The question everyone’s asking: It’s not just Washington. The third most searched term yesterday on Google (after “osama bin laden death” and “new york daily news”) was “obama approval rating.” So how big will the bump be?
Republican pollster Bill McInturff looked at post-WWII presidents who enjoyed foreign policy rallies and found an average bump of 13 percentage points in presidential job approval, which faded after 22 weeks. More recently, Gallup‘s Frank Newport notes that President Bush’s approval rating went from 56% on December 11th, to 63% on December 14th, after Saddam Hussein’s 2003 capture. By January 11th, that 7 point bump had evaporated and Bush was back down to 53%.
And The Los Angeles Times reports: “In 1991, President George H.W. Bush’s popularity soared after the U.S.-led victory in the first Persian Gulf war. A year and a half before the election — exactly where Obama finds himself today — Bush’s job approval rating stood at 76% in the Gallup poll. … By the next year, an economically pressed electorate felt the president had lost touch with their problems, and unseated him.”
Today, was the first day in a month that none of the major papers had any front page news from Libya or Syria. How long will that last? If Gadhafi is still in power a month from now, and civilians are still being killed, and NATO is still accidentally bombing rebels, will Osama even be the biggest foreign policy issue Americans remember?
Milking it: The official White House line on the Osama killing may be “unity” but Democrats are all about scoring partisan points. Politico posts a Democratic operative email: “In your day jobs, do not let Republicans turn this into continuing the Bush legacy. This has to be about Obama’s decisive leadership.” Majority Leader Harry Reid sang from that partisan hymnal on the Senate floor yesterday: “This was an American mission – ordered by President Obama. President Obama insisted that we refocus on Afghanistan and Pakistan. … This success is a direct result of President Obama’s leadership.”
Obama’s ability to claim full credit while preaching unity will be tested this Thursday when he visits Ground Zero. Will he invite Bush? Will he thank him?
Domestic realities: The gas wars show no signs of abetting in Congress. Majority Leader Reid announced Monday, he is going forward with a repeal of subsidies for oil companies. Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner says the House will stick to their two scheduled votes on increasing domestic oil production this week.
Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner informed Congress that, thanks to higher than expected tax receipts, the federal government will not reach the debt limit till August. So don’t expect any debt limit or budget deals until late-July at the earliest.