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. Cathy

    If Palin wasn't a women then the men who lavish after beautiful women wouldn't be swing on the vine for Mcain. They are there only for Palin looks and not what she stands for. Issues is not the game people it is the beauty contest that McCain has put on and forgot about all the critical issues at hand. If you want a beauty contest in the White House vote for McCain, if you are worried about your future in 4 more years vote Obama.

    September 9, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  2. Mike - Texas

    Nobama, No way, No how.

    It is not because of his race, it is because of his politics.

    September 9, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  3. Gant

    The problem with all your polls is that they truly don't matter with so many undecided voters. This story is just filler.

    September 9, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  4. Chris

    McCain only wins if America is incredibly stupid....

    September 9, 2008 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  5. brian

    As a fairly moderate guy with friends strongly on both sides I see how and why this race has become so close.
    "He's a hero, ask your Dad about it" my buddy tells me jokingly/seriously.
    I really do feel that the GOP is just pulling strings in an attempt to coerce the undecided but I think that the general public sees past the smoke and that in the general election it will show. I think most could agree that John is a good guy, he seems it anyways, but he looks tired and simular to a puppet in all his recent public appeals.
    I'm going to support Barack, I think he has thus far ran a very strong race and has surrounded himself with a team of very capable politicos. His VP makes logistic sense, not just comercial sense.
    I like his direction and I do agree with the "liberal media" that MaCain's term would be much like that of the current.

    September 9, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  6. Thomas F Brenneman

    It still amazes me to this day how left wing reportig can influence voters! While everyone else has McCain up by ten points, you can report a dead even race? Where was your poll taken, the slum areas of Washington, D.C.?

    September 9, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  7. empty vessel

    Actually CNN, McCain has a 3-5 point lead in most polls and is tied or ahead in the battleground states.

    Nice try though, maybe you can do a hard hitting story on Palin's religoun and talk to people from her past, SOMEBODY that she slammed down will talk and demean her.

    Funny that the same biased media that was dragged kicking and screaming in reporting on Obambi and his minister of 20 years of hate is wasting NO time into looking into hers. NUFF SAID.

    I must just be a typical white person I guess.

    No way, NO how, NOBAMA

    September 9, 2008 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  8. A broad minded white man

    It is obvious that those Americans with their racist motives are hell bent on “cutting off their nose to spite their face” this is a clear message to the world that the United states still has not perfect its union (full equal rights to all regardless of race).

    With 20% or more people thinkig this is a popularity contest based on race(ie those who said they would never vote for a black man)Hence the huge enthusiasm for a white woman who is so grossly unqualified and inexperienced.

    This is not a beauty contest people.America better wake up !
    This country (loved by the world) will contue towards its own demise if they refuse acceptance of one of the leaders of our generation…Barack Obama.

    September 9, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  9. Jet1994

    Once again who are you polling? Do you poll the same people each time? You are killing us with these poll numbers. I guess the only people you should poll are those on the fence. Because my vote is not going to change.

    Maryland

    September 9, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  10. Dana

    "But even as polls tighten in McCain's favor, a slim majority (52 percent) of Americans still think Obama will win in November."

    A more accurate headline would be "Obama's lead narrows, Majority still favor Obama." Your headline "How Obama lost his lead" is misleading and innacurate based on your own poll. Shame on you!

    September 9, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  11. Okon

    Can you guys say the truth, race and name is a factor in the election, can you just imagine if Obama was white and his name was O'brien Berry. He will be been 20 point up by now

    September 9, 2008 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  12. Superman

    Don't believe these polls because they don't even call the people that have cell phones lol... All the young people are going to vote on Nov 4th and we will elect Barack Obama as our new president.

    September 9, 2008 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  13. Lorne Reed

    Born in 1943 in Canada and watching all elections in the U.S. and Canada since I could vote, I don't understand how a T.V. Station the size of CNN can appear to be neutral ,and yet be so biased..
    If they want a party to be elected SAY SO, quit putting little snide remarks about only certain individuals and NEVER saying anything derogatory about the others.
    CNN will be the first to scream and holler when the tide turns, and the country is in trouble.
    Why don't you do a poll in Canada and ask Canadians who would make the best President, I think you will find we know more about the USA then Americans know about Canada.

    September 9, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  14. John McBush & his Puppet Pitbull

    As soon as they get to know Sarah Pinocchio..I mean Barracuda the excitement will diminish... The Republicans are doing a good job of shielding her.
    Two years on the job already under investigation..
    Two weeks in the limelight and already too many LIES
    More of the same John McCain..

