After the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the new AP/Gfk poll found that 70% of Americans now grade Obama’s presidency as average or above.
According to the poll, President Obama’s job approval rating has jumped to 60%. By a spread of 53%-43% respondents thought that Obama should be reelected. Beyond the terrorism related numbers, approval of Obama’s handling of the economy has jumped from 47% to 52% on his handling of the economy. Approval of Obama’s handling of Iraq has jumped 7 points from 55%-62%, and approval for his handling of Afghanistan has jumped 10 points from 55%-65%.
What has to be most troubling to Republicans is that Obama gained a net 12 points on issue of the budget deficit, (47%-52%), and a net 3 points to pull even with the GOP on taxes, (48%-50%). The President has also gained 5 points on the issue of immigration, (52%-46%). These issues have formed part of the core of Republican strength against Obama for over a year, but as 2012 draws closer Obama has closed the gap. The only issue where Obama has a strong negative rating is gas prices, (35%-61%). In every other area Obama has either gained strength or remains strong.
The most telling statistic in the poll is that Obama is now considered an average or above president by 70% of those surveyed. He had a 4 point increase in those who rated him as outstanding, and a 4 point increase in those who rated him as above average. There has also been an 8 point drop in the number of people who rated Obama a poor president.
65% now believe that Obama is a strong leader, and 69% trust him to handle a crisis. The President’s personal likability remains strongly in place at 81%, and his personal favorable rating is still a high 63%. The same 63% believe that Obama cares about their problems, and understands people like them.
These numbers can in part be explained by the death of Bin Laden, but Obama’s Osama decision does not explain the increased approval ratings on the economy, taxes, the deficit, and immigration. The best explanation may be Obama’s handling of Bin Laden may have caused the American people to take another look at his presidency. As we head into 2012, Americans may be reexamining how they feel about Obama.
All presidencies are defined by a few historic moments that are captured forever in time. George W. Bush had three defining moments, 9/11, Katrina, and economic collapse of 2008. Bill Clinton will be forever remembered for wagging his finger and proclaiming that he did not have sexual relations with that woman. For JFK it was the Cuban Missile Crisis. FDR had the Great Depression and Pearl Harbor. Ronald Reagan told the USSR to tear down this wall. In Jimmy Carter’s case it was the Iran Hostage Crisis.
Presidents rarely get the chance to redefine themselves, but that is exactly what Obama has done with the killing of Bin Laden. Even if the economy stays bad, in the minds of the American people Obama will always be the man who got Bin Laden. This fact combined with consistent approval of his leadership, and his personal likability makes it very unlikely that Obama will be denied a second term.
Republicans have to root against America and hope that the economy does not improve, if the unemployment situation does get better before Election Day the 2012 campaign will be nothing more than a happy jaunt to reelection for Barack Obama.