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. Barbara

    Since the repubs have no solutions, they put out a distraction "in lipstick".

    Worked, didn't it? That's all we see and hear. Makes me want to puke.

    This nation has problems, and they send us distractions.

    Please post this CNN

    September 8, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. uh James.

    And Mccain and Palin have their fingers on the deck and will definately pull out the Sexism card as we speak, so give it a rest. geesh.

    September 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  3. l johnson

    WAKE UP AMERICANS AND I PRAY THAT ALL REPUBLICANS WHO CLAIM TO BE BELIEVERS SNAP OUT OF THEIR SLEEP. This woman needs to be focusing on her family, ill newborn child, pregnancy daughter and possibly grandparenting – aiding her 16 yr. old daughter. Her needs her attention more than American. It clearly seems that she and her husband enjoy their marriage roles that they have agreed to switch for the sake of personal gain. Since she claims to be deeply of the Christian faith and strongly believes in God, The Lord's will is for a mother to be a mother and father to be a father – not a father to play the rold of "momma" and practice being "mom" while the real mom stays away from the family to work and earn a living lying to millions of people to get someone else nominated as Pres. of USA. She is not ready to be Pres or VP – but she declares she is ready. Well, she would be swearing to put her country first not her ill child nor her family. She looks in a fake three dollar bill. I feel sorry for husbands in American who votes for her – your wives will be next line for their independence and you raising and caring for babies as a "stay-home father-momma". Sad. Sad. Sad. AMERICAN shame on all voters for McCain/Palin. Your message is dishonest.; and choosing Palin because she is a woman is totally beyond logical reasoning. McCain cares less about her family, He wants to win, win.

    September 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  4. independant voter, Texas

    This appears to "me" another "bought" election..when please, was the last time OR ever a canidate got a 11 point jump in the polls ??? plus, this isnt McCain even getting these numbers, is his pretty, mouthy, sarcastic, babe by him, turning this now into a Palin versus Obama..for once I am getting more afraid than I have ever been in all my 68 years..McCain stole Obamas change message, smeared him badly on no expierience, ( Palin has how much ?), Palin is doing same thing Oreilly is, butchering Obama for his answers on Oreilly, how come Palin isnt going on Oreilly show TOO ? I am more confused than ever now..and wish McCain camp would take the chains off Palin, make hER face the music on news shows too..Biden has and continues to..Why, oh WHY is Palin being so "schooled" by McCain camp if she is 'already" expierienced ?? and if she is such a 'ptbull", then she shouldnt have any problem facing up to Oreilly either..oh, I forgot , from Oreillys answers, he for McCain..hmmmmm

    September 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. mitchell

    I can read the fear from the Democrats, almost like they had right before Kerry lost. And by the way, former, past or current republicans don't list that just to prove a point. You just look like a stupid liberal, we always cite and source, not make empty emotional appeals.

    September 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Does Obama Palin Comparison?

    Wow...Thank you CNN! These Political Ticker stories would not be NEARLY as entertaining without these Comment sections. I find myself rushing here every day, to read the frantic rantings of liberals, who are growing more and more desperate as Obama's presidential hopes start to slowly circle the drain...And to think, it will only get better over the next two months 😉

    September 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. james

    Thanks DNC, Nancy Pelosi, Howard Dean, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, and all the other super delegates who thought they knew more than the average american. Hillary '12

    September 8, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  8. pa.joe

    14% edge for McCain on Iraq!?!
    The Iraq war is one of the worst blunders in American history!
    Hundreds of billions dollars gone!
    Thousands of Americans dead!
    Tens of Thousands Americans wounded!
    All for nothing!
    14% edge for McCain on Iraq!?!
    America, what are you thinking!?!

    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  9. no trickle down...

    The republican convention was a sham!
    All lies or copy-cat sound-bites.

    They all looked absent vague and unprofessional.
    I wouldn't hire any of the republican speakers to work for me.

    You could see the LIES IN THEIR EYES!

    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Lesley

    Why don't you talk about the electoral map instead of the everyday polls that change as often as the wind. Are you suggesting here that voters are swayed by the news in the polls? Have we become a nation of airheads that don't investigate facts for themselves? Maybe we do need some divine intervention after all. Good grief.

