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

CNN poll: Convention bounces cancel each other out

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/08/art.convention.gi.jpg 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. tornado1972

    Please just tell us why you want just say a lot of what Palin is just a lie!
    It seems you want to see this go on just for the story, you guys are better than this!

    September 9, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. Policies ?

    So, Mr Obama has forgotten about talking policies, and issues.

    He will make a good joker and "mocker", after all has been Rev Wrights' pupil for 20 years.

    Good going Bobama.

    September 9, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. Obama- Next Stop.. White House

    "They Must Think Your Stupid"
    APPARENTLY a WHOLE LOT OF YOU ARE!!!!

    September 9, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. bert

    The repubs were desperate when they picked Palin and they were hoping that women were stupid enough to fall for the premeditated sexist WAR that McCain was hoping to start but what he failed to realize is that women in this country are smarter than most men and they are able to see through this kind of trouble making easier than men are, and women are know to avoid trouble. I do not think the women fell for the bait from McWarstarter. The polls show women are starting to see through Palin and it's easy to see that she is no Hillary Clinton. The dems need to just let the dirt on McBush and Palin come all the way out and then they need to put it on them good.

    September 9, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  5. Angry, Gun toting, Bibli thumping, white male

    Of course I would wlie to see some small changes in the way government works, but, not at the expense of turning the White House into a black hole.

    September 9, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. PAUL

    Now, let me see if I have this right. If Nobama is ahead in the polls, they matter and they are correct (no mention of the Electoral College). If McCain is ahead in the polls, they don't matter (according to the Obamabots) and they are wrong. All that matters is the Electoral College. Yes, I think I understand it now. Pretty soon, McCain will be ahead in the polls and on November 4th, will be ahead in Electoral votes. Then, Obamabots, what will matter???
    PUMAs United!!

    September 9, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. white female

    Just remember People are not as STUPID AS THEY THINK-MCCAIN/PALIN WHAT A DOG AND PONY SHOW.

    CARL ROVE, RICK DAVIS , STEVE SCHMIDT, PAT BUCHANAAAN, A BUNCH OF LOOSER- i WISH SOMEONE WOULD SHIP THEM EACH A BIG SHOVEL .

    OBAMA/BIDEN

    September 9, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  8. Carol

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT ....................................ole obama is on the RUN I don't see WHY he is attacking Sarah Palin. She's not running for President ! He should be focusing on his priorities or John McCain shouldn't he? OR is it that he is SO INSECURE about HIS ability to be President and KNOWS that his pick for VP can't cut it either? Make you think, doesn't it? hummmmmmmmmmmmm ?

    September 9, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  9. Bush Is A Lowlife

    The news just said Bush plans to reduce 8,000 troops in Iraq by February.

    NEWS FLASH:

    Bush will leave in January. He's a moron. He's truly a moron. He'd better reduce the troops NOW, before he leaves office. This is the same moronic presidency we will have with McCain. If we vote Republican we will get everything that we deserve.

    Americans are idiots if they believe in a president who makes promises AFTER he leaves office. As if we're really going to hold him to a FEBRUARY promise. Unbelievable.

    September 9, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. wynetta

    The only thing that will change is the little ditty in John McCain's head yeah Mr.Man it is hard out there for a pimp! ( OIL,YOUTH,AND HIS FAVORITE A WOMAN) Watch out Cindy!

    September 9, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. Yasriel

    For all those men that have helped McCain's poll number because of their lust for Palin, I say "Get over it". You can never meet her in person, talkless of your infatuation becoming reality.
    This is not the time to drool over another man's wife; we have serious business at hand. The nation is peril, the debts are stacking, our financial institutions are crumbling, our health system is failing, McCain is going to privatize social security, our kids have become mere numbers at schools, our troops are suffering, and the world is tilting towards another great war.
    We need a leader with stable mentality, with appropriate temperament to handle that Red Button, a leader with great intellectual capability, and superior judgment.
    Barack Obama is the person for the job of POTUS.

    September 9, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  12. Nancy

    This election will be a landslide for Obama. I don't know where you are polling, but I know all Americans are smarter than you give them credit for. One snickering fool (Palin) on the heels of the other (Bush) would be just over the top. We will elect a president who treats Americans as people, not idiots. Can't wait until all the young first time voters blow McCain and Palin away.

    O8AMA

    September 9, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  13. Bushed

    Remember in order to get the surge, Bush said he would reduce the troops by the spring of 2008. Well now that promise has stretched to February 2009, after he leaves office. So he's lying to us until the bitter end.

    Obama 08

    September 9, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  14. atypical white person

    THis woman sees Palin as inexperienced and bringing more of the same rhetoric and dogma and control to the table. If she's a maverick, we need to redefine the word.

    September 9, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. Sue in MI

    And tell me this sudden drawdown of troops is not aimed at giving McCain an even bigger bounce, when it was Obama and the DEMOCRATS who called for withdrawals in the first place. This administration is really shameful in its pandering and sorry attempts to remain in power.

