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. GO Obama!

    I know exactly why McSame chose Palin, he only wants the women vote! He doesnt care about whats truely best for our Country..just winning! I wish that my fellow women would wake up & understand that we have to make a change. I am completely down with women-rights but do NOT try slicking me into voting for you by bringing in a random woman. I loved Hiliary..she lost OK lets get those Dem's back in office. WAKE UP AMERICA & lets get back to rebuilding.

    September 9, 2008 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  2. Xango 08 & 12

    DO NOT believe CNN polls,
    they are not scientific, do not poll regular people and from what have seen here and tried to post their own polls here do not reflect what they say in this article.

    CNN polls want to manipulate the outcome of this election and th ey are doing this every day...

    CNN and the so called "best political team, ' only publish what they choose not what is out there
    in 16 years none of my friends in any state have ever been polled, and let me tell you they live all over......

    anyway, CNN wants to manipulate this,
    one day they lie about one candidtae
    the next they lie about the other...

    sounds like the enquirer not a respectable news channel

    CNn what a joke
    and please publish this

    September 9, 2008 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  3. emmanuel

    pols are conducted among people who have no bearing on election results, which is why they are usually wrong. you just read the blogs and you will know that no matter how the press tries to package mccain or mcbush, it will further reinforce our determination to go all out to stop them.
    mark my words, it will be a landslide in favour of obama/biden.

    September 9, 2008 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  4. bill mullis

    something stinks here mcain holds a 14 point lead on iraq just dont sound right who the hee is cnn polling all rightwingers when 80 percent of americans are against bushes war and mcain wants to stay 100 years IT JUST DONT ADD UP CNN JUST MORE LIES AND HALF TRUTHS elect mcain if you liked last eight years but for gods sake tell the truth just once

    September 9, 2008 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  5. Typical White Man

    It's not dead even, McCain is ahead in every poll. His convention jump was much higher than Obama's. The nation starts to pay attention around convention time and the fact is they like McCain and his policies more. Obama is just another tax and spend liberal, Once you get past the high minded rhetoric the substance is the same as every liberal before him. The packaging is just a little better.

    September 9, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  6. JW Mathews

    McCain got a great "convention bounce" and now let's see if it holds. History says it won't and both sides will have to do something else to prevail.

    "Washington Post" has a story out this morning that raises a lot of questions regarding Palin's claims for "per diem" expenses when she was at home. Ditto family travel.

    CNN has pieces on Palin's Pentecostal faith. That faith will cost her votes with Jews and Latinos in Florida. We're going to have to decide whether or not the vast majority of Americans want to sacrifice choice in birth control, sex education, scientific teaching, faith and a lot more.

    Yes, McCain's at the top of the ticket, but at 72 and with multiple episodes of cancer, Palin's role may be very big long term. The question remains if she is, as her history suggests, a Pentecostal female Mullah who brooks no dissent or would she be able to effectively lead a multi-cultural, multi-faith nation. I'm not from Missouri, but she has to show me anyway!

    September 9, 2008 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  7. just observer

    Inspite of huge support from left oriented media finally public in large
    see that Barak Obama is not ready to be president due to lack of experience and being self centered person who will do and say anything to achive his personal goals.
    Just see how he started his political ambitions by stabing other candidates in Chicago (eliminating signatures as being invalid on the list of long time candidates) what is sneaky business.
    HE IS TO YOUNG TO BE PRESIDENT NOW, older democrats will maipulate with him as Cheney did with Pres. Bush.

    September 9, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  8. joefromNC

    to tell the truth iam amazed that people still fall for the ookie doke you`d think people be smarter this year .Everybody knows the truth,,mcpain put palin on the ticket for two reason #1 he was loosing bad and need controversy #2 he needed a woman to counter act clintons 18million voters going for obama.Guess repubs do know that people have short memories

    September 9, 2008 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  9. Anna

    NO HOW!


    September 9, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  10. You Can Run But You Can Not Hide!

    Of course those polls are not good indicators of the real thing! An unscientific polls done after the Republican's convention on Larry King's site asking "will you vote for Sen. McCain", 80% said NO and 20% said YES! Those who wish to continue with the GOP propaganda, Good Luck!
    When the time come American People will speak, with loud and clear voice ENOUGH!
    – Enough with LIES
    – Enough with manipulations and smear tactics
    – Enough with the mockery of Community Organizers and the disadvantaged people
    – Enough with the Trillion dollar war
    -Enough with devastating state of economy, fore closures, energy

    September 9, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  11. beevee

    This just shows that we have not learned our lessons from the eight years of Bush administration.

    September 9, 2008 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  12. Lorna, NY

    We've now had a week of blaring headlines and one-liners about Sarah Palin as the mavericky, pork-busting reformer from Alaska. But we seem to be witnessing the first stirrings of a backlash and a dawning realization that the 'Sarah Palin' we've heard so much about over the last few days is a fraud of truly comical dimensions.

    The McCain camp has made her signature issue shutting down the Bridge to Nowhere. But as The New Republic put it today that's just "a naked lie." And pretty much the same thing has been written today in Newsweek, the Washington Post, the AP, the Wall Street Journal. Yesterday even Fox's Chris Wallace called out Rick Davis on it. (Do send more examples when you find them.)

    On earmarks she's an even bigger crock. On the trail with McCain they're telling everyone that she's some kind of earmark slayer when actually, when she was mayor and governor, in both offices, she requested and got more earmarks than virtually any city or state in the country.

