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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The bin Laden Bump: More Polling Analysis

From Gallup: (added at 12:13 pm)

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.

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.

From Quinnipiac:
American voters approve 52 - 40 percent of the job President Barack Obama is doing, his highest score in almost two years and up from a 46 - 48 percent approval among voters surveyed before the president announced the death of Osama bin Laden, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This is President Obama's highest job approval since a 57 - 33 percent score in a July 2, 2009, survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University. Men shift from a negative 39 - 54 percent before the bin Laden announcement to a positive 51 - 42 percent today. Women approve 53 - 39 percent today, compared to 52 - 43 percent as of Sunday.

Voter approval of Obama's handling of foreign issues also is up this week. But Obama's 20-point negative score for handling the economy is unchanged and voter attitudes on whether he deserves reelection are only slightly improved. Pre- and post-bin Laden approval ratings for the president's handling of issues are:
............................April 26-May 1     May 2-3 
Handling foreign policy   43 - 48 percent    51 - 39 percent 
Handling Afghanistan      41 - 50 percent    59 - 30 percent 
Handling Libya            41 - 48 percent    45 - 40 percent 
Handling the economy      37 - 57 percent    38 - 57 percent 
Voters surveyed after the bin Laden announcement say 46 - 42 percent that the president deserves to be reelected, compared to a negative 45 - 48 percent before bin Laden.

HotAir looks at the 11-point bump in The New York Times:

That 11% boost is not much higher than the 9% reported yesterday by the WaPo/Pew poll. It is margin-of-error type stuff — given the historical pro-Obama house effect of the NYT/CBS poll, it is hardly noticeable. Yet there are two points worth noting.

First, there is the usual NYT/CBS sample weighting. The D/R/I party ID of the raw sample was 36/24/32, which was reweighted (pdf) only slightly to 36/24/40. That’s slightly more skewed to the Dems than the last NYT/CBS poll Ed Morrissey mocked in April. For comparison, Gallup recently reported that Democratic Party identification dropped to a 22-year low in 2010, for a D/R/I breakdown of 31/29/38. By that measure, the NYT/CBS Democratic skew is 10%.

However, the skewed sample is standard operating procedure for the NYT/CBS combine. The truly strange thing about this particular poll is tucked away in the paper’s separate explanation of how it was conducted:

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll is based on telephone interviews conducted May 2 and 3 with 532 adults throughout the United States.

The poll’s respondents had also been interviewed in a separate poll conducted April 28 to May 1 by CBS News, before President Obama’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death.

The 11% bounce reported in this poll is measured from the NYT/CBS poll taken April 15-20, 2011, not the poll taken taken just before bin Laden was killed. The 9% bounce reported by WaPo/Pew was by comparison to a poll taken March 30 – April 3. Looking at the RCP poll average for Obama’s job approval reveals that Obama was in a downward trend at the start of April that bottomed on April 20th and had been heading fairly steadily upward ever since. Indeed, Obama hit a low of 41% in the Gallup poll on April 15 but stood at 46% in that poll last weekend. Measured from April 15, Obama’s current Gallup number of 50% (and it’s likely to be a couple of points higher tomorrow, given the rolling 3-day average) would give him a bounce just below the average historical 13% bounce (which can be found at the first link in this post), but the modern news/polling cycle now tells us the actual bounce is maybe five or six percent or — per the CNN and NewsBeast polls in the field last weekend — even less.