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. GAWoman4Obama, Atlanta

    Until I or any one I know have been called by a pollster, I done believe the rolls represent the way the United States will vote in November as a whole, NO MATTER WHO IS IN THE LEAD.

    No poll will ever determine how I will vote any any election. I am an individual who does her own thinking.

    Obama/Biden 2008

    September 9, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  2. Joe Idaho

    Okay: Mrs Palin comes on the scene, and attacks Obama personally and brutially in a fashion that Clinton never did. Why does Emmit Till come to mind, is this Till whistling at a White Woman all over again? the point is McCain and the Republican party's slick race ploy; White women and Black men have a complicated American history. Hiliray lost on the issues, McCain and Palin are using what America calls 'Personality", this is the old sales trick to run a commurcial with small writing running across the screen 'shop, shop, shop,' and so they have Palin out there getting in a personal relationship to play to America's worse fears, and if America falls for this, this country's very democracy will be at stake!

    September 9, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  3. ricardo merlo

    The fact is McCain with less money that Obama and with the liberal media against him, is up in the polls

    September 9, 2008 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  4. Denise P Quinton

    The Presidential race is dead even because McCain thought of our country and chose Palin as Vice President. OBAMA, conceited and so determined not to have HILLARY, now can live with the results! The pundits have attacked PALIN for her daughter, her faith, her experience, while nobody questions we have OBAMA who can't 'give us a straight answer about anything. MCCAIN/PALIN 08 for this DEMOCRAT!
    Wake up Americans and stop thinking along party lines, MCCAIN is not BUSH!

    September 9, 2008 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  5. gee

    Obama,

    Lost his lead because people are getting sick and tired of the media chosen one. He flip-flops on his position that will appease the voters that he is talking too. He talks about change but than he chooses a 35 year senator for VP. I'm a Hillary democrat that is trying my hardest to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now that he is slipping in the polls, they start begging the Clintons for help. Democrats be aware is is not a shoe in.

    September 9, 2008 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  6. Marcus Allen

    "In fact, the Iraq issue is instructive of just how effectively the conventions molded public opinion"

    Or, it can be seen as instructive of just how the press has effectively molded opinions against victory in Iraq. When I talk to returning troops personally, their story is COMPLETELY different that what I'm getting on CNN, NBC, etc. I finally realized that LOOSING THE WAR was politically beneficial for Democrats seeking power. Sorry to say it but I've still NEVER heard how the Democrats plan to have victory in either Iraq or Afghanistan. I think the American people saw that at the conventions.

    Victory for America first, not politics.

    September 9, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  7. Noracal

    When is the media going to look into Palins ties with morningstar ministries and the third waive?

    September 9, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  8. The Patriot and not the Anti-American

    We all know that McCain/Palin are the True "Changers". They are reformers and have the experience and scars to prove it. Sen. Obama clearly does NOT!
    Americans can not make the mistake of electing a president with no military, executive, or foreign experience.
    It's time that we elect a president that will work with both parties for America's sake and not their party's. McCain/Palin will do just that!

    McCain/Palin 08'

    September 9, 2008 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  9. ModerateMom

    The poles tightening has both parties freaking out. It's going to be another squeaker!

    Every vote counts! Every voice must be heard! Show your American Pride and VOTE! Tell all your friends and family to make sure they VOTE! Teach your kids about Voting!

    God Bless You All and God Bless America!

    September 9, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  10. Greg

    its was the Palin gimmick. C'mon McCain, you are or actually were a maverick and now your just posturing. The main reason i think you won't win is because you are not being true to who you are. Your views are being molded by your base and your pick as vip is a right wing extremist bordering that of a "Cult". The more we learn about Palin the more she becomes a turnoff. McCain, you had a chance to get my vote but with palin, I can't vote for a gimmick that has potential to put a right wing nut job in office. Thanks but no thanks

    September 9, 2008 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  11. Don

    Sad another election Dems thought they couldn't lose. Not looking too gd now is it?

    September 9, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  12. End the Bush Problems

    Obama can end the lies, the billions misspent, the deceipt... it can all end in November and January, and you have the power to do it.

    September 9, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  13. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I would hope that people take the time to review the candidates positions and policy platforms. We as Americans are not informed enough to where people stand and what the issues are. I have looked into the issues for myself and found myself a candidate, but I reall hope that everyone does the research that I have tried to do.

    As for those that vote solely on party lines, wake up and think about what you value. Be open to new ideas and different people. Don't be a one issue voter for the sake of the country.

    September 9, 2008 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  14. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    November 4th will tell the tale.

    September 9, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  15. joe m

    i guess one can look at it in this way. still, another way to look at it is that mccain actually gained more in that his bounce actually gave him the lead in the current polls, while obama's bounce did not even equal that received by past democratic candidates. in the end these polls may mean little, but it is interesting that they remain so close and that mccain actually has the lead at this time.

    September 9, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  16. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Analyze all you want, but the fact remains that McCain/Palin offer 4 more years of Bush economic and foreign policy. BUT-for those whose incomes and buying power have risen during the past 8 years, and for those who want continyed high troop levels and high expenditures in Iraq for the next decade or longer, and for those who want an impulsive, shoot first and ask questions later greenhorn only a heartbeat away from the presidency, McCain/Palin is THE ticket for YOU! The rest of us will come to our senses on November 4 and elect the ticket of REAL change beneficial to the overwhelming majority of the country: OBAMA/BIDEN IN '08!!!

