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. Carlos Velarde

    Vivan los Republicanos!

    September 9, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    I do not understand how people can listen to the distorted speeches by the McCain and other Republicans and actually believe it. It's almost as if people say to themselves, "I don't if all of it wasn't true, it was a great speech."

    All of this despite the fact that the media and Camp Obama discredit so many of the claims made in speeches and TV ads. They want to believe the lies. They want to have a reason to vote for McCain that "everyone" else agrees with.

    September 9, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  3. L.A.

    All I'm saying is everyone needs to just get used to saying "President Barack Obama".

    September 9, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  4. Bobby from MS

    Actually CNN the RNC convention put McCain 10 pts. ahead in the polls.

    How can Obama handle world leaders when he CAN NOT HANDLE BILL O REILLY?

    September 9, 2008 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  5. Stephane

    I'm confused, last week CNN was highlighting how far behind the Mccain campaign was based on electoral college votes, now it seems that is no longer the case...a little consistency would be appreciated

    September 9, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  6. proud army and navy mom

    The sheep have lost there way......Bye Bye Obama maybe America will be ready for a socialist agenda in 2012 but highly doubtful.

    September 9, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  7. gene


    September 9, 2008 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  8. Marie in Ohio

    I think that the polls are close, because in all reality, people vote based upon personality, rather than on issues. In which case, I still cannot fathom how John McCain is beating Obama on that front.

    If I could pick who to have dinner with, it certainly wouldn't be old man McCain.

    September 9, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  9. Barbara

    If the Republicans ever "permit" Sarah Palin to be interviewed by
    the press (not just who they select) the gap will narrow. How can they
    get away with shielding her from the hard questions? I don't believe the average American on either side would really want this feisty but
    dishonest and ultra conservative zealot as the President.
    John McCain is the oldest and sickest candidate ever to run.... what
    are these people thinking?
    The only good outcome of such a win would be a great season on Saturday Night Live

    September 9, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  10. Deborah

    McCain is ahead by double digits!

    Please try and get the Obama smoke out of your eyes and report the Real News!

    America has found its voice!

    McCain/Palin-08-by a Landslide!

    September 9, 2008 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  11. Hillary supporter now for McCain/Palin

    Webster's dictionary defines obama followers as a group of low-esteem, mean-spirited, hateful, empty-headed people easily led by an unqualified, arrogant, radical elitist!

    I am one very disappointed democrat!

    I am also ashamed of the DNC. They picked obama to be the nominee a number of years ago, which means that our votes didn't count.

    My vote for McCain/Palin will demonstrate my disapproval with the DNC and for obama, his inexperience, his arrogance, and his arrogant disciples.

    September 9, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  12. Christian, Tampa FL

    If everything is dead even on election day, I'd say that Obama is extremely likely to win. Part of the reason is because of his ground game in so many states.

    September 9, 2008 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  13. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    No sweat. The foibles of Palin will soon be disclosed and the lead will evaporate. Also, Bush's early troop withdrawal plus his plan to privatize the GI Bill is going to cost McCain a large part of the vetern vote.

    September 9, 2008 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  14. Amy

    The debates will be the definate turning point in McCain's favor. Obama is incapable of answering questions without a speech writer, teleprompter or ear-piece to his talking heads. McCain is comfortable with himself and his beliefs. The polls will surge after 9/20/08 in McCain's favor.

    September 9, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  15. Steve

    Once again it look like AMERICANS are buying the lies and deception of the Republican Party and McWar learned from Carl Rove and BUSH. It would be a very sad day for America, Mankind and the World if McWar was to win the White House. History will forever proclaim us as a nation of Idiots.

    September 9, 2008 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  16. Peter

    Because Obama didn't pick Hillary...

    September 9, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  17. Clif, Ga.

    Palin and McCain are so set bashing Obama and Biden. They sound like a recording on the phone. They keep saying the same old tired speech that they said at the republican convention. The people need to see they have nothing to offer. I've not heard them say anything on the issues that are important to America.They just want to bash their way into the white house. "America Wake Up".

    September 9, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  18. Terry

    Mc Cain will win and Obama will go away FINALLY!!!

    September 9, 2008 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  19. Sam

    I wish there was a patency right over the word "change". Then Barack could have sued McCain for stealing it. It is now the duty of Barack to expose the meanness in both McCain and Palin to demean him and his works. But before that is done, they have to deal with the arrogance of Rudi Guiliani to speak with such low levels of decency at the convention. It is then the duty of all the news media to highlight the truth and expose the lies by the duo of McCain and Palin. Let not lies prevail. That's injustice.

    September 9, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  20. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Its hard to figure out....there were millions who supported Hillary Clinton – when you would ask them "which position do you side with Hillary on?" (as she has taken multiple positions on the same subject) – they were unable to articulate – its not surprising that McCain has a jump with a female VP – people aren't really concerned about the issues....ask the ones who supported Hillary Clinton if they were ok with a conservative agenda – barring same sex marriage, abortion rights, etc – they would say certainly not – yet....they might support McCain and Palin....cuz "Palins speech was good" – its time to vote on issues...if you believe in what McCain's vision is – vote for him...if you believe in Obama's – vote for him....don't vote on gender or color....stick to the issues (stupid)

    September 9, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  21. Oh Boy!!!???

    Please let the so-called Pit Bull with lipstick stand up for herself, away from the script, away from the aides, and McCain.

    She will be held accountable for her words and actions if elected, why not let the dog out and see how she behaves without the leash and muzzle.

    She painted herself a Pit Bull, let's see how she bites. She may just want to roll over and play dead.

    September 9, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  22. Dave in GA

    All the spin on McSame/Falin does not change the facts in this country:

    – 6.1% unemployment
    – An estimated $410 billion deficit
    – Record high prices for gas and record profits for Big Oil companies
    – 45 million without Healthcare
    – Cost of education sky-high!

    The so-called "Mavericks" are supporting current policy 90 – 97% of the time.... It's Time for a Change.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 9, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  23. Mike, TX

    McCain was effectively able to show that he has the experience working with both parties to change DC establishment.

    Obama made another great speech.


    September 9, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  24. Lora B.

    We wouldn't be in this tight race if it weren't for the DNC shooting themselves in the foot by selecting Obama over Clinton.

    September 9, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  25. Dianne

    Really now...let us look at the recent polls...McCain is pulling away from Obama.

    Spin Spin Spin

    September 9, 2008 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
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