President Barack Obama received credit from the American people and a boost in his approval rating for his role in the operation to kill Osama bin Laden. Some members of the Ohio State community, however, said the economy will play more of a role than national security in Obama’s re-election bid.
Paul Beck, a professor of political science at OSU, said the immediate effect of the killing of bin Laden was that Obama received a bounce in the approval rating polls.
The Pew Research Center and The Washington Post conducted a poll which showed a nine percentage point increase in approval rating. It reported that in April, Obama had a 47 percent approval rating which jumped to 56 percent on May 2, the day after bin Laden’s death.
“It is definitely a movement in the positive direction, and in the poll I looked at (The Washington Post poll), his approval rating is above the 50 percent mark,” Beck said. “That kind of approval rating is very hard to beat in a re-election.”
Beck questions whether this kind of approval rating will last for more than a year, leading into the 2012 election.
Erik Nisbet, an assistant professor of communication at OSU, said it is unclear how large a role the increase will play in Obama’s re-election in 2012.
“Most likely there will be a short-term bump in approval rating, but the magnitude is yet to be determined,” Nisbet said.
Nisbet said as far as Obama’s re-election is concerned, the outlook is unclear.
“It will have some positive impact, but it is hard to tell how it will play out,” Nisbet said.
Nisbet and Beck both said that while the killing of bin Laden does not guarantee anything as far as Obama’s re-election goes, it will have some impact.
“If there are people saying that Obama is now a shoe-in for the election, they would be over-stating it,” Nisbet said. “If there are people saying it will have no effect on the election, they are understating it.”
Beck said bin Laden’s death could give Obama a momentum boost through the rest of his presidency, rather than impacting the election directly.
“Momentum feeds on itself,” Beck said. “But as a single event, the impact degenerates over time.”
Students across campus have varying opinions of how bin Laden’s death will affect the presidential election.
Devon Bisaccia, a second-year in exploration, said he thinks the public will give Obama credit, but he believes credit goes elsewhere.
“Realistically even though Obama did authorize the operation with the intelligence that he got over the last year, I think the majority of the credit goes to Bush for launching the offensive in the first place.”
Olivia Freeman, a third-year in finance and marketing, said public opinion of Obama will improve because of bin Laden’s death.
“I definitely think it shows more support for Obama, and I think he’s handled everything with a lot of grace,” Freeman said.
Freeman also believes this will ultimately signal the end of any momentum potential Republican candidate Donald Trump has gained.
Nisbet said the state of the economy will be the biggest factor regarding re-election. The Pew Research Center published a poll on Jan. 20, which stated that 87 percent of Americans consider the economy a top priority, whereas terrorism is considered a top priority by only 73 percent of people.
“Research shows that the No. 1 factor in determining a re-election is the economy,” Nisbet said. “National security will be a close second, but economy is the main factor.”
Micah Tippie, a second-year graduate student in law, thinks that bin Laden’s death will merely become a talking point for the 2012 election.
“I guess it can only help Obama’s chances,” Tippie said. “It’s kind of like how nobody talks about Saddam Hussein’s death. That didn’t become Bush’s legacy. Ultimately, this won’t be a big deal.”
Obama stated in his 2008 campaign that he would focus on fighting the Taliban and searching for bin Laden, and Nisbet said he has delivered on these promises.
“George Bush obviously tried to get bin Laden, and it’s difficult to parse out where credit is due,” Nisbet said. “The success is credited to the continuity of Bush’s endeavors.”
Nisbet and Beck said there was a redoubling of efforts to capture bin Laden when the Obama administration took over.
“When a new team takes over, there is an opportunity for failure, and that didn’t happen,” Nisbet said.
Bisaccia said he is not a supporter of Obama, but understands where the support is coming from.
“It will not guarantee, but it gives him a better chance of securing the re-election,” Bisaccia said. “There’s no denying that he did have a huge role in (bin Laden’s death). … He got the job done.”