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. Enlightened Voter

    Only in a Rethuglican America is a black man who is a Harvard Educated Constitutional Law Scholar, with 8 yrs as State Senator and 4 yrs as US Senator and a member of the Foreign Intelligence Committee deemed never ready to lead while a white evangelical, ultra conservative woman with a BA in Journalism (that took her six yrs to get) and Governor of Alaska for 19 mos considered ready to lead on day one. No wonder this country is so messed up. Thanks rethuglicans, you must really hate this country!

    September 8, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Ken in Dallas

    They're talking about Fannie and Freddie now? That's kind of dumb.

    The trouble with Fannie and Freddie is very much a private-sector kind of problem: securities fraud.

    Fannie and Freddie both made a practice of accepting any and all kinds of mortgage paper, including the subprime and worse trash, and securitizing it without due diligence, issuing junk bonds and slapping a bogus AAA credit rating on them. This is securities fraud, and should have been shut down by the SEC and other regulatory agencies, just like would have happened to any private company.

    The point where size figures into the picture is after the crimes have been committed. Unlike normal companies, Fannie and Freddie will drive the economy into an outright depression if we allow them to simply collapse.

    Size had nothing to do with how Freddie and Fannie got themselves into trouble, they did that by issuing fraudulent bonds. We have to back them now because they're such an important part of our economic structure (as they were designed to be) that thay can't collapse without taking the whole economy with them.

    Fannie and Freddie are a mess because they've been mismanaged, and because Bush administration regulators turned a blind eye to open fraud.

    September 8, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. saig

    As much as i am democrat, i think republicans will win again this nov. reason, people are stupid enough to believe john and vote for him. you have seen that in 2000 and 2004 elections. i won't be suprised if republicans win. I was hoping democrats would win and make this country better than last 8 years. atleast one good thing for me, if republicans win my oil stocks will go up for sure.

    September 8, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. Wendy

    It is amazing how these polls are done or the questions that are asked. I just finish reading over 300 comments on McCain's ad about Palin saying no to pork belly spending and 85% of those comments stated the ad was a lie. So, how come there are more people on CNN writing comments that believed it was a lie but the polls say something different. It is that America really do not care about the problems that are taking place in America today. Well, one thing for sure if we don't care, China, India, and the Middle East does. They want America to pick a John McCain because they know the people of America will be ignored such as how we have been ignored for 8 years. Believe me the last 8 years was not a bad dream but a Reality Show.

    September 8, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  5. Annie

    You know what, George, you're so uninformed you're scary. And the reason it's so close is that's how the media makes it's money. It wouldn't be so interesting if it were leaning heavy one way or the other, meaning viewership would be down. Check on the net for the state by state polls.

    September 8, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. Military Man

    I love people here think polls are awesome and indicative of something as long as Obama is winning them ... yet the polls are "worthless" when they don't show Obama winning them.

    The saddest thing is that CNN is feeding you guys Obama-flavored numbers right now. Most respectable polls have McCain winning ... not tied.


    McCain/Palin '08

    September 8, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Hillary 2012

    There was a litle doubt that after Obama stole the nomination from Hillary by loading up in the caucus states with his looney students and "community organizers" that McCain was going to win the election.

    After turbo charging his ticket with Palin, and Obama picking the old white guy, we moderate Democrats who support Hillary are really looking forward to 2012.

    Maybe we will let Barry do a little street work for us.

    September 8, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  8. bernard

    what did mr holland mean when they see the polls latter in the fall . is there more cooked polls to come out to try to minipulate the us voteing public . is that what mr holland means wate to the fall ? . aobama dosent lead bye ten points then two days latter its dead even thats not realistic at all . you are telling fibs about the polls cnn . infact cnn polls are the only polls that have never shown a big lead for obama the only ones not to . obama/biden becouse ive had ENOUGH !!!!!!! of this crap bye the media .

    September 8, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  9. Gia in Los Angeles, CA

    Is McCain still at the top of the ticket or is Palin? No one talks about McCain anymore... I guess that was his plan all along. They're trying to get away from that Bush-McCain legacy, and Palin can't be tied to Bush, so that's why they want HER in the spotlight, instead of McCain. After all, his campaign manager said this election would be about personalities, NOT about the issues. They're doing a great job with that angle, too.....

    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  10. Mike from St. Louis

    It is so very weird and scary at the same time that people are voting AGAINST their morals in this election. Some women I've spoken to who are pro-choice individuals are going to vote republican this year stictly for the purposes of voting for another woman and for not voting for a black candidate. Eventhough the woman is against their morals and the black man supports their morals. Vice versa as well. Some white older men are voting either independant or democratic to simply not for for a woman with 5 kids whom they feel should be home taking care of her "special needs" child. This SUCKS!

    I'm so frustrated and disgusted by how people aren't looking at the issues here and voting totally against their beliefs for one reason or another. Our childrens future is at stake here and all people can think about our their own selfish reason to vote STUPID in this election. I'm a democrat a will be voting as such because I believe in the way I was raised and that the governement is formed for the people by the people. Not for individuals by the rich and powerful. We're debating on winning a pointless and unecessary war that shouldn't even be a topic. The current commander in chief should've been impeached for misleading the WORLD into a senseless fight, and his fellow Rebubs are requesting another 4 years to continue their way of life?? Hogwash!! People really seem to not get it and think that eventhough they voted for the current jerk they somehow are not at fault for our current situation and what makes it worse...They are trying to do it again and think something will result differently! These people amaze me but are the ones crying the most about the current situation. Old and DUMB!!

    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  11. Cecil

    Dads' For


    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Eric-29-m-PA

    Obama got a 6 point bounce from his convention. McCain got atbout a 15 point bounce. Nice try CNN.

