OK. Let’s start with the obvious. President Barack Obama’s announcement that Osama bin Laden has been killed is likely to provide an immediate boost to the president’s poll numbers.
But not so obvious is whether Sunday night’s news that the al Qaeda founder and leader was shot and killed by U.S. special operations forces during a raid in Pakistan will affect the 2012 presidential campaign.
Obama’s approval rating among Americans is currently in the mid to upper 40’s, according to the most recent national polls. Most political observers expect an immediate bounce.
Republicans agree that there will be at least a temporary boost for the president.
But just how long will the bounce last?
President George W. Bush saw his approval rating jump eight points, from 55 percent to 63 percent, in the days after his December 2003 announcement that Saddam Hussein had been captured in Iraq.
“But the bounce in his approval ratings, which is the most heavily watched indicator for a president’s clout, was short-lived,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “While President Bush’s numbers stayed in the mid 60’s through January 2004, it was down to around 50 percent by February. Saddam’s capture is probably the closest historical analogy we can draw, but because it occurred so close to the start of a presidential campaign, it may not provide good guidance for the length of any bounce President Obama picks up today.”
In the end, this temporary focus on national security and foreign affairs will most likely disappear, and the spotlight should return to the economy, jobs, gas prices, the deficit, and the budget battles.