September 9th, 2008
06:14 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN poll: Convention bounces cancel each other out

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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
soundoff (256 Responses)
  1. adam

    campaign effect is a wonderful thing but only temporary. For a real game changer look to the debates!

    Being fairly decided, but not completely i watched both conventions. I suspect most people did not. Had they i think they would have been put off by the rancor and vitriol of the republicans. The democrats talked about themselves and what they wanted to do for the most part, the republicans talked about the democrats for the most part.

    The only promise sarah palin made in her whole speech was that special needs families would have a friend in the white house. The rest was rancor to the democrats.

    I was really left with the feeling that the only things the republicans had to go on was knocking the other guy. I wish they had more of a plan then that.

    But anyways, that won't fly during a debate so it will be real interesting to see how rancor works there. If a spunky style and vitriol is all they have to offer i think the polls will lean real far to one side then.

    September 9, 2008 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  2. Run Jonnie Run

    Ya, right CNN! The Republicans have you all on the run and even your polling data shows it. NObama! Good luck trying to ignore it.

    September 9, 2008 06:56 am at 6:56 am |
  3. Peter from Dover NH

    Let me see... McCain was way behing bedore the RNC now he is ahead and the headline says the bounce was neutral?

    Give me a break. Do the math. Report the truth. Just look at RCP avg.

    September 9, 2008 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  4. The Bush Twins : George and John

    Lets see what happens after the debates. I know the pick of Palin as McCains VP has altered things a bit and people are excited about her for whatever reasons I don't understand. But the real question here is : does Palin have what it takes to lead this country should something happen the McCain?. The very thought frightens me. The idea that the people will allow themselves to be fooled into 4-8 more years of the same is hard to believe, but it just might happen.

    Wake up America we can't take it anymore !!

    Vote Obama !!

    September 9, 2008 07:06 am at 7:06 am |
  5. kurler

    I'll believe a CNN poll the day I see clear evidence that one of their employees is a republican

    September 9, 2008 07:09 am at 7:09 am |
  6. Obama is 43% Muslim = Arab-American president

    Obama is pathetic as he campaigns like it is a comedy tour, trying to be funny with his jabs at McCain. This guy is a joke, let him go back to being a community organizer.

    September 9, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  7. Charlotte

    The only President to get a real bump (16 points) after the conventions, was Bill Clinton. These early polls are more telling then you might think. When I saw Bush gaining on Gore I was concerned, and rightly so, Gore lost. Then alongs comes Kerry, and he lost. McCain was counted out as even being the nominee, never count John Sydney McCain as down and out! Gore/Lieberman, Kerry/Edwards, Obama/Biden. The VP choice has more to do with the election then you might think. Imagine, if it were an Obama/Clinton ticket?

    September 9, 2008 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  8. Junior

    I think weeks ahead will wipe Palin´s enthusiasm and that Americans will get into facts and what she stands for including the question of readiness incase an old McCain stumbles! Voters will put into account her Alaska´s odd stories of corruption and a Bush like attitude of power abuse!

    September 9, 2008 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  9. candace

    #1 – Why is this filed under Obama not all the candidates?
    #2- If the numbers before and after aren't identical the bounces didn't cancel.....

    September 9, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  10. kanderson

    GOGOGO obama..

    mccain is not fit to be a president as he picked sarah for vice, when he doesnt even respect woman rights.. wake up and smell the flowers, obama is what we need to bring are america back in order, be debt free, picking McCAin, we will still be in debt, low economy, someone that we dont need, dont you people understand that, we need to worry about ourselfs instead of another country, its a good thing helping out other countries, but look at us, were falling apart and no one sees that...

    September 9, 2008 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  11. FlyDiesel

    Dead even? McCain got a bounce in every poll, including yours. Obama's convention bounce lasted one day.

    September 9, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  12. gaskella

    liars. Go Sarah, go Sarah!

    September 9, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  13. TW Stone

    CNN news polls raise doubts about credibility and bias. Why do most other polls USA Today and Fox fo name only two, show almost a ten point lead.

    In these times where serious news and information are sought by citizens – it would appear that CNN has another agenda which is not the delivery of truthful factual reporting.

    Could it be the CNN is certainly not news, but only in it for th money!

