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. anon

    People are realizing that Obama's plans to raise the minimum wage and REQUIRE ALL businesses, big AND SMALL to provide health care will NOT create jobs. On the contrary, it will force many small businesses to close.

    September 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. Tell 'Em What They Want To Hear

    The republicans are not being honest with the American people.

    It's nothing but platitudes and how people won't have to worry about any consequences for their actions. Climate change isn't real, we need to burn more coal, drill for more oil, and while we're at it, let's ridicule conservation.

    The rapture is a comin' and Alaska is going to be a refuge state. I just saw the CNN rebroadcast of the YouTube video showing Palin praying for the end days. People need to think about what kind of consequences there are with politicians think their actions are guided by God.

    Don't you remember Bush claiming God told him there would be no casualties in Iraq?

    September 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. Independent-Latina-for-OBAMA

    GEORGE........NO ONE THREW OUT THE AMERICAN FLAGS! GOOD GRIEF!

    The ONLY POLL that COUNTS will be in November, when, we, the People vote!

    No one in the media has the ball to question McCain's choice of Pali, a mother of 5, who has no business running for office. He baby is FOUR MONTHS OLD! THE CONSERVATIVE WOMEN WILL HAVE A FIT OVER THIS. TRUST ME, WHEN THEY THINK LONG AND HARD THEY WILL THROW PALIN UNDER THE BUS. THE WOMAN NEEDS TO TEND TO HER FAMILY........... AND WHEN SHE HAS RAISED HER CHILDREN SHE CAN RUN FOR OFFICE. I KNOW I AM OLD FASHIONED........ BUT I WAS A CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN MOST OF MY LIFE......... AND I KNOW HOW CONSERVATIVES THINK. HOW WILL SHE BE ABLE TO LEAD A NATION???????????AND TAKE CARE OF HER KIDS....... WHICH SHOULD BE HER #1 PRIORITY!

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

    The current U.S.A. population is over 300 million people (303,500,000 in early 2008) so the United States has the world's third largest population (following China and India).

    If this is accurate, how can a poll of only two thousand Americans (gallop polls, etc,.) be an accurate reflection of the voting population????????

    September 8, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  5. All American Baseball Mom

    Wow McCain is 5% ahead of Obama after the Convention. Wasn't Obama 15% of McCain after the Democrat Convention? The debates should be interesting.

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. Kofi Ntim

    Sarah Palin is behaving as if the preseidency is managed by sharp talk no subtance. Americans are not interest in useless attack that would not put food on thier table, provide healthcare and make the cost of education affordable. Is this Sarah Palin woman having any sense of what American are looking for? I think she would have better served under the cold war -tuant the Russians.. We dont need empty and useless attaks with no subtance talk!!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. tedious898

    Dear Americans.....I manage smarter people (male and female) than Palin. Those are the facts.

    These people have degrees in Business Admin. She's a Journalism major? Welll if the VP job (which she probably still doesn't understand) is one for writing articles; she's in great shape. However, if Bush were the president ...we all know he doesn't read anything but the funny papers. Well oddly, Pahlin wanted to fire the librarian for books that she didn't approve them being on the shelf. I trust it was soley the content and not the fact it was above her reading comprehension level. And that's not sexist just a concern given the job requirements of VP

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. scott

    The Idea of Mcsame winning and continuing Bush's failed polices for another 8 years is hard to accept. The past 8 years of Republican mismanagement have been a total disaster for the country. Americans don't seem to ever learn their lessons! This past 8 years have been a total republican train wreck and now americans are ready to keep this McBush nightmare going. Almost all the New Yorkers I talk to are ready to leave the Usa if McCain wins, I myself cannot accept another 4 years of Bush. What a mess!

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Another way to look at it though is that McCain had momentum going into the convention, Obama took it back, and now McCain has it again. That's what's frightening. You always want to be last in when you're doing a sales job.

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. P O Dubya

    Saturday in Colorado Springs, Colo., Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said, "The fact is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers" Duhhhhh. They are private
    entities
    We have banks failing, millions with homes in foreclosure, value of the dollar falling; rising unemployment – and this is the person that is best qualified to deal with our economic problems?

    Give me a break

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  11. Nova

    Does not the USA gallop poll shows McCain up by three? Why is CNN not talking about the latest gallop poll? Wasn't Obama up by 9 points just a month ago? This ticket should read, Obama's support had the biggest fall in poll numbers.

