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. PA Independent

    Not too long ago, I remember the media wondering why the poll sin the primaries – especially the Democratic primaries – were so off target. Obsessing over poll numbers is meaningless. The only poll that matters is the Electoral College results on November 4, 2008. Everything else is pure speculation dependent on a small number of people with time on their hands to answer questions on the phone.

    September 9, 2008 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  2. Jozee

    The fact that the polls are tied is evidence that people are not paying any attention to the issues. How can the Palin/McCain ticket claim to be "Mavericks" when they have voted with Bush 97% and 90% respectively? These people are selling this country down the river with their lies but as long as you claim the mantra "Country First" that will divert people's attention away from the real issues that are causing the economy to hemorrhage internally.

    We are in a Republican created recession, two Republican created wars, in the midst of people losing their homes left and right. All the Palin/McCain ticket can offer is more of the same! Wake Up, people. This election is too important to hand over to Palin, who seems to be the top of the ticket now, and her side kick, John McSame.

    ENOUGH!

    Yeah, I know, CNN, my comments will await moderation. What's new!

    OBAMA/BIDEN – CHANGE WE MUST BELIEVE IN!

    September 9, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  3. Rose

    It would be fair to say that the Republican Party always defending Sara Palin record as if they know her. Okay, People Sarah Palin and John McCain must have had some type of relationship before now. You just don't defend people that is new to you. You better be asking yourself what do she have that no other powerful governor don't have except a gun, 5 children and a husband that makes less that $50,000 a year. Come on people why are we listening to McCain and Palin lies. They have no views that we can identify with so be aware that we are going to be sold out on a beauty contest at the White House and everyone can enter but not to beat Sarah. McCain wouldn't allow that anyway.

    September 9, 2008 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  4. Unbiased Reporting

    As voters lose their emotion from the conventions and start looking at the candidates rationally, we begin to see the deliniation between Obama and McClain grow. Of course, its helped by the new emotion brought on by the press and their incessant "Obama first" reporting.

    It seems a lot more people are taking note of the constant referral to the Republican Party as "They" and it's having the opposite effect than the pundits wanted. Now voters are completely discounting the Press since it lost its objectivity, and are thinking for themselves.

    Obama sounds more like a playground bully saying the ball is his when he speaks of 'Change'. He simply doesn't own the word, nor can he (and the discredited Press) unilaterally declare that experience is no longer an issue. Sorry, ...it is, and wishful thinking doesn't make it go away. ....And 'Change' belongs to McCain, too!

    September 9, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. maria dockery

    It is most interesting and obvious that not even the Secretary of State Condelisa Rice supports Palin as VP. But Americans in their willingness to keep hatred thriving in America will even sacrifice the security of their own children to support the hatred that has been past down for generations. It is amazing that they will put blacks on the frontlines to protect them from their enemy, but refuse to support someone who has come to protect the very security of this great country we call America. One moment experience is everything, and the excuse they give for not supporting Mr. Obama, but in the next breath give praise and honor and SUPPORT to someone who has no experience in national government. It appears we are doomed as a nation. All I can say at this point is GOD KEEP America, because truly we are not able and definitely on competent enough to make the right choice for the great nation!!!!!

    September 9, 2008 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  6. Tim

    Hmm, I certainly sense a shift, as do most other polls. I wonder what may be going on with the Obama/CNN headquarters poll.

    September 9, 2008 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  7. Christy

    What's funny to me is that when Obama was ahead by 2 points, the media brushed it off as a tie – not major difference they said. Now that Palen is ahead 2 points, the media is already painting her as the next president. As if this, right after the GOP convention means anything. And yes, stupid Americans are voting for Palen. They've long forgotten that McCain would be the overlord detroying the world.

    September 9, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  8. JDM

    When and/or if we get to see or hear Palin without
    SOMEONE TELLING HER WHAT TO SAY!
    We the people will make up our minds about who to vote for?
    She did a really good job getting the Rep base fired up.
    THEY DON'T LIKE MACAIN!!!!?.
    However, she is 180 degree from Hillary on every women point of veiw. SO, Don't belive the hype-She got the same body parts, but that about it!
    She is the female Pat Buhcannon! Close youe eyes and listen.

    September 9, 2008 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  9. Keep our USA safe! McCain 08

    CHANGE??????? BO – null null – otherwise known as Dr. NO!

    "CHANGE"......What I Believe BO's Definition of Change Is!