    September 9, 2008 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  14. gian

    Americans want more of the same. They don't want change. They don't want different. They don't want anything pertaining to the future. All you hear Americans say they want is "the good ole' days". Gawd!

    September 9, 2008 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  15. gaskella

    I don't vote based on biased polls. nice try though...

    September 9, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  16. Steve

    "because the conventions have not changed the basic dynamic of the race" -were you on Mars for the past week ?

    September 9, 2008 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  17. Isher

    Way to reach way too far. These are numbers including the numbers from the past 4 days during which time an overwhelming amount of coverage of McCain/Palin has gone on, with an underwhelming amount of coverage of Palin's actual record.

    The bounce for McCain has yet to fade and you're already calling it at tie? I guess that keeps it exciting, right?

    Please be more objective, for your own sake... or in spite of it.

    September 9, 2008 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  18. Barbara


    McCain's team, in an effort to distract, is going to keep doing what they're doing - diverting voters and the media with a tantalizing combination of personal trivia and small lies. It doesn't matter if they're caught in them - in fact, all the better. Because they know there is no way they can win if this election is about the big truth of the Bush years.

    September 9, 2008 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  19. Michael

    This article is untrue...McCain is leading in virtually every poll that came out as of yesterday except THIS one, McCain had an enormously bigger bounce than Obama, and CNN's biased liberal view of this election is going to keep you posting bogus stories like this to try and bolster "your guy".
    Shame on you.

    September 9, 2008 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  20. Lorna, NY

    The governor has cut back on pork-barrel project requests, but in her two years in office, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. And as mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million.

    September 9, 2008 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  21. Eyes-open

    Hi there everyone,

    Well I woke up two days ago and had an OMG moment. You see, I knew people can be swayed but not as easily as I have seen it this year. Ok let me cut to the chase, It's all about politics. I have seen the hypocracy of the Republican candidate and I have seen the brilliant chess move he made when he picked Gov Palin to be the queen of chess board. Well it was a great ploy that seem to be working.

    The Mccain strategy of injecting gender youth into his campaign has worked so far but I have to ask the shifters who have been polled so far and I mean, just the ones in the latest polls, because I still refuse to believe that the small segment who have been polled, cannot really represent the majority of people. I ask them, are you setting aside the hardship that the country has faced over these last seven years, the status of America in the current global community, the high prices of domestic commodoties, THE LIES THAT BOTH McCAIN AND GOV PALIN ARE TELLING. Yes, lies, no other way to say it. I cannot go into all the details but I would advise people to pay attention to the news.

    When the Republican put her out there, they first went after the press to block any form of criticism of this woman, people fell for it hook line and sinker. So any investigation of Palin is now sexism. Can anyone see where I am going with this. The election is no longer about ISSUES. This election for the Repubs is now about miss congeniallity, who likes Sarah more. It's no longer about the future of our homes, jobs, children, children's education, future of this country. How can we be distracted so easily, we are being laughed at by McCain, Rove and Schmidt, we are being ridiculed because we are like sheep who can be easily lead, bribed by candy and made to forget about important issues even when we know the person who is telling us to support him, not asking for our support, is part of the system that made it happen....... Folks, please don't let them trick us again, please don't give them that satisfation.

    September 9, 2008 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  22. John in Mlps.

    So are the Obama supporters going to remain arrogant in thinking they're going to have a slam dunk of an election?

    Obama = Hare
    McCain = Tortoise

    You know the story. 🙂

    September 9, 2008 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  23. Moderate Republican for Obama

    I hope Palin's flavor will become old. Except for a few reporters, it amazes me just how less hard analysis Palin has received from the media than her opponents or even John McCain. As soon as the media does their job and actually vet Palin, you will continue to see her mystique rise.

    September 9, 2008 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  24. Doug

    No big shock. You have candidates who compare fairly equally, both good and bad. What will be the key for either camp from now on is who can inspire the most voters into thinking about the future of the country. While I know who I plan to vote for, I will still want to hear about the specifics and make sure that the shortcomings of either candidate are outweighed by their plusses.

    September 9, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  25. hcain73

    Hey all,

    Do more research(wont take much) to learn that mostly all polling except the one you state have Mcpalin leading now compared to before the RNC. Just letting you know the FACTS squarely.


    September 9, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
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