President Barack Obama, as expected, received a 9-point bump in job approval polls following Osama bin Laden being killed. Obviously it would happen, had President Pet Rock been in office when bin Laden was brought to justice, the pet rock would have gotten a bump. Of course, the big question is how will this event play in November of 2012?

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If you watched any of the commentators on MessNBC, like Chris ‘Tingles’ Matthews or Lawrence ‘Madman’ O′Donnell, the past two days, you would think that Obama is now indestructible and will easily walk away with an election victory. The latest ABC News/Pew Research Center poll shows Obama’s job approval rating now stands at 56%, the highest its been since June of 2009. Last week’s ABC News/Washington Post poll had Obama at 47%. So Obama got a 9-point Osama bin Laden death bounce. Now there′s an image!

Those who still have a memory of events from 1991 will recall that George H.W. Bush was polling in the 75-80% favorable range following our triumph over Saddam Hussein in Gulf War I. But the economy, which was transitioning from Cold War to post-Cold War Era, began to nose dive once billions of defense dollars were scaled back. Other factors of the time included the remaining fallout from the Savings and Loan bailouts, China expanding its exports and the usual business-cycle after years of growth under Ronald Reagan. By the summer of 1992, the slogan of the times was “It’s the Economy, Stupid!”

Another poll today of equal, if not even more importance, is one from Fox News conducted by Anderson Robbins Research, a leading Democrat polling firm, and Shaw & Company Research, a Republican polling firm. This poll concerns Americans and their driving habits now that gasoline has reached a national average of $3.96 per gallon. The number planning to cut down on driving is 62%. Those supporting more domestic drilling is 61%. Those changing their summer vacation plans is 49%. Those considering buying a more fuel efficient car is 47%. Those who are giving up buying other necessities to afford gasoline is 34%.

If gasoline prices exceed $4 a gallon, 27% would demand that the government open up more drilling offshore and in Alaska. At $5 a gallon, the number jumps to 48%. At $6 a gallon, the number increases to 70%. Only 7% of voters polled (411 Democrats, 322 Republicans and 159 Independents) would still insist on the government preventing additional drilling offshore and in Alaska, even if gasoline was $10 a gallon.

The impact of higher fuel costs, as well as higher food prices, will begin to wear down what little growth there has been in consumer spending. Even the Federal Reserve in its overly-optimistic report from last week is predicting a GDP growth of just 1.8% this year and the likelihood of unemployment remaining well above 8.4% by year′s end. When gasoline exceeds $4 a gallon, and if it exceeds $5, the impact on consumers this summer will be enough to cause more unemployment and slower growth.

No U.S. president in post-WW2 history won a reelection bid with less than 8% GDP growth during their first four years in office. Obama will barely show 4% by next January if current trends continue. So while President Barack Obama got a bump in the polls for the death of Osama bin Laden, the bounce of 9-points will not have very long legs. With even more uncertainty in the world today, Obama will be lucky to show more than 6% GDP growth during his first term in office, making him a big loser. With numbers like that, even Candidate Pet Rock could beat him in 2012.

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