As Wednesday’s release showed, President Obama’s bounce following the death of Osama Bin Laden was limited. The main reason, beyond hardened partisan polarization? Voters care far more about the economy at this point than they do about the decade-long War on Terror. 74% say the economy is a more important issue to them than the war, which is more important to only 10%. Similarly, 61% say they care more about gas prices, and only 23% about the war. This sentiment is shared almost equally across the partisan spectrum.
More voters (51%) give Obama at least some responsibility for gas prices than give him little to no responsibility (46%). Not good news. But most of that sentiment comes from Republicans. 49% of them say he deserves most of the responsibility, and another 34% think he bears at least some responsibility, for 83% total. But two-thirds of Democrats and 53% of independents say he deserves little to no portion of the blame.
Luckily for the president, Americans do give him more credit for killing Bin Laden than George W. Bush. 51% say Obama had more to do with it, to only 32% who say Bush. 59% of Republicans side with Bush, but 21% still think Obama deserves more plaudits, along with 77% of Democrats and half of independents.
Voters think the guy Bush rooted out from hiding, Saddam Hussein, was not nearly as terrible a person as Bin Laden was. 63% think Bin Laden was the worse human being, while only 12% say Saddam was. Democrats (67%) are most likely to say Bin Laden was more evil, but 59% of Republicans and 61% of independents say the same.
Americans also agree with the president’s decision to not release the photographic evidence of Bin Laden’s demise. 59% side with that choice, while only 34% say the photos should be released. Even Republicans, who have done most of the clamoring for the photos being made public, think they should by only a 47-44 margin.
Finally, the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate just a few days before Bin Laden's death seems to have finally settled the matter of the president's birthplace for most voters. 71% of Americans believe the president was born here. The 18% who still do not and the 11% who aren't sure may seem disturbing, and you won't get much argument from me, but that is an improvement from the 55-27-18 spread we found in February, when 47% of Republicans said "no," and another 27% weren't sure. Now, that has basically flipped, with half of Republicans knowing the president is a citizen, a third still thinking he was born elsewhere, and 17% somehow not sure. That's a 38-point swing toward sanity for the GOP and 25 points for all voters. Independents have also become significantly more convinced, from 54-19 to 72-17, a 20-point movement. Even Democrats have moved 12 points, from 82-11 to 89-6.
So Americans are happy Bin Laden is gone, they're much more satisfied Obama was born where he'd already unnecessarily proven he was, and they've given him a boost in his job performance ratings. But they're not any more likely to vote for him next year than they were before because what matters most to them--their pocketbooks--are still hurting. Americans will really be dancing in the streets with chants of "U-S-A!" when gas prices sink and their perception of the economy's progress brightens.
Full results here.