August 20th, 2008
06:15 PM ET
14 years ago

Poll of polls: Obama's once-comfortable lead gone

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama's lead is down to 1 point over McCain."](CNN) - For Barack Obama, the Democratic convention and the bump in the polls that is expected to follow couldn't come soon enough.

According to a new CNN poll of polls, the Illinois senator's once-comfortable lead over McCain is down to only 1 point nationwide - potentially troubling news for Obama as he gets set to accept his party's nomination in Denver.

Obama now leads McCain 45 percent to 44 percent, down from a 3-point margin in a CNN poll of polls yesterday and down from an 8-point lead in mid July.

The seemingly rapid drop in the polls could be due to the reemergence of national security issues following the crisis in Georgia, giving McCain an anvil to hammer away at Obama's inexperience. When Russian troops invaded Georgia two weeks ago, McCain vigorously denounced the action and warned of consequences. Obama's reaction was more measured, and potential voters noticed, CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider said.

"Which candidate do voters believe is better qualified to deal with Russia? McCain by better than 2-1," Schneider said. "More experience in military matters and foreign affairs."

CNN Election Center: Check out the latest polls

In a year when the Republican brand is reeling, CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib says the Obama campaign officials should be concerned their lead appears to have become so tenuous.

“This ought to be a landslide Democratic year, but right now the Obama campaign is at risk of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory," Silverleib said. "They’ve been slow to respond as McCain has successfully raised a series of questions about Obama’s basic fitness for the presidency."

"The pressure is mounting for Obama to regain the initiative as he heads to Denver for what is certain to be one of the most critical weeks of his campaign

But can the Democratic presidential candidate rely on the post-convention bounce? Maybe. From 1976 to 2004 every major party nominee has gained ground - 8 points on average - in polls taken immediately after the convention. But in the last presidential cycle, neither President Bush nor Sen. John Kerry received any bounce from either of their conventions.

soundoff (222 Responses)
  1. Laura

    I think if Obama had been up against any other Rep., he would be way ahead. John McCain is likeable by both political parties. He is well respected and is known to work across party lines.

    Obama also didn't do very well (without the teleprompter and a script) Saturday night. He ummed his way through every question he was asked in the forum. It frankly was painful to watch.

    I think that and world affairs are why he is down in the polls. It also tells us that he needs someone like Hillary for VP.

    August 20, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. obamaton

    I am, er, uh um unable to, er explain, um with specitivity the, er reason for uh, this. That is, um above my er, pay grade.

    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. cherrystrawberry

    Yea right CNN. According 2 you Hillary Clinton and the other repulican (not John McFrankenstein) were winning,,,,,right up to the day they lost.

    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. jen

    The corporate media has now got the race right where they want it which is very close. CNN has been by far the most bias towards McCain even when you include Fox News.

    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. cherrystrawberry

    Obama dont worry about these polls Brother. You know they are calling old retired people and noone from the hood. We have your back. Stay Strong! Peace


    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  6. John B. From New Hampshire

    indeed Sandy...
    i remember Hillary leading EVERY poll before and during allot of the primaries. POLLS never accurately reflect the will of the people!!!

    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  7. Truth

    America, what the heck is wrong with you. Don't you understand the consequences on the economy and wars overseas if McCain gets in? I am NOT afraid to say you people are stupid, and I wish that you'd not get offended by it and actually READ A BOOK or something intelligent.

    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  8. Oh! The Irony

    Wait a minute. His lead is down from yesterday? What about from 2 hours ago? Do we have a poll within the last 15 minutes?

    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  9. Hillary and Barack- fighting for Change

    I'm a 30 year old professional and I do not even know anyone among my peers who has a land line telephone.

    Pollsters are not allowed to call cell phones, and most people my age and younger only have cell phones.

    Young people and African-Americans are going to come out in volcanic numbers to support our agent for change in America.

    The demoralized right-wingers are likely to stay at home once they learn more about the candidate they were never really crazy about in the first place.

    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  10. peakarach,des moines,IA

    MCCAIN 08!
    HILLARY 12!

    August 20, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  11. A Woman In California For Obama

    Is this any surprise he is down? Afterall, this is/still America. In some strange kind of way, I wish they would give HRC the nomination. I would love to see her ripped apart and blown away in the election. In the end McCain will probably go on to win. Afterall, he is the "comfortable choice" and America will get what it asked for...

