Americans’ approval of President Barack Obama is up six points after the death of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid on the al Qaeda leader’s Pakistan compound. Obama averaged 46% approval in Gallup Daily tracking in the three days leading up to the military operation and has averaged 52% across the three days since.
This increase in approval rating is not unexpected and is fairly typical, if not low.
Presidents’ popular support often increases in response to major international events, commonly known as “rally events.” Thus, a jump in Obama’s approval after bin Laden’s death is not unexpected.
The six-percentage-point increase in Obama’s approval rating is fairly typical for a rally event. Gallup has compiled data on changes in presidential approval after 48 different international or domestic crises since 1950 and finds a median increase of seven percentage points.
The largest rally Gallup has ever measured was a 35-point increase for George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Other large rally effects include an 18-point increase for George H.W. Bush at the beginning of the 1991 Persian Gulf War; a 16-point jump for Richard Nixon after the Vietnam War peace accords were signed; and 14-point increases for George H.W. Bush after the U.S. sent troops to Kuwait following Iraq’s invasion of the country, and for Lyndon Johnson after he announced he was halting bombing in North Vietnam.
When the U.S. in December 2003 found and captured another “high-value target” — former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein — George W. Bush’s approval rating rose seven points.
So, will President Obama’s bounce in the polls be sustained? I, frankly, doubt it since most on the RIGHT understand he never supported the measures that brought hm success in this operation, including enhanced interrogation methods.
The U.S. military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden is a major milestone in Obama’s presidency, and now a majority of Americans approve of the job he is doing, and more than at any time since May 2010. The question is whether Obama can sustain that higher level of support, or whether it will quickly dissipate. Most often, a president’s approval rating begins to decline fairly soon after the rally event occurs, with the increases in approval often disappearing in as little as one to four weeks.