September 8th, 2008
06:45 PM ET
11 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. karen-phoenix

    Go to
    It will tell you who is leading in electoral votes. Obama has Calif, NY, IL PA, MI, Wisc and Min tied up. He comes up with 331 electorial votes!!! 270 needed to win. The majority of the population understands what a fraud and lier he and Pelin are!!!!! For America to survive we desperately need Obama/Biden!!!!

    September 8, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  2. Pam

    Those pictures are very telling. One is supporting Obama, the other isn't supporting McCain, it's just against Obama. What's wrong cowboy dude, couldn't bring yourself to put on a pro-McCain button?

    September 8, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  3. xddy4u

    It's not the election I'm worried about, it's the polling places. Obama should start now checking to make sure if paper ballots are used there are enough at the polling places. The DEMs are going to swamp the polls, and there are going to be some serious irregularities going on to keep the DEMs from voting. Just mark me. there is no way McCain can win, no way, so the RNC are going to try and pull some down right dirty tricks to keep Obama supporters from voting.

    September 8, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  4. Josh


    I'll let McCain answer this one...

    McCain, " Don't quote me but I think Americans are stupid. If they vote for Bush twice I think I can play them once more for the road."


    and Stop being afraid of McCain camp. They said that media is bias and your hands are tigh and you don't let us post what is on our mind???

    September 8, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
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