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. Schneider (I) - CA

    McCain = Bush

    Open your eyes America !!

    You were stupid enough to elect Bush twice...don't reward the GOP for their mismanagement and disasterous policy decisions.

    Bush = McCain

    September 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. shannon

    Umm...Obama was way ahead before the conventions started and now they are even after the conventions.

    Looks like McCain picked up voters.

    I mean, if you know 1st grade math it is obvious.

    September 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Susan, Nebraska

    Obama should have chosen Hillary for a running mate. At this point, if Hillary campaigns against Governor Palin, then she is once again being used by a man. She stood by Bill all those years to get her chance at the presidency and that didn't work out. Now Obama wants to use her to help get elected. If I were Hillary, I would use Sarah Palin's line, "thanks but no thanks".

    September 8, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. 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 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 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  5. Debbie

    How could the Republican's get a bounce from thier convention. All it entailed was a bunch of white conservatives (funny one of them has a 17 yr old unmarred daughter) saying how wonderful, right and patriotic they were!!!! No they want us to believe they are mavericks and will bring change. Will this change mean more and bigger wars. Will this change mean we will side with the religious right and start punishing anyone who does not believe in thier religious views.

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. 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 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  7. Seriously

    I am so sick of the polls. Who does CNN poll anyhow? I watch CNN all day, post comments, and even get updates on my mobile and no one I know (including myself) has ever been polled.

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  8. All American Baseball Mom

    I am one of the displaced Hillary followers. I am disappointed in McCain for picking a "token" woman for his running mate. I know he had others in mind for the role but thought he could get my Hillary vote by naming a woman. Well it is not that easy to get my vote! I am looking forward to the debates so I can hear how all four stand up to questioning.
    Enough of the heroism, we are making heros everyday the War in Iraq continues. I was against Vietnam and I am against Iraq. A good President is not just one that can stand up against terrorism, a good President is one that can communicate PEACE and promote humane leadership to the world. A good President is one that can rid politics of Corporate intervention. A good President will promote other means of energy, not just place more ugly drilling sites off shore. Did you ever see the coastline at Santa Barbara CA??? A good President will promote GREEN so our children will have an earth for their children.

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. Phoenix

    Hold on, Obama had 40 million people watching him alone, not including the people standing on the streets. George, get your facts straight. McCain is experiencing a convention bounce. People are still for whatever reason excited about Palin. Keep up.

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Holly from Minnesota

    Palin's church–and Palin, apparently–believe that Alaska is part of God's plan for the Apocalypse, and seem to rejoice in that Plan. Do we really want someone in office that looks longingly towards the Apocalypse?

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Wait until Palin starts giving interviews. She will show why she has a 80 percent approval rating in AK.

    The bounce has helped McCain because the polls are better for McCain than before the conventions.

    When Palin starts to give interviews and starts to talk OFF a teleprompter she will show she can talk and think on her feet.

    Obama can't even do that (talk well without written speech or large crowd)


    Trust me McCain is not stupid to pick a VP that would not be able to take advantage of the lack of ONE on ONE debates that Obama and Biden (foot in mouth too many times to count) are sorely lacking.

    Keep talking about how dumb or how she is a urban hick etc...

    When she does start giving interviews in a few days she will only make those who slammed her seem like so many talking heads.

    Polls will only go up again.

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. mel from Ohio

    NO ONE in their right mind believes that the race is neck and neck. The media is trying to make this a close race which it is not. I refuse to believe that Americans are dumb enough to pick someone to be a leader in our country because "she's a breath of fresh air", ran for a beauty contest, and makes snappy one liners written by someone else. If that's how we're picking VP candidates then we should just start attending beauty contests instead of voting on issues and the person's ability to lead!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. 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 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. whiteboy for obama

    polls schmolls

    September 8, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. Lesley

    If the media will do their jobs and vet Palin properly on all her views, the honeymoon will end soon enough. People are not at this point examining Palin's record or her views and speeches for themselves but rather listening and believing what appears to be a credible ticket at first glance. If the media spends just half as much time vetting Palin over the next month at least as they have on Obama's every thought over the last 19 months, the polls will show a different result. How about it, media?

    September 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |

    How in the world can they start saying they are about change. They must obviously think something is wrong. They are imitating Obama step by step.

    This election would be nothing with Obama.

    September 8, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. Barbara

    Rover - er - Schmidt decided the repubs. have? NO solutions, so why not throw out a big distraction.

    What are people talking about and listening to? NOT THE ISSUES

    Obama/Biden '08 (Rove/Schmidt have to GO)

    September 8, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    If McSame and the Pitbull are elected, no one will be able to pin the Second Great Depression on the Democrats. Some upside!

    September 8, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. alvino

    In his Rep. Convention acceptance speech last Thursday, McCain "borrowed" almost a dozen points from the Bush acceptance speeches of 2000 & 2004. If he wanted to change, he would fire the Bush speech writers. No new ideas=no change for America.

    September 8, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. Red for Obama

    Please Americans-Vote for Obama. We need to implement the glorious Marxist ideals that this young patriot has to offer.

    I urge all of my comrades not to vote again for the Republicans. It has been proven that capitalism does not work. It is time for the glorious Socialist Revolution!!! Communism can work and Obama/Biden are the ticket to take us to this new horizon!!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. Austin, Texas

    We will see in November when Obama and Biden trounce the so called "Mavericks" to shreds...put that in the bank...they will WIN!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  22. Cecil

    Spit and Run Palin!

    She Won't Even Take Questions, What Kind Of VP PicK Is This?

    If Your That Afraid, Go Back To Alaska.

    Hit and Run, That's What She Does Best.

    She's A Fake And A Fraud, A GOP Sideline Cheerleader Celeb.

    September 8, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  23. Southerner For Obama



    September 8, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  24. 4Obama2

    CNN won't say how many viewers McCains speech got on Thursday, all they talk about is how many McPailins got – I wonder why???? Could it be because no one tuned in for McSleepy's speech and the only reason so many watched McPailins speech is because she is a virtual nobody who may now most likely be the one running the country. That doesn't mean that everyone likes her!!! WAKE UP CNN and stop acting like the national enquirer. If you are going to put information on one candidate and the VP then you need to do the same for the other side. Stop sugar coating for the most reckless governement the US and world has ever seen, it's only going to make you look stupid when OBAMA wins by a landslide in November.!!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. abbyy

    The vote is about intelligence vs stupidity,even in wall street no one will employ mcsame/palin/bush/cheney --over obama no company except a coporation run by bigots intelligence brings about change as u can see during clinton time and compare with bush era --–MR NUKILAR.

    September 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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