CNN Poll: Obama approval rating back to 50% mark
February 15th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
3 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama approval rating back to 50% mark

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's approval rating is back to 50% for the first time in more than eight months, and he currently holds an edge against all the remaining Republican presidential candidates in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday also indicates that the GOP's advantage on enthusiasm has been erased, and that the number of Americans who think things are going well in the country is on the rise. Six out of ten say things are going poorly in the country, but four out of ten say things are going well, up 15 points since November.

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"Does that mean it's morning in America? It is for Democrats - a solid majority of them now say things are going well in the country. But overall, six in ten still have a gloomy outlook about the state of the country," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Optimism is on the rise among independent voters, with a notable increase among men as well, although a majority of both groups still think things are going poorly."

The rise of Americans who say things are going well appears to be helping the president, whose approval rating now stands at 50%, with 48% saying they disapprove of the job Obama's doing in the White House. The president's approval rating has edged up three points from last month and is up six points from November. The last time Obama's approval rating was at 50% or above was last May, as a result of the killing of Osama bin Laden, and it stayed there for about a month before fading.

"Independents now have a net-positive view of President Obama," says Holland. "His approval rating has also reached 50% in the suburbs."

Looking ahead to November, the poll indicates that the president's re-election chances are on the rise. In hypothetical matchups among registered voters, Obama holds a 51%-46% margin over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, leads both former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas by the same 52%-45% advantage, and beats former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 55%-42%.

The president appears to have gained ground since January against Romney, Paul, and Gingrich. Only Santorum has held steady. The poll also indicates that Obama wins a majority of independent voters in all four general election match-ups.

"More than six in ten Americans believe that the policies of Romney and Gingrich favor the rich; Santorum and Paul do better on that measure, but only a quarter feel that way about Obama," says Holland.

The survey suggests that the contentious Republican primary season has decreased enthusiasm among Republican voters, virtually erasing the "enthusiasm gap" that promised to provide the ultimate GOP presidential nominee with a major advantage in the fall. In October, 64% of Republicans said that they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president, compared to only 43% of Democratic voters. GOP enthusiasm since that time has tumbled 13 points, to 51%, virtually the same as the Democrats' level of enthusiasm.

Other findings in the poll: 67% of the public says they are either very or somewhat angry about the way things are going in the country, down five points from September. And 31% approve of the job Democrats in Congress are doing, with 22% giving congressional Republicans a thumbs up. Both numbers are virtually unchanged from last autumn.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from February 10-13, with 1,026 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 report

Also see:

Gingrich: Santorum 'misunderstands' modern warfare

Santorum slams Obama administration as 'elite snobs'

Romney surrogates attack Santorum's record

CNN Poll: Romney's likability fading

CNN Poll: Gender and income gaps in GOP nomination battle


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • President Obama • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul
soundoff (429 Responses)
  1. Kurt

    I just wish the debt would go down. Or at least stop going up. I'm 23 and just got married. Studying to get my master's degree in mechanical engineering. Scared of what kind of debt my children will run into. I have no debt, but paid for college myself. I also spent two unpaid years in Africa performing volunteer work. Why can't the government get its finances together? Should I run for office?

    February 15, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    Of course, Pres. Obama is up. You cannot keep a good man down, no matter how hard you try. Meanwhile, Republicans keep trying to put Pres. Obama into a box, but keep springing it on themselves.

    February 15, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. Tired of republican lies

    We're baaack! The only one that cares about the middle class and all americans, working tirelessly to fix the gawd awful mess that Dubya got us into...I will work hard to get President Obama re-elected. None of these fools running have anything to offer that is credible.

    February 15, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Jharris

    Well, there is no science to these polls for Obama. If the economy is doing better, people view the president better. If the economy worsens, people view the president in the negative view. There is a lot of division in the GOP which helps the president, but there a long time until November and really these polls don't mean squat because it is just a snap shot.

    February 15, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. Klkl

    I always laugh when cnn do everything they can to make the president look good. Also that 1,026 are the majority of people in the world according to polls.

