Obama Gets A Post Bin Laden Bounce In New Poll

Americans are rallying around the President in the wake of the mission against bin Laden, but it's likely to be short-lived.

Not surprisingly, the first poll taken in the wake of the successful mission against Osama bin Laden shows President Obama’s job approval jumping to its highest level in quite some time, but even this early poll shows danger signs for the White House:

Overall, 56 percent of those polled say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, an increase of nine percentage points over April polls by Post-ABC News and Pew. That is the highest approval rating for the president in either poll since 2009.

There’s also been a clear increase in public satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States, although by a margin of nearly 2-1, Americans are still dissatisfied with the direction of the country.

The president gets big bounces on dealing with Afghanistan, with his approval rating soaring to 60 percent, and on handling the threat of terrorism, where he recorded a career high of 69 percent.

More than three-quarters of all Americans say the president deserves credit for the killing of the bin Laden in Pakistan on Sunday. Among Republicans, 61 percent say Obama deserves at least some credit for the move. But just 17 percent of them say he deserves a “great deal” of credit for bringing bin Laden to justice after a nearly 10-year pursuit by U.S. intelligence and military forces.

Republicans are more apt to give former president George W. Bush acclaim for killing bin Laden, with 81 percent saying he deserves at least some of the credit for what happened Sunday. Only 35 percent of Democrats share that view, however, with a slender 4 percent giving the former president a lot of credit.

There is more bipartisan agreement that the U.S. military and intelligence deserve a great deal of credit for the killing.

For the president, the nine-point increase in his overall approval rating is on par with the six-point increase in Bush’s numbers in the weeks following the capture of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in December 2003. Then, as now, political independents moved the most.

Compared with the mid-April Post-ABC poll, Obama’s approval rating among independents is now 10 points higher, at 52 percent. Bush got an identical 10-point boost among independents in December 2003. For Bush, that lift proved short-lived, with the entire increase gone within six weeks.

The biggest caveat to this poll is the fact that there’s been basically no movement on the President’s job approval on areas outside of foreign policy and national security. Specifically, those surveyed disapproved of the President’s handling of the economy by a 55% to 40% margin, virtually unchanged from an April poll that had the disapproval/approval numbers on the economy at 57%/42%. Additionally the poll shows 60% of respondents satisfied with the direction of the country and 32% satisfied, an improvement from April’s 73/22 number, but still a fairly good indication that the issues that tend to dominate Presidential elections — jobs and the economy — are still making people uncertain, and that they aren’t satisfied with the job the President has done in these areas.

Further evidence of that can be found in a recent (pre bin Laden death) Gallup poll that showed that a majority of  Americans believed the economy was still in a recession or depression:

In this kind of a climate, it’s clear that the White House shouldn’t plan on this rally `round the flag bump in the President’s job approval numbers lasting for very long. In fact, given the nature of the news cycle in modern American politics, it’s clear that the public’s attention will be back on economic issues very soon, perhaps starting this Friday when the April unemployment figures are released.

Taking a slightly different position than he did yesterday, Nate Silver argues however that the success of the bin Laden mission will work in the President’s favor:

Americans, contrary to the way they are sometimes characterized by pundits, can walk and chew gum and the same time — and they consider both foreign and domestic policy when they cast their ballots. The killing of Osama bin Laden is going to be perceived as unambiguously good news by almost all Americans. It makes it easier for Mr. Obama to make the case that the country has made progress since he took office.

Yes, Mr. Obama is still far from able to run commercials like those “Morning in America” ads Ronald Reagan used in 1984. Unless the economic indicators significantly outperform consensus expectations, the election is still liable to be fairly close, with Mr. Obama hardly assured of coming out on top.

But killing Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist, is going to be a point in Mr. Obama’s favor. I really don’t know exactly what impact it will have, and the magnitude of the bounce that Mr. Obama receives in the polls over the next few days and weeks may not shed much light on that question. But to claim that it will have no impact at all is as daft as claiming that Mr. Obama is now a shoo-in for re-election.

I don’t know that anyone is saying that this will have no impact at all on the President’s re-election chances, clearly it will. However, if the economy doesn’t continue to improve, or if the public doesn’t think it’s improving regardless of whether it is or not, then it’s going to be very difficult for the President to argue that the country has made all that much progress in the four years since he took office. The successful mission against Osama bin Laden is a positive mark in the President’s column, and one that hardly anyone can argue against. It also helps to mute the experience and leadership questions that some Republicans have continued to make against him ever since the campaign. However, unless the economy improves and people feel better about their own livelihoods, it’s hardly going to be enough to get him re-elected.

