Forget bin Laden; On economy, Obama approval hits new low

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Updated: 3:30 p.m. ET

CBS News Poll analysis by the CBS News Polling Unit: Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus and Anthony Salvanto.

President Obama's approval jumped to 57 percent -- up 11 points -- following the U.S. military operation that killed Osama bin Laden, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll released Wednesday.

Mr. Obama also enjoyed near-universal approval for his handling of the bin Laden situation and rising approval on terrorism, Afghanistan and foreign policy -- but his approval on handling of the economy fell to 34 percent, down 4 points from two weeks ago and the lowest level of his presidency. Fifty-five percent disapprove.

Special Report: The killing of Osama bin Laden
Bin Laden news gives Obama 11% approval bump

In a press briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged that Americans were still struggling, but said the economy remained among the president's top priorities. 

"I think that the country is still emerging from the worst recession since the Great Depression," Carney told reporters. "I think that gas prices have weighed heavily on Americans as they try to make ends meet. And it's entirely understandable why that sentiment is out there, because people are struggling."

"We are fully aware of that," he added. "And that's why this president, I think you will see, will continue his focus on growing the economy, creating jobs, on working with Congress to pass legislation that does that. Working with Congress to take measures that reduce our deficit, that invest in those areas that allow us to grow, allow us to compete, [and] make sure that we educate our kids so we can be competitive in the 21st century."

Mr. Obama's overall approval rating was its highest since July 2009 and above 50 percent for its first time in more than a year. Eighty-five percent of respondents approved of his handling of the bin Laden operation, while just 7 percent disapproved. Nearly 50 percent called bin Laden's killing a "major victory" for the United States.

But 69 percent said they consider a terrorist attack in the U.S. "likely" in the next few months -- the highest level in seven years and up 15 percent from the last time the question was asked, in November.

Read the full poll (PDF)


This poll was conducted by telephone on May 2-3, 2011 among 532 adults nationwide who were first interviewed by CBS News for a 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair Poll April 28-May 1, 2011. Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus four percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

  • Ken Millstone

    Ken Millstone is an assignment editor at CBSNews.com

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