The Hill Poll: Voters see president's ratings bounce vanishing soon

Most voters believe the popularity boost President Obama has received following the killing of Osama bin Laden will disappear quickly, according to a new poll conducted for The Hill.

Almost three in five likely voters think the “bin Laden bounce” will vanish within three months, the poll indicates. Only one in four believes that Obama will still be benefitting in six months’ time.

Obama is currently enjoying a major spike in his approval ratings: A New York Times/CBS poll last week showed an 11-point jump in his approval rating compared to two weeks before. Gallup’s daily tracking poll showed Obama’s job-approval number up by about 6 points in the immediate aftermath.


Americans overwhelmingly said bin Laden’s death has not reduced the chances of a terrorist attack — perhaps a surprising result given the immense focus on the al Qaeda leader in the years since Sept. 11, 2001 — and many appear fearful of reprisals.

The Hill poll found that 40 percent of all likely voters believe bin Laden’s demise makes a terrorist attack against the United States more probable, while 36 percent assert it is unlikely to make a difference. Only 14 percent believe it makes such an attack less likely.

However, a different poll found a marked difference in Americans’ views on the chances of an attack in the near future compared to the overall state of U.S. security.

A Gallup/USA Today poll released in the immediate aftermath of the death found that 62 percent of Americans believed a terrorist attack in the United States in the next several weeks was likely. The same poll indicated that 54 percent felt the al Qaeda founder’s elimination made the United States safer overall.

Bin Laden’s death has already sparked a debate on Capitol Hill between those who argue that it should serve as a catalyst for a rapid and significant withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and others who believe the United States needs to maintain a sizable presence there.

The debate is likely to heat up even more in the coming days, with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee due to hold a hearing on Afghanistan policy on Tuesday. Against that backdrop, the Hill poll suggests the support of a significant number of Americans is still up for grabs.

While those who believe U.S. troops should remain in Afghanistan for the moment is more than double those who want immediate withdrawal — 52 percent to 25 percent – a full 22 percent admit that they are undecided. This number remains relatively constant across a wide range of ideological affiliations.

Perhaps disappointingly for Democrats, there seems to be little evidence that the killing of bin Laden has substantively changed the traditional Republican advantage on matters of national security. When likely voters were asked which party they most trust to keep the nation safe from terrorism, 45 percent favored the GOP over 39 percent for the Democrats.

The poll also indicates that popular opinion remains strongly against closing the controversial detention center at Guantánamo Bay. Sixty-nine percent of likely voters believe that suspected terrorists should continue to be kept at the military prison while only 19 percent favor its closure.

Strong support for maintaining Guantánamo is unsurprising among self-identified conservatives, who back it 83 percent to 9 percent. Notably, moderates also favor it heavily (67 percent to 21 percent) and even liberals remain closely split on the issue (41 percent say the prison should be kept open; 42 percent want it closed).

The national survey of 1,000 likely voters by Pulse Opinion Research was conducted on May 5 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

For complete poll results click here