CNN Poll: President's approval nearing 50%
December 20th, 2011
12:02 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: President's approval nearing 50%

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's approval rating, a crucial indicator of his reelection chances, is on the rise, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International Poll out Tuesday also indicates that the partisan battle over extending the payroll tax cut may be partially responsible for the jump in the president's numbers.

Full results (pdf)

According to the survey, 49% of Americans approve of the job Obama's doing in the White House, up five points from last month, with 48% saying they disapprove, down six points from mid-November. The 49% approval rating is the president's highest since May, when his number hit 54% thanks to a bounce following the killing of Osama bin Laden. Since then, in CNN polling, Obama's approval rating has hovered in the mid-40s.

"President Barack Obama's approval rating appears to be fueled by dramatic gains among middle-income Americans," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "The data suggest that the debate over the payroll tax is helping Obama's efforts to portray himself as the defender of the middle class."

Obama's gains have come at the expense of the Republicans in Congress and the GOP in general. By a 50% to 31% margin, people questioned say they have more confidence in the president than in congressional Republicans to handle the major issues facing the country. Obama held a much narrower 44% to 39% margin in March.

And the GOP's overall favorable rating has dropped to six points, to 43%, since June, while the Democrats' positive rating remained steady at 55%.

"The Democrats do particularly well among middle income Americans, while the Republicans win support only from the top end of the income scale," adds Holland.

Overall, only 16% say they approve of the job Congress is doing, with 83% giving lawmakers from both parties the thumbs down. The Congressional disapproval rating has topped 80% since August in CNN polling.

The survey indicates that Obama remains personally popular, with three-quarters saying they approve of him as a person.

"Overall, it's not a bad position for an incumbent to be in as the calendar turns to an election year, but there are many months to go," says Holland.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from Dec. 16 to Dec. 18, with 1,015 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.


Also see:

Bachmann: I'm not a politician, don't even know how to be one

Romney, on Letterman show, jokes about hair, Newt Gingrich

Romney blasts Gingrich over judiciary ideas

Perry: Romney and Gingrich backed the 'biggest act of theft in American history'

soundoff (492 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Hmm. Is that a fact? Well, conservatives have a superPAC or two that can fix those numbers.

    December 20, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. GonzoinHouston

    This has more to do with the Republicans concentrating their efforts on attacking Newt for the last few weeks. While I still expect to see Obama re-elected, I also foresee a traumatic year for a lot of entrenched politicos. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch!

    December 20, 2011 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    That simply means Americans have become welfare fools.

    December 20, 2011 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  4. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Yes, nothing works better to increase your poll numbers than giving away money and saying you'll get the "evil rich people" to pay it instead. This payroll tax holiday was a last gasp gimmick for Obama to try and get the economy moving again. But of course, he then does 10 other things to damage the economy so this is money down the tiolet. It's money that should be going to fund social security but instead is being misused by Obama in an attempt to get him re-elected.

    If there is one great argument for privatizing social security we are seeing it right now. Americans retirement funds are nothing but a political honey pot they can't keep their hands OFF. If this money was in YOUR ACCOUNT, they wouldn't be able to misuse this money like this.

    December 20, 2011 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  5. ST

    Finally folks have now got it that Pres. Obama have spent a great deal of time trying to make lives of the middle class better, but all the time pulled back.

    December 20, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  6. k

    The President will win re-election. Not because he's any good. But because the other options are so much worse.

    Our only hope is 5-years from now when the real leaders stand up it's not too late. Because things are sure not going to be any better.

    December 20, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  7. billy

    People have had enough of the Tea Party Republicans' BS. Every thing is a fight with them and it's always extremist, to the brink, drama.

    Just compromise and do your darn jobs or be gone next cycle.

    December 20, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  8. GOP = Greed Over People

    "The Democrats do particularly well among middle income Americans, while the Republicans win support only from the top end of the income scale,"

    WOW! Who could have seen that little factoid coming?

    You mean the middle class is awakening to the fact the heartless GOP only cares about the top 1%, i.e. "job creators" or "trickle down" or more truthfully, "voodoo economics" and NOT interested at all in the best interest of the middle class or worker???

    Who knew...

    December 20, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  9. a disgrace

    obama's disgrace of a presidency is over or should i say the vacations are over!!

    December 20, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. Eric

    Nothing like GOP stopping Congress to push Obamas rating back up.

    December 20, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. matt

    good, he is the best president of my life time... sure he has made a few errors, but hardly anyone can carry a full bucket down the street and not spill any water... OBAMA!!!!!

    December 20, 2011 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  12. Thomas

    If you want another war , continue the recession , and like spoiled children governing the country.

    Vote GOP !

    December 20, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Jason

    Wrong again, silly polls.

    December 20, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. Mike

    at Rudy NYC. Don't worry. Boehner and company will just find a way to tank the recovery so they can blame the president.

    December 20, 2011 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Ted Ryder

    There are no conservatives left anymore except Ron Paul. The current round of "republicans" are just neo-con afterbirth.

    December 20, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Dean

    OMG. Stop the presses! Get Wolf in the Situation Room and prepare to interrupt regular programming. The President fell out of a boat and found water!

    December 20, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. Solitaire

    Every time another GOP "debate" exposes the GOP nomination front-runners to the public, Obama's numbers go up!

    December 20, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. "Disapproval" ambigious

    What I would like to know: What percentage of the disapproval rating is because Obama is too conservative, or too liberal? I suspect a substantial portion of Obama's disapproval is because he isn't liberal ENOUGH...

    December 20, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  19. Target Destroyed 01

    Bull. But of course, this is what we have come to expect from CNN.

    December 20, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. k

    Just because you're the lesser evil does not make you good...

    December 20, 2011 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  21. Indy

    Everyone in the world knows that Republicans have done everythng in their power to work against America and the President, and in particular the middle class so you only have to wonder how much good could have been done if Republicans only concern was not Party First,Wealthy second and country last. The President is well liked because he is a very decent man that cares about everyone, and is very intellegent and takes the proper measures in all of his policies. The middle class is the majority and will get behind Obama for a majority win in the next election. Republicans fight for themselves and 2% of Americans and you cant win when you go up against the majority no matter what any poll suggests.

    December 20, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  22. Phillfoss

    I'm glad to see Americans really know what's going on. Republicans are destroying the country to destroy Obama.

    December 20, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  23. Meki60

    cannot be anywhere near 50% from my perspective, must have been a survey of illegals

    December 20, 2011 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  24. ObamaFlop

    Ha.........Obama's approval rating changes and CNN feels a tingle running up there leg. The most in the tank story for Obama I have seen in awhile from CNN.

    December 20, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  25. BOB

    A CNN poll. Hmmmmm!!

    December 20, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20