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. Ron L

    Once again this is NOT a surprise!! The addition of Gov. Palin to the Republican ticket has given the base a new burst of enthusiasm.
    WHY?? Because I believe she is too far CONSERVATIVE for a large portion of the electorate AND we are going to find out much of what she brags about accomplishing are EXAGGERATIONS!! This will damper the enthusiasm and people will remember she is relatively untested and not all they are trying to make her to be.

    September 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Hey, I got polled just yesterday by Gallup, on a cell phone no less. They claim to dial the numbers totally at random.

    September 8, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. Michele

    We're gonna wipe the floor with Palin. She's is a pathological liar and she believes that the Iraq War is part of God's plan. God being George Bush apparently. Just keep telling the truth about this chick CNN.

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

    Wow! The convention strengthened each party's feelings about their own candidate???? OH MY GOD!! How did we ever get by before the amazing detailed journalism that CNN provides in stories like this???

    Face the facts...None of the candidates have said anything about anything at this point. Although, I do find the sheer number of LIberals who have time in the middle of their work (I guess not) days to post comments over and over!!

    September 8, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. HIllarySupporter

    Once the truth of Palin claims comes out the GOP polls will go down, obama will beat Mccain 55 to 45% and win the presidency with a landslide victory.

    September 8, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. Griff

    USSA? The "United Spit-States of America..

    September 8, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Brian Rich

    If the convention bounces have canceled each other out as of today, that's good news. Because the GOP convention was just a few days ago, while the Dem convention was a week and a half ago. If they are doing as well as the GOP with a week's difference since their conventions ended, that means in another week the Dems should be back to leading the GOP by 5-6 points on average. GOP destruction coming in November...wait for it.

    September 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. Ken in Dallas

    McCain's energy policy is all about fossil fuels, food for fuel, and nukes. He doesn't seem to have a clue why the US banned breeder reactors and transmutation processes, and endorses $2 billion a year for unproven "clean coal" and nothing for well-established wind and solar energy sources.

    McCain's "Lexington Project" page puffs up biofuels with repetitious paragraphs that say the same thing.

    On wind, hydroelectric, and solar power: "John McCain believes in an even-handed system of tax credits...," whatever (if anything) that means.

    Iraq wants us out of their country, yet McCain plans on staying there forever, or until they force us out, whichever is bloodier. He touts military escalation as if it were the only possible means of success in Iraq, when it in fact was not the only means of success; paying off the Sunnis that used to work for al Qaeda had more to do with success than the escalation itself.

    Are Republicans all expecting to win the lottery? Just because you want to believe in this fraud doesn't make him real.

    September 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  9. Schneider (I) - CA

    The only reason McCain is up right now is because they stole all the press immediately after the DNC. With all the GOP faithful jamming the media with praise for the zealot, it has been all GOP for over a week. Seriously, have you even seen a picture of Biden since the convention? The press, including CNN, obviously wants to have a McCain/Palin presidency.

    September 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  10. Ex-PUMA for Obama

    That's because he's a warmonger and has the Americans fooled that since he was in the mimitary he has all the experience.

    That doesn't erase the fact that he voted a lot with Bush and is still forcing Bush's policies on us.

    September 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  11. atypical white person

    There is nothing more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." MLKk

    September 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |

    A--M--E--R--I--C--A G--O--E--S D--O--W--N
    T--H--E D--R--A--I--N

    September 8, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. Sarah Bell

    Sarah Palin is DICK CHENEY WITH LIPSTICK!! You got to give it to Karl Rove though, he sure knows how to pick a VP for his party. The FEARFUL RIGHT ate it up. America dooped again. The unqualified but hot weather girl. One time, two times, three times fools. Who said they couldn’t do it again? Who said America was smarter this time around? Who said Bush couldn’t win a 3rd term if he ran again?? The FEAR FACTOR always dominates. It’s just amazing that a party who works for 3% of the people manages to fool an entire 51% into believing they work for them too. Amazing. I had an epiphany yesterday watching the TV show Hole in the Wall. We are screwed. We are an Idiocracy.

