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. John Smith

    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 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  2. White house for us

    Sorry Obama...... I would rather have Mc Cain/Palin than you/Biden. We don't care about their policies. There color and names are very american. We are not ready for a black american in the white house. We will never have a black in the white house

    September 9, 2008 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  3. J. Sully, New York

    These polls are inaccurate due to all the young people with cell phones!!! The only ones theyr'e calling are probably blue haired old ladies.

    Why don't they call me? GO OBAMA/BIDEN!!!!

    September 9, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  4. Rave

    You get McCain / Palin elected, we will be in War & Debt for the next 4 years. By 2012, people would realize 2000 – 08 was much better than this 4 year term
    All he can promise to American people even now is More of the Same.
    McCain was wrong 90% of the time and he will continue to be wrong.
    Sarah Palin is nothing but a Lying Hockey mom.
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    September 9, 2008 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  5. Enlightened Voter

    If you watched CNN's John McCain revealed you would understand that he has never been a champion for the people, he has never understood the struggles. He is chasing his own desire for power and revenge on those that snubbed him. He has a personal vendetta to score and this and his temper make him very very dangerous. Go to Huffington Post and search 'John Mccain Pushes woman in wheelchair' to get an idea of his explosive temper. This coupled with his pit bull running mate will have us at war quicker than we can blink an eye. And the proof is in his talk, all you ever hear him talk about is the war, Iraq, the surge and him being a POW.

    September 9, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  6. bob from accounting

    Its obvious the election is rigged. Who's in the lead really is a non-issue.

    September 9, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  7. Reinaldo Vazquez

    This polls news they always been a joke among people. In many years I never seen anybody trust this polls, they just don't make any sense.

    September 9, 2008 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  8. SPQR753

    Anyone who can state with a straight face that "...our national leaders, are sending [U.S. soldiers] out on a task that is from God..." should wear a straight jacket!

    September 9, 2008 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  9. Brad

    American's are smarter than Obama thinks they are. We are starting to see right through him and we are able to think for ourselves. We are not going to vote for someone simply because they are endorsed by Oprah and Kanye.

    September 9, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  10. Republicans Hate America

    Just confirms how the GOP hate America by willing to vote for a VP candidate that wants to separate Alaska from the U.S. and then have the nerve to say Obama doesn't wear a flag pin. I dont care if I end up being the only one to vote for Obama but I refuse to accept you inbreeding rednecks as Americans

    September 9, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  11. Jeff

    In this race where we Democrats should be leaving the Republicans in the dust, it is troubling that the race is so close. Once again we decided to choose pie in the sky idealism over practicality and common sense. I do think it’s commendable that Obama was a community organizer, but do not believe that it prepared him for the White House. So for those of us who have grave misgivings about Obama's abilities and motives, and have huge doubts about McCain as well, where is the choice? I will be staying home in November as I refuse to hold my nose and support someone I do not believe in. I'm not one to support the lesser of two evils. I am so disappointed in my party. I wish there was a viable alternative.

    September 9, 2008 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  12. karen khoury

    This campaign is about the issues. I truly believe the GOP is currently riding the wave of "Sarah Palin Shock Value" , and trying to make this a popularity contest. CNN, please dig deep and don't skim the surface, make McCain and Palin give us real substance, real answers. For Obama, Biden and their supporters this campaign IS about the issues.

    Karen Khoury

    September 9, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  13. Jennifer

    You can't believe the polls you are seeing because they are very inaccurate! This year is a new election with a new generation of voters. What most voters don't know is that these polls are conducted over the phone with people who have landline phones only. Therefore your sample includes a lot of older generation people. Lets face it most of us no longer have landline phones we use our cell phones or have digital phone service which means the sample doesn't include many of our new generation of voters. The sample is inaccurate. Believe me if you are TRUE Democrat like I am you will vote Democrat to even give yourself a fighting chance of sustaining for the next 4 years.

    September 9, 2008 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  14. Terrence (Winston Salem, NC)

    You know these polls never factor in Bob Barr or Nader. What percent will they pull, and from whose column will they pull?

    September 9, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Where is the story on George "Step on all of us" with his liberalism correcting Obama when he said "my muslim faith"????? I just hope the American people are strong and smart enough to see through your website and news channels to not vote this obvious fraud, liar and no expierence Obama in November. The Savage Nation rules, that is real truthful journalism at it's best, not this bias nonsense that you put out all the time.

    September 9, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  16. Ted

    Before the conventions Obama was the spirit of hope and change – focusing on positive messages.

    After the conventions Obama has spent most of his time bad mouthing McCain and Palin... showing his desperation.

    Now he's become just another politician which is not good for his campaign.

    September 9, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  17. Sue

    McCain and Palin continue to make up lies one after another. Fact – the bridge to no where was stopped. Ask if they gave the money back to the country. No they did not; it was used to build a road to no where.

    September 9, 2008 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  18. Palin has more experience than Obama

    WOW.......what happen to the lead in the polls that Obama had for months. All you Obama backers were jumping up and down when he was ahead talking about how great the polls were and now Obama backers keep up the old "cell phones are not polled" and other BS to bag on the polls. I do not put stock in the polls but it is funny to see Obama people flip flop on that.

    Obama is going down in the polls could be b/c people are starting to see he as a no body who has done nothing.

    September 9, 2008 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  19. Hutch Beverly

    Uh, in a nutshell it's because the RNC was the most recent. Obama got a spike after the DNC, naturally. As did the RNC after it's show. The jumps only show that America just believes what it sees on TV, nothing more, nothing less. One of the parties should just begin claiming that they've already won. The public will probably just follow suit and vote that way come november. Ps- How do I get a job at CNN? It doesn't seem so hard.

    September 9, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  20. scott

    OBama will be nothing more then a footnote in history. McCain/Palin are pulling ahead, and will keep pulling ahead. Obama a man that has no clue to the workings of the real world.

    New campagin slogan for OBama........ Day Dream Believer

    McCain/Palin 08, 12

    September 9, 2008 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  21. W Spivey

    Figures don't lie, but liars figure.

    September 9, 2008 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  22. Motorbreath

    Of course Obama is losing his lead, every time he opens his mouth he says something foolish. In addition to that, the way the media and Hollywood is treating Palin all its doing is getting her the sympathy vote.

    This is what happens when you put someone with zero experience at the top of your ticket, unfortunately the republicans did it in 2000 and we were stuck with Bush.

    This independent is making the right choice and going with McCain

    September 9, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  23. Veteran from Minnesota

    Please tell me how polling aproximately 1000, to 1200 people can be considered a fair representation of the MILLIONS of Americans voters that will be flocking to the polls this Nov 4th? These polls you so proudly tout on your website and in the news seem to me to be very misleading. I think you guys should try ans stick to the facts and leave the speculation to wallstreet, albeit they could use some help as well.

    September 9, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  24. proud army and navy mom

    Palin is a liar. Her daughter gave birth to Trig. Cnn, do your job and investigate. Bristol took a five month leave from school for mono, in the meantime, pit bull Palin was not showing at all at seven months.

    It is their personal business until they decided to deceive the American people. Then it is our business.

    September 9, 2008 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  25. Veteran from Minnesota

    Please tell me how polling aproximately 1000, to 1200 people can be considered a fair representation of the MILLIONS of Americans voters that will be flocking to the polls this Nov 4th? These polls you so proudly tout on your website and in the news seem to me to be very misleading. I think you guys should try and stick to the facts and leave the speculation to wallstreet, albeit they could use some help as well.

    September 9, 2008 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
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