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. JD

    Looks like Americans are finally coming to terms with the simple truth that a junior hack senator who's flip-flopping on every issue of consequence and has adopted a purely react-to-the-polls approach to his campaign is not exactly Presidential material.

    Let's face it: flowery oratory skills may win debate club accolades, but it sure doesn't make someone fit for the Office of the President. I'm glad to see people are finally waking up to this.

    August 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Eddie Blake

    Beware you libs. We are on a roll. George Bush and Dick Cheny are heroes who have protected their nation, and we need John Mccain to step up and continue their legacy. We won't sit around and let you start sharia law.

    August 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. Ken in Dallas

    If the American people are gulled by the Republican propaganda machine, McCain's campaign tactics will work, and he will be president.

    If the people see through the Goebbels-style tactics the McCain campaign has chosen to represent their candidate, McCain doesn't have any subsstantive ideas to fall back on, and he will lose.

    Either way, Americans will get the government we deserve.

    God help us.

    August 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  4. ACFX

    The Georgia – Russia incident has invoked a gut-check.
    Instincts would have America flock to a true leader

    August 20, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    McCain accuses Obama of going to Berlin and pretending to be POTUS. McCain rises in the polls.

    McCain pretends to be POTUS by speaking out louder and more aggressively than Bush, which was totally out line BTW. McCain rises in the polls.

    The President of Georgia called on McCain for help. McCain remained silent because he was powerless to actually help. Recall that McCain had called for NATO troops to halt the Russians. Then McCain tempered his words to be more like what Obama was saying. McCain rises in the polls.

    Amazing. Polls are either meaningless, or the people being polled are not paying attention.

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. Richard J

    polls are meaningless and neither side should get too comfortable. They've been wrong A LOT. We won't know until November but I sincerely hope people wake up and realize that obama is nothing but shallow rhetoric and if he does win, god help us . . . the democratic congress will call the shots.

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. TB...

    About time the country caught on to the fact that WE DON'T KNOW THIS GUY - AT ALL!

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. ACFX

    The Georgia – Russia incident has invoked a gut-check.
    Instincts would have America flock to a true leader

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |

    time to call HILLARY

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  10. Dan

    Ron Paul Republicans (Libertarians) will do more damage to McCain than Hilary supports to Obama...They are a stubborn bunch...McCain will lose Georgia, Montana and Nevada because of Libertarians.

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. b/augusta

    Why is there a new poll everyday? I have yet to receive a call. In the event I receive a call, my response will not reflect the trend these fictious polls seem to suggest.

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. Santana-California

    Whatever, wait until after the convention, then look at the polls, beside you are you all calling, I work with about 500 employees and we all laugh because you must be calling or polling other international countries for your polls. I don't even see polls on the internet, the people you are polling live in back woods of Tennessee??

    Hispanics–for Obama, Woman for Obama, GOOOOOO OBAMA!!!

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. leon

    As bill said on Larry King yesterday he is dissapointed of both McCain adn Obama. He stated that Obama has become a regular politician more intellectual but regular in the sense of not standing on positions or changing positions for political convenience.

    A lot of us saw that long time ago that is why 18 millions voted for Hillary instead of Obama, His real colors are showing but still the worst is to come when the playbook from Chicago he played again and again while he campaigned there will show everybody will finally see that Barack attempt to picture himself as a different kind of politician is nothing more than a political move to confuse voters.

    Hillary at least did not pretend to be someone she is not. Besides she is a more competent candidate and more experience to really lead the changes we need

    August 20, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. Luis in Miami with no hope to win

    Why is that surprising to anyone. I do not think that with a party in disarray we are going to win this one. The DNC made a fatal mistake by thinking that they will pick a candidate for us and then we will follow like cattle. WRONG… never take away the will of the people.

    My vote was taken away then as a gesture of "goodwill" I got back 1/2 my vote but to the DNC please no favors we need to go by the "rules". Now I am an independent and will vote for McCain in November.

