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)


    September 9, 2008 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  2. J from DC

    Yes John McCain is switching his colors and talk to match Obama's. In fact they are trying to pull the wool over our eyes. By being typical Conservative Republicans, who are running as Democrats.

    But, be not fooled. This is not the reason for his recent poll bumps. The fact is that women identify with her because she looks and feels familiar to them. The problem is that they really can’t see how different she is from them, like us men can.

    When Palin and McCain switch the Supreme Court next year, pro-choice goes out the window with it. But not for 4 years, but for the next 20 years. That is the wool being pulled over womens eyes.

    September 9, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Joyce Cannone

    Obama will win in November.........................all the events that cause a bounce in one side or the other will fade away. By the way, where's Palin? She can bring home the bacon.............fry it up in a pan, etc., but can she debate the issues? Can she really focus on the issues and evaluate them and come up with a solution? I think she's just a good cheerleader. She won't fly when confronted with the reality of "performing" in front of a real audience, asked intelligent questions by the press or debating. She got pretty far..........pretty fast..........but will, like Icarus CRASH. Into the sea, wasn't it? She'll crash into the sea of b.s. I think Obama will win by pretty impressive numbers!

    September 9, 2008 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  4. Shari, NY

    As regards the picture, the person wearing the Obama hat is looking forward and the one wearing the NOBama hat looks backward.

    September 9, 2008 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  5. JDC

    Biden about as interesting and exciting as a doorknob!

    September 9, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  6. scared

    I would like to know where I can go to participate in those cnn polls. Where are they getting these numbers from. I want to vote too. Please help.

    September 9, 2008 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  7. Ken

    Here is why democrats do not belong in the White House or anywhere near it:

    2 years ago with a Republican Congress:

    1) Consumer confidence stood at a 2 1/2 year high;
    2) Regular gasoline sold for $2.19 a gallon;
    3) The unemployment rate was 4.5%.

    Since voting in a Democratic Congress in 2006 we have seen:

    1) Consumer confidence plummet;
    2) The cost of regular gasoline soar to over $3.95 a gallon;
    3) Unemployment is up to 5.5% (a 25% increase);
    4) American households have seen $2.7 trillion in equity value evaporate (stock and mutual fund losses);
    5) Americans have seen their home equity drop by $1.5 trillion dollars;
    6) 3% of American homes are in foreclosure.

    Remember it’s Congress that makes law not the President. He has to work with what’s handed to him.

    September 9, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. B W Graves

    Sarah Palin and McCain remind me so much of Al-Quaida and the Taliban. They wanted to attack Obama and the Demos and they could not come up with a theme or plan of their own, so they stole Obama's "Change" theme and plan to attack him with just like Al-Quaida wanted to attack the US, but had no facilitations, so they came over here,learned in our schools how to fly our airplanes, turned them into missils, turned around and attacked us with our own planes killing thousands of Americans and praised God for the success they had. Do they plan to have murder on their hands too?

    September 9, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  9. facts are facts

    There are bloggers now suggesting McCain used George Bush's speech at the convention. I'm sure the main stream news medias will either verify or dispell this rumour.

    I guess even if the above is true there is nothing wrong with someone who has the same policies and programs using the same rhetoric and just makes it a little harder to sell the change rhetoric.

    September 9, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. ATLian

    And now being a rock star is a good thing so long as it is Palin.

    September 9, 2008 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. Becky

    Until I actually know a person who got polled, I really don't take the polls too seriously. A few thousand sampling doesn't truly reflect the millions who will vote. Let November 4th decide.

    McCain at the 11th Hour trying to convince us that he's different than George W. Bush is too little, too late. McCain can't change the fact that he voted with Bush 90%. That's not the change I'm looking for.

    September 9, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  12. TryingYetAgain

    To even consider putting Palin on par with Joe Biden is an absolute OUTRAGE and insult to Senator Biden who has been in the Senate nearly 40 years, is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a Constitutional law expert, has been involved in thousands of policy initiatives throughout the years, knows and has known global leaders personally from all over the world. WHAT in heavens name are these people thinking who took CNN's poll and have a more favorable rating for Palin than Biden? What dream world do they live in??? I interned for Joe Biden when in high school (way back in the 70's) and Palin was a CHILD then!! The difference in their world and political experience is NIGHT AND DAY!

    Why is she hiding from the press? Do you know why; so she can be coached on all these issues where she has NO EXPERIENCE, and knows NOTHING. Granted McCain is the top of the ticket but seeing as he offers nothing new beyond the Bush Administration, and is elderly, has senior moments, and has cancer....what happens when he dies in office and we are left with this neophyte to run the country???