    September 9, 2008 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  15. C in Texas

    Remember the Reps have jobs they have to work at, we don't have all day to sit here on the net and spread false rumors. 62 millions people voted for Pres Bush for his re-election and all I see the Dems talking about is 18 millions voters that Obama got.Everyone knows that the Reps don't come out till after the convention and on Nov 4. Remember how far J. Kerry was in the polls and look who won. Obama is way behind J. Kerry numbers, that's should tell you that the Dems pick the wrong guy.

    McCain/Palin '08...Palin'12

    September 9, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  16. Open Your 3rd Eye

    Listen, I'm going to be extremely BLUNT about this. The reason Obama and McCain are tied is because America STILL has a certain group of WHITE FOLKS that were looking for a reason, any reason, not to vote for him- period, point blank, end of story, full stop.

    THAT GROUP IS CLINGING TO THE HOPE THAT THIS TIME, THIS REPUBLICAN WILL BE DIFFERENT.

    I WANT YOU TO UNDERSTAND YOU ARE SADLY MISTAKEN, AND THERE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH EVIDENCE WHICH PROVES THAT THE POLICIES WILL NOT CHANGE MUCH IF YOU ELECT THESE 2 CHARACTERS (MCCAIN & PALIN).

    THEY HAVE ALREADY PROVEN THEY WILL DO ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING, LET ME REPEAT, ANYTHING, TO WIN INCLUDING FLAT OUT LYING AND CHEATING.

    IS THIS THE CHARACTER OF A PERSON YOU WANT AS A LEADER?

    SOUNDS LIKE BUSH/CHENEY TO ME.

    September 9, 2008 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  17. donna smith

    its sad to think that sarah palin is exciting this country. at a time when we have the first black man and women running for office. we are now accepting going back to avoiding sex eduaction. and being proud of 17 year old girls who are pregant. How can this be off limits, when sarah told the entire country. this is not what I want to teach my teenagers.
    a very sad mom.

    September 9, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  18. Obvious Answer

    In the beginning, the country was just expressing their anger at the Bush administration and Obama used that magic word "Change".

    But as things progressed, Obama's arrogance grew and his disrespect of Hillary Clinton was a slap in the face not only to women but to all Democrats.

    Finally, Obama's lack of judgment in dismissing Hillary Clinton as a possible choice for vice president displayed a mean spirited, childish and petulant personality.

    Obama should do the right thing for his party and for the country...
    that is to be a man, step aside and let a good woman do the job.

    September 9, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  19. Bill in Colorado

    Last I checked the Obama ticket was clearly in the lead in the Polls. So if they cancelled each other out how did McCain take the lead?

    September 9, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  20. Rebecca

    Palin is a liar. Today we are now finding out she charged the state of Alaska tens of thousands of dollars in per diem for staying at her home in Wasilla while govenor. She also charged the state of $45000 for her children and husband to travel including a trip to Todd Palin's snowmobile race where he won. Is that a reformer or is that fraud waste and abuse. It is definately NOT a reformer, I'll tell you that for sure.

    September 9, 2008 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  21. Anonymous

    palin is a liar,

    September 9, 2008 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  22. Jerry

    Who cares about polls taken by republican,,,Nobody ever ask me to take a poll....November 4, 2008 them votes count not the polls

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 9, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  23. Heidi

    I would have been more excited if Obama & Clinton could have put their differences aside & chose to run together. That ticket would truly have been historical

    September 9, 2008 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  24. Frank

    Sad thing is that neither will do anything for our economy. Reps take our money for their friends and the MI COmplex and Dems take our money and give it away to people that don't deserve it. Guess it might as well go to someone besides the bankers. America was real stupid to not elect Ron Paul when they had the chance.

    September 9, 2008 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  25. Steve D.

    This morning Reuters reports that there has been a "huge" shift toward John McCain by white women since the announcement of Sarah Palin. Since most of the Republican white women were already voting for him, you've got to believe that the shift includes a lot of former Hillary supporters.

    Memo to former Hillary supporters thinking of voting Palin: You do realize that the hard right Alaska governor has almost nothing in common with Hillary (other than her gender), right? Is it really about getting a woman into office at any cost, or did Palin's deft teleprompter read and carefully crafted hockey mom persona get you?

    Ladies, Sarah Palin is Dick Cheney in panty hose. I know you're not stupid, please do your homework on before you actually vote.

    September 9, 2008 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
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