Photo via White House Flickr Page

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, National Security, Politicians, Public Opinion Polls, Terrorism, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. TG Chicago says:

    Among Republicans, 61 percent say Obama deserves at least some credit for the move.

    Wow, 39% of Republicans are so blinded by partisanship they can’t even give Obama the tiniest bit of credit for the mission he ordered. Sad.

  2. Michael says:

    Will last for a week or two, then then slide will resume.

  3. James Joyner says:

    @TG Chicago: The same would have been true of Democrats for Bush; it’s just the climate we’re in.

  4. Davebo says:

    The same would have been true of Democrats for Bush; it’s just the climate we’re in.

    I guess we’ll never know since Bush failed to kill Osama.

    But then, we do know it wasn’t a priority for him. Because he told us himself.

  5. Steve Verdon says:

    Yeah and Obama told us the war on terror was over, not once, but twice.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/06/white-house-war-terrorism-over/?feat=home_headlines

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/7772598/Barack-Obama-declares-the-War-on-Terror-is-over.html

    But of course we’ll keep all the policies that have been put in place.

    Now, let the justifications begin…..

  6. hey norm says:

    I have to disagree James…
    This idea that the death of OBL is a ratification of Bush and his policies and that he deserves all or most of the credit is not simple tit-for-tat. No matter what you think of those policies – there is damn good reason to see red over these claims despite your desire to simply brush them off.
    The Bush Administration refused to accept any responsibility whatsoever for 9.11, an event that happened on their watch, in spite of several clear instances of intelligence that could have been, and many argue should have been, connected. The examples of Bush, Cheney, and propagandist minions like Mary Matalin, denying even partial blame are abundant.
    Now, ten years later, they are falling over themselves to take credit for a nickname – the tiniest kernel of intelligence gained in what appears to be normal (as opposed to enhanced) interrogation techniques – and using that to claim victory for their own purely political gain. Every piece of analysis, and legwork, and digging, to develop this tiny kernel into actionable information after that, and under another Administration, is of no significant consequence to them.
    I do not believe for a moment that the Bush Administration is solely responsible for 9.11, or that the Obama Administration is solely responsible for OBL’s death. However, this craven instinct to deny blame on the one hand and jump to claim credit on the other by the so-called Republicans is, at best, the worst sort of partisanship. It is also without parallel.

  7. PJ says:

    @James:

    The same would have been true of Democrats for Bush; it’s just the climate we’re in.

    I would disagree.

    Compare the reactions of bloggers on the left when Saddam got captured, with the reactions of bloggers on the right now.

    And I think Obama will make a gain from this and from the release of the LFBC, but indirectly really. Both expose the total lack of connection a lot on the right have with reality. I do think there are other groups of voters who will be influenced by it.

  8. Steve Verdon says:

    Compare the reactions of bloggers on the left when Saddam got captured, with the reactions of bloggers on the right now.

    Some examples would be nice. No really, a few links would be good.

  9. Ignacio says:

    What the recent success will help with is campaign contributions. Some of those on the fence may have tilted toward Obama.

  10. rodney dill says:

    @hey norm, Where did you see in this post anyone giving Bush all or most of the credit? I see the stat of 4% (probably of Republicans) that give Bush a lot of credit, and the 81% that give Bush some credit. Both fall far short of ‘all’ or ‘most.’

  11. Michael Reynolds says:

    For the last two years no Republican has spoken the name George W. Bush aloud. Suddenly now they love him.

  12. TG Chicago says:

    The same would have been true of Democrats for Bush; it’s just the climate we’re in.

    Bush’s approval rating right after 9/11 (an intelligence failure, not a success) went up to 90%. His approval amongst Democrats was around 70%. And that didn’t even require Bush to do anything.

    I’m reminded of something Ezra Klein said:

    On the right, there’s something of a cultural underlay to the worldview: We are the real Americans, and they are not. Liberals want to say, We are correct on the evidence, and they are not.

    If you’re going by facts and data, of course it’s occasionally possible that the other side might be correct on the evidence. However, if you’re going by who is a “real American”, and the people you trust have spent years demonizing Obama as the polar opposite, then even something like a major antiterrorism success has no effect on your perception.