    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. abbyy


    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Dee Jay a young republican

    Palin only cares about wake ALASKA..... she believes that Alaska is the refudge state in the last days on earth



    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. Republicans Hate America

    Just confirms how the GOP hate America by willing to vote for a VP candidate that wants to separate Alaska from the U.S. and then have the nerve to say Obama doesn't wear a flag pin. I dont care if I end up being the only one to vote for Obama but I refuse to accept you rednecks as Americans

    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. gerri

    I dont believe any poll.Obama will win overwhelmingly in the popular vote and closer in the Electorial College.Just watchout for Republicans cheating as always.

    September 8, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  15. Steve A. , New Braunfels , Texas

    I am 60 yrs old, I have never been polled., none of my family or friends have ever been polled. nobody I know knows anybody thats ever been polled. Are polls real or are they just something news organizations just make up?

    September 8, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. dennis from chicago


    September 8, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. A-Man

    These poll's are a joke, why does CNN not display the online poll it conducted, didn't like the strong Obama result? Look at the comment sections of the people in all the CNN stories. They are 90 plus percent in favor of Obama. The media is owned by rich republicans and 1st need popular news, which comes from bragging up Palin even though most think she stinks, and pretending the election race is close. Why does CNN not answer why their comment sections are overwhelmingly Obama. People have showed they can be conned easily, Rove proves it over and over. But make no mistake Obama is handedly winning this race and will win it. CNN's numerous primetime talk hosts pushing the republicans endlessly is shameful for a news station. They promise equal time for both parties. When they talk republican they have positive republicans on to comment, when they give democratic time they have negative republicans on to comment. They may speak equally about both, but it is all positive for Republicans and all negative for Democrates. And if you think this will not hurt your viewers then you are wrong CNN. As a regular daily watcher I have already started to watch other news channels and will continue to look to them in the future. If this is your standard then your news is biased. I hope someone starts a movement for all democrates to ban CNN for its biased reporting.

    September 8, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. therealist

    Lets see, Obama was up by 8 last week, down 4 this week. And CNN reports that they have cancelled each other out. Riiiiiight, whatever..

    September 8, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  19. earle

    I just hope Hillary plays it smart,
    Her statement, "no way, no mccain", may not endear her to the next president of the United States.

    September 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  20. Allan

    I think without no press at all since the press got scared to do their job I think the poll are pretty good. I also think since churches are so influential in our policies they should pay income tax and use the money for community organizers. Is not news the all this envangelical are trying to find out when life begins but support when it ends. This is history we are soon going to be in a modern crusade in this country. Our forefathers must be ashame to see all they work for separation of church and state. Wolf has been reporting 34 Minutes of sara palin and hes been on 24 LOL! My deppest respect on your loss Mr. Cafferty. We need you back and give Wolf a hand he scare. No hard feeling Wolf I do love you, but dont get bully by a woman. LOL.

    September 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  21. Cecil

    America Heard Enough About P.O.W McCain and Hockey Mom Palin, Where's The Beef! GOP

    Obama's First Major Speech Was His Own, Gov. Palin A Bush Speech Writer.

    Gov.Palin Is Very Weak On Politcal Issues, That's Why She's Told What To Say.

    The Great White Hope Can't Even Go Toe To Toe On The Issues.

    And They Call Her A Please, Stop Being Bais America!

    Super Cheerleader Not Super Women!

    September 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. Are you Kidding me?

    Obama and his supporters just can not escape the fact that he had time to write two books about himself and could not be bothered to write one law. It's almost a joke to put him up for nomination if thats his record.

    September 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  23. Michael Shea

    Obama has to go for McCain's jugular especially McCains dismal record on veteran's issue. Obama has to have General Clark and other military heroes travel with himm around the countray, wearing their uniforms, standing behind Obama with tons of American Flags behind them.

    September 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. Daniel

    That's because half of the country is dumb.

    September 8, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Cathy

    The economy and health insurance should definitely rank higher than the scare tatics regarding war. The Republicans have been using this scare tatic for 8 years and 8 is enough. Let's get them out of office once in for all, so we can rebuild our country. Come on people, wake up and do not let McSame and his pit bull with lipstick scare you all into thinking we need them. No way, No how, No McCain.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

    September 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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