Republican John McCain's surprise announcement Friday of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate - some 16 hours after Democrat Barack Obama's historic speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination - has possibly stunted any Obama convention bump, the latest Zogby Interactive flash poll of the race shows.
The latest nationwide survey, begun Friday afternoon after the McCain announcement of Palin as running mate and completed mid-afternoon today, shows McCain/Palin at 47%, compared to 45% support for Obama/Biden.
In other words, the race is a dead heat.
The interactive online Zogby survey shows that both Obama and McCain have solidified the support among their own parties - Obama won 86% support of Democrats and McCain 89% of Republicans in a two-way head-to-head poll question not including the running mates. When Biden and Palin are added to the mix, Obama's Democratic support remains at 86%, while McCain's increases to 92%.
After the McCain "Veep" announcement on Friday, Palin was almost immediately hailed as a strong conservative, and those voters have rallied to the GOP ticket, the survey shows. Republicans gather in St. Paul, Minnesota this week to officially nominate McCain and Palin as their presidential ticket.
Overall, 52% said the selection of Palin as the GOP vice presidential nominee helps the Republican ticket, compared to 29% who said it hurt. Another 10% said it made no difference, while 10% were unsure. Among independent voters, 52% said it helps, while 26% said it would hurt. Among women, 48% said it would help, while 29% said it would hurt the GOP ticket. Among Republicans, the choice was a big hit - as 87% said it would help, and just 3% said it would hurt.
Pollster John Zogby: "Palin is not to be underestimated. Her real strength is that she is authentic, a real mom, an outdoors person, a small town mayor (hey, she has dealt with a small town city council - that alone could be preparation for staring down Vladimir Putin, right?). She is also a reformer."
"A very important demographic in this election is going to be the politically independent woman, 15% of whom in our latest survey are undecided."
"In the final analysis, this election will be about Obama vs. McCain. Obama has staked out ground as the new JFK - a new generation, literally and figuratively, a new face of America to the world, a man who can cross lines and work with both sides. But McCain is the modern day Harry Truman - with lots of DC experience, he knows what is wrong and dysfunctional with Washington and how to fix it, and he has chosen a running mate who is about as far away from Washington as he could find.
"This contest is likely to be very close until the weekend before the election - then the dam may break and support may flood one way or the other."
The interactive survey shows that 22% of those voters who supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in their primary elections or caucus earlier this year are now supporting John McCain.
Among those who said they shop regularly at Wal-Mart - a demographic group that Zogby has found to be both "value" and "values" voters - Obama is getting walloped by McCain. Winning 62% support from weekly Wal-Mart shoppers, McCain wins these voters at a rate similar to what President Bush won in 2004. Obama wins 24% support from these voters.
Other demographic details are fairly predictable, showing that the McCain/Palin ticket heads into its convention on Monday with numbers that may fuel an optimism they may not have expected, and that many would not have predicted, especially after Obama's speech Thursday night.
Still, storm clouds remain on the horizon for the Republicans, a four-way horserace contest between McCain, Obama, Libertarian Bob Barr and liberal independent Ralph Nader shows.