Osama bin Laden’s death boosts Obama’s standing in polls

Los Angeles Times

The death of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid in Pakistan has helped President Obama’s standing with the public, according to overnight polls released on Tuesday.

The president’s overall approval rating jumped upward nine points to 56%, according to a survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post.

A poll by CNN/Opinion Research Corporation put the president’s approval rating at 52%, a four-point bump from early April and just one point from a survey done from Friday to Sunday, before Obama took to the national airwaves to announce the death of Bin Laden, whose Al Qaeda organization was responsible for the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The group also attacked the Pentagon on 9/11.

A third poll shows that Americans have more faith in Obama as commander in chief, which could translate into political support. The USA Today/Gallup poll found that 32% said they feel more confident in Obama as commander while 21% said they feel a little more confident. Some 39% in the Ipsos-Reuters poll said that their view of Obama’s leadership had improved in the wake of the raid.


Overnight polls are notoriously fickle and often differ from each other on the questions asked and the numbers computed. But the polls agree on the basic thrust that the deadly raid politically helped Obama who announced that he will seek reelection in 2012 against a yet-to-be-decided Republican candidate.

The polls show that Americans feel a great sense of accomplishment in finally getting Bin Laden, a wanted fugitive for more than a decade. Americans also feel more positively about Obama’s role as president, which has been under pressure regarding domestic issues such as the economy and the federal budget deficit.

The Pew poll found that 72% of those questioned said they felt relieved by Bin Laden’s death while 60% said they felt proud and 58% said they were happy. Two-thirds of the respondents said they considered Bin Laden’s death a major accomplishment, according to CNN. The USA Today/Gallup poll found that 73% said they have at least a little more confidence in a U.S. victory against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism and that three of every five expected a reprisal attack.

The Pew and CNN polls give Obama strong marks in handling Afghanistan and the threat of terrorism. The Pew poll said that Obama’s rating improved by 16 points and 14 points respectively. The CNN poll found a seven-point increase in both areas. The Ipsos poll found that 42% of Americans said their view of Obama’s handling of the war on terror had improved.

Pew and CNN polls noted that Obama’s rating on how he is handling the economy has brought down the overall numbers. Pew found that 40% of those surveyed approved of how the president has handled the economic issues while 55% disapprove, about the same as in April. CNN noted that the president’s approval rating on the economy had slipped three points while his approval on national security issues rose.

Most political observers had expected Obama to get some sort of political benefit from the raid, though there was sharp disagreement on how long the era of good feelings would last. The usual comparison was with former President George W. Bush’s announcement in December 2003 that Iraq strongman Saddam Hussein had been captured. Bush’s popularity jumped, but faded about two months later.

The Pew poll was based on interviews with 654 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for the overall sample. The CNN poll was based on 700 interviews with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The USA Today/Gallup poll was based on 645 adults with a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points. The Ipsos poll was based on 1,010 interviews with a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.