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. Trevor Guerlain

    Your fifteen minutes of fame are ticking away, Senator Obama. Better start donating that nearly half billion dollars campaign chest to the taxpayers now! It'll do you no good.

    McCain/Palin '08

    September 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  2. Robert Louisville, KY

    I have said and I still say McCain is using Gov Palin to get elected, that's why he will not let her campain alone. He knows he was loosing this election, so the only way to get his message of change over he had to do something out of the ordinary. What better to do than introduce a woman as his running mate something that republicans just don't do. Seeing that Obama did not choose Clinton lets capitalize on that and choose a woman and get those disgruntled
    voters. If people realize that McCain has changed his whole political campain to a change campain just like Obama, Palin will be no longer popular. They will realize that if they vote for that ticket they will still be putting McCain in the White House not Palin. Palin can only do what McCain says and that will not be much once he is elected, he will no longer need her and I bleave she will have no voice.

    September 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. Mike in Ohio

    I used to be for McCain, but Sarah Palin lied time and again in her convention speech, and John McCain has been lying over and over in his speeches. So, of course, they are going to lie in their advertising. Now, I'm stuck between voting for liars or voting for someone I'm just not sure about.

    My verdict:

    Sarah Palin: LIAR

    John McCain: LIAR

    Barak Obama: Judgement reserved

    Joe Biden: TRUTHFUL (to a fault)

    September 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. Susan, CA

    You rock June!! How about putting lives of every one of the citizens of the United States in the hands of a hockey mom? Downright frightening. Is this supposed to be any indication of his judgment in a clutch decision? NO THANKS.

    September 8, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  5. baby mama

    Dems are Done....................see ya losers

    September 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  6. WAKE UP!!!!

    POLLS MEAN NOTHING!!!!!!! They don't reflect the voting of american people and if your dumb enough to vote based on polling numbers then you should deal with high gas prices, home loss, and lose your freakin' job!!!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  7. Annette, Washington, DC

    Repubs why is it that the residents of Calfornia, want to recall Gov. Arnold. I tell you why, the republicans brand has gone sour. Folks are tired of the repubs talk and show. McCain is no maverick, he is the establishment of stuffy flip-flop conservative, brought and paid for by the Rove/Bush plan.

    September 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. H Jay

    John McCain now only mentions 3 things in his speeches. A verb, a noun, and a POW

    September 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. Ken

    As I have been sayin, Obama made his biggest mistake by choosing Biden for his VP instead of Hillary Clinton, where it would have given him a "slam dunk" into the White House. Now it is gong to be his down fall, for he WILL NOT be able to beat McCain/Palin in November!

    I am a Hillary Clinton supporter that is voting for McCain/Palin because they at least have the skills, knowledge and experience to run this country. Obama DOES NOT have any experience or skills to run this country and if by some strange chance that he is elected, the US is going to be in big trouble.

    McCain/Palin 2008

    Hillary Clinton 2012 (I wonder if she will ask Obama to be her VP? I am not going to hold my breath for it and I think that she is smarter than that.)

    September 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  10. LEETA

    Who are they polling?

    September 8, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  11. jon, Huntsville, AL

    "Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

    – Hermann Goehring


    "Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar."

    – Julius Caesar

    September 8, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. Gia in Los Angeles, CA

    First off, most people still don't know how radical right Palin's views are. The far right will still be enamored by her, but the middle right, Independents, and Democrats will all lose interest or be dead set against her, once they all find out.

    Secondly, advance polls - even the night before an election - can be extraordinarly inaccurate. Exit polls, however, prove to be much more accurate. We won't know how people will REALLY vote, until they actually vote.

    Finally, LOOK AT THE ELECTORAL MAP John King analyzes! Obama currently has 243 electoral votes to McCain's 189, with the rest toss-up. THAT'S what will count in the end - electoral votes!

    September 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Irma in North Carolina

    When the republicans get over this fasisnation of Sarah and realizes that these two will get us for more years of bush, the polls should turn back to obamas favor, and wait till she has to get out on her own and speak, insteading of holding on to grandpas coat tail. But I imagine the Mccain camp will give her a set of notes as to what to say each time. She sure isnt intelligent enough on her own to know what to say. I suppose it is a task of Gods also to send her son to Iraq. Maybe it should be a task of Gods to see fit that he takes both of these canidates out of the Election.

    September 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. ST

    I just hope people can see beyond the pretty package. I for one am not fulled. These women who claim to be feminists and want a woman in office at all cost do not know what they are doing. I am a feminist and believe Palin is setting us back 100 years. We need to take her down now. She is the only reason McCain is ahead at all. Obama-Biden need to go at her with both guns blazing.