    September 9, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  13. Rich

    Choices are clear this election:

    If you believe in Women – "Equal Work for Equal Pay" vote Obama. If you don't believe in Women – "Equal Work for Equal Pay" vote McCain.

    If you want a bigger tax cut for middle americans (95% of population), vote for Obama. If you want a smaller tax cut for middle americans, vote for McCain.

    If you want a woman to have the "right to choose", vote Obama. If you want the government to have her right to choose and tell them "No", vote McCain.

    3 issues where there is a clear choice.

    September 9, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  14. educated Ron

    Not sure why McCainlin camp just not focusing on his war history and her 80% approval rate. (Which is the ultimate vetting by the people)

    I have to say that I researched her story on the bridge to no-where and mayor lobbyist and the McCain ad is not truthful. They should know everything will be researched. Really disapointed in lies by any side.

    September 9, 2008 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. laura

    Why the fascination with mavericks? George Bush is a maverick.

    September 9, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  16. John from New York

    It's 9:48 AM EST. Where are the comments?

    Have people lost interest in this election? I am starting to think so.

    September 9, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  17. Sandy - PA

    All I know is this – I have just suffered through 8 years under the absolute WORST president in US history. I am definitely not better off now that I was 8 years ago. And John McCain was part of the Republican Administration that brought us all this. He supported Bush on virtually every issue, voting with him over 90% of the time – including a vote to sell control of US ports to Dubai, and that deal almost went through.

    McCain is a senator from Arizona, one of the states hardest hit by illegal immgration – yet McCain has opposed every effort to secure the border. McCain is all for big business and is a proponent of outsourcing.

    Please do not be fooled by his lies and his attempts to obscure the issues with nonsense. This man, and especially his running mate, are extremely dangerous. How anybody could vote for these 2 after the past 8 years is beyond me.

    September 9, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  18. Amber in AZ

    I can't believe this. I just saw an ad for McCain that listed all these statements like "He's a Maverick" 8/5/08 They didn't list any sources!!! Are we that stupid that no body notices that JMcBushes ad doesn't have a souce that aren't his campaign lobby spokespersons to put their stamp on him in print???????

    September 9, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  19. what are we doing

    i have been reading these comments for some time now and i am truly sadden by the state of our Nation. on this site i have read some of the most racially inflammatory comments from people who no doubt believe they are Christians. the fact is even from a few Obama supporters CNN has allowed the worst of us to be posted on this site. i am an Obama supporter, i am also an African American. i do not support Obama because he is Black, like i pray women are not supporting McCain because he put a woman on his ticket, i support Obama because he has laid out a clear way to help fix the mess the Republicans has made. i dont know about you, but i am hurting, America is hurting and from all of my research, John McCain is the wrong guy for the job. McCain has voted against Vets, against POW/MIA, against women right to equal pay and abortion, he does have 59 lobbyist running his campaign (so their interest will be met at our expense) McCain might be a nice guy, although much is said about his temper and he did call his wife the C word, but i ask you has John McCain laid out a clear and effective remedy to fix this mess? all i have heard from McCain are slogans, about drilling and surges....what about this debt, women, vets, our kids our homes and our jobs? look i a Black, i have seen some kindness and a lot of hate in this country, but when you vote dont vote for a woman or against a Black man, vote for the person who can fix the mess left by the Republicans. thank you, a proud American.

    September 9, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  20. Charles I Am

    CNN you ran John McCain's adds for free during the Democratic Convention. Everytime he came out with a new add you talked about it, ran it in full as an excuse for getting the context straight which would be fine except you did it over and over again. When Obama adds ran you mention he had a new one ran snip bits and barely elaborated on it.
    I know why you guys are doing this. Your taxes will be raised because you are part of that five percent. The $250,000 above crowd and you perfer Bush's tax cuts no matter how the rest of the country is doing. You know what? I know a alot of folks who feel the same way you do they are called Republicans.

    September 9, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  21. Scott, Wichita

    where can I get a "Neither" hat?

    September 9, 2008 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  22. Doug

    Until the media vets Palin, Boycott CNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 9, 2008 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  23. Joe in NYC

    I will give McCain credit for picking Gov Palin as a spur of the moment idea to get the women's vote and also the chance to make history if elected. She must have been as surprised as me by the pick!

    As a democrat I can tell you that Palin is not Hillary Clinton. Hillary might not have Palin's executive experience but she is much better than Gov Palin and I want to see Hillary's Healthcare Plan for America succeed!

    Obama/Biden in 08!

    September 9, 2008 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  24. Obama/Biden 08

    CNN is not taking post from readers now??? THey make everything
    a Permlink??

    September 9, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  25. President McCain

    By my calculations, we are gaining ground and should be in good shape come January 20. 🙂

    September 9, 2008 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
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