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. bernard

    a convention that their own party leader and vice presedent wernt invited becouse the gop is so imbarrised bye then and you say they get a bounce for that . at the rnc not one word about the economy and how they will fix it ....and you say the american people awarded them with a bounce that cancelled out obamas bouncd . you insult my intellegence cnn you realy do . your treating the american people like the republicans do like fools .

    September 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  2. GAL, Ohio

    Palin doesn't even know who runs the major lending institutions in America and were suppose to say she is ready to lead? HAHHHHH Please let me stop laughing ...or should I cry that the American People may be that gullible.

    September 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  3. loooseygooosey

    Yeah..., but that Palin, SHE'S HOT!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. no trickle down...

    I heard Sarah Palin Speak yesterday – and it was word for word, the speech she gave at the convention. WORD FOR WORD! My pet parrot could do that!

    September 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    With Palin on the scene, the Obama camp looks and sounds like the disgruntled & frustrated Clinton camp when Obama picked up the mo/ Its pretty funny, actually.

    September 8, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  6. Susan, CA

    Why do you McCain people think he is stronger on Iraq? Obama didn't even vote to go there in the first place. Not only that, but his STUPID SURGE DIDN'T WORK. It was other issues having to do with circumstances between the different religious factions that decreased the violence in Iraq–NOT THE SURGE. Please people do some research and don't just blindly listen to these people and sentence us to another four years of this hell.

    September 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Ron

    once all the people who have maxed out their credit cards and are behind in their payments realize that you can't spend your way out of debt, maybe they will realize that sen. obama's elaborate plans of spend, spend, spend is just not going to fly. already the oil prices are coming down, so the chances of windfall profits to tax are going to be eliminated. Afghanistan and Russia's rumblings will take care of the savings from Iraq. taxing the companies that create jobs will end up with a net loss on job creation. sen. Obama just does not seem to understand economics. his philosophy is to rob peter to pay Paul which is what the public is doing now and it's not working. so my prediction is that soon the people will see McCain's restraint program is the way to go and the polls will reflect it

    September 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |




    September 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. EDW

    In a nutshell, you are not polling those of us that use only our cell phones.

    September 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. Cindy

    In fact people the Obama initually got more of a jump than McCain did after his convention- Gallup poll showed 49% Obama and 42% McCain... It;s not 4 days after McCains convention and all he can claim is that its virtually a tie-- It's only because of the newcomer nothing to do with the issues!

    September 8, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. PA Independent

    Just wait until McCain and Palin can no longer avoid talking about the issues and their real records. They'd better enjoy their success while it lasts.

    September 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. NC Man

    WOW libs why so bitter? Wonder what you all will do when McCain wins

    September 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. henriettap

    All one has to do is to listen to Palin and you will know she is as Bushed as you can get,and that is not say she has said much because she hasn,t every since the convention her message has been the same.It should be about time for her to record to turn over now.At least she has shown she can remember more than McCain so I quess that helps their ticket.

    September 8, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  14. Ed Carlson - New Jersey

    It's hard to view John McCain as the candidate for change when he always takes both sides of the debate. He claims that he's for reform is Washington, but hires one of Washington's biggest lobbyist to run his presidential campaign. McCain claims he's against eye-marks and wasteful spending but picks a Vice Presidential candidate that supported the "bridge to nowhere", then opposed but kept the $223 million dollars anyway. McCain claims that he will help the American people who are struggling with high energy prices. What does he do?
    He picks a running mate that raises taxes on the oil produces in Alaska so that she can give every person in her state $1800 while people like me across the country pay higher prices at the pump to make up the revenue shortfall.

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Jerry

    Waiting to be picked up by either candidate: the promise to seriously go after Bin Laden.

    Good start by Obama in his speech, but waiting to be finished.

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. Independent Voter in Missouri

    I am a female, white, and college educated voter .

    I supported Hillary but I refuse to support McCain/Palin.

    I do not want a religious zelot in the white house.

    Palin is God talking to you now???

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  17. filemon

    ok! it is time to stop the nonsense,if you think mccain,is going to do any thing but more of the same ,can we please stop asking"do you think mccain,palin are diffrent and will opperate diferently than bush"? and the aedvisers or mccain,palin themselves what is diferant from your plan's and this last 8 years .and don;t let them go on talking points and generic statements .thank you

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  18. Brian

    Don't you believe it folks. Obama is way ahead. The polling methods they're using are as old as McCain and they aren't reaching hundreds of thousands of young and first-time voters, newly registered democrats, and voters without landlines.

    Obama is ahead by a ton.

    Obama/Biden '08!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  19. Angie

    This women should not be off limits to the press! If she thinks she can fill the void left by Hillary, she needs to take the heat like Hillary! She is going to set women back 300 years! If Hillary made 18 million cracks in the ceiling, most of them will be closed before this puppet of the right wing circus is done. She mocks the community organizing of Obama like it's nothing! She doesn't realize that it's just exactly what we need for this broken nation. If you elect John McCain you are ending the United States as we know it! George Bush for four more years, only this time we are starting in the hole!

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  20. w.l. jones

    Look over there, what over there it the Rup. economy to no where I thought we were talking about a bridge they both look the same. We need to take a difference approach to get our economy back on the road because Sen,Mac cain seem to dont have a plan in my opinon to get us out this the fix we are in.

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  21. therealist

    Meanwhile...., The latest Scientific Polls show McCain with his widest lead yet, 10 points among 'likely voters'..

    September 8, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  22. Mike in Calgary

    Palin is not an attack dog as she purports, but rather a lap dog for McCain, who received Bush's stamp of approval.

    After looking at fact check, she would appear not to be a pit bull with lipstick, but a more accurately a lying female dog (I forget the word for female dog). No wonder she's good enough for McCain and Bush.

    September 8, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. lucy

    I am truly frightened of Palin, who knows nothing about the lower forty-eight, never mind foreign affairs, and who lives in a state that has more in common with the oil-rich emirates than with the rest of us. It's the economy, stupid, all over again, but Obama doesn't seem to get the message. McCain and Palin are so tied to the oil industry that they will make the Bushes look egalitarian and what's left of the economy will bankrupt us before it has a chance to destroy our children's future. But if the Obama campaign doesn't develop some backbone and say so, i don't see how they can possibly win.

    September 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. Jo in NY

    McCain will enjoy this week of finally tying Barack Obama in the polls. Let the Republicans enjoy their tying victory! For now...
    But do think all those of us without eight houses will let McBush win again for a third term.
    No Way, No How, No McCain!
    I'm gonna donate to Obama tonight and I am more comitted than ever to supporting the restoring the USA

    September 8, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. Rick

    Palin is a Trojan horse with Bush, Cheney, and Rove waiting to spring. BEWARE AMERICA...

    September 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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