    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  13. 18 Million minus One

    Where was this doom and gloom all the time that McCain has been trailing? No one was saying his campaign was in trouble.

    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. Peter (CA)

    Obama got his bounce after the convention and went up by 6 to 10 pts. McCain got his bounce and caught up. He is in the spotlight more because of Palin.

    However, as the campaign goes on, the Republicans will no longer be allowed to hide her, will no longer be able to claim that any questions are "sexist", will no longer be able to lie about her.

    Wait a week or two and then see. The debates will be telling but be careful there. McCain is already saying he is no debater (just like his campaign said that if Obama did not get a 15 pt bounce from the convention, something was wrong). Let Palin tell America who she really is. I don't think anyone is ready for someone like that so close to the Presidency.

    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. Nathaniel

    I think it is simple, Obama has the goods and Mccain doesn't. Why else would we want to talk about personalies and not issues.

    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  16. Griff

    Harry Potter?? Or Harry" The so-Called "Queen's" Harry.. They use words to sell books. Live in my world for a change. There is no such thing as "A King".. I have yet to see "A Queen".... Or a God.,.. Keep Garbage out of Politics.. Oliver Cromwell.....

    September 8, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. gmania

    Now the republicans are trying to tell us not to believe our lying ears concerning Palins belief 4000+ American troops and 600,000 Iraqis have died in the Iraq war which was based on lies is in Gods plan.

    Yes yes yes it is Gods plan. Yes yes yes. It is Gods plan. I believe it is Gods plan to send our kids to fight and kill based on a lie. Yes yes yes it is Gods plan. Oh yes yes yes I believe Gods plans are based on lies. I do believe this. Yes I do.

    September 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. jason, tx

    As the polls go up in favor of McCain, the IQ of the American public goes down. Amazing.

    September 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. Doug, New Jersey

    All I ask is that all of you in the middle/south of the nation please spend a few days in the very liberal areas of the north east, chicago/detroit, or left coast to get a full understanding of what it is you will be supporting if you vote Democrat. I know that you all are better people and don't want to support the hateful, selfish, mean spirited liberalism that you will witness and understand if you drive around any of these areas for at least one day. Thank you.

    BTW, you can get a head start on your fact finding mission by watching the video of the mini-van from Obama land on the home page of the CNN website. Can you imagine what type of person would do that? That is lib extremism, but even small doses of it display a complete disregard for courtesy, respect, kindness, and decency.

    September 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. Christopher Estep

    Kee-ripes! The Obama supporters are at it again. Just because the race is now back to all-square (with two months remaining) they are suddenly wanting to know Gov. Palin's views on various things. What about Sen. Biden's views (if Gov. Palin's are so important)? I'll give you odds that just as Sen. Biden was put on the ticket to counter Sen.. Obama's being a rookie to the political process (much for the same reason that another long-time pol – Dick Cheney – was put on the GOP ticket eight years ago as the running-mate of a Texas governor that had never run for national office), his own views are different on a lot of national-security and foreign-policy issues from those of Sen. Obama. (Also, note that *nobody* quizzed either George Bush or Al Gore that much on either foreign policy or national security eight years ago, and they were the two Presidential candidates!) Also, unlike Sen. Obama, Sen. McCain actually knows his stuff on national-security and foreign-policy issues (even Sen. Biden admits that). What you want to quiz Gov. Palin about are in the areas where McCain is *weak* (by his own admission) tthe economy, tax policy, and the budget. Or are you actually worried that "Sarah Barracuda" is going to chew you up like so much chum (as in shark bait) over earmarks and pork-barrel spending?

    As far as Gov. Palin keeping the money originally earmarked for the "Bridge to Nowhere" and using it for other projects, there's a long trend of exactly that when it comes to earmarks – the core of the Washington, DC area's Metro subway system was paid for with money from the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System Trust Fund, diverted, with the permission of Congress, from opposed and canceled planned highway projects through Washington, DC and its suburbs, including portions of Interstates 66 and 95. That's just a single example, folks. What exactly did the governor do differently than governors of other states? (In fact, didn't the governor of Florida – a Democrat – get permission to reprogram a similar earmark?) Ma Kettle, what color is Sister Pot?

    September 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Chuck

    June September 8th, 2008 4:13 pm ET

    As a military wife, I could never voter for McCain! McCain chooses Palin….Palin! Are you kidding me! If you think for one second I can put faith in an elderly man potentially putting my husband's life in the hands of a "hockey Mom"…..NO WAY!

    There you have it bloggers. June speaks the truth and has a good legitimate reason to be concerned that having a hockey mom who believes the invasion of Iraq was ordained by God is just a heartbeat away from being Commander & Chief.

    September 8, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  22. Independent Pam

    Regarding the comment about average long as we continue to believe, act, and live like the average American you reference, life will not get better. In fact that is exactly why this country is such a mess.

    September 8, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. Ratgurl

    Enough with the polls; there's a new one every day! It's enough to make our heads spin.

    How about CNN making an effort to ask McCain & Palin some legit questions?

    September 8, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. June

    McCain says Palin is ready to be president.....and yet, he won't let her out of his eyesight! It must be terrible to live in fear/24 hours a day...7 days a week....just worrying that she'll say something....and totally ruin his career. Ok, now imagine both of them in office....and how the public now has to live in fear 24 hours a day...7 days a week....worrying that our country will never have economic prosperity, freedom from terrorism, or a country united.

    September 8, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  25. RapidRay

    How about everyone hangs up and the pollsters can wait until November?

    Werks fer me...

    September 8, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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