Where’s the Bounce?

This post was written by Glen Bolger and Jim Hobart

 Last week, following the killing of Osama Bin Laden, we looked at the average job approval bump for Presidents following major military and/or national security events. Not including the post 9/11 response, the average Presidential approval bump was 13{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} for an average of 22 weeks. Eleven days after President Obama announced that Bin Laden had been killed, the President’s approval bump looks to be well below that average.

On May 2, the day after Bin Laden was killed, President Obama’s average approval rating according to Real Clear Politics was 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove. Nine days later, Obama’s average approval is 52{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/42{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove, for a five point approval bump (this average approval is based on the twelve national public polls released and conducted between May 2 and May 10).

While some polls showed Obama’s approval rating reaching levels not seen since the early months of his Presidency (57{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in a CBS/New York Times poll conducted May 2-3), other polls showed his approval remaining below 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} (48{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in a Newsweek/Daily Beast poll also conducted May 2-3).

There are several factors that kept Obama’s bump from being as large as that of past Presidents.


1. This was good news, not bad news.

 Bumps tend to be larger when the major military/national security event is bad news, with September 11th being the most prominent example. These events result in a rally around the flag effect that often produces large and sustained bumps. Positive events like the first Gorbachev summit and the capture of Sadaam Hussein more often produce smaller and/or shorter bumps in Presidential approval.


2. Obama’s liberal base was already home.

 Obama’s approval numbers with Democrats were already strong prior to Bin Laden being killed, so his approval numbers were not going to be boosted by the base coming home. In the week prior to Bin Laden’s death, Gallup had Obama’s approval at 86{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} with liberal Democrats and at 83{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} with African Americans. In the week after, his approval with liberal Democrats was unchanged, and his approval with African Americans increased just three points. (As an aside, despite some speculation to the contrary, Obama does NOT have a problem with his liberal base.)

 3. The public is more informed than ever before.

On Tuesday of last week, our friend Chuck Todd tweeted:

“My theory these days is that the public is more informed and “formed” than even just a few years ago, thus floors/ceilings for presidents are more narrow.  Translation: I expect a single digit bounce at best. And I’d say that about any president serving with this hyper-informed ADD public.” 

One week later, Todd’s reasoning and prediction both look dead on.

4. The economy continues to dominate the issue agenda.

 In the most recent NBC national survey, conducted less than a week after Bin Laden was killed, Obama’s approval on handling the economy was the lowest it has ever been (37{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve/58{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove). Americans’ continued discontent with the President’s handling of the economy surely served to diminish his approval bump, and it will likely cause the bump to be short lived.

5. There is no telling the impact of the White House messing up the narrative.

While it is hard to tell if it had an impact, the fact that the White House stepped on its own triumph the next day by revising the story of what happened probably did not help create a bigger bounce.

The Bottom Line

The death of Osama Bin Laden was welcome and long awaited news for many Americans. President Obama, former President Bush, and the U.S. Armed Forces deserve tremendous praise for all they did to make it possible. 

However, from a political standpoint, Bin Laden’s death was not the game changer some predicted it would be. The killing of Bin Laden resulted in a small approval bump for the President, but had little (if any) impact on his chances of being re-elected. Obama’s re-election chances continue to hinge on the economy, and if economic perceptions do not improve significantly, the President is beatable in 2012.

Similar Articles

  • Public Education Update
    read more

  • Americans See China And Russia As Adversaries Posing Two Different Threats
    read more

  • A New Look At Ideology
    read more

  • Is social media your friend or a frenemy?
    read more

  • Trump’s numbers tied for his peak high as impeachment talk looms
    read more

Public Opinion Strategies helped us to clarify what we wanted to learn and then conducted research and analysis that shed light even beyond the questions we set out to ask. They were very receptive to our suggestions, responsive to our queries, and flexible when we needed them to be.

Public Opinion Strategies has consistently offered unparalleled advice and spot-on polling that has shaped how and where we spent money and deploy key resources. Additionally, they have always been an excellent steward of limited campaign resources, ensuring we spend wisely and not a dollar more than necessary in order to get the information we need.

Robert Blizzard and Public Opinion Strategies did a great job for us throughout our successful campaign for Congress. Robert gave us accurate data, spot on analysis, and professional advice, all of which were essential to our victory.

Public Opinion Strategies is one of our go-to pollsters when it comes to testing public support for bond ballot measures and other initiative proposals. They are available to provide ongoing consultation with regard to crafting of ballot questions, public outreach messaging, and related efforts.

ACLI has worked with Public Opinion Strategies for decades, through several tough industry battles—often ones in which public opinion does not naturally fall on the side of insurers. Yet Bill and his team consistently provide invaluable strategic advice by refining our messages and helping us frame our issues in a way that makes them understandable and persuasive.

The data from Public Opinion Strategies provided important insight and informed our public awareness campaign. We sincerely appreciate their professionalism and expertise in this arena.

Nicole McCleskey and the team at Public Opinion Strategies have been invaluable to me, both during my campaigns and as Governor of the State of New Mexico. It’s not just the accuracy of their numbers, but guiding the overall strategy that makes them so valuable.

Public Opinion Strategies has been a part of our team in Missouri for more than a decade. With their data and guidance, Republicans here were able to attain a majority in the House in 2002 for the first time in fifty years, and we have been able to grow that majority to the point that we now have a record, veto-proof majority.

In my tenure at two leading business associations, facing huge and complex consumer issues, I have benefitted enormously from the objective advisory skills of Bill and his team. They do their homework, they are rigorous, dispassionate and thoughtful. Turning questions into answers is a clever tag, but it’s also an apt description of the professional talents of the firm.

I consider Public Opinion Strategies to be a part of our team. That is the way we have always worked. They have helped us to understand our needs and fashioned research solutions to meet those needs. They have helped us to meet killer deadlines by being flexible, executing rapidly, and insuring quality. Teamwork is the best way to describe it.

Accuracy, speed, and deep knowledge of key issues and public sentiment are the hallmarks of quality opinion research, and on these measures Public Opinion Strategies consistently delivers. I have had the pleasure of working with Public Opinion Strategies for more than 15 years on dozens of issues, and they are undoubtedly the gold standard.

Public Opinion Strategies’ track record of success and wealth of experience in political campaigns and issue advocacy are why they are one of the most trusted and well respected public opinion firms in Washington, D.C. Their insights and perspectives have helped to inform a wide array of public affairs activities across multiple industries.

Social Media Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com