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Gallup Daily: McCain's Bounce Gives Him 5-Point Lead

Gallup Daily: McCain's Bounce Gives Him 5-Point Lead

PRINCETON, NJ -- John McCain leads Barack Obama, 49% to 44%, in the immediate aftermath of the Republican National Convention, according to the latest Gallup Poll Daily tracking results.

These results are based on Sept. 5-7 interviewing, and are the first in which all interviews were conducted following the completion of the GOP convention. Immediately prior to the convention's Sept. 1 start, Aug. 29-31 interviewing showed McCain with 43% support among registered voters, compared with 49% today. Thus, Gallup credits McCain with a six-point convention bounce.

That is slightly better than Barack Obama's four-point bounce from 45% in Aug. 22-24 polling before the Democratic National Convention started to 49% immediately after it concluded. Since 1964, the typical convention bounce has been five percentage points.

Here is how the candidates' convention bounces compare with prior presidential candidates.

The net effect of the GOP convention bounce is that McCain has moved from a trailing position as the convention was getting underway (49% Obama, 43% McCain) to a leading position (49% McCain, 44% Obama).

McCain's current 49% share of the vote is his best performance in Gallup tracking to date. His five-point lead is his best since early May, when he led Obama by six points (48% to 42%). Obama has led throughout much of the campaign, and has led nearly all of the time since he clinched the Democratic nomination in early June. (To view the complete trend since March 7, 2008, click here.)

McCain has led Obama in each of the three individual nights' data comprising today's three-day rolling average, but the real question is whether he can sustain the lead as voter excitement around the convention fades. Since 1964, the first election year for which Gallup could reliably measure convention bounces, there have been only two examples in which one candidate consistently trailed until the time of his party's convention, but took the lead after and never relinquished it. Those occurred in 1988 for the elder George Bush and 1992 for Bill Clinton.

But there are also examples where a consistently trailing candidate took the lead after his party's convention, but later relinquished it -- Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Al Gore in 2000.

The most common pattern has been for one candidate to consistently lead prior to both conventions, and to maintain a lead during the convention period, even if his opponent got a convention bounce.

There is potential for further movement in the campaign, most notably with three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate scheduled for late September through mid-October, in addition to the intensive day-to-day campaigning between now and Election Day. -- Jeff Jones

Survey Methods

For the Gallup Poll Daily tracking survey, Gallup is interviewing no fewer than 1,000 U.S. adults nationwide each day during 2008.

The general-election results are based on combined data from Sept. 5-7, 2008. For results based on this sample of 2,733 registered voters, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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