    Can you really imagine Obama ever getting a ~70% approval rating amongst Republicans? It would never happen.

  13. Hey Norm says:

    Rodney,
    JJ refered to the “climate”. I took climate to encompass more than just this thread. The threads on this website are rife with comments denying the Obama Adninistration credit, and claiming victory for Bush Policies. Same with numerous right wing blogs. Two specific examples -party leader Sarah Palin refusing to even mention the current President, and party leader Rush Limbaughs 3 hour sarcastic rant of yesterday belittling Obamas contribution.

  14. mantis says:

    Some examples would be nice. No really, a few links would be good.

    I could give you a ton of links, but the spam filter would catch them. So here’s a roundup of some of the voices on the right responding to bin Laden’s death.

    Going back to take a look at the left when Hussein was captured is a bit trickier. A lot fewer people were blogging eight years ago than today.

    I did find Kos’s reaction as well as Duncan Black’s.

  15. rodney dill says:

    @Hey Norm, The threads on this site are rife with comments both ways. Claiming one administration all or most of the credit, and the other little or none, usually in juxtaposition to each. Those cases are a lot tit for tat. The earlier ones I saw from the right wanted to extend Bush some credit, it has degraded some from there.

    I give Obama a lot of credit and the military a lot of credit. The ‘Decider’ gets a lot of credit in my mind. (and I don’t mean W.) I’m not worried about assigning the amount of credit for the previous administration at this point. It just isn’t that important, and the historians (mostly) and pundits (somewhat) will get it right eventually. It was more important for Obama to recognize the military that was involved.

    I haven’t read or listened to Palin or Rush on this, but is astounds me that you listened to a 3 hour rant from Limbaugh.

  16. Hey Norm says:

    Rodney…
    My point is about the total abdication of blame for an intelligence failure on one hand and the rush to claim credit for an intelligence success on the other, on the part onew single party. That is wholly different than what you describe.

  17. rodney dill says:

    That’s ’cause we’re talking about two entirely different things.

  18. Steve Verdon says:

    I could give you a ton of links, but the spam filter would catch them. So here’s a roundup of some of the voices on the right responding to bin Laden’s death.

    Going back to take a look at the left when Hussein was captured is a bit trickier. A lot fewer people were blogging eight years ago than today.

    I did find Kos’s reaction as well as Duncan Black’s.

    So no Lefty bloggers said anything negative about Bush after the capture of Saddam?

    I hope you see the problem here. You are now stuck in a position of trying to prove a negative, a rather tricky thing. Yes, Kos and Atrios had reasonably temperate remarks…as have the writers at this blog regarding the death of bin Laden. I’m sure there are other righty blogs that have fairly reasonable replies as well….and then there are the crazies.

    Your position is the following:

    When Saddam was captured the Lefty bloggers and the Left in general were reasonable about it. When Osama was killed on orders of Obama there are at least some crazy Republicans/Righties who will try to turn this against Obama.

    Okay, you’ve established the latter, but to establish the former you’d have to go through every blog that discussed the capture of Saddam…the ones that are still extant and those that have disappeared. You’ve set yourself up with a position that can only be partially confirmed. Your above two links don’t do the trick. They don’t do the trick because they don’t represent the sum total of the “Left side” of the blogosphere.

  19. Wiley Stoner says:

    I wonder where the outrage from the left is about the killing of an unarmed old man will swing in. Bin Ladin had no weapons. Are you trying to tell me Navy Seals are not trained to capture targets without putting holes in them? Creating a martyr might not prove to be very wise. Many of the unintelligencia here howl at the thought of anything Bush did would inflame the Muslim world. So killing a popular leader is to placate them? I am glad Bin Ladin is dead, but I would have rathered it be at the end of a rope after interogation and a trial.a By the way, only idiots would or could fail to give Bush his due in this. It was his policies, left in place by this duel citizen President that allow this to go forward. I would wait before heaping praise upon Obama for his acts. That celebratory roast you prepare yourselves to partake in may turn to humble pie right before your eyes.

  20. Southern Hoosier says:

    Wiley Stoner says:
    Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 16:13

    I wonder where the outrage from the left is about the killing of an unarmed old man will swing in

    I was wondering when the legality of all this will come into question? Was bin Laden given a trial? So much for innocent till proven guilty.

