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Obama Approval Rating: Boost from Osama Bin Laden Death Likely

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy(WASHINGTON) -- The death of Osama bin Laden is an enormous and immediate political victory for President Obama, who has faced periodic criticism for his handling of the fight against al Qaeda and struggles to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan.

While the immediate impact on the president's job approval rating is yet to be known, experts say, the killing of bin Laden -- one of candidate Obama's top campaign promises in 2008 -- will likely lead to a boost in his poll numbers and added credibility for Obama's foreign policy message on the campaign trail.

"It gives him a firewall on Afghanistan," said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a veteran of several presidential administrations.

To some extent, it "pulls the rug right out from under" the potential Republican presidential candidates who have criticized the president's strategy, Hess said, adding that many in the likely GOP field "are certainly not coming from a very strong position as foreign policy experts themselves."

In the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 49 percent of Americans last month said they disapproved of Obama's handling of the situation in Afghanistan -- an all-time low -- up 8 percentage points since the beginning of the year. Those numbers could begin to turn around, at least in the short term.

Immediately after the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003, then-President George W. Bush experienced a 10-point surge in U.S. approval of his handling of the war in Iraq, according to many polls. Bush's job approval rating gradually gained 6 points.

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