President Barack Obama’s small bounce in the May 2011 Quinnipiac University Poll following the killing of Bin Laden could make a big difference to his reelection chances.
Nobody knows how long President Obama’s bounce in the polls will last, but at least for now he has moved out of “danger territory” and into “safer ground”.
Obama got a 6 percentage point bounce from the killing of Bin Laden. That is not a huge change, but the difference between an incumbent with a 52% approval rating and a 46% approval rating could well be the difference between winning and losing reelection.
Incumbent politicians who have approval ratings above 50% generally are considered in good shape for reelection. Once they fall below 50%…
Of course there are still 18 months to go until the election and a lot can change, but Obama has to be feeling better about being above 50%, a place he has not been for almost two years. His poll numbers had been trending downwards this year as gas prices were rising. In Quinnipiac University’s March 2011 poll he dropped to a low of 42%. These falling poll numbers also generated negative headlines for the President.
The President has recently received very positive headlines because of this national security success – and also rising poll numbers. After being on the defensive for quite some time, President Obama now has some upward momentum.
Even if between now and November 2012 the economy and gas prices drag his numbers back down again, he has taken away a valuable campaign weapon from the Republicans. They won’t be able to accuse him of being a “weak” Commander in Chief. Indeed don’t be surprised to see President Obama mentioning the death of bin Laden often in his campaign.
There are those who will argue that this national security success won’t matter in the end because voters will vote based on pocketbook issues. As James Carville said in 1992, “It’s the economy, stupid”. The economy and jobs most certainly will be the top issue for most voters but voters also look at the personal qualities and characteristics when making their choice for President. Obama’s killing of Bin Laden adds to his “stature” as a leader.