Obama’s October surprise

To my political eyes these poll numbers point to the biggest unknown of the fall campaign season. Will Americans react with political scientists refer to as the “Rally Around The Flag” effect for a national fight to take out a rising terrorist threat? This is exactly what has happened to every president engaged in a fight to protect the nation.

The most dramatic recent example was the surge of popularity for President George W. Bush when he sent U.S. forces into Afghanistan and Iraq after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. Before then, deep political divisions stemming from the disputed 2000 presidential election characterized his presidency.

President George H. W. Bush got a similar boost in support during the first Gulf War. However, that support faded by the next year and the 1992 Presidential election when Bush lost to Bill Clinton.

In this midterm race there simply is not enough time for such a dramatic reversal. Even if the skeptics are right and the airstrikes prove insufficient to diminish the threat from ISIS the subsequent dispatch of American forces to do a time-limited job of clearing out the bad guys is likely to stir even more patriotic fervor.