    C = COMMUNISM
    H = HATRED
    A = ABORTION
    N = NEGATIVE
    G = GREED
    E = ELITISM

    "Change" is fleeting! Positive and Negative – Good and Bad. Obama's self-serving "change" born from contempt and controversy, is like a wrecker destroying in a day or two, what it took noble builders – our founding fathers – years to construct.

    The tale of the sinister scorpion, mirrors BO's blueprint of deceit.

    The scorpion, a poor swimmer, asked the turtle to carry him across the river. "Are you mad?" exclaimed the turtle. "While swimming, you'll sting me and I'll drown."
    Laughed the scorpion, "If I sting you, you would drown and I would go down with you. Where is the logic in that?"
    "You're right. Hop on!" said the turtle.
    Halfway across the river, the scorpion gave the turtle a mighty sting. As they both sank to the bottom, the turtle resignedly asked, "You said there'd be no logic in stinging me. Why did you do it?"
    "It has nothing to do with logic," the drowning scorpion replied. "IT'S JUST MY CHARACTER."

    MORAL – “IT’S NOT WHAT I SAY, BUT WHAT I DO”

    September 9, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  10. Independent white female Voter!

    This is a temporary bounce that Mccain received this past week because of allthe excitement about Palin. Palin is a new and fresh face but nothing else. Americans will realize that when the shi- hits the fan we cannot afford four more years of the Bush policies, as Mccain intends to do, and we could not afford to put a woman in the white house just because she is a bulldog, with lipstick that is. We need change and Obama is truly the change maker here. Mccain has run his campaign on "experience" from the very start, putting Obama down for lack of experience and now all of a suddent he is a change agent! Give me a break! That is such a lie! He must really think that Americans are stupid. He must think that Americans are dumb, bringing in a woman, conservative and tough. Wow! He may have surprised all of us with his out of nowhere choice, but there is nothing surprising about him getting exactly the person he needs to bring his base to his support. He just pleased the most conservative constituency, that's all! There is no way many women will support Palin, she just does not support our issues and our daughters issues. I really don't want anyone even close to George W Bush running our country for the next 4 years. We really have had enough! We must make a choice this year that will bring true change and get rid of the conservatives, their cowboy attitudes, and how they connect wars and the second coming of Christ, it is scary !Thanks but no thanks Palin!

    September 9, 2008 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  11. Willy Brown

    ONN will say anything to make Obama look good. McCain got a bounce and Obama did not!

    September 9, 2008 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  12. RealityKing

    Yeah sure, cancelled each other out... NOT!

    September 9, 2008 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  13. Jim

    Not where i live. i know nobody voting for McCain. If it wasnt for the south as far as im concerned all would be peachy, but of course....just like in the past theres alot of people dragging there feet looking for anything positive to come from the R side...and of course, they give ya alil taste, you come back for more. I love how easy it is to sway people, i guess McCain really did know what he was doing with that VP pick, he gambled on our stupidity and apparently its working. =/ Same thing happened during past wars, this back and forth with ppls vote, it shows how confused they are about things that are happening, Is it THAT big of a surprise that they made sure Iraq was more stable before the election? i mean, its so simple to fool people its gross. Did this all through Veitnam. Back and forth. Not much has changed. Fact is, they messed up, and now trying to clean the mess, too little too late. I remember R adults telling me the war was over yrs ago, shows how much they knew, now here we go again.

    September 9, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  14. ENOUGH

    Look at these two hats. One is enthusiastically FOR Obama and the other is simply against him. Half of John McCain's support is against Obama and the other half is for his rookie, novice VP selection.

    NONE is enthusiastically FOR McCain. That speaks volumes of the choice America will make in two months. Do we want to get behind something or do we want to wallow in negativity?

    ENOUGH

    September 9, 2008 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  15. Barbara

    McCain is still running an ad in NC that says Obama will raise our Income Taxes.

    That's a lie. These lying ads need to be stopped.

    September 9, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  16. Jack Steele

    America is nothing but a nation of Redneck Racist. Then you people go around and say you are the beacon of freedom and justice. Hahahahahaha. Yeah right. Your country is a Joke. I have a friend who says if McCain/Palin wins this election, he is moving to my country and I cannot blame him. He is ashamed to call himself an american.