    Obama if you really want party unity pick Hillary as your running mate and you will win in November; I guarantee it. If you are not having a serious run pick anyone else. She is the other strong candidate. This is so simple it baffles my mind.

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Jimmy in CO

    No time to panic, McCain answered a couple questions coherently and now people realize he is awake.

    Problem with Americans is the want a President you can drink a beer with, George W I'm looking at you. When you think simply you end up with a simple leader, when your willing to take a little risk you can end up with a great leader. I believe Obama has the upside to be a GREAT leader.

    The fact that McCain has used Britney, Paris and Messiah to appeal to people really says it all. Pander to people who couldn't think their way out of a paper bag.

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  16. Belle

    Actually I think Senator Obama is supplying his own nails.

    He flatly accuses the Pro Life group of being Liars...and states he was always against Partial Birth Abortion. Then says he voted against it because it was not like the Federal bill. So what do they do? They pull out the IL Bill and the Federal Bill and point out the language is EXACTLY the same. Obama's campaign comes out and says he was mistaken in legislative history. Obama had to aplogize on Sunday.

    The New York Post today said "Obama either didn't know his own record, or was so accustomed to shrouding it in dishonesty that it had become second nature."

    THAT is why Obama is losing ground in the Polls.

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  17. SBAMA

    1 debate with these two side by side and it will be over!
    McCain and honrable guy, well at least till he ran for POTUS...

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  18. amiraforobama

    CNN likes to exagerate polls, they did the same in the primaries. I hope this country is smart enough, to not vote for republicans again. Or we will see World War 3 soon. Mccain has a sick mind, he suffered alot of trauma in vietnam, and he has alot of hate inside of him, God help us and our children if that crazy man is our presiden!

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. Candace

    Obama 08! This poll will only energize Obama fans across the country to really show their support in the following months. Nothing to worry about...

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. I told you so

    Mr. O, grab a hankerchief! You should start sweating now. It would really suck if you had to go back to being a Jr. Senator.

    Cherrstrawberry: Hillary didn't lose, she suspended her campaign. Neither of them one.

    Here's a fact for you: Hillary earned 500,000 most than Obama after his winning streak. If we all knew then what we knew now, he'd lose for sure. I actually supported Obama's bid until I heard about his friends, and his stunt to become a senator in the first place.

    This is not a man of ethics or change. He's played very dirty while hiding behind that smile. Many people are finally waking up from the transes of his speeches.

    Some advice for Mr. O:

    Don't play the "Same old Washington Politics" card you played on Hillary. Nobody is buying it anymore.

    Don't play "change we can believe in", anyone who does fact-finding will see you are no different.

    Leave the party if you want any chance of the dems taking the White House. If not, you are putting your ego above the will of the people.

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Eric

    It would be interesting if someone did a national or battle ground states poll matching Hillary Clinton to John McCain and released it right before the convention. If Hillary beats McCain what would be convention fall out be?

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  22. SillyMediaPollsr4adults

    As a local campaign volunteer for Obama, I can tell you that no one is worried on our side. Now if McCain ever breaks 45% (which he has never done) there may be a problem. But until then, this is all hype.

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  23. JJ

    All I have to say is if McCain wins, America is going to get what they paid for...
    More war
    Higher gas prices
    Roe vs Wade overturned
    No equal rights for women
    Affirmative Action will be eliminated
    No respect among foreign leaders

    When all these things happen: America better not whine and cry.

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  24. velmeezee

    Also, I would think these polls are not any sort of accurate predicting method because they are not polling all voters, and if they are polling the same people every day as it seems because the poll numbers change daily, they are probably irritated and giving inconsistent answers by now. I wish my phone would ring with a poller on the line...then a new voice could be heard.

    August 20, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. austin

    Obama will loose if he doesnt pick Clinton as VP. I will vote McCain.

    Clinton VP or McCain

    August 20, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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