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. whoopitydo2

    Haha! Whatever CNN! We fell for your lies 3 years ago. We're not falling for them again. Obama is gone next year! I'll vote for anyone other than him.

    December 20, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  2. Will

    This is what happens when you have a flawed political system. I wish we could rebuild the system to not have minority/majority rules in congress and senate. If we had a true 2 party system with every state having the same number of Democrat and Republican representatives then we would be better off. I also dont think having President pick a VP is the right way to go. The VP should be the runner up in the election. Making the system set up to be 2 party would mean that in order to pass anything Compromise would be neccesarry no matter what. They would have to fight for every decision, and gain support from both sides. This would make this country stronger, there would be no more fighting over party lines and passing bills quickly when you have majority and then the next year fighting to remove those bills because the opposite party is in power now. This is just a stalmate government with no real progress. I also wish we could outlaw Lobbyist. Why is it legal for votes to be bought?. This is a horrible system that is doomed to fail regardless of what you try and do. You cant have Lobbyist and the current system, you have to reform it.

    December 20, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  3. Matt

    Bravo Obama!

    Bravo Obama. You're actually putting Newt and Mitt to shame as they fight for the republican nomination. This suggests that any one of the two republican bigots who wins the nomination will have a hard ride trying to beat you.

    Bravo Obama! Keep pushing for the middle glass...we are with you in your struggles for us while the GOP focuses ONLY on the top 1%. Go Obama go....YES WE CAN!

    December 20, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Utter nonsense. The CNN's ( and MSNBC's) of this country determine who to poll to ensure that they get their desired results.

    December 20, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. tcaros

    Anyone who would vote to re-elect a Republican congressman/women needs to have their head examined.

    December 20, 2011 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. david

    vote american this time no more boy kings he is for towel heads and illegal terrorists obama s kind

    December 20, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. Tom Hartman

    When is everyone going to realize that no matter who is in office a huge amount of the population if ALWAYS unhappy with them, as if one President can solve all the problems of a nation by himself.

    December 20, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    "In the meantime, I hope he really enjoys the $4 million, 17-day Hawaii vacation we pretty much paying for."

    The First Family have rented and paid for their own accommodations in the form of a beach front rental on Kailua. The President sent his family ahead, while he is staying in town for as long as it takes for Congress to extend payroll tax cuts and unemployment insurance.

    He has been working very hard and deserves a vacation (and we all know he will be in daily contact with his advisors, getting national security updates and the like).

    If you're so worried about government expending, demand your Senator and Congressional Reps to end the multi-billion-dollar tax subsidies to the oil industry.

    December 20, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  9. Reggie from LA

    @Rudy from NYC is right. They need to circle the wagons (Super PACs) and "fix" that...at any cost.
    For 3 years, their goal has beent to fix Obama's wagon. The can't stand having them as their president and their tactics have been working. Dems that believed in the President started listening to the propaganda and believed in themselves more. They forgot or disregarded that Obama's daily routine is fighting battles as oppsed to bringing about the change he wanted to make. That's right. I said it, like it or not.

    December 20, 2011 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "What they're not realizing is that the more that they try to harm President Obama by tanking the economy, the worse the approval rating for Congress becomes. "

    Actually, no...that they do realize and it is integral to their plan. See, they don't give a crap about their own rating in Congress. The game is to get the WH and continue with their "unified executive theory" that keeps shifting more and more power to the POTUS. To get there, they intend to destroy all public confidence in Congress and the gov't in hopes that a wave of "they're all the same, they're all at fault, throw the bums out" public sentiment results in them replacing Obama with a hand-picked corporate puppet who will abuse executive power and authority to further shift us towards plutocracy and banana republic status. GOPers in Congress now who wind up "martyrs" for their holy plutocratic jihad by losing their seats, will be rewarded with extremely high paying lobbyist or consulting gigs, guaranteed.

    December 20, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. mike58

    Add up Obama's disapproval rating and add in congress disapproval rating you still can't get to 100%
    These are truly the lost years of GOV

    December 20, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. devosays

    CNN poll.... LMAO... and he only got 50% on the 100% liberal biased CNN poll???? LMAO

    December 20, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. papanez

    hanger13 – You're funny. The DNC smear campaign? What about the lies that the president wasn't born in the US, that he's a Muslim, that he's a Marxist, Communist, Socialist? That's not a smear? Spend more time with important issues about who has the best interests of the American people at heart (Obama, obviously) instead of concentrating on the "outer space" aliens kept under wraps at Wright-Pat... hanger13 indeed.

    December 20, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. angela

    The GOP would obstruct Santa if they could.

    December 20, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "Utter nonsense. The CNN's ( and MSNBC's) of this country determine who to poll to ensure that they get their desired results."

    GO read some of Nate Silver's work. The worst offender is, by far, mathematically proven to be Rasmussen, not the ones you traditionally blame as "liberal."

    December 20, 2011 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. theProdigy

    I would really love to see President Obama debate Ron Paul during the general election. I think it would be a genuine debate of ideas, based on merit. I also think it would be interesting to see how President Obama would handle issues in which Dr. Paul is clearly to the "Left" of him, such as his stance of no undeclared wars and non-interventionism.

    December 20, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. Jimmy

    Let's see we have two plans for the country:
    Plan A = Trail lawyers and labor unions.
    Plan B = Big business and TEA party.
    Not much to choose from but I'll take plan B

    December 20, 2011 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. 32mMD

    Thanks for the info, Obama election HQ (CNN)! Once people realize Obama wants to extend the tax cuts for 2 months and the Republicans an entire year, just watch O's numbers go down.

    December 20, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Mike

    It's all relative. People don't really feel differently about the President, they're just disgusted with the Republicans.

    December 20, 2011 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  20. Paul

    Mr. Bill: I agree 100% with your brief analysis. I am frustrated, flabergasted, and embarrassed. He is not a leader but one whom rests his decisions on those whom will not cross him. Ask BAE (one of the largest defense contractors in the USA), if they dont see a change the York, PA facility may shut down. These are 80K employees x 40000. How is he going to support them through his jobs program? This facility alone will absorb all the money he has slated. This is one company, just take a good look around how many businesses are barely holding on. This is not due to Bush policies but pushing legislation that should be voted on by the American people. We, as Americans, have lost full control of OUR country. We havent seen the worst of it yet. Not by a long shot.

    Happy Holidays!

    December 20, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. bilk7

    The GOP is handing the President a second term with their support of inferior candidates and the obstructionist leadership of the GOP House.

    December 20, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Gallup only has him at 42%. Maybe because they aren't in the bag for Obama like CNN.

    December 20, 2011 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  23. Bob

    It's funny that the majority of the posters blame the GOP for everything.. Obama has to love this...

    December 20, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  24. WIL (CUBE ) WALLACE

    rest of the people are beginning to see what i have been saying all the time PRESIDENT OBAMA is the hardest working President we ever had . and better than that he cares. i will re-elect him in a heart beat. the other side is a bunch of clowns even they on party can see that..

    December 20, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  25. mike58

    4 million for a vacation that would feed alot of homeless over the holidays.
    Enjoy Mr. Obama

    December 20, 2011 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
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