The killing of Osama bin Laden has given Barack Obama a bounce in his approval ratings. But it doesn't appear to have boosted his chances for reelection.
PPP this month finds Obama with a 49% approval rating to 43% of voters who disapprove. That's a seven point improvement on the margin since last month's national survey when slightly more voters (48%) gave him poor marks for his work than good ones (47%). Obama's greatest improvement has come with Republicans (from 8% approval to 14%). He's up with independents (from 44% to 49%) and with Democrats (from 81% to 83%) by smaller amounts.
More voters may like Obama for the moment, but there aren't more planning to support him next year. Last month Obama led the Huckabee/Romney/Palin/Gingrich quartet by an average of 10.75 points. This month Obama leads those same four candidate by an average of...10.75 points. There's been no improvement in his reelect numbers whatsoever since the bin Laden death and if there hasn't been in the week after the killing it doesn't seem likely there will be 18 months after the killing either. What Obama's approval bounce appears to be is an increase in the percentage of people who say they like him, but still won't vote for him. They appreciate him taking out bin Laden but that's not going to outweigh everything he's done that they don't like over the course of the last 27 months.
Obama hasn't received a big increase in his reelection margins, but he is still in a healthy position against his potential Republican opponents. He's up 5 points on Mitt Romney at 47-42, numbers basically identical to Obama's 47-41 lead last month. The next best Republican is Mike Huckabee who trails 49-42, a shade worse than his 48-43 deficit in April. Obama's 52-38 lead over Newt Gingrich is exactly identical to where that match up was on the last poll. And Obama's up 17 on Sarah Palin at 54-37 and 18 on Donald Trump at 53-35.
The Republican primary poll we released yesterday showed that Trump's chances of winning the nomination have pretty much disintegrated, but he could still have a major impact on the race by running as an independent, as he has threatened to do in the past. Trump gets 16% as an independent against Barack Obama (46%) and Mitt Romney (33%). A Trump third party bid increases Obama's margin over Romney by 8 points because he pulls 20% of the GOP vote but only 6% of the Democratic vote. If Trump's goal is to stay in the spotlight as long as possible the independent bid would certainly achieve that...but it would also hand Obama reelection.
We also tested Mitch Daniels on this poll and he trails 48-34 but what might be most interesting is his favorability numbers with Republicans. Only 23% express a favorable opinion of him to 25% with an unfavorable one. I think a fair amount of that 'unfavorable' rating can be explained by voters who rate just about any politician they've never heard of negatively- which I think is about 10% of the population- but those are not impressive numbers by any stretch of the imagination. Beltway journalists are clearly a lot more enamored with Daniels than actual GOP voters are.
The biggest reason Obama continues to do so well in head to head reelection match ups even though he's not that popular is voters just don't like any of the potential Republican candidates. Huckabee's favorability is 33/41 and that makes him the most 'popular.' After that it's Romney at 32/41, Gingrich at 29/53, Palin at 33/60, and Trump at 24/65. As long as the GOP field continues to have this little appeal to voters Obama can afford to not be all that popular.
Full results here