Civil Beat Poll: Hawaii Gives Obama Most Credit for Killing of Bin Laden

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President Barack Obama gets the most credit from Hawaii residents for the killing of Osama Bin Laden, a Civil Beat poll has found.

Forty percent of registered voters in Hawaii said the president was "the most responsible" for the success of the operation to kill the al-Qaida leader at his compound in Pakistan. Leaders of the military and U.S. intelligence were deemed most responsible by 24 percent of respondents, with 18 percent crediting special forces troops who carried out the mission and 8 percent giving the due to former President George W. Bush. Nine percent were unsure who was most responsible.

The automated telephone survey of 1,014 registered voters in Hawaii was conducted on May 3 and 4 by Merriman River Group and has a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points.

The poll focused on a story that has dominated the public's attention since news of the killing of the terrorist leader broke on Sunday night. With Hawaii's importance as a military center, national security developments have a heightened impact here.

One striking finding of the survey was that 54 percent of Hawaii registered voters said that the killing of Bin Laden makes no difference in the United States winning the war on terror. The poll found that 33 percent said the killing brings the United States "signficantly closer to winning the war on terror," 5 percent said the U.S. is losing the war, regardless of the death, and 8 percent were unsure.

"That's huge, given that he's Public Enemy No. 1," said Seth Rosenthal, director of opinion research for Merriman River Group. "You might think that killing our No. 1 enemy would inspire a little more optimism."


The poll also found that attitudes toward the president strongly correlated to whether he got the credit for the success of the mission.

Of those who approve of Obama, 63 percent credited him for killing Bin Laden. Of those who disapprove, just 5 percent said the president was responsible for the success of the mission. Forty-six percent of those who disapprove of the president's job performance credited military and intelligence leaders, 22 percent cited Bush and the same number gave the nod to the special forces who carried out the mission. Of those who approve of Obama, 13 percent credited military leaders and 14 percent special forces.

"People who approve of him are giving him the credit in large numbers," Rosenthal said. "People who like Obama also think we're safer, more than people who don't like him."

The Civil Beat poll results came out just days after a New York Times/CBS News national poll on the same topic.

A comparison of the two polls indicates that people in Hawaii were less likely to believe the killing of Bin Laden increased the chance of an attack in the short term or long term.

The Civil Beat poll found the 35 percent of Hawaii registered voters believe the killing of Bin Laden means it's more likely that the U.S. will experience a terrorist attack in the next six month, with 22 percent saying such an attack is less likely, 35 percent saying the likelihood hasn't changed and 9 percent unsure.

The national poll found that 62 percent of Americans said that killing Obama was "likely to increase the threat of terrorism against the United States in the short term," 5 percent said it would decrease and 28 percent said it would stay the same.

In the long term, 18 percent in Hawaii said it's more likely now that the U.S. will experience a terrorist attack, 40 percent said less likely, 34 percent said it hadn't changed the likelihood and 8 percent unsure.

The national poll found that in the long term, 27 percent thought the killing of bin Laden would increase the threat against the United States, 26 percent decrease, 41 percent stay the same and 6 percent didn't know. In the national poll, opinion was split on who is currently winning the war against terrorism, the United States and its allies, neither side or the terrorists, with 44 percent saying the U.S., 45 percent saying neither side, 5 percent the terrorists and 5 percent unsure.

The Civil Beat poll didn't use exactly the same language in asking the question, but found more than half of registered voters don't believe the death of Bin Laden will make a difference in the war on terror.


DISCUSSION: What do you think about the poll results? Join the conversation.

About the poll: Merriman River Group (MRG), surveyed 1,014 registered voters on May 3 and May 4 using interactive voice response technology (touch-tone polling). The margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points. The margin of error indicates that in 95 percent of samples of this size, the results will be within the margin of error of the actual percentage in the full population of likely voters. Merriman River Group, founded in 1998, is a full-service consulting organization specializing in election management, opinion research and communication. Since 2008, MRG has collected national survey data for the National Leadership Index conducted by the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School.

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