    September 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Mike in Calgary

    Great convention – just trying to decide who is the best liar – Palin, McCain, Giuliani or Graham. Factcheck is real eyeopener. Palin fits right in with them.

    Best thing was seeing McCain follow Obama's lead re Iraq and Afghanistan. Showsa you who the real leader is?

    Now they are following Obama's campaign theme of Change – even McCain seems to be following the real leader now.

    September 8, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Susan, CA

    Palin is a shrew and nothing more. Can she utter anything else besides slams and one-liners? How about some opinions on world issues or maybe the economy? How about an interview? I can't wait to see the debate.

    September 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Jenn St Louis

    It's kinda woory some that we as Americans would consider putting a VP in office that:

    Anti-gay rights. Opposes benefits for same sex marriage. She actually vetoed the bill. I'm waiting for the cover up on that one.
    Creationsim should be taught along side evolution.
    belongs to a church who have racist views.
    Supports Pat Buchanan for president.
    Lies and covers up.
    Tried to fire a Librarian because she would not remove books that Palin considered immoral. Um, so we can add anti-censorship?

    We can't let them win

    September 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. ST

    Ooops, typo. I meant "fooled".

    September 8, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. TheTruthHurts

    bounce – skip – dance for all I care. None of this crap matters. Let's get to November already. People who make up their mind based on conventions SCARE ME. Americans don't READ and that will ultimately be our downfall. I know we don't have time to read, but we no longer have time not to.

    September 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. Terry from GA

    I don't look at polls. I look at the number of newly registered democrats in each state. Elections are won by the number of voters that come out on election day, not by poll numbers.

    September 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. True Conservative

    I am sorry but as a female and a conservative I have to question Palin's values. She left her home and her children right when they needed her most to pursue fame in the public sphere. It is very telling that her daughter became pregnant after she abandoned her to serve as mayor and then governor. She should have been home serving as a mother to her children. Now she wants to leave her family to serve as Vice President when she has 5 children one of which has DS and another that is pregnant! What kind of mom would do this? She should stay home to help her family in its time of need.

    Since moms have abandoned the home the nation has fallen a part. Palin's example with do nothing but encourage more women to do the same.

    Why are so many conservatives cheering for Palin when her actions run contrary to our espoused values?

    September 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    ""EDW September 8th, 2008 4:38 pm ET

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


    Go to the Gallup web site yourself (you don't have to believe me) and look who they do poll AND HOW>>>

    Don't listen to the lies THINK ...... DO THE RESEARCH YOURSELF.

    I think America is waking up from Obamas mind numbing and brain clouding speeches and the anger will only grow as those who have been on the fence look at this race with a clear UNBIASED head and the polls are only now showing that fact.

    September 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. A-Man

    Come on people do your own poll once and tell me what you find. Obama is way ahead. Only people who lie for a stroy more then politicians is the media. Obama is smarter then Rove, he is letting Rove have his moment and spend the majority of their money, he knows the intelligent are voting for him no matter what and hence will target the stupid later in the campaign with flashy balls that will get their attention. These dumb people will go wherever lead at anytime, Obama is saving up to lead these sheep the right direction later. They obviously have short memories as they do not seem to remember the last 8 years, so advertising to them this early is pointless. Obama will give them a treat like calling over an animal when it is time. McCain/Rove are using up all their treats, and the stupid animals won't care, they will go for the next treat offered.

    September 8, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  24. e brown

    I'm baffled... w/ gov Palin I notice the media is scared to asked the hard ques. to her surrogate... I thank Campbell for having the fortitude..unlike some of the others on cnn....I notice u asked the ques and then back off!.... Gov Palin.. has some supicious connections concerning her beliefs in her church. and concerns; what does wolf do to get an objective asnwer ? he goes to her former aid; ...that's really impartial investigetorial work. u guys have been vetting Sen. Obama; for 20 mos... and continue...Gov. Palin has been out on the nat'l spotlight and your hands r tied

    September 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. dave g, minneapolis

    Did you know that the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout is huge... like Bear Stearns was? Who's bailing them out? You and me...our taxes at work.
    Obama and McCain both support this. It WILL raise taxes, but more importantly, it sends the message that speculators who took risks–and lost–will be bailed out by you and me. That's what you're supporting if you vote for these two parties. You can whine and complain about oil and their profits...but they are taxPAYERS. Bear Stearns, Freddie and Fannie are now taxCONSUMERS. and both parties support this!!!

    Vote against support for these bailouts. Vote Libertarian Bob Barr.!!!

    September 8, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
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