    Navy Seals Could Face Year in Prison Over Alleged Punching of Terrorist Suspected of Masterminding Fallujah Murders

    http://www.cnsnews.com/node/58016
    Navy SEALS can’t slap a person but the can kill people in cold blood. If there had been children in the house, would we have shot them as well?

  21. mantis says:

    Steve,

    I wasn’t the one who posted the original comment. That was PJ. I was just curious and dug up some links.

  22. mantis says:

    Steve,

    Btw, I think you’re right. The only reasonable comparison is to look at what a particular blogger said about both events, but of course that doesn’t give one evidence to support any “the left does this, but the right does this” claims.

  23. Polls are about as meaningful and useful as extispicy. Never understood the fascination with them at OTB.

  24. Davebo says:

    Navy SEALS can’t slap a person but the (sic) can kill people in cold blood.

    Having served on two ships that had Seal teams aboard I can assure you that Navy Seals can indeed slap a person.

    The slaps I can handle. Watching them ride off the ship in their little rubber boats and slip onto the beach in Cannes while I waited in a half mile long liberty line was harder to swallow.

    But as I’ve aged I can’t begrudge them. I actually tried out for the Seals but was eliminated do to a stomach problem.

    No guts.

    There is a sailor out there that killed the most wanted man in the world. And we’ll never know his name and he’ll never write a book for a $500,000 advance.

    Don’t even think you of all people can question him or his team.

  25. Southern Hoosier says:

    @ Davebo
    How did you make it into the Navy if you can’t read?

    Navy Seals Could Face Year in Prison Over Alleged Punching of Terrorist Suspected of Masterminding Fallujah Murders

    http://www.cnsnews.com/node/58016
    Navy SEALS can’t slap a person but the can kill people in cold blood. If there had been children in the house, would we have shot them as well?

    Not sure what all your blabbering about about being on board ship has to do with what happen in Iraq.

  26. anjin-san says:

    I have seen several references now to bin laden as an “old man”. He was born in 1957. Not exactly a geezer.

    Also noteworthy are the many calls to “give Bush credit”. Now we have been hearing for quite a while now from the right that “Obama owns the economy now”. Fine. He owns national security too. This show was all his.

  27. Javier Garcia says:

    “Additionally the poll shows 60% of respondents satisfied with the direction of the country and 32% satisfied, an improvement from April’s 73/22 number, but still a fairly good indication that the issues that tend to dominate Presidential elections — jobs and the economy — are still making people uncertain, and that they aren’t satisfied with the job the President has done in these areas.”

    There is an obvious copy error in this statement, which is being picked up by other blogs (Morning Jolt at NRO) without correction, though the error is glaring and easily corrected with a clarification and inclusion of the disclaimer “sic” on the unedited original. Sixty percent of poll respondents on the ‘direction of the country’ issue cannot be “satisfied” and thirty-two percent “satisfied.” Since we know the right track/wrong track numbers are actually upside down for Obama, and since the current poll breakdown is characterized as an improvement over the April 73/22 number, it is obvious that the sentence should have read: “”Additionally the poll shows 60% of respondents DISsatisfied with the direction of the country and 32% satisfied.”

  28. […] 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 […]

  29. Derek says:

    Steve Verdon says:
    Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 13:30
    Yeah and Obama told us the war on terror was over, not once, but twice.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/aug/06/white-house-war-terrorism-over/?feat=home_headlines

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/barackobama/7772598/Barack-Obama-declares-the-War-on-Terror-is-over.html

    But of course we’ll keep all the policies that have been put in place.

    Now, let the justifications begin…..

    Soooo, did you actually read the links you posted, or just have a problem with comprehension? Anyone that passed 7th grade can understand what Obama is saying in these articles:

    1. The focus is on one terror network
    2. Calling these scumbags jihadists lends credibility to their claims of being “holy warriors”
    3. We aren’t calling it a “war on terror” because that term is now associated with invasions of countries, not the focus we need to defeat these groups.
    4. As a refresher, Bush called it a war on terror, and then claimed it’s the same as a traditional war so he could authorize a pre-emptive defensive strike? Get that? lol. He made up a term to legitimize punching someone in the face because we suspect they want to punch us….
    5. The sensational headlines aren’t actual Obama quotes.

    I’m being honest here when I don’t know if you don’t understand, or are just reaching to make a point.