Obama's Poll Bounce, Post-OBL: Nine Points

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 3 2011 12:39 PM

Obama's Poll Bounce, Post-OBL: Nine Points

It's large , about as large as the bounce George W. Bush got after the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Barack Obama’s job approval rating has jumped in the wake of bin Laden’s killing. In the one-day survey, 56% say they approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president while 38% disapprove. Last month, Obama’s job rating was about evenly divided – 47% approved, 45% disapproved. Obama has gotten about the same boost in job approval as did former President Bush in the days after the U.S. military’s capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. Following Saddam’s capture, Bush’s rating rose from 50% to 57%.

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The good feelings are echoed in Congress. According to Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Obama got a "heartfelt" round of bipartisan applause at a dinner last night with members of Congress. But it's hard to see how this lasts. We're in the third day of stories, and reporters are trying to figure out why the Obama administration's initial facts haven't matched up with the facts we know now; some Republican skeptics of the administration are using the moment to argue that enhanced interrogation techniques work. In a briefing with reporters today, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, said that waterboarding didn't play a role in the capture, but other methods -- in line with the military field manual -- might have, and the Obama administration shouldn't have outlawed those methods in 2009.

So partisan sparring is coming back -- as it should. I'd give this bounce a week, tops.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.