Poll-Watch: Obama Gets Biggest Bounce Since '96 Convention; Firms Up Support Among Clinton Voters; Voters Divided on Palin Pick

Editor's note: Also see RNC Delegates as Out of Touch as Bush and Other Fun Facts in AlterNet's blog, PEEK.


Barack Obama appears to have answered some key questions on voters' minds and enjoyed a significant bounce from the Democratic convention. He gained support from those who had supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and is allaying concerns that he's not ready to govern. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, John McCain's running mate, is still unknown to many Americans, but enjoys favorable rating from a majority of those familiar with her in the first days after her selection.

Rasmussen's tracking poll, which had the race for the White House essentially tied on August 28th now shows Obama up by 6 points, joining Gallup's daily tracking poll, in which Obama's expanded his lead over McCain to 8 points. Hotline's latest shows a 9-point spread, and CBS shows Obama up by 8. Real Clear Politics rolling average of recent polls shows Obama up by 6.4 points.

In the Gallup Poll, Obama now has the support of 50 percent of registered voters (to McCain's 42 percent), the first time he's hit that mark and his highest level of support to date.

In CNN's polling, we get an indication of how the selection of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin played into the bounce. In its last pre-convention poll, which didn't mention vice presidential candidates, McCain led Obama by 2 points (42-40). In the latest, which did mention the candidates' running mates, Obama/Biden are up by 3 percent over McCain/ Palin (48-45), a 5-point swing. According to CBS, 71 percent of Americans said they watched the Dems' convention, including 63 percent of Republicans. CNN notes, "the convention made people who watched more likely to vote for the Democratic ticket." By a 51-32 spread, registered voters said the convention made them more likely to vote Dem come November.

Those are the headline numbers, but there are some interesting numbers within the latest round of polling. According to Gallup, the Democratic convention achieved a key goal: creating unity among Dems after a bruising primary fight.
Much attention was given to the fact that only 47% of former Clinton supporters said they were certain to vote for Obama in the pre-convention USA Today/Gallup poll, and that 16% of these voters said they were going to vote for McCain, with another 14% undecided.
The new polling shows that many of these disaffected Clinton voters have now returned to the loyal Democratic fold. The percentage of former Clinton voters who say they are certain to vote for Obama has now jumped to 65%. Although 12% of former Clinton voters persist in saying that they are going to vote for McCain, that's down from 16%, and the percentage who are undecided has dropped in half.
Overall, support for Obama among this group has moved from 70% pre-convention to 81% post-convention.
To be sure, former Clinton supporters are still less enthusiastic than former Obama supporters in the post-convention poll. And, the fact that 12% still say they are going to vote for McCain is no doubt troubling to the Obama camp. But it appears that, from a broad perspective, the concentrated effort by Obama's campaign managers to feature both Hillary and Bill Clinton in prominent roles, and efforts by Hillary Clinton to emphasize her support for Obama going into the November election, may have paid off.
The CBS poll (Via Polling Report) shows that Obama did well answering some key questions about his ability to lead.

In an earlier CBS poll taken in mid-August, just 41 percent of voters said that Obama had stated clearly what he'd do as president. In the latest release, that number had grown to 55 percent, a 14-point swing.

When asked whether Obama would make a strong Commander-in-Chief, 63 percent said it was likely, up 5 points from the earlier study, but still 14 points behind McCain, who 77 percent of respondents say would make a good C-in-C.

Depsite the right's attempt to paint him as a latté-sipping elitist, Obama appears to be far stronger than McCain on the question of whether he "understands the needs and problems of people like yourself?" By a 63-31 margin, a majority of registered voters believe Obama understands their needs (+32 points), while only 41 percent believe McCain does (against 48 percent who believe he doesn't, a spread of -7 points).

Although the numbers didn't shift during the convention, Democrats are probably happy about the fact that about half of registered voters believe McCain will "continue George W. Bush's policies," a key message of the Obama campaign.

Americans appear to be evenly divided over the selection of Palin to be McCain's running mate, but it's important to note that about 4 in 10 voters don't yet know enough about her to make a determination. Palin has a +17 approval rating among those with an opinion (38 favorable-21 unfavorable), and, interestingly, seems to be doing better among men than women. According to CNN, "41 percent of men view her favorably, five points higher than women." According to Rasmussen's tracking poll, which sampled likely voters and over a period beginning one day later, 52 percent say they have at least a somewhat favorable view of the governor. Rasmussen notes that Americans are evenly divided over whether Palin was a good selection, and there appears to be a growing parisan divide on the question. "69% of GOP voters believe the choice was a good one," Rasmussen notes, "while nearly as many Democrats (63%) disagree. Unaffiliated voters are evenly divided as well."

According to Rasmussen, Obama is the politico that most Americans say they'd want to meet in person (43 percent), and Sarah Palin comes in second, with 30 percent saying they'd like to meet her in person.

AlterNet is a non profit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed by our writers are their own.

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