    Time for a change, folks...to the people who can really turn this country around!

    September 9, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  16. Truth Be Told

    The Number of Lies Told About Sarah Palin (So Far):

    * That she does not support funding for special needs children when she does.
    * That she did not support contraception when she does.
    * That she banned books at the public library when she did not
    * That she belonged to the Independence Party when she did not.
    * That she supported Pat Buchanan when she did not.

    September 9, 2008 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  17. V from milwaukee

    Bush just reduced troops in Iraq and increased troops in Afghanistan...more and more it seems like this administration is starting to undersand how correct barack really is on foreign policy.

    It seems barack has been right on EVERY SINGLE foreign policy thought he has had.

    Add to that, rice and bush administration have started diplomatic talks in the middle east and might actually get something done without killing everybody in their way...do you still feel barack doesn't have the proper judgement and experience now?

    September 9, 2008 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  18. Mike from St. Louis

    It is so amasingly funny how people are so willing to GIVE there vote and this government to a group that has not only run this country into the ground but they don't know ANYTHING about the VP nomination. Honestly...they know nothing about this woman and claim she's a breath of fresh air. Just because she's new to the scene? You have to know her to higher her. The media doesn't even have access to this woman and people still claim "what she's done!" GET REAL! EVERY WORD SHE HAS SPOKEN HAS BEEN SCRIPTED PEOPLE!!!! Is anyone else paying attention here??

    I whole-heartedly believe that since people really don't like the choices they have to vote upon they are simply picking ANYONE NEW to the scene without caring who this person is. MY life...Our lives are depending on this very important election and people are not thinking!!!

    September 9, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Woof Woof Palin

    McCain's Message: I fought in a war, POW, I am a warrior and will change Washington.

    Palin's Message: Im a maverick, mom and grandmom from Alaska, Im a breath of fresh air, Im a mayor therefore I am smart enough to be your VP.

    Please America, don't be fooled by this spin job, it means Bush for another 8 years..

    September 9, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. Old white lady for Obama

    McCain and Palin are more like "American Idol" contestants than candidates for political office. It is hard to take them seriously. Both lack substance and integrity. I have yet to hear Palin discuss the issues. If she is ever allowed out on her own, we'll see just how unqualified she is as VP, a heartbeat away from old man McCain's job.
    Obama and Biden were always the better option, but the current antics of the Republican ticket just make them look even stronger.

    September 9, 2008 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. norb

    Who believes these polls? Evidently, they're written by the Republican machine. If you believe these polls, then you would have believed that Hillary Clinton had the Democratic nomination wrapped up. However, SURPRISE! After eight years of a downward spiral in our economy. We the people have been led like sheep thinking everything is hunky dory. Well, the guy everybody wanted to have a beer with, should have been a bartender, not the President. This McCain/Palin crap is just that. Crap! Anyone out there buying their kool aide needs to get a grip. After Bush/Cheney do the American's really want to see a McCAin/Palin administration. If so, Canada here I come.

    September 9, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  22. Phil in KC

    I'm floored. Are men really that mindless that they'll let a pretty face sway them in choosing a VP? And even more so that they would let that VP choice sway them in their choice for President.
    Let's get real. There is NO way this woman is ready to be President of the United States. And, while McCain represents 4 more years of the same failed Bush policies, Palin will take the political agenda even further to the right. The only change they represent is a change for the worse.
    We need a break from the past. Are the middle-aged white guys (or even younger white guys) really that enamoured of this woman that they would vote to continue that agenda? Or are they that afraid of voting for an African American? I am a middle-aged white guy and I'm ashamed for them.

    September 9, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. Martin, AL

    Take a snapshot of the status of the race today, and I guarantee it'll be a different picture by next month. There is a lot of initial response and excitement for Palin, but we still don't really know much her politics. The media has been covering her much, much more than Biden, and have been holding back scrutiny out of fear. I expect things to swing in Obama's favor, since he is running a campaign based more on integrity and honesty. Funny, you'd expect a campaign that touts being the political leaders of Christian conservatives to uphold honesty. Not the best example of leadership...

    September 9, 2008 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  24. Martin, AL

    Take a snapshot of the status of the race today, and I guarantee it'll be a different picture by next month. There is a lot of initial response and excitement for Palin, but we still don't really know much about her politics. The media has been covering her personal life much, much more than Biden, and have been holding back scrutiny out of fear. I expect things to swing in Obama's favor, since he is running a campaign based more on integrity and honesty. Funny, you'd expect a campaign that touts being the political leaders of Christian conservatives to uphold honesty. Not the best example of leadership...

    September 9, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  25. gl

    I believe the polls will change in Obama favor. What the dust settle down. Polls really don't mean must becasue they do not count first them voters. Obama have the highest rate of getting younger people to get Register to vote. The suprise will be if they come out to vote and if so Obama will win by a land slied. I have been campainging for the Obama camp all over in the Pittsburgh area, and each time it was over whelming with suppor from younger, black and white, men and women so I would not read to much into these polls.

    September 9, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
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