiences they choose to be involved.

    Sara's mistake when given the microphone on Freddie and Fannie Mae is just one complex area we are asking this lady to learn.

    U.S. taxes are far more complex than Alaskan taxes alone because you have more involved than just the immediate borders. Other areas we are asking Sarah to learn and be somewhat knowledgeable are economics, jobs and jobs growth, energy issues other than oil and gas, educational issues, social security issues, health issues – the big monster, equal pay for equal work for women, foreign policy issues – this involves the entire world not just being close to Russia, other national issues, creating jobs, law and government policies etc. We want her to cram all this knowledge in 2 months let alone 4 years or possibly 8. She may be able to do it, but we all doubt it. McCain can't even handle this and he's been in the senate for 26 years.

    Bottom line is republican Americans would rather put a dumbed down white person (GW Bush for example) into the White House rather than a black man in 2008. Times have changed, but not that much. We still prefer dumbies.

    September 8, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. tammy

    You know...we, the dems., could have had a dream ticket. I believe ego got in the way. In addition, there seemed to be a sense of unfair play for how both the dnc and media handled the dem. party electorials. In addition, a lot of Obamabots spoke really vial things to Clinton supporters. But wait...now you need us all. Really? I thought that he could do it all on his own. He didn't need the Clintons. They symbolize a part of Washington that needs to be changed. But wait...the message has now changed. You pick a vp that has been in congress for more yrs than McCain. You get the support of the Ted. Kennedy and family. And now...you want hill and bill to help you get elected. This is funny. Where is the message of change that I have heard soooooooooo much about? That's right...it's all about changing your position whenever the weather changes. A change we can believe in. LOL

    September 8, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  18. Don of Wisconsin

    I just loved this one, Clinton Supporter:

    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 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  19. Bob

    To the blogger who said this of Palin: "No interviews required because if she opens her mouth "unfiltered" she would struggle to answer questions intelligently."

    Wow. Have you heard Obama "unfiltered" and without hs prepared speech in front of him?? Quite a bit of difference compared to when he's practiced in front of a mirror...that should tell you something.

    September 8, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  20. rich o

    I suspect that the reason that McCain's RNC speech had higher ratings then Obama's DNC speech is that liberals are more likely to listen to both sides but conservatives are more likely only to listen to their side. Example: I watch CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News but the conservative who sits next to me only watches Fox.

    I thought John McCain did a decent job – the press set the bar pretty low. I thought that Barack Obama did a great job – the press set the bar pretty high.

    I support Obama but expect McCain to win. This country, after all, elected George W. Bush twice; so I don't expect much from my fellow citizens. Plus, here in PA, I'm hearing a lot of racist stuff, as in, "I have never voted for a republican in my life but I ain't voting for a black guy." If Obama was white this wouldn't even be a contest.

    September 8, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. Rose

    HOW DID THE Religious Right take over this country??????

    September 8, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  22. Michael, North Carolina

    I admire Sen. Obama for what he is trying to do. To get as far as he has gotten is quiet remarkable. But I must say that I think Sen. Obama will be kicking himself if the election comes down to the state of Virginia, and Sen. McCain somehow found a way to win that state. I am sure Sen. Obama will be saying to himself that he should have picked Gov. Tim Kaine, or Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia to be his running mate. I would be a 100% sure that would have put Sen. Obama over the top to win the election. I am just hoping the American people will not fall into the REPUBLICAN TRAP, and vote for someone WHO HAS VOTED WITH PRESIDENT BUSH 90% of the time on critical issues that effect the lives of 300 million Americans.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08

    September 8, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  23. Woman from Texas

    She is a fraud. She thinks Iraq is a "task from God", that the Alaska pipeline won't happen until the people of Alaska's hearts are "right with God". She LIED about the Bridge to Nowhere (she still kept the money) and collected and hired a lobbyist for Wasilla. She taxed people's groceries to pay for that hockey arena that left Wasilla in major debt. She is an extremist religiously and socially.

    I am a strong woman and I wasn't for Hillary, but this woman pales in comparison to Hillary. Hillary looks like the super candidate next to this whackjob.

    September 8, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. R.E.S.P.E.C.T.!!!

    Obama is using Hillary and Bill to win the election that Hillary should be in!

    He's making promises to Hillary about her campaign debt but only if she and Bill do what he says to help get him out of the sinking poll ratings! He's going to do it right up to November 4th and he didn't even give Hillary serious consideration to be on the ticket!

    No r.e.s.p.e.c.t. ! NObama!

    September 8, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  25. Kate

    Wow....I didn't want to believe that the American people were really THIS stupid. But if McCain is tied with Obama...if after 8 years of this nonsense half of the country wants to elect for 4 more...well, then I guess I was wrong. Pathetic.

    September 8, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
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