    Any kind of poll survey makes me laugh at see this is good estimate of how all americans feel by getting a limit amount of people opinions and see this is how everybody else feels about the subject.

    February 15, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. JA Bradley

    Our country is about to break into many pieces you like the rest of the media can call out all the fraud and corruption , yet you all continue to base your reporting on bias for your own personal agendas its sad and it won' t work in the long haul , America is waking up . Shame on you and Shame on our government .

    February 15, 2012 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. Orchid333

    The media likes to make it a close contest for the sake of ratings, but it's gonna be a landslide for Obama this year... mark my words! The GOP field is just too weak. I might change my mind if Paul got the nod, but I don't see that happening.

    February 15, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. retrostar1000

    This is great news. Obama is doing a great job, How can anyone be enthused about Republicans? They are so depressing and evil.

    February 15, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  9. Tea Party Dem

    re-elect President Obama, and complete Shermans march

    February 15, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. NVa Native

    Here it comes ~ the nasty rightists with their baseless claims attacking the President's high approval rating when he works hard for the American People.

    I heard one clown claiming "the President placed his left hand over his heart when saying the pledge of allegiance – how un-American!"

    It’s amazing how these GOPist morons will believe anything their TV tells them??

    February 15, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. Independent In Albany

    Lots of head scratching over at the GOP camp, but they still think they have some relevance to the mainstream.

    Nothing is more biased than the GOP's idiotic ideology

    February 15, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. demogoat

    Hot Dog!

    February 15, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Expat American

    Good news...and hopefully it gets even better!

    February 15, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  14. Bootstomper

    You might not like Obama but he is head and shoulders above this Group of Republican candidates. Santorum? Please this guy is a G#D Damn lunatic. Romney? He doesn't know who he is.

    February 15, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. Canuck

    President Obama may not be perfect – he has disappointed many on the left and right, however, at this point there is no reasonable alternative. Any of the GOP candidates (wth the notable exception of Dr Paul) would introduce more of the same policies that caused the mess the USA is in and would more than likely start another war (those supplies of cruise missiles must be dwindling – time to replenish).

    February 15, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. Rick Santorum

    70% of those surveyed agreed with the statement "I would not strap a dog to the roof of my car or wear a sweater vest".

    February 15, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  17. REPUBLICAN ARE THE GREATEST

    They must have polled the uneducated people in America. Anybody who votes for Obama needs their heads examined,

    February 15, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. she be crazy

    And now the conservatives will flood this article with "CNN Bias" and "CNN supporting Obama" and "CNN paid to get Obama better numbers" comments. They never complain when his numbes decline.. only when they improve. You know, the same people that when you get a speeding ticket it was because you are a law breaker.. but when they get pulled over for speeding... the cops radar was rigged.

    February 15, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. Ja Rule

    Thanks for the jokes losers GOP!!! Thanks for the Contraceptive deabte, The payroll Tax fiasco, And bless Rick Santorum's heart I hope he wins the GOP Nomination, bwhahahahahahah

    February 15, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. Patriot Awesome

    His poll numbers were only down before because he was giving in too much to the Republicans. Now that he's finally realized that the republicans would rather see our country burn than be civil and cooperate towards the betterment of America, his numbers are going back up.

    February 15, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  21. Jean Jacques

    President Obama is on his way of a second term

    February 15, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  22. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    Well deserved poll numbers. They should be hire. I mean, this man is literally running the government on his own without any support from republicans. I think his "We Can't Wait" initiative is what's contributing to these improved numbers. Americans get it! Congress is broken and the only person working is the President.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012
    ELIZABETH WARREN 2012 & BEYOND

    February 15, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  23. F-Gingrich

    As the months go on, it is going to become more and more apparent that November will be an Obama landslide.

    February 15, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  24. chaz

    GREAT! He is doing a much better job than the monkey before him......I am IN

    February 15, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    Bingo. Obama will be re-elected as the fruits of his labor are now becoming evident.

    February 15, 2012 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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