Polls: worry about attacks, confidence in Obama up

AP News
Posted: May 03, 2011 4:57 PM
Polls: worry about attacks, confidence in Obama up

Americans are concerned about retaliatory terrorist attacks following Osama bin Laden's death but also have more confidence in President Barack Obama's leadership as commander in chief, according to three polls taken after American forces killed the terror leader.

Still, the surveys show that people divide sharply along partisan lines when choosing whether to credit Obama, a Democrat, or former President George W. Bush, a Republican, for bin Laden's death.

The surveys provide a one-day snapshot of public opinion, and single-night polling that includes only people available on that particular evening can be less reliable than multinight surveys. The public's attitude, particularly on Obama's popularity, could change quickly. Still, the polls provide the first indications of how Americans view the death of the world's most wanted terrorist.

Among the findings:

There is near universal acclaim for the military action that killed bin Laden _ 93 percent approve according to a USA Today/Gallup poll _ and a Washington Post-Pew Research Center survey finds most feel relieved, proud or happy about the death of the al-Qaida leader.

A CNN/Opinion Research Center poll also finds Obama's ratings as a "strong and decisive leader" rose after an April dip following a standoff with Congress over the federal budget. In the new poll, 58 percent said he is a strong leader, up 5 percentage points overall and 14 percentage points among independents. The USA Today/Gallup survey finds a narrow majority feel more confident in Obama's abilities as commander in chief.

But voters divide along partisan lines over the roles of Obama and Bush in bringing an end to the decade-long manhunt. Though 76 percent in the Post-Pew poll give Obama at least some credit for bin Laden's death, that dips to 61 percent among Republicans. Likewise, while 51 percent overall give Bush some of the credit, just 35 percent of Democrats do.

The new polls also show increased concern that terrorist attacks will occur in the United States, with more than 6 in 10 in both the CNN/ORC and USA Today/Gallup poll saying an attack is likely in the next several weeks. Just 5 percent say bin Laden's death means the end of terrorist threats against America.

The polls surveyed randomly selected adults by telephone on May 2. The Post-Pew poll included 654 interviews; USA Today/Gallup interviewed 645. Both have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. CNN/ORC interviewed 700 adults and has a 4-point error margin.