    Think about that. On the stump, not a single word that comes out of her mouth - or not a single word that the McCain folks put in her mouth - is anything but a lie. I know that sounds like hyperbole. But just go down the list. None of them bear out.

    September 9, 2008 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  13. Carol

    I wish that every voter was required to read Bob Woodward's new book on the Iraq war before they could vote....maybe, that would open their eyes to the truth behind the war and Bush's mishandling of the war....I do not know how he can show his face to the American's who have lost loved ones in the war and who are faced with sending their loved ones to grandson, who just graduated from high school, is being deployed to Iraq next month, and I am so angry at Bush and the Republican anyone could vote for McCain, who has supported this war baffles my mind....this war was a mistake and is far from an older retired American, I am so worried about the future of our country for our younger generations..America, open your eyes, it is time for a change and not McCain

    September 9, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  14. Tony

    The ignorance and naivete of women in America, especially white women who vote Republican is mind-boggling.

    September 9, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  15. FrankSmith

    Apparently the presence of a "beautiful woman" is a big plus for men, as it did for McCain in choosing BOTH Cindy and Sarah to be by his side until death.

    Men will remain "brain-dead" when it comes to making meaningful judgements about beautiful women until the end of the world.

    Was it not women who FIRST pointed out that George Bush was a "fake and incompetent" leader? God bless of us– Back to the Garden of Eden where emotion rather than "intelligence" rules!!

    September 9, 2008 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  16. Marcus Allen

    "Obama retains his edge on the economy and health care; McCain's advantage remains on Iraq and terrorism."

    That is what you WANT us to believe.
    Obama is basically clueless about the economy and health care.
    Since when is socialized energy production and socialized health care a BONUS for a presidential candidate of the USA?

    Seriously, just WHERE do you come up with that stuff that Obama has an edged in economics and health care? Do you get that from Obama adds? Do some real journalism, not just re-gurgitate campaign slogans.

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

    Thoughtful opinion piece by Nick Cohen in the Guardian. He concludes-
    "In an age when politics is choreographed, voters watch out for the moments when the public-relations facade breaks down and venom pours through the cracks. Their judgment is rarely favourable when it does. Barack Obama knows it. All last week, he was warning American liberals to stay away from the Palin family. He understands better than his supporters that it is not a politician's enemies who lose elections, but his friends."

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

    Of course there's a bump. Barack had one after his convention so it's only expected that McCain would too.

    However, if I were McCain, I would be worried.

    Crowds are attracted to the Obama / Biden ticket as they speak to the issues of the people.

    Crowds are attracted to the McCain / Palin or maybe I should say (Palin / McCain) ticket because she's new and fresh, not because of any issues (unless they are extremely to the right).

    Give it some time. She'll be knocked of her pedestal soon enough. McCain is drawing crowds now, not because people come out to see him, but because of his new running mate.

    Who on the Republican team is running for president again?

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

    He lost his lead because he has no experience:

    He has 8 years of State Senate experience (never authored 1 piece of legislation and voted present 180 times)
    He has 1 year of US Senate experience (after one year he began running for Pres, and has not been acting as a senator) with no authored legislation, and the one bill he sponsored he voted against

    He belonged to an anti-white, anti-usa church for 20 years

    He is not fit to be president.

    September 9, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  20. S.A.M. from Virginia

    Polls are inaccurate. We won't see a significant change until after the debates.

    September 9, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  21. Joshua College Station Texas

    I saw CNN's recent special on each of the candidates narrated by John King. In McCain's stump speech that he gave a LONG time ago he is seen saying almost exactly the same things he is saying now–that he is "going to end the gridlock in Washington".

    I worry that Obama is spending too much time complaining about McCain, saying McCain is not a maverick, etc., and not enough time talking about his plans. But when I saw that clip from McCain's old speech so long ago, I realized that Obama is right–McCain can't be too much of a real reformer if he talks about ending gridlock years and years ago but then has voted with Bush and his party most of the time. All the claims of being a maverick are meaningless if they are just for the stump speech.

    September 9, 2008 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  22. MCcain is a Liar and Palin is Dick Cheney with Lipstick

    I am tired of These so called polls how can this poll be accurate if you can not poll people without a land line phone this is a bunch of crap Obama supporters me included don't own a landline phone but of course John Mccbushs supporters have landline phones because they are all old and racist. Obama supporters are Younger and only have a cell phone and i know most black and Young people gave up landline phones years ago it is more convient to go get a metro or a cricket phone and talk all you want so these polls are flawed it is time to tell the truth CNN

    September 9, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  23. Seldom- Seen

    I wonder how many of those men polled are African American. As a matter of fact I wonder how many of those polled in any poll are African American Men.

    September 9, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  24. lee

    I have cell phones not land lines and I watch the conventions and news on the internet, so I don't think the numbers are anywhere near accurate. Most young people have the same set up. This also doesn't count PBS viewers like my senior parents with answering machines. They need to update their sources.

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

    These hysterics about national pools are meaningless. Electoral college, people! In this area Obama has the advantage. All he has to do is pick off one or two Bush states and he will be the next president of the US. The old Kerry states are consistently polling in favor of Obama. His electoral base is stronger.

    All Obama has to do is convince the swing states that McCain represents the exact same policies we've had the last 8 years and that Palin is nothing more than a famale version of Bush. People will come around.

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 9, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
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