In the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, liberals all over the country were feeling giddier than ever believing President Barack Obama’s reelection in 2012 is now a slam dunk. While former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has officially declared his candidacy, other prominent Republicans like former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and current Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels are still sitting on the fence about making official declarations. “I would hate to be a Republican running against Obama in 2012,” Barbara Walters said on The View.
Politically, most observers agree, the timing couldn’t have been better for the president, whose approval ratings had bottomed out in several recent polls in presidential battleground states. However, since the announcement of the victory, Obama has only experienced slight bumps in approval ratings. He’s only had a 5 point jump according to Gallup, 3 points according to Reuters/Ipsos, and virtually no change according to Rasmussen.
But of course, the statistics liberals all over the media are pointing to is the Associated Press/GfK poll, which was released this week that showed a whopping 60% approval rating for Obama. How could there be such a discrepancy with all the rest of the polls? When you look at the sampling in this AP poll, 46 percent identify themselves as Democrat, 29 percent identify as Republican, 4 percent as Independents, and 20 percent answered, “I don’t know.” Hardly a scientific sample.
So in other words, while Obama will experience some positive exposure for wiping out bin Laden in the short term (and maybe even around the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks), the difference will be negligible further down the road. We all know Americans have short political memory spans, but there will be other factors as well overshadowing this accomplishment.
One must also keep in mind that in the aftermath of the first Gulf War in 1991, former President George H.W. Bush’s approval numbers skyrocketed, reaching as high as 87% in the spring of the year before the 1992 election. No Democrat wanted to run against Bush in 1992, as the conventional wisdom was he was unbeatable. Prominent Democrats like New York Gov. Mario Cuomo to Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen were scared off and took a pass. But a mild economic recession in 1992 and Ross Perot’s third party candidacy ended up denying Bush a second term, paving the way for then-Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton to win the presidency.
And that’s really what everything boils down to come election time: the state of the economy. This is what the Republicans will have to refocus the national attention on if they want to win the White House next year. Unemployment has jumped back up to 9.0%, gas prices are approaching all time highs, inflation has been rising since the Fed began its policy of “quantitative easing” (or printing money, thus devaluing the dollar), and the U.S. is rapidly approaching its debt ceiling of $14.3 trillion.
Unless President Obama can kill bin Laden again in the fall of 2012, he better hope these economic numbers reverse come election time or 1992 will repeat itself.
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