Media rush to measure Obama’s “Osama bounce”

posted at 8:15 pm on May 3, 2011 by Karl

Crass, but inevitable. In the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, media and pollsters rushed into the field to insta-poll public reaction. Taken together, Pres. Obama is seeing a significant boost in numbers on handling terrorism and the situation in Afghanistan. However, the overall “Osama bounce” for his general job approval numbers looks below average so far.

Let’s start with the WaPo/Pew figures:

Barack Obama’s job approval rating has jumped in the wake of bin Laden’s killing. In the one-day survey, 56% say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president while 38% disapprove. Last month, Obama’s job rating was about evenly divided — 47% approved, 45% disapproved. Obama has gotten about the same boost in job approval as did former President Bush in the days after the U.S. military’s capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. Following Saddam’s capture, Bush’s rating rose from 50% to 57%. (A more comprehensive survey will be conducted May 5-8 to follow up on these preliminary reactions to the death of bin Laden and Obama’s job performance.)

However, while Obama’s ratings for dealing with the situation in Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism have improved dramatically — by 16 points and 14 points, respectively, since January — opinions about his handling of the economy have not. Just 40% approve and 55% disapprove of his job performance on the economy, which is little changed from April.

Obama gets far more credit from the public than does George W. Bush for bin Laden’s killing. But the military and the CIA and other intelligence agencies receive much more credit — fully 86% say the U.S. military deserves a “great deal” of credit and 66% say the same about the CIA and other intelligence agencies.

Roughly a third (35%) say that Obama deserves a great deal of credit for bin Laden’s demise, and a large majority (76%) says he deserves a great deal or “some” credit. By comparison, 51% say that Bush deserves either a great deal (15%) or some credit (36%) for the death of bin Laden.

On the other hand, the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Tuesday showed a statistically insignificant one point rise in the president’s overall approval rating compared to a poll taken over the weekend. Based on the historical data below, I would tend to favor the WaPo’s 9% boost — but the NewsBeast poll also showed no change in Obama’s overall approval rating (there is good news for him in some of the NewsBeast internals, including perception as a leader and head-to-head matchups against GOP rivals).

How do these numbers stack up against past bounces? Glen Bolger of Public Opinion Strategies has a handy chart stretching back to Pearl Harbor, noting that — excepting the unusually large 35% bounce George W. Bush got following 9/11 — the bounce from this sort of event averages 13% for about 22 weeks. Bolger’s numbers are not directly comparable, as they come from Gallup. Oddly, Gallup did its own quickie poll, but did not release job approval numbers for Pres. Obama. However, the Gallup numbers on awarding credit are quite similar to the Pew numbers, so I would be surprised if Gallup shows much more of an overall approval boost than Pew does (more numbers are due tomorrow). Assuming this for the moment, Obama’s overall poll average seems unlikely to move more than a few points.

What do these numbers mean politically? Stephen Hayes and David Corn — who probably do not agree on much — both think the numbers are pointless and that what really matters is whether the GOP charge that Obama is weak on defense is now useless. That is an important point, but probably not the whole point, for at least three reasons. First, we have no way of knowing what other foreign policy or war news may crop up between now and November 2012. Second, as George H.W. Bush learned in 1992, after a war bounce fades, the election may turn more on the economy and the deficit. Third, in the short-term, a boost in job approval could help Obama on non-war issues. After a midterm shellacking, Bill Clinton’s handling of the Oklahoma City bombing helped change the perception of his presidency, which in turn helped him confront the GOP over the budget (and that was after a mere four point bounce of shorter duration). Obama probably hopes the same sort of dynamic will help him now, but the early numbers suggest he may be disappointed.

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SEAL’s – 1
Bin Laden – 0
Obama – desperate scumbag loser.

csdeven on May 3, 2011 at 11:28 PM

I just read where it obummer 16 hours to say GO.

