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What Happened in Abbottabad Doesn’t Change Obama’s Difficulties

I wanted to add to Alana’s post. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, voters American voters approve of the job President Obama that is doing by 52 to 40 percent, his highest score in almost two years. That’s the good news for the president.

Now the bad news. Obama’s 20-point negative score for handling the economy (37 to 57 percent) is unchanged and voter attitudes on whether he deserves reelection are only slightly improved. Voters surveyed after the bin Laden announcement say by 46 to 42 percent that the president deserves to be reelected, compared to a negative 45-to-48-percent split before bin Laden’s killing.

“The killing of Osama bin Laden has helped President Barack Obama’s popularity but not massively,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “Voters have upped their opinion of the president’s handling of national security matters. But they have not changed their minds about his stewardship of the economy. The number of people opposed to his reelection has dropped, although they seem to have moved to ‘undecided,’ rather than to the pro-Obama column,” Brown added.

The news today that unemployment increased to 9 percent from 8.8 percent is not going to help the president, despite the fact that nonfarm payroll employment rose by 244,000 in April. As a reference point, the highest post-Great Depression unemployment rate for which an incumbent president won reelection was 7.2 percent in 1984 (h/t: Ed Morrissey). And arguably the most alarming number in recent months is 1.8, which is the percentage of economic growth in the first quarter of this year.

The president therefore remains quite vulnerable—and there’s no reason to believe the economy is going to get substantially better between now and 2012.

No two ways around it: these remain difficult times for the country, and consequently these are difficult political times for the president. What happened in Abbottabad last Sunday doesn’t change any of that.



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