    Just a history reminder, the democrats up by several points in November but still lost the election. Things are just slipping away even before the evangelicals get their voting-turnout machine roll'n.

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  12. Shawn

    I just have one thing to say. If the race is in a dead heat, why does the electorial map indicate Obama is up 243 to 189. that is the true measure. It takes 270 to win and I do not see McCain getting to 270.

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  13. John in Ohio

    Actually, the Republican convention bounce hasn't finished wearing off. Look at the polls around 10/4, that will give you a good idea how the election will go a month afterwards.

    September 8, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. 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 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. Dj

    How has the electorial college map changed since the conventions started 2 weeks ago?

    Let me guess, 3 battleground states are not leaning toward Obama...

    In other words, for the republican bloggers, that means those states are not YELLOW anymore, they are BLUE.

    CNN – you can change them back to yellow if your ratings start to drop.... we all know the real deal.

    September 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  16. Nova

    Does not the USA gallop poll shows McCain up by three? Why is CNN not talking about the latest gallop poll? Wasn't Obama up by 9 points just a month ago? This ticket should read, Obama's support had the biggest fall in poll numbers.

    Just a history reminder, the democrats up by several points in November but still lost the election. Things are just slipping away even before the evangelicals get their voting-turnout machine roll'n.

    September 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  17. DisenfranchisedHills for McCain

    McCain will probably get a bigger bounce out of the conventions,because the end of the Republican Convention began the migration of disenfranchised voters from the Dem side to the Republican side. This will be ongoing for the next couple of weeks and may not show in polls for two and half to three weeks. But many of the dis-satisfied Hillary supporters are uniting to support McCain and ,thus ,attempt to defeat the corrupt DNC for silencing so many millions of voters. Democratic Rules don't count for much among voters ,come November.

    September 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  18. Tell 'Em What They Want To Hear

    The republicans are not being honest with the American people.

    It's nothing but platitudes and how people won't have to worry about any consequences for their actions. Climate change isn't real, we need to burn more coal, drill for more oil, and while we're at it, let's ridicule conservation.

    The rapture is a comin' and Alaska is going to be a refuge state. I just saw the CNN rebroadcast of the YouTube video showing Palin praying for the end days. People need to think about what kind of consequences there are with politicians think their actions are guided by God.

    Don't you remember Bush claiming God told him there would be no casualties in Iraq?

    September 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. Nova

    Does not the USA gallop poll shows McCain up by three? Why is CNN not talking about the latest gallop poll? Wasn't Obama up by 9 points just a month ago? This ticket should read, Obama's support had the biggest fall in poll numbers.

    Just a history reminder, the democrats up by several points in November but still lost the election. Things are just slipping away even before the evangelicals get their voting-turnout machine roll'n.

    September 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. CNNman

    Does not the USA gallop poll shows McCain up by three? Why is CNN not talking about the latest gallop poll? Wasn't Obama up by 9 points just a month ago? This ticket should read, Obama's support had the biggest fall in poll numbers.

    Just a history reminder, the democrats up by several points in November but still lost the election. Things are just slipping away even before the evangelicals get their voting-turnout machine roll'n.

    September 8, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  21. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    McCain/Palin are Obama "PARROTS". Everything word Obama uses they parrot after him but add no sustance to not one word. All that's left for McCain/Palin is to vote for Obama because they have nothing to offer.

    September 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  22. Lolzers

    Lol even the buttons the Mccain people make need to focus on Obama hhahaha

    September 8, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  23. DisenfranchisedHills for McCain

    McCain just now getting crossover voters from disenfranchised Hillary supporters,so a larger bounce is expected in 2-3 weeks,as they donate and cross over. DNC rules do not count for much in November.

    September 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. The Obama team is in PANIC mode.

    Has everyone noticed how the Obama Campaign doesn't have anything positive to discuss anymore. What happened to the new "changed" way of running a campaign. The Obama team is doing exactly what they renounced as "old style" politics. They 1st blamed Hillary and then the Republicans for running campaigns based on fear and the throw the kitchen sink mentality. Now that Obama is no longer ahead in the polls, he turned out to be no better than Hillary or McCain.

    September 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  25. FR

    Is it me or does anybody else feels like this election is changing into American Idol contest.

    September 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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