    September 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. FearLessInFlorida

    What If Bristol Palqin Were Black?
    Christian-right leaders and conservative stalwarts have praised the decision of Bristol Palin, the daughter of Governor Sarah Palin, to carry her child to term. She is 17 and conceived this child out of wedlock. Now imagine she wasn't the daughter of a prominent Republican politician but an average person. Now imagine she was black. What do you think conservatives would have to say about her? 'Typical, urban youth with no sense of responsibility raised with loose morals who plans to depend on the state to take care of her child.' You know it. It's not within dispute. That's exactly what they would say.

    Barack Obama has told everyone to lay off this because it is a personal, family matter. Yes, but it also has public policy ramifications. Governor Palin is for abstinence only education. Well, that obviously didn't work. Has she learned her lesson? Will she now amend her policy position on this matter given her personal record of failure in implementing this ridiculous stance?

    September 8, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Okay, the Republicans feel that it is not about the issues but about the personalities. They gave Democrats a hard time for having a rock star candidate, now they can be happy with one of their own.

    What are Sarah Palin's stances on key issues?

    She does not believe in global warming.
    She believes the Earth is 5000 years old.
    Her pastor tells her she is on a mission from God.
    She has pushed a bill to remove animals from endangered species lists.

    The list goes on and on to the extreme right. She ignited the base. The same base that still loves Bush. Put one and one together and add them up.

    I get 3rd Bush Term Extreme Edition.

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  16. Jeff Miller

    That's right. McCain to take the lead and never look back. Oh well. It certainly was fun watching the liberals get their hopes built up ... just to get their hearts broken all over again.

    Go McCain / Palin

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    George w Bush is a nauseating individual

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. Colo Sprgs, CO

    The Republicans silence on the economy, housing crisis, and healthcare is deafening!

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  19. Jeff

    Obama is a joke and has always been a joke. He has accomplished nothing. Rudi's speech was harsh, I flet bad for Obama but it is all true and the American people know it. Even the Obama supporters know it, though they don't want to admit it. Obama does not deserve presidency yet, he likely will someday and that will be a great day, but not now. Everyone knows he would have supported the war had he been in the Senate at the time, cmon. He was totally wrong on the surge.

    McCain/Palin '08
    Hillary '12 and '16.

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  20. Foreign observer

    Maybe even the Bush market intervention on Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac which can be regarded as socialist intervention is part of a change on positions ? No – don´t think so but Republicans agree now that there is a real need for change.
    So there is either a "change light" or a "change we can believe in". Guess the choice is easy.

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  21. Tired of the Nonsense

    Who is Sara Palin –

    Before you swing/undecided cast your vote, here is something you better consider –

    She was elected Alaska's governor a little over a year and a half ago. Her previous office was mayor of Wasilla, a small town outside Anchorage. She has ABSOLUTELY no foreign policy experience.

    Palin is strongly anti-choice, opposing abortion even in the case of rape or incest.

    She supported right-wing extremist Pat Buchanan for president in 2000.

    Palin thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.

    She's doesn't think humans are the cause of climate change.

    She's solidly in line with John McCain's "Big Oil first" energy policy. She's pushed hard for more oil drilling and says renewables won't be ready for years. She also sued the Bush administration for listing polar bears as an endangered species—she was worried it would interfere with more oil drilling in Alaska.

    How closely did John McCain vet this choice? He met Sarah Palin once at a meeting. They spoke a second time, when he called her about being vice-president. Then he offered her the position.

    ......and she's still under investigation for abusing her position as governor to get her ex-brother in law fired from his job b/c of a nasty divorce he was involved in with her sister.

    With the economic and national security stakes this would think a decision this important would have warranted a little more thought.

    Do we really need a candidate who allows her personal views to interfere with her job?????

    Obama/Biden 08

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

    lol Obama's been leading for the entire election so far, and now that's he's tied, that means it's over? In your dreams.

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  23. thomas

    Carl Rove is change you can believe in?

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. Patrick Henry, Fort Myers

    Of course it's a bounce!! Just like the rocks the McCain and Obama supporters are bouncing off of each others heads.

    How can we end the partisanship and bickering through our elected officials when we (the people) can't consider any viewpoints but our own party?

    Poetic justice–we deserve what we end up with.

    September 8, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Now that the conventions are over and the players are set, let us listen to the debates and look at the polices of Obama and McCain since they are at the top of the ticket.

    As for the polls, if these are national polls, then they should be discounted since each state has its own amount of electoral college votes. Remember that people since this is not a direct election. Senators weren't always direct elections either.

    September 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
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