    August 20, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  12. Rache from Bowie

    Absolutely not!

    August 20, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Emma

    Hillary is the only one who can bring off this election for Obama. Why is he being so obtuse?

    August 20, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. Yankee Air Pirate

    Folks,he's toast."The Magic Mulatto " ,watch him make his lead disappear.

    August 20, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. James at 45

    Looks like the electorate is starting to notice that the Emperor has no clothes (or experience, or original ideas, or any firm convictions)

    August 20, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  16. I told you so

    Obama IS going down. Not for any other reason than our discontent with the DNC and his arrogance.

    Another electoral college poll shows him losing as well. Hillary would have had 10% on McCain by now, but the Obama and his supporters put their desires of power ahead of the party and nation's best interest.

    It is downright PATHETIC he is doing so poorly when the White House should have been easy taking. The dems did it to themselves once again.

    Oh – Sandy – PA: It's on Fox and MSNBC, too.

    August 20, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  17. Arkansas Undertaker

    Take no stock in any polls 2 and a half months before the election. ANd Obama never had a comfortable lead in the polls anyway 5 or 6 points is no comfortable lead. But this election is not as close as the media would like for you to believe.

    August 20, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  18. LT for Obama

    By the way, the ambition quote is from the 2002 book, Worth Fighting For.

    August 20, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  19. jn

    Who cares about the polls! There is still plenty of time for John McSame to screw up! He can say the nastiest things he wants..I'm not changing my vote! You vote for John McSame, you vote for the 3rd term of Bush! I'm not worried at all! The most important day is voting day..The people of the world would be so STUPID to put another republican into the Office...Come on people...haven't WE the PEOPLE suffered enough! Go Barack!..This was probably John McSame's strategy to begin with so Hillary could go to the convention and try to steal the nomination from Obama...John knows he has a better chance winning with Hillary then he does Obama! Wait until next week John when the democratic convention begins...Im sure Barack's numbers will rise in the polls!Don't forget McCain=Bush or matter how you slice it, it comes up the same....

    Good Luck Barack!

    August 20, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  20. velmeezee

    Despite what the media and polls are saying about Obama at present time, there has not been one event that has happened in the last 4 years that he has made a prediction on that he has been off the mark about. How strange then that some are still questioning his judgement and ability to lead. How strange that some are still clinging to (he's an appeaser) guns and (he's a muslim) religion in order to conclude that he would not be one of the greatest leaders in US history, not to mention the clear choice for president this year.
    The Saddleback forum really did remind me of a national gameshow. Unfortunately Sen Obama thought it was Jeopardy and Sen McCain thought it was Family Feud. Since the people of this country cannot process information greater than a slogan, headline or sound byte, and Family Feud is so much more FUN than Jeopardy, Sen McCain "won".
    Funny how ignorance, arrogance, and deceit are morphed into "qualities" for Sen McCain while Sen Obama has not displayed any of these and they are constantly pinned to him anyway, but they magically change back into faults.

    August 20, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  21. Jill- IN

    So what is the CNN "poll of polls" please? Who gets called? We have had the same land line phone # for many years and haven't received a poll call. No poll calls to cell phones - so with millions of voters out working everyday and possibly not available evenings, just who is home answering all these poll calls. I think the polling organizations need to come up with a more modern way to poll the interested public. It's outdated.

    August 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  22. Mike - Texas

    Obama is in trouble.

    Kerry was up on Bush by 24 points leading into the democratic convention 4 years ago and Gore led by a large margin as well.

    Historically, the democratic candidate is ususally up 20 – 25 points over his republican rival at this time of year. So, to only be up by 3 points and within the margin of error does not bode well for Obama.

    With the way the economy is, either one of those 2 candidates would have probably been up by 40 points or more over Bush.

    Hillary would have been a LOT stonger cadidate.

    August 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  23. Andrew

    Hillary 2012!

    August 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  24. rayster

    CNN count the blogs you have in the past week and thenpost your poll results that are your numbers and you get what you want numbers that give you ratings
    you ar so onesided cnn

    August 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. GF

    Think about it...has anyone here been called by a pollster? Does anyone here know anybody called by a pollster?

    August 20, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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