September 30th, 2008
05:40 PM ET
6 years ago

CNN POLL OF POLLS: Debate 'changed nothing'

ALT TEXT

The first presidential debate did little to change the dynamics of the presidential race, new polls show. (Getty Images)

(CNN) – Nearly 60 million Americans tuned in to the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain last Friday, but national polls released this week suggest the square-off did little to change the dynamics of the race.

The new polls are bad news for McCain, who with only five weeks until Election Day is quickly running out of opportunities to shake up the race for the White House.

In a new CNN poll of polls consisting of surveys conducted entirely after the first presidential debate, Obama holds a 5-point lead over McCain, 48-43 percent. That's exactly where the race stood immediately before the two candidates kicked off the presidential debate season in Oxford, Mississippi, four days ago.

“The ruling on last Friday’s presidential debate is in, and it’s a split decision,” said CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. “The debate changed nothing. Obama’s supporters aren’t shifting to McCain, McCain’s supporters aren’t shifting to Obama, and undecided voters are still undecided.

But the poll numbers come even as surveys conducted by several media organizations immediately after the debate showed most viewers thought Obama had won. However the polls also showed the debate viewers appeared to be more Democratic than the overall population.  (Related: CNN analysts grade McCain, Obama debate performances)

"Unfortunately for McCain, a continuation of the status quo favors Obama," Silverleib also said. "The pressure is increasing on McCain to find some way to change the fundamental dynamics of this race. He can’t afford to walk away with a tie in the remaining debates.”

McCain and Obama next square off October 7 in a debate that features a town-hall format - a set up that McCain favors. VP candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden have their only debate on Thursday.

soundoff (251 Responses)
  1. PK

    why is the format set up to favor McCain?

    September 30, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  2. Kate

    The VP debate on Thursday will seal the deal. No way Palin can hold her own against Biden.

    September 30, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  3. Donna

    I don't see how anyone could really "win" a debate..they aren't scoring any points since the answers are matters of personal knowledge and debate...

    People pretty much know who they are going to vote for by now and for those that don't, these debates should be a chance for the candidate to speak to them directly..whether or not they answer your questions is a personal opinion....

    September 30, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  4. Margerie, OH

    Good, all is right with the world. Now if Sarah would just keep talking the poll will be even higher in Barack's favor.

    Thanks for picking her McCain, what a gift that keeps on giving.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 30, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  5. Rob Crawford

    How is 48-45 a 5-pt lead? Palinomics?

    September 30, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  6. Phil, Ashburn, VA

    It changed me. Showed me the real McCain. Arrogant, disrespectful, angry, irritated and old.

    September 30, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  7. ohio

    Obama knocked mccain out no questions asked. Everything Mccain voted on war was wrong and everything mccain voted on economy was wrong mccain is wrong all his life

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

    48-45 is not a 5 point lead

    September 30, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  9. help us all

    well go figure.

    September 30, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  10. Mccain is a liar

    Mccain is an idiot, a liar, and it's going to be downright scary if he somehow wins with sarah palin, the model reporter and then mayor of a town that has less people than probably my college campus...

    September 30, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  11. Sarah So NJ

    Palin's fist has been drawing my attention

    causing me to wonder

    probably represents insecurity

    September 30, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  12. JD in Moraga, CA

    "Obama holds a 5-point lead over McCain, 48-45 percent"

    New math, right?

    September 30, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Baze

    The failure of his Mighty Mouse routine is the nail in the coffin for this campaign. He flew in to save washington, and instead created more chaos.

    ONE NATION

    September 30, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  14. I said Thanks, but No Thanks to another 4 years of g.o.p. corruption, arrogance and incompetence

    McCain: "Me First"

    September 30, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  15. Liz T, Tucson

    To date, everything McCain has done to "shake up the race", has been cynical, deceptive and grand-standing. I am afraid that he will do something really crazy.

    The man is simply not stable. He is cornered and desperate.

    September 30, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  16. Fritz

    "Obama holds a 5-point lead over McCain, 48-45 percent."
    Those numbers don't look right.

    September 30, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  17. PD Thomas

    He needs to be at 52% for it to really matter...i wonder...do they make enough calls to hold the number or if they made more would be get to 52%?

    Can we get a breakdown of how these polls work so we can know if there is merit??

    September 30, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  18. Judith Goldsmith

    It's pretty obvious that Bill Clinton would like Obama to lose so that Hillary could run in 4 years.

    The Clintons are not known for their ability to play fair

    September 30, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. TAMMY

    48-45=3

    September 30, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  20. Dutch-VA

    The debate in my opinion was won by Sen. Obama. The polls may not show a boost because he right people aren't being polled. Everyone I've spoken to thinks Obama won and thought McLame was childish because he couldn't even look Sen. Obama in the face.

    September 30, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. Mark

    Umm, 48-45 is a 5 point lead?

    September 30, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  22. Jeff

    Related topic...the photo caption for the CNN Political Ticker posting showing Senator Obama talking to President Bush could be...

    "Mr. President I got a call from Sarah Palin saying something about wanting to use her lifeline. Do you know how I can reach her?"

    "Well Senator my understanding is she is at debate camp studying and is not to be disturbed by anyone...especially by journalists."

    September 30, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Kay Mason

    Excuse me-how is 48 to 45 a five point lead? Your polls have also been out of line with more recent ones suggesting Obama's lead is growing.
    Who gathered these results? John King, the McPain man, probably.

    September 30, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. JD in NC

    It's not the debate that changed things, it was McCain unpredictable behavior. Throughout all of this Obama has been calm and responsible, and that's what we saw Friday night.

    September 30, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  25. Tim B

    "Obama holds a 5-point lead over McCain, 48-45 percent." ... I want to subscribe to this mathematical journal.

    September 30, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
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