    September 9, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  17. Eric Pitt

    Bush = Liar (Lied about the War)

    McCain = Liar (Lied about Surge – Washington Post)

    Palin + Liar (lied about everything-bridge, spending, public record)
    ----------------
    Three headed monster (four more years of hell)

    *History will tell how stupid Americans can be. Their arrogance has already sold over 50% to China. So the other half will be gone in the next four years.

    Remember Rome and it's arrogance

    September 9, 2008 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  18. Venus

    Won't do you any good!

    Palin is busted! RED HANDED!

    Great job WaPo!

    I knew this woman was EVIL!

    Well McCain... I hope you and your thugs had a great week!

    Hey... I noticed all of a sudden it was nice to see large crowds!

    Yeah... beats those townhalls!

    September 9, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  19. James

    Obama has lost it's lead because the media are intimidated by the GOP, the american people seems to forget that mccain is no change agent, the american people are becoming to lazy to find out what the truth is and last but not least because there is still a huge number of people in the great country who are racist. but as i've said before, it doesn't matter who get elected, i've been fortunate enough to have a some good saving, some good investment in real estate, i have a good job with nyc so who ever get elected does not affecf me but how many american can say the same. and yes i have health insurance, 47 million of my countrymen cant say that. Obama can help you guys with out a voice, those who hasn't been as fortunate as i have, mccain simply won't help.
    it's your vote, your choice.............it will also be your bill, your life, and your mistake to let mccain or any republican in the white house.

    September 9, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  20. teresa from Canada

    Obama lost his lead because America – finally gets it. They watched Hillary speak and then him and the world her a resounding OOPS – we screwed up. You know what you stupid Americans – YA DID – Big time. He is no where near the quality of Hillary and never will be. Palin is making people pause, give a second look and listen to the Republicans and that is all it will take for the tide to turn against Obama. He just got hit with the first wave – great ready Obama.

    September 9, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  21. Tay

    Once again the media have managed to completely distort the truth in order to confuse voters. This election has no longer become an election about issues, but personality. It's a shame! Haven't the last 8 years taught us anything? Doesn't the media realie that any press is good press? Obama has a plan that can actually carry the U.S. into the future. Reverting to antiquated technologies and drilling for more oil will set this country further back into the past while other nations like Russia and Germany invest in environmental technologies that will leave this country further behind. My advice: Look at their platform and don't base your decision on how many hugs they give out.

    September 9, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  22. Joanne

    Obama lost his lead because he doesn't have enough experience to be president of the United States, and people are seeing that John McCain has extensive experience and the proven ability to deal with BOTH Democrats and Republicans.
    Why the Democrats did not choose Hillary Clinton is beyond me. Obama clearly is brilliant, gifted, and an amazing speaker – but he's never been in charge of anything bigger than his presidential campaign.

    September 9, 2008 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  23. Ian

    Perhaps because neither candidate has anything to offer?

    September 9, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  24. Tom in Wheaton, Illinois

    8 years of Bush/Cheney/Rove have turned us even more polarized as a nation. It will be close, but Barack will win. 6 weeks is enough time to unearth plenty of Palin skeletons.

    September 9, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  25. George

    September 9th, 2008 8:47 am ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    I agree, the American people overall are idiots. You get a party in here that has totally tried to reinvent itself in less than two weeks. We are the party of change (since when? Two Weeks Ago?) We are the party of reform! They have reformed nothing, but what they have done is do exactly as they wanted too….they duped all of you Americans AGAIN. Its funny, I think America is just looking for a reason to not elect Obama. And there is only one reason, its beause he is black. Thats it in a nutshell. If this were a white man or Hillary running this race would have been over long ago on that fact alone. The GOP has spun this and now are on offense….they first made you think exp was the key, then they told you Obama was a Muslim, then they drop the exp because of Palin, they picked a feamle just to pander to women and sadly white males who are starved for affection….All the McCain /Palin ticket is going to do is keep the status quo going and devide the country even futher. Then you have the PUMA's who think Hillary has a shot in 2012 but the problem there is that if McCain is gone and Palin is the President then she wins again. Why? Becuase she will ahve the experience and because the African Americans will feel disenfranchised from this year and will stay home. I feel sorry for people that vote based on race and gender only. Its too bad America you do not see the real issues here. Obama has done it all, gone right the lions den with O' Riley…and even admitted when he was wrong…but the GOP never admits to being wrong, McCain has done nothing for Veterans in 26 years..not one single thing, the guy is a racist and even voted against Dr. King's holiday. He now has an apology for that…come on give me a break! Dr. King was a great man and everyone knows that! So go ahead America, vote your racist lazy ways and you will eventually have to reap what you sow.

    Veternans for Obama

    P.S. Hey CNN post this!!!! And lets see you start playing on a even field...Blitzer and all your reporters are a little biased towrds McCain now dont you think?

    September 9, 2008 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
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