Measuring The Bin Laden Bounce, If There Is One
There's not much movement in the President's job approval numbers.
In addition to the Washington Post/Pew poll that I noted yesterday, there are several new polls out in the wake of the successful mission that ended with the death of Osama bin Laden, there are several new polls out that paint a somewhat murky picture of whether or not President Obama will benefit politically in the aftermath of the raid:
- A New York Times/CBS News poll of 532 adults taken May 2nd and 3rd shows the President’s overall job approval at 57% approve vs. 37% disapprove
- A CNN/Opinion Research poll of 700 adults taken May 2nd puts the President’s job approval at 52% approve vs. 43% disapprove
- A Newsweek/Daily Beast poll of 600 adults taken May 2nd and 3rd puts the President’s job approval at 48% approve v. 49% disapprove. This was identical to the approval rating obtained from a separate poll of a different sample of 600 adults taken April 28th and 29th.
- A Survey USA Poll of 1000 adults taken May 2nd puts the Presidents job approval at 46% approve vs 42% disapprove
- The Gallup Daily Tracking Poll of 1500 adults taken May 1st-3rd shows the President’s job approal at 50% approve v. 42% disapprove.
- The Rasmussen Daily Tracking Poll of 1500 likely voters taken May 1st-3rd shows the President’s job approval at 48% approve v. 51% disapprove
The Washington Post/ Pew Poll, incidentally, was of 654 adults and taken on May 2nd. It put the President’s job approval at 56% approve v. 38% disapprove.
Obviously, there are some wide discrepancies here, many of which can be explained by differences in sampling and polling procedures. The two tracking polls, for example, comprise averages of three days of polling, so they’re less likely to reflect big jumps in short period of time. In addition, of course, the Rasmussen poll measures “likely voters” rather than adults and its unclear if the problems that Rasmussen had with its sampling during the 2010 election cycle have at all been cleared up.
As for the other polls, let’s take a look at the partisan sampling breakdown:
- In the CBS/NY Times poll they used a sample consisting of 24% Republicans, 36% Democrats, 32% Independent, 8% Don’t Know/No Answer
- In the Post/Pew poll the sample consisted of 26.45% Republicans, 31.8% Democrats, 32.57% Independents
- In the CNN poll, the sample consisted of
- In the Survey USA poll, the sample consisted of 29% Republicans, 35% Democrats, 34% Independents
There were no toplines provided for the Newsweek/Daily Beast poll or the CNN/Opinion Research poll so we don’t know the partisan breakdown. Nonetheless, given the small sample sizes it’s easy to see how even tiny variations in the partisan makeup of the sample could have a a big impact on the final results, which is why it makes more sense to pay attention to the overall trends than to the specific numbers.Each of the polls does suggest that the President has gotten a post in his approval numbers since Sunday, what remains to be seen is the size and the scope of any bounce that may be occurring.
There is one area where all the polls seem to agree, though, and that is that success in the war against al Qaeda is not helping the President when it comes to public opinion of the President’s handling of the economy. As I noted yesterday, the Washington Post poll had the President upside down when it came to job approval on the economy, and the New York Times poll shows the same thing:
But in an indication that anxieties about unemployment, gas prices and the national debt have not withered with Bin Laden’s death, good will toward Mr. Obama did not extend to his economic policies. More than half said they disapproved of his handling of the economy, similar to the result last month, the poll found.
CNN’s poll found the same thing:
“While President Obama’s rating on terrorism and on how he’s handling of Afghanistan each went up seven points, his approval rating on the economy and the deficit are down three points in that same time span,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Remember that the economy is still the most important issue. When CNN last asked Americans to name their top issue last year, 52 percent said the economy was most important and only four percent chose terrorism, putting it seventh on the list.”
The same goes for the Newsweek/Daily Beast poll:
COUNTRY HEADING IN THE RIGHT OR WRONG DIRECTION?
BEFORE: Right, 20%, Wrong, 65%
AFTER: Right, 30%, Wrong 55%
ECONOMY HEADING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?
BEFORE: Right, 31%, Wrong, 56%
AFTER: Right, 27%, Wrong 60%
HAS OBAMA DONE HIS JOB WELL ENOUGH TO DESERVE RE-ELECTION?
BEFORE: Yes, 40%, No, 48%
AFTER: 39%, No, 49%
Has news that Osama bin Laden has been killed changed the way you will vote in the 2012 presidential election from the way you felt before Sunday night.
So, to the extent that there is any kind of “bin Laden Bounce,” at least at this point, it is very limited and it seems unlikely to do anything to help the President if the economy doesn’t recover. Almost twenty years later, it’s still the economy, stupid.