A new poll from Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage shows that President Barack Obama’s approval rating received a mild boost from the killing of Osama bin Laden. It also shows that Americans across the political spectrum believe President George W. Bush also deserves credit for the al-Qaida leader’s capture.
And most Americans are far from convinced the war on terrorism is nearing an end: Some 67.6 percent of respondents are concerned about retaliation. They cut across party affiliation, age, gender, and ethnicity.
Both parties have been generous in sharing the credit on bin Laden, says Matt Towery, CEO of InsiderAdvantage. Republican leaders congratulated Obama after the news emerged. And the Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage survey — one of the first conducted since the news broke — shows a plurality of Democrats give Bush credit too.
“Obama was smart to say he didn’t do it alone, and the same for Republicans. You would have to be blind not to give Obama some credit,” Towery said.
As for Obama’s approval rating, the poll shows it at 47.7 percent, equal to his disapproval rating. That’s an improvement from the days before the attack, when Obama’s disapproval rating exceeded his approval rating by 2 to 6 percentage points, Towery says.
Towery added that the poll shows that over 20 percent of Democrats who responded, still either disapproved or somewhat disapproved of Obama’s job performance.
“This presents a real challenge to Obama’s re-election bid,” said Towery. “This is the liberal and anti-hawk segments of his party, who feel that Obama has betrayed them in his policies and his military attack on bin Laden. When 20% of your own party holds this opinion, it presents an erosion of your base support—the very support that got you elected in the first place.”
His approval rating will probably rise further — into the low 50s — over the next few weeks, Towery says. “It will take some time to digest,” he explains. “As people hear how he put it together, I expect him to improve further.”
But the gain won’t be strong, because Obama is “a more polarizing president than most we’ve had,” Towery says. Indeed, there’s a large number of Democrats who disapprove of Obama — 14.8 percent in the Newsmax/InsiderAdvantage poll. “Those are probably liberals upset at Obama for engaging with the military and not putting in place the policies they wanted.”
It’s mostly moderates whom Obama is pulling in to boost his rating. “The secret to Obama winning was independent voters who went for Bush and then jumped over for him,” Towery notes. “I think that as the race gets closer, polls will get more polarized, and independent voters will decide whether he gets elected again.”
Obama would probably look better in a poll asking about re-election at this point, because Republican candidates are unknown, he says.
As for Bush, 65 percent of respondents say he contributed to bin Laden’s death, including 61.3 percent of independents and 47.7 percent of Democrats (45.8 percent of Democrats say he didn’t contribute). So clearly most Americans remember that the hunt for bin Laden began in the Bush administration.
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