ColdWarrior57 on May 3, 2011 at 8:52 PM

How long do polls take? Or to call CAIR and ask what they think?

csdeven on May 3, 2011 at 11:32 PM

So if Obama doesn’t get the Osama bounce, does he get the Osama Sink?

theguardianii on May 3, 2011 at 11:53 PM

petunia on May 3, 2011 at 9:21 PM

During WWII, the commanding officer of the US paratroopers used that name as a war-cry, when he executed a jump. It became synonymous with bravely jumping into the unknown.

OldEnglish on May 3, 2011 at 10:46 PM

Yes a sign of bravery… Geronimo was brave… a hero of a lost world and a hopeless cause… and there is a legend of warriors jumping off cliffs in AZ rather than being captured and the women crying at the bottom of the cliffs and their tears turning to little black rocks called Apache tears… we used to chip them out of the surrounding rocks when I was a kid.

Geronimo is a noble name now and to call a mass murderer of innocents by that name is an insult. Some one messed up.

petunia on May 4, 2011 at 1:44 AM

I hope obama’s pool numbers bounce like the Hindenburg.

gordo on May 4, 2011 at 1:50 AM

You’re really reading something into that picture that isn’t there, IMHO.

Well, kissmygrits is in good company because that’s exactly what I took from it. Obama is the extra seat in the corner that somebody hastily brought out while the real movers sit at the big table. The body language is very telling. Obama is almost shrinking into himself trying not to be part of the operation. He looks sulky and thwarted. The others all look part of a unified group, intently watching what is going down. If you knew nothing about politics and were asked to identify who was the President in this picture, I’m betting nobody would pick Obama.

He later got a small reward in exchange for shutting up and doing what he was told, by being given a speech where he could take the credit.

Ozwitch on May 4, 2011 at 3:28 AM

The former bodyguard, who helped choose bin Laden’s fourth wife, Amal al-Sadah, in Yemen, revealed intriguing details about the al-Qaeda leader’s lifestyle, telling how he followed Arsenal Football Club, constantly hailing the “beauty” of the team’s performances in the 1990s, and also loved volleyball.

I knew it. Arsenal fan!

lexhamfox on May 4, 2011 at 6:56 AM

The political effect is simply that voters that had written him off will now take a second look.

It’s an opportunity.

If Obama offers something new that can attract more voters this will benefit him.

If he just offers the same old same old the bounce will fade to nothing before the election

Sackett on May 4, 2011 at 8:22 AM

He got a bump from me for all of about a minute. Once I’d given him props for not screwing the hit up, that feeling was over with. Now he’s just the same old commie hack that needs to go. He will never, ever get my vote no matter what he does. Well, maybe if he put a billion dollars in my checking account. But that’s unlikely since I actually have, you know, a job.

Big John on May 4, 2011 at 8:37 AM

LOL, all this rush to pump up Obama is comical. Maybe they should keep on sending him on more junkets – do more Oprah interviews, golfing, and show up for cancelled NASA launches and maybe his administration would do more good for the country by keeping him out of the way.

mozalf on May 4, 2011 at 9:10 AM

Geronimo is a noble name now and to call a mass murderer of innocents by that name is an insult. Some one messed up.

For the record: Geronimo was the callsign of the mission. ‘Jackpot’ was the callsign for Osama.

Troika37 on May 4, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Yuck. Bambi up 11.

andy85719 on May 4, 2011 at 10:37 AM

Let’s start with the WaPo/Pew figures

Then look at the figures instead of just reading their slant on it, because in March he was at 51% approval and drop to 47% last month and now jumped up to 56% so over a 2 month period it is only a 5% bounce and not 9%.

Then look what they did with the terrorism numbers:

“The president also made gains in approval of his handling of terrorism among Republicans (from 37% approval in January to 50% now) and independents (from 51% to 68%).”

