Obama's Bin Laden Bounce May Be Short-Lived

Capturing Saddam gave Bush a fleeting poll surge.

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Despite the cheering from supporters and some media pundits that the killing of Osama bin Laden will be a "game changer" in the 2012 presidential election, polling from the two recent wartime headlines—victory in the first Gulf war and the capture of Iraq's Saddam Hussein—show that public euphoria is fleeting.

In the Hussein capture case, former President Bush's public approval polls jumped just 7 percent but within six weeks was at the all-time low for his presidency at that point in February 2004.

[See photos of celebrations at Ground Zero and the White House.]

His dad, former President George H.W. Bush, reached an unheard of 90 percent public approval rating after winning the first Gulf War before losing 43 points in the next nine months leading to his loss to former President Bill Clinton.

Pollster John Zogby, who does the weekly Washington Whispers presidential report card, said, there will be a much-needed bounce in the polls for Obama. "Obama should see a major bump in the polls, especially from independents. Republicans will find it much harder to raise national security as a trump card against Obama," said Zogby.

[See a slide show of 6 vulnerable potential terrorist targets.]

But GOP officials, eager not to be seen as critical of the killing, said that the public within a week will again be disgruntled over the prices of gasoline and basics like milk and coffee.

"I do not say this to be anti-Obama but I just don't think this will have too much of an effect on the election," said one key GOP official. "It's absolutely a plus for the president and country but this isn't going to change the day-to-day problems that are plaguing people. A year from now when you're paying $4-a-gallon gas, the unemployment rate is at 8 percent, and the debt is still a huge threat, people are going to be feeling that intensely. The domestic issues are where the election will be and it's where the president has some serious problems."

Others said that Obama has picked up a huge new applause line for his campaign speeches, though some are cautioning the president not to take the killing too far or claim that he did what Bush couldn't. "As long as he doesn't overstep it by claiming 'he got it done' and talks about how 'we' got it done, then he will get a good ride out of this," said an analyst.

Gallup Approve Disapprove
Dec 5-7, 2003 55 43
Dec 11-14, 2003 56 41
Dec 13, 2003- Hussein Capture
Dec 15-16, 2003 63 34
Jan 2-5, 2004 60 35
Jan 9-11, 2004 59 38
Jan 12-15, 2004 53 44
Jan 29-Feb 1, 2004 49 48