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. observer

    I cannot for a minute believe that McCain will win this election. Who is polling people with cell phones? Not anyone that I have heard about.
    A lot of the young voters only have cells and an increasing number of older people as well. Why? Because who wants to pay 2 different phone companies for the same service...We all have other bills. So my family has gone to all cells and we are mid forties. Don't think we are alone McCain fans.

    August 20, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. gl

    Why can't no one answer WHO ARE YOU POLLING?

    August 20, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  3. mike in pa

    "I will take a Bush over a Carter any day." ??

    Nobel Peace Prize winner vs. Worst President Ever.

    Just shows the GOP only votes GOP. The other parties at least think about the consequences of what they vote for.

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

    Everyone has to know that Mr. Mccaine cheated at the Rick Warren presentation, he got a chance to prepare his answers before coming out. Eventhough Mr. Warren said mccain was in a closed seeled room, it has been confirmed that Cheater Mcsame whent to his motorcar and had a chance to listen to all the questions.

    Disgusting old Creep

    August 20, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. BUSHED!!!

    Obama now leads McCain 45 percent to 44 percent, down from a 3-point margin...McAttack with all the ATTACKS is still behind..
    Senator Obama is being Atatcked by McAttack Rush Limbaugh Sean Hannity CNN and Puma ...Mcattack should be ahead !!!

    August 20, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. José Manuel Brito

    Finally the American people is focusing...
    Experience cannot be improvised, Hillary did show the truth, can she sweetcoat that??
    Obama is or was a sign of frustration,but slowly but for sure people will go for somebody who can protect and defend America and that person ( a maverick) is Mc Cain
    CNN start picking up something that the independent people realized a while ago...
    Change is good when we now what change,how much will cost and how will be paid

    August 20, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Gary

    This comment earlier today:
    "Go Obama! We are not worried! It's still early and we have so much time. You can pull this off. Polls mean nothing. What matters is who turns out to vote and seeing the number of people who voted in the primaries, you will be fine."

    Let me translate: I'm scared stiff and can't belief he is going to lose.
    Well, believe it. I predict McCain's lead will only grow. Obama has no cards left to play.

    August 20, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. Louis

    EVERYONE HAS IT BACKWARDS: The point ISN'T that Obama is failing because he should be clearly ahead of McCain. The point IS that a brilliant but relatively inexperieced African-American with the name Barack Hussien has beaten the Clinton machine and is even in the polls with a U.S. war hero who has 26 years experience. The American voter is speaking loud and clear that the past 7 years of the Bush administration are a disaster and we want a new direction for our country.


    August 20, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. brad in austin

    GF...yes I have been phoned by a pollster and yes they do exist.

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

    Obama's comments "more measured"......LOL....He was at a total loss at what to say or how to respond. His inexperience and world view have finally been exposed and voters are seeing him for who he really is. Nothing more complex than that.

    August 20, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  11. Gor

    Maybe it was his um and errr interview with Rick Warren that messed up his lead. Obama is such a joke when he is off script.

    August 20, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. sh

    How stupid voters can be after 8 years they still don't get it. Maybe majority of them are doing better than before but again people who have not even travelled to another state what do they know what's going around. There is saying you get what you deserve. On the other hand if Sen Obama thinks he can win by just being good guy it will not fly with these voters.

    August 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Matthew

    Enter Hillary Clinton please 😀
    Obama exit stage left 🙂

    August 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. Nick

    Hotdog- Your notion that McCain should have been leading in the polls is crazy. Obama should be blowing McCain away given the political landscape.
    mollygonz-You may want to crunch your numbers again considering the 2004 turnout was 121mil and Obama only got about 18 mil in the primaries.
    cherrystrawberry-The only (non caucus) primary whos results weren't reflected in the polls prior to it was New Hampshire where Hillary upset Obama. Again check your facts.

    August 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  15. Dave

    It just keeps getting worse for Barack Hussein Obama, should be a blow out, and it will be to the other side, as the Kool Aid starts to wear off!

    It is easy to understand that we have 30-40% ignorant people in the US, question is will the kids, unemployed, welfare recipients, lazy, uneducated, really come out to vote this year??? NO

    McCain wins with no less than 50% of the popular vote!

    August 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  16. Election Watcher

    Hillary in a heartbeat.
    Nobama in a million years.

    August 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. James

    Keep the story going, CNN.

    You have to convince everyone that this race is "close" and polls "matter."

    Otherwise, we might all turn off the TV / PC and go outside...

    August 20, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  18. Bella from Florida

    This is it for Obama. Obama has no chance on winning the general Election even if he goes negative.

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

    If you use your cell phone as your main number...and give that number you can be polled. So yes..cell phones do get polled, as I have been polled on my cell. If Obama and the democrats really want to win its all about Hillary Clinton. Its my ultimate belief that she is the stronger democrat, but she and Obama would make a phenominal team and create real history as the first African American President and the first female Vice President. Obama will fall further in the polls if he ignores the base and the base wants Clinton on the ticket.

    August 20, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. pdx mcgee

    The media wants SO badly to keep this interesting that they never fess up who they are really polling. It is just the same old tired polling system they have always used, and, as we have learned, is not an accurate reflection of what is really going on with Americans. All this wasted time, when the media could have been focused on one of the most historical moments in US political history. You all sound so old.

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

    When Obama is up in the polls Obama supporters rally around the numbers as a sign of their victory.

    When Obama is down in the polls it's CNN's fault or Sen. Clinton's fault or even the American people's fault (for being "stupid").

    Flip flopping supporters who won't have enough power left on election day to matter. America is now seeing the real Obama and they don't like him.

    The Democrats should have elected the person who could have won this election the way it was suppose to be won.

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

    August 20th, 2008 4:12 pm ET

    ???? WHO ARE YOU POLLING????
    This is a poll of likely voter (i.e. those who are over 50 with landline phones);These polls do not reflect the millions of newly registered voters or those who have changed their phone providers.

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

    we told you that nominating barack HUSSEIN obama was a bad idea.
    he is already starting to self destruct and it's only August

    GO HILLARY IN 2012

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

    He is going down to hill....

    Obama will never be president. If he does not choose Hillary Clinton as a running mate. A lot of women will vote McCain period…..

    John McCain will be the next president!!!!!

    Clinton VP or McCain!!!!!!!

    August 20, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Foreign observer

    Again half the people believe that doing nothing is the best way towards future. Meanwhile the world evolves.

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