So they were comparing all other numbers to Aprils numbers, yet with the terrorism numbers they jump back to January instead of comparing it with the April numbers. Guess they wanted to give him a big bounce in this number also.

JeffinSac on May 4, 2011 at 11:14 AM

Barack Obama’s job approval rating has jumped in the wake of bin Laden’s killing. In the one-day survey, 56% say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president while 38% disapprove.

A more comprehensive survey will be conducted May 5-8 to follow up on these preliminary reactions to the death of bin Laden and Obama’s job performance.

A poll taken immediately after the announcement of Bin Laden’s killing should give Obama a “bounce”–lots of Americans of all political opinions wanted Bin Laden dead.

But a later poll toward the end of this week will probably show Obama fading, due to Obama’s failure to give the CIA’s interrogations and the Bush Administration any credit, and a garbled message on the circumstances of Bin Laden’s killing, which might lose some support on the far left.

As for the long term, we are still 18 months from the next election. George H.W. Bush’s approval was in the 80’s in May 1991, but he lost the election by raising taxes in what was then a mild recession. Bill Clinton’s response to the Oklahoma City bombing might have given him a boost in 1995, but it was a strong economy (helped by a balanced budget passed by a Republican Congress) that helped him in 1996. George W. Bush got a boost from finding Saddam Hussein in December 2003, but the economy was also very strong in 2004, despite the 9/11 attacks and the Enron/WorldCom collapses.

By November 2012, Bin Laden’s death will be old news, but what will be the situation with the economy and jobs and deficits? If it’s like 1996 or 2004, Obama could be re-elected, but if it’s like 1992 (or even worse, 1980), Obama could lose. Does Obama want to be the next Carter, or the next Clinton?

Steve Z on May 4, 2011 at 11:19 AM

Obama wants us to think that he actually drew up the plan, picked the players and executed it single-handidly. Bull!!

The military/CIA professionals did all the research and legwork and presented BO with options and no doubt gave recommendations along with each one. An Executive Branch politician, with no military background, would not have a clue how to plan anything close to what actually went down.

Obama benefitted from inheriting an incredible intelligence network established by the Bush Administration including the Patriot Act and enhanced interrogation. He would have never had this opportunity if Gore or Kerry would have been in office previously.

JetBlast on May 4, 2011 at 11:29 AM

what really matters is whether the GOP charge that Obama is weak on defense is now useless

Any bets on whether we’ll still be spending “days not weeks” in Libya next year during the election cycle?

Having gotten Bin Laden will help, but Libya (unless it somehow is “won” which I don’t even see a path to at this point) will be a constant drag on Obama.

I don’t see him staying bulletproof on Foreign policy for more than a week, two tops. He’s got too many flaws in action that will continue to produce news for this to hold.

gekkobear on May 4, 2011 at 12:42 PM

You know, aren’t these Navy SEALS the same exact guys a few weeks back that Obama was determining whether he even wanted them to get paid?

Think about that context.

While these guys were training for the mission of a lifetime in reconstructions of the compound, Obama was haggling over a few billion in cuts in a $1.6T dollar deficit and was using our soldiers as political fodder.

How anyone can heap praise on that narcissistic man while viewing the full context is mindboggling disgusting.

ButterflyDragon on May 4, 2011 at 2:01 PM

It’s disgusting that a ‘bounce’ is even being considered as a news item. It makes it sound like the takedown of bin Laden was simply for political gain. I’d like to think the motivation was to remove a truly evil person from this world, but these kind of stories make me wonder.

zoyclem on May 4, 2011 at 7:56 PM

For the Democrats/Liberals and media (same difference), they never really cared about OBL. The only thing they seem to care about is whether it will help re-elect Obama or not.

BruthaMan on May 4, 2011 at 8:57 PM

It sure does make me wonder where they take these poles for the “O”. It must be in the studios of NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, CNN. Oh I forgot it’s the MSM that controls the poles.

mixplix on May 5, 2011 at 10:58 PM