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. Crook County, IL

    I give as much credibility to a CNN poll as I would a FOX News poll. If anything it is just a little bump due to the Iraq war ending, and employment numbers being a teensy bit up. After the Iraq homecoming news fades and the unemployment claims jump again after the new year he'll be back in the low 40's. In the meantime, I hope he really enjoys the $4 million, 17-day Hawaii vacation we pretty much paying for.

    December 20, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  2. icecold

    I think Obama is a good president that is finally beginning to understand the way things work in Washington when you go against the norm. But even with their best attempt to destroy him, he still has come out on top and I believe his 2nd term will really be an outstanding one. Plus, we will get a democratic house agiain based on this.

    December 20, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Rich

    President Obama is not the problem. People are so blind that they can't see the current president inherits the problems created by the last president. When President Bush entered office in 2001, the United States had a $4 Trillion surplus in the treasury and the unemployment rate was less than 5%. After he left, the United States had an unemployment rate of almost 10% and a $14 Trillion debt. The problem is Congress. These reps have been in office too long. I say we need a 28th amendment to the US Constitution limiting the terms of all Senators and Congressmen to 12 years, while at the same time banning special interest groups and lobbyists from political influence, placing all campaign contributions generated over the years into the general fund and giving them COBRA insurance for a period of one year after leaving office. Being a senator or congressman is a privilege, not a right. These are public servants, representing regular people. When they leave office, they should be treated as regular citizens again. They are not special for their whole lives.

    December 20, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. bill

    How anyone could approve of this disaster is beyond me.

    December 20, 2011 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  5. tcaros

    Obama is the best president in recent history. He has handled the job in a superior manner. If you look at all the accomplishments it's hard to believe his only been working for less than one term. He's listened to the American people, fought for the middle class, and ended 2 wars started by the Republicans. He is far superior to any Republican challenger and frankly makes them look like petulent school children.

    December 20, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Hola

    MITT ROMNEY is the Republicans' only hope! They would be FOOLS not to make him the nominee!

    December 20, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  7. daloya

    OBAMA IS THE BEST USA PRESIDENT.
    Our total approval and full respect to President Obama!
    USA people support President Obama 100%

    December 20, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  8. Jason

    I've noticed that those who support Ron Paul do not live in fear. This is his greatest asset. Fearful people always want war and to spend problems away. Neither are productive to our fundamental values. The people who live in fear live a brainwashed life, and sadly, some are ok with that. The massive egos, false wealth, and ignorance that accompany this constant subconscious fear are truly massive in this country. This is not freedom. It’s self-isolation.

    December 20, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  9. Tired of Nonsense

    This so called poll that CNN just pulled out is interesting timing I should say. Just after Ron Paul pulls ahead in Iowa. If you have learned anything from the caucuses it is that Ron Paul isn't a part of the establishment and is basically independent with an agenda to promote truth. If you think you disagree with some of what he says, you should look into each topic. A vote for Paul is a vote to stop the establishment that includes Rep's and Dem's who are steering our country into oblivion for special interests.

    December 20, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  10. GetReal

    Rudy – So, if Repugs can't win the election fair and square, they will basically buy votes with smear ads from organizations who don't need to worry about facts. Hmmm, indeed.

    December 20, 2011 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  11. ThinkAgain

    Even as the GOP's strategy of trying to get President Obama and our country to fail is revealed more and more with each passing day, don't let this make you complacent.

    The GOP is doing everything they can to suppress the vote, from changing voter registration deadlines to exclude college students, to demanding photo ID where none were required in the past. It is absolutely necessary for every Independent, Democrat and thinking Republican to GET OUT AND VOTE FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA in November 2012.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    December 20, 2011 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  12. tcaros

    GW Bush is still looking for Bin Laden. Where is Bin Laden.. in that brush behind Bush's house. No, Obama found Bin Laden in less than 3 years. He took care of Ghadaffi, wall street, the insurance companies, and now he's battling for the middle class.
    We have the best President in a century. Obama's approval rating will skyrocket even more.

    December 20, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. tcaros

    He needs to continue to stand up to the Republicans...with VETO pen in hand. The more he handles those petulent little children called Republicans, the more the American public loves him.

    December 20, 2011 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. Bill

    Thank you GOP for your continued intransigence, obstructionism and abject refusal to copperate with the president on anything. You will ensure a second term in 2012!

    December 20, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. Nameevaline

    OBAMA/BIDEN IS THE WAY TO GO!!! Sure Obama has made some mistakes. The 2012 election will be very close. But in the end OBAMA will win re-election!!! Believe me he will!!!

    December 20, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. MerlinX4

    "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." ― CNN Polling Director Keating Holland

    “The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

    December 20, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. paulbark

    The GOP is the party of the wealthy, protecting the wealthiest Americans from any tax increases and fighting tooth and nail to force a tax cut on the middle class.

    December 20, 2011 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. paulbark

    In my previous comment, I meant to say the GOP is fighting tooth and nail to force a tax INCREASE on the middle class.

    December 20, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. nicholas

    I AM REPUBLICAN NO LONGER! I have come to terms that GOPers are a real obstacle to progress and no matter what
    Obama says or does to find compromise republicans will do their best to undermine our President at the cost of progress in our country.

    December 20, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. tcaros

    Republicans try and paint a grim picture. They want the economy to tank. They won't vote on anything that will improve the lives of Americans. Why? Because they know that Obama is an outstanding President, Commander and Chief, and statesman. He can outsmart, outwit, and outlast any of these sad Republican challengers.

    December 20, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  21. DC Johnny

    And, just as before, Obama's rhetoric and attempts to bribe America for votes has paid off in the short term. "I wanted to give you $1000 but the GOP wouldn't let me."

    Fact: Obama demanded a 12-month extension and refused to support a 2-month extension. Boehner rejects the Senate's 2-month extension, and Obama's communications team slams the GOP.

    This president is a pathetic divisor. Nothing more. An empty suit.

    December 20, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  22. atypical

    there is a plausible theory that might be worth considering.
    the conservatives have no plan whatsoever to win this election, as they know (like many others) that the economy is going to tank even further in the next few years and they don't want to be "holding the bag," so to speak.
    Obama will get blamed and they will come in and win the next election–or so they hope.

    this theory makes sense–and for more than one reason.

    December 20, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  23. Aaron

    A SuperPAC of 2?! And who would that be? Obama's ratings are up specifically because any other option is far worse.

    December 20, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. DaveinSC

    Of course his numbers are rising. between the candidates the GOP has presented to the people, and the obstructionism by them in Congress, the GOP is putting themselves out to dry.

    December 20, 2011 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. tcaros

    We love Obama!!! Americans love him becuase he fights for them and not the rich Oil and Insurance industries. Also, he's not a traitor like the Republicans.

    December 20, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
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