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.


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soundoff (492 Responses)
  1. prtyfdup

    This means nothing except maybe we will be bombarded with 'Vote for Obama' ads from CNN. Or, that he made more promises to more wealthy people like he did to get into office...such as union fat cats, Hollywood, and you know who all he got onboard. Polls mean very little and each one is different.

    December 20, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  2. NoFear

    Look at the actual poll numbers. The sample was relatively small and the number of people who "Strongly Approve" fell by 4% while the number who "Strongly Disapprove" rose by 6%.

    President Zero is one and done kiddies.

    December 20, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  3. Chewy

    Obama's approval rating is up? Well, I assure you that this survey certainly wasn't taken anywhere near my hometown. I am appalled by his lack of leadership and weary of his exceptionally poor decisions. I am not especially thrilled with the field of Republican candidates, but whoever gets the nomination will almost certainly get my vote. I genuinely believe that our country cannot survive another 4 years of the most polarizing and ineffective President in our history. His heart may have been in the right place, but he lacks the experience and skills required for the job. I don't dislike him as a man, but he has failed as a President.

    December 20, 2011 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  4. Michael

    You would Think Obama would be easy to defeat.

    You Would think!

    December 20, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  5. Brock

    Once again, CNN takes a short term poll and anticipates long term change. Obama got a bounce because he is bringing a few soldiers home. In 2 months when this is played out, and people focus on the 20% unemployment he has brought, the poll numbers will be BELOW 40% approval.

    Obama, the WORST president of the last 50 years. AKA Carter Prime.

    December 20, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  6. Dorothy Palmer

    I can't believe Obama has not gotten what he deserves. He is out to destroy America because of his hatred for the white man. Anyone thinking otherwise is a god dam fool. If this sob gets re-elected, I am out of the US for good.

    December 20, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. GaryB

    I think a lot of working middle class americans have come to realize that Obama, while not perfect, tends to have their back more often than the Republicans and Teapublicans, who seem primarily interested in increasing the wealth of the already wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

    December 20, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  8. Grand Oil Party

    The GOP needs to take over the commander in chief position to start another war. It's why they obstruct at the expense of our citizens. Their desire is to control the energy of the world and to do that you need to control the military. Solving our problems is at the bottom of their list.

    December 20, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Mymaria714

    I don't approve of his wife taking a separate plane to Hawaii just so she can get a jump start on her taxpayer-funded vacation. Wait until your husband LEADS the country like he's supposed to! You can't wait a day or two??? Way to cost the American taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.

    December 20, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Travis

    Maybe this rise has to do with mainstream new's blackout on the indefeinite citizen detention details of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) he signed into law yesterday. Not sure how CNN can justify calling itself a news organization. If the NDAA story had of been publicized appropriately Obama's popularity would be tanked as it will be soon.

    December 20, 2011 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. bcanook

    Sampling for this poll was 37% democrat, 38% independent, and 25% republican

    December 20, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  12. catherwood

    He folks, this is all Obama propaganda brought to you by liberals for liberals. The poll was done by CNN.....liberals made the questions, interpreted the numbers, asked the questions and chose the respondents. Just another bunch of liberal numbers crunched by the left to support Barack Hussein Obama whatever that is.

    December 20, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  13. Captain Jack

    this poll is nonsense as is the illuminati controlled CNN. Right, over night Hussein The Usurper gain 5 point. Let's see, he shreds the bill of rights, declares marshal law, goes on vacation and gains points. Sure. Nice try eichmanns!

    December 20, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. OutInTheOC

    Way to go CNN.......not surprised you start the lies. Can't wait to see what "other numbers" you will fudge to get the man re-elected. Thank God I gave up on CNN MANY years ago. And I would be really surprised if you post this comment.....but than again.....I know you will not.

    Take Back America 2012

    December 20, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  15. mittensonkittens

    Dear soft, cowardly, arrogant campaigner in chief, how many more months do you plan on hiding from opposition? It's been 5 months since you spoke with GOP leaders. Sure, you've had better things to do like speak with iraqi leaders, go on vacations, campaign ...hide. but Americans decided to make you King of the Wild Things.Put your paper crown back on and
    get to work!

    December 20, 2011 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Grand Oil Party

    PA-out of work, are you forgetting bUsh's dismal 24 percent approval rating?

    December 20, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  17. GOP ~ "tax the middle class, blame the poor"

    The only people talking about; making war on Xmas trees, taking our guns away, imposing Sharia Law, making war on Christmas, jailing judges, expanding welfare, wide spread voter fraud, etc., are the drama queens on fox media & hate radio, angry old tee-baggers, .....and sleazy GOP politicians.

    December 20, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  18. macb

    Yes, Obama will be re-elected partly because he is on the right side of the issues (ie, trying to benefit a majority of the hard-working middle class people), but also because, he will be the lesser of the two evils (ie, better than anyone the Republicans will nominate). If it's Romney, his record at Bain Capital is going to be a big issue. Sure, Bain Capital helped companies grow and "create" jobs. But they also bought some companies with borrowed money, paid themselves a large fee, passed the debt onto the company, the company went bankrupt and all the workers were fired, losing health benefits and pensions. And no this not an attack on capitalism. I love capitalism, but there are some aspects of it we have to fix.

    December 20, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Jerzey Boy

    Gee, consider if your car's brakes only worked 50% of the time.
    Dump this looser, sooner the better for us all.

    December 20, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  20. HRPuckinfutz

    It does not hurt Obama that the Republican candidates are a bunch of self-imploding, bickering, self-centered, clueless, embarrassing bufoons.

    December 20, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  21. SiriusVH

    It is too early to celebrate but this suggests that, maybe, people are beginning to see what and who GOPsters really stand for. Perhaps a few more attempts by the GOPsters in the House to prevent Obama from doing his job will solidify his improving poll numbers. Good job, GOPsters, keep trying to sink the ship to get at the captain! Comes 2012, you may get what you rightfully deserve: defeat.

    December 20, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  22. doug

    So one is a racist if they don't support our government giving guns to Mexican drug cartels so that they can shoot and kill US citizens, typical of the party that started the klan and the great soceity, which has been genocide against mostly people of color.

    December 20, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. skippy777

    Obama put on a good show during the last presidential campaign.

    What America expected was a dignified, determined Winston Churchill – a stand up guy ready to tackle the most dire threats to his country in more than a generation.

    What America got was a devious, divisive eddie haskell – a flimflam guy ready to advance no one’s agenda but his own.

    Vote for obama in 2012????? ….hell no. fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice, shame on me.

    December 20, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. AJP

    Nobody, but NOBODY believes this poll!!!!!! Now you know why Obama needs to raise a Billion dollars for his campaign. Lotta people to pay off!!!

    December 20, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. Ken_PA

    CNN Poll supporting a Democrat!!!! Can this really be trusted? Only a fool or a bigot continues to support this fool for president. Jimmy Carter was leading in the polls this time of year also.

    December 20, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
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