    September 9, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  17. Lisa

    Unfortunately, the DNC felt that it was necessary to select a candidate that could appeal to both republicans and independents, so they selected Obama and that divided the party. While doing so, they disregarded the will of the loyal democratic base that wanted Clinton as the nominee. As such, those disgruntled Clinton supporters have left the party and will vote McCain and that is why this race is so close.

    To appease the disgruntled Clinton supporters, Obama could have selected Clinton as his running mate but he did not. This election was/is the democrats to win after eight years of republican rule and this race should NOT be this close.

    My advice to Obama: campaign on the issue of changing health care – an issue that most Americans want something done about. And, put Clinton in charge of implementing those changes or extend some other public olive branch to her – that just might help win back some of her supporters.

    September 9, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  18. Doris,Memphis, TN

    Andy Card on Morning Joe:
    "Sarah Palin is running like a woman not like a man".
    Is he saying that Hillary ran like a man? Because Hillary is
    a strong woman the Republicans say she acts like a
    man. Sexism to the 100th degree.

    September 9, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  19. Gracie

    SHAMELESS is being very polite Sen. Obama. Both John McCain and Sarah Palin both KNOW they are nothing but "copycats" in this election.

    When you look back on how many times has John McCain's message changed during the last 19 months? I lost count at 13, NOW he's all of a sudden a fan of the word CHANGE now. The only reason that both he and Gov. Palin are stealing your themed words is because NOTHING THEY'VE COME UP WITH HAS WORKED!!! They have NO originality of their own, so they go around copying other people's work and words.

    That's by no means CHANGE, that stealing. I can't remember ONE original message that John McCain has stuck to since this race started. He's NEVER had an ORIGINAL message or theme that worked. I find that funny.

    AND now there are rumors flying around in the news that the Obama campaign is having money problems? ARE YOU NUTS? My daughter is an a Senior accountant for the Obama camp and she says, that's nothing but hogwash. August was ONE of Sen. Obama's biggest month!!!

    It's funny how all this media gossip distorts the REAL FACTS. When you think about how much Sen. Obama earned ($10 million) after Gov. Palin's speech, they raised $16 million even before Sen. John McCain even took the podium! Before McCain even spoke!!! The McCain camp only raised 1 million, even after the new "rock star" spoke. Hummm....... the praise her, but they are clearly not donating to the campaign.

    So what does that tell you?

    But that's okay, because WE DEMOCRATS are going to DONATE, DONATE, DONATE! I just donated $1,000 this morning and I will continue to do so every pay period!!! It's like investing in my children's and grandchildren's future! So back at'cha media gossipers, take that to the bank! Bam!

    September 9, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. Ed

    What part of the last 8 years do you McCain supporters not understand? You'd have to be an idiot to vote for McCain. Does the term self-destructive mean anything to you?

    September 9, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  21. Baze

    as expected

    ONE NATION

    September 9, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. John in Ohio

    The polls October 4th will give the best idea of who is gonna win this thing. I'm an Obama supporter, and I think he's *favored* to win now, but it could go either way.

    I'm more worried about how deeply divided the country is now. I don't want to lose, and I'm worried about what a McCain-Palin presidency will do to the country, but I'm also worried about what the fanatically religious right and the fanatically racist in the Republican Party will do if Obama wins.

    September 9, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  23. Dan, Maryland

    I love how the McCain campaign was all up in arms and saying Obama was just a celebrity....then they turn around and make a vice presidential candidate that's turning into celebrity status. It's a hyporcitical joke. I can just see the political cartoons now:

    John McCain at a slot machine: He's too popular to be president – maybe I should try to be popular! I'll pull this lever and pick someone who will bring my canidacy celebrity status with the base of the republican party, someone who's ready to be president on day one if something happens to me...click...click....click........Sarah Palin? Governor of Alaska? Beauty queen! I'm sold!

    September 9, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  24. Chut Pata

    Notice the two hats. Obama campaign hat is about Obama. Positive. McCain hat is not about McCain, it is about being against Obama. Absolute negative.

    This photo speaks of the mentality of the two camps.

    September 9, 2008 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  25. ran

    Once again I ask who is being polled and by what means (ie. land lines only or cell/Internet). Also CNN why not break the mold and present us with facts and demand the candidates answer the questions we all want answers to: like health care/economy. Don't be like the other news outlets going only for the personality stories; believe it or not some of us are really concerned about the issues.

    The free press is our way of getting the truth. Please provide us with that outlet because we need it now more then ever if we are going to make the right decision about who will get this country back for us all.

    September 9, 2008 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
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