CNN Poll: President's approval nearing 50%
December 20th, 2011
12:02 PM ET
2 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. ART

    I see the tea baggers are still griping about Obama care, call it by its correct name America care, because it is for us the people, I do not know why the tea baggers harp on this it will benefit most of them who are white poor and live in trailer parks, unfortunately I don't think it will cover their desperate need for dental work toough.

    December 20, 2011 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Steve L. Reid

    Look at the internals of this poll and i will bet you anything you want to bet that they polled more democrats than republicans, CNN cant be trusted when it comes to poll's,

    December 20, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. ted

    Obama has a higher approval rating than Reagan did at the same point in Reagans first term.

    December 20, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Big Tony

    They don't call it Communist News Network for nothing. Nothing but propaganda here.

    December 20, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  5. Vee

    All I can say is you know how bad things were under the Bush administration. Vote your pocket book.

    December 20, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  6. Anomic Office Drone

    With a field of candidates like the one being offered up by the GOP and a House of Representatives that has been completely broken by the GOP, Obama's numbers can only go up.

    December 20, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. Sam M

    Thinking Americans have already given up any hope for change from a Guy who has been affirmative actioned into the Presidency. Obama is not going to get the apologist vote, Obama is not going to get the guilt for slavery vote and Obama is not inspiring anymore so he will lose the unmotivated 18 to 24 vote. Of course we can look forward to a few months of the unbiased press tell us how wonderful he is but it ain't gonna work this time. A guy who has never had a real job lecturing hard working Americans on how they should live their lives has gotten old in a hurry.

    December 20, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. NVa Native

    Thank God the Repubs were stopped by the Dems from sending our retirement to the Hyenas on Wall Street.
    When will the sheep of the right understand that just because they repeat fox media lies that we – the majority – prefer facts and science, and therefore refuse to follow those fox/GOP/neo-con lies.

    December 20, 2011 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  9. eddiethegeek

    All this means is that Americans are just as stupid (perhaps more so!) than we were three years ago. I cannot imagine an intelligent, informed, taxpaying citizen voting FOR Obama (unless he or she were a member of one of Obama's favored classes – trial attorneys, public employee unions, to name a couple). Well if we re-elect this fraud, we will get what we deserve....and what is that? GREECE!

    December 20, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  10. mittensonkittens

    He's been hiding for 5 months. Not one discussion with GOP leaders for 5 months while he licked his wounds. He counts on a pity party for votes. Typical..."I am a victim" president for I am a victim voters.

    December 20, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Anthony

    It's a CNN Poll! Of course they're going to say his poll numbers are higher than what they really are. Worst President ever and if reelected the people who voted for him get what they deserve!

    December 20, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  12. Rebecca Hale

    Really! Who believes anything that CNN states.

    December 20, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  13. barry1817

    And while bashing the 1%, who exactly is paying $38,000 a person for a meeting with Obozo, our clown in chief, to help him get reelected.

    Amazing that he still has people that give to his reelection campaign

    December 20, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  14. SaintM

    Republicans like Boehner, McConnell, Graham, McCain, Cantor, etc. are all elected by the most poverty stricken, under-educated, disenfranchised people in this country. Their poor choices get them the representation that they deserve. The intelligencia in this country are behind President Obama, and with the current crop of Republican candidates, Obama is assured a second term–unless Huntsman starts to rapidly move upward.

    Obama 2.0, 2012.

    December 20, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  15. jerrycc

    No one is at home during the day except people living off the govt. What do you expect from a poll?

    December 20, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. Kstulak

    How in the world can anyone believe cnn, it is right up there with msnbc, pure garbage.

    December 20, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. Robert

    Did anyone notice this is an INTERNATIONAL POLL? CNN is having to go outside the US to get Obama above 50%. What a joke. If Obama wins it will be the end of America. He is a Communist Dictator in waiting.

    December 20, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. juanita valdez

    Wait until the egg nog buzz wears off and we try to find jobs again come January and the fedGov once again 'revises' the unemployment numbers to where they really are...low.

    Obama calls the unemployed "a bump in the road" he has no compassion, and no clue. But it isn't his fault–the buck doesn't stop with him, it's our fault. We have become "lazy" according to the perfect one, the divider-in-chief, Barry Sotelo.

    December 20, 2011 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  19. Richard

    Tell the lemmings what they need to hear so they'll continue their march off the cliff. Idiots.

    December 20, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  20. JWS

    Keep dreaming, CNN.

    December 20, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. gaucho420

    This was bound to happen. The GOP looks terrible, out of touch and only out to please their base. The worst looking lot of candidates in a long time!

    December 20, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. Terry

    Matt: This is the best president in your lifetime??? What are you, 3 years old? He is an embarrassment and total failure. If the American people like what has been going on the last 3 years (failure), then they will get four more years of it starting in 2013. Obama is finished. The CNN Obama re-election team tries hard, but the American people have had enough!

    December 20, 2011 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  23. Tom

    I love all the posters jumping on here to say how bad Obama is and this is a terrible glitch or a lib media CNN biased poll... Hilarious how they squirm...

    Bye Bye Tea Baggers

    December 20, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  24. Mistermandm

    Amazing the numbers those that are pimping an agenda can come up with when needed. Where is intellectual honesty in the media or government. Our president fortunately is a "has been" and will go this next election regardless of the will of the media or liberal progressives... or Republicans behavior for that matter. I believe this and have confidence that the electorate is not as dumb as is being described in this incomprehensible article. Ron Paul is the only honest and believable one in this game!

    December 20, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. JEB

    You can fool all the people some of the time and you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can never fool all of the people all of the time. I think the 49% who approve of this guy's job must fall into the category of fools all the time. What a disaster.

    December 20, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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