CNN Poll: Obama approval rating back to 50% mark
February 15th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
2 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. Sagebrush Shorty

    I guess you can fool some of the people all of the time.

    February 15, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. Bill

    I wonder how much of Obama's approval increase is due to the decrease in approval of the Republican candidates.

    February 15, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. anon-i-mouse

    If you folks don't want to believe the poll numbers, then don't. The only poll that actually matters is the one that happens in November. I don't know why so many people get their panties in a wad just because a poll doesn't show what they personally feel!

    February 15, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  4. Wanda

    Stop Blaming the President for everything! Obama is on his way to a 2nd turn and there is nothing those clowns who are running as republicans can do about it!

    February 15, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  5. Scott LeBlanc

    ... aannnd what does this mean exactly? it means absolutely NOTHING. Polls at this point are so meaningless. Obama could do something terrible tomorrow or have some serious controversy that will plummet his ratings to 1% or Romney could cure cancer tomorrow and have 99% favorable rate.
    We're 9 months from November. A billion things could chance. There may bbe even a potential 3 rd party candidate so no one really knows!

    February 15, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. tom

    Wow what a shocker...CNN already doing what they can to get Obama elected again. Hasn't done anything to improve the country and we owe trillions more but yet he is a wonderful president?? Explain that somehow.

    February 15, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I really enjoy it when the efforts of foreign owned media, Fox, to destroy our president fails.

    February 15, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  8. mcrusa

    You gotta love all these folks who don't believe anything they hear from the media elite – all those Fox News fans actually trust in the world according to Rupert Murdoch – can anyone please offer a rational explanation?

    February 15, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  9. SP

    Are you kidding me? Lots of good talk but that's it.

    February 15, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. Marcus

    A *simple* (and I do mean simple) majority of Americans made the mistake of electing this man to his current position in 2008, and I haven't noticed waves of people suddenly getting smarter over the past four years. So, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets re-elected.

    February 15, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  11. jonrn7g

    Maybe Sarah the air-head Palin, no Michelle lookalikeaman, no Rick, can't take a lick Perry no Herman no brain Cain, Nine, Ninh, Nighnn, Nynennn, Nienhh.......Repubs are all messed up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 15, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  12. sftommy

    GOP policies continue to make President Obama look good! That and Geithner's ideas have pulled US out of the economic morass left by President Bush. Now to raise taxes and end the deficit.

    February 15, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  13. Lizzie

    Anon-I-mouse, so what did he do the first 2 years when he had the majority in the house and senate. What did the democrats do for the past 4 years that they had the majority,besides grow the deficit, drove the car into the ditch and instead of putting the car into R they put it into D.
    so what are our options if he gets reelected, GREECE, SPAIN, PORTUGAL.

    February 15, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  14. charlie avila

    People who approves and support obama for re-election, don't understand that obama hopes to be re-elected, to have four more years in the presidency to destroy the country. He will give amnesty to all illegal immigrants and will put the country in the hands of latinos. Latinos will govern americans in their oun land. The usa is disapearing as today we all know it. The usa is in danger of being turned into a third world country!!....

    February 15, 2012 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  15. The Rep

    Wow.....importance is bliss in here. Good luck with that whole socialism thing and don't forget "I told you so
    !"

    February 15, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  16. Cedar Rapids

    So funny to see all those claiming it was a biased or fake poll. So where were these people last time when the numbers showed his support was lower? Why were they not pointing fingers about fake polls then?
    You watch, next month, if it happens to show a drop of 10% support or something, they will magically be declaring that these polls are 'accurate' and 'truthful'

    February 15, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Good old CNN. Let's make sure Obama gets elected again. Nothing like unbiased reporting to serve the American public. How miiraculous! Suddenly Obama is popular again...right before the election. Interesting that they're building a case for him just in time for the elections.

    February 15, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  18. joshua

    did media matters tell you to say that?

    February 15, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  19. GaryB

    Where I live, the economy has improved dramatically since late 2008/early 2009. Since taking control of congress, the GOP has pretty much made a point of doing nothing (hoping to skirt the blame, I suppose, if the economy kept going downhill). The problem with doing nothing is when things start getting better, it's pretty hard for you to take credit for it.

    February 15, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. tom

    I wonder who the moderator of this article is?? Could be Obama himself looking at all the positive comments directed at Obama and very few who don't believe this article is true. God I wish people would just use their own brains to vote for the next president instead of what CNN says.

    February 15, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  21. Exterminator X

    If Ovomit win in 2012 America is finish. Without a doubt we will see Armageddon the final war not far from 2012. We might as well become slave or move out of America into Central America. So, kiss America good-bye.......

    February 15, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  22. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    Part of America's gloom is due to the GOBP obstructionism in Congress. And they know it, what with their lowest approval ratings in history. The more they are marginalized in favor of policies three quarters of America favors, like a millionaire tax and staying out of Iran and Syria, the better America will feel about its future. It's pretty simple. We need to push back against the greedy warmongers and psychopathic predators hiding among the elites and our future will improve dramatically.

    February 15, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. open400

    Three reasons for this:

    1. People are beginning to see some success stories – the reversal of the auto industry the economy out of crisis mode and in slow but sure recovery mode; the ability to take bold action at board(killing bin Laden) and a cautious calculated approach to things like Iran.

    2. The do-nothing Congress is doing nothing but saying NO to everything.

    3. Too many GOP debates: The more these GOP candidates talk on TV, the better Obama looks.

    February 15, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. izy

    "Obama aide's 'chimichanga' comment creates a stir" being latino, I love that comment, and respect Obama's Aide for that, we latinos know that repubs have nothing to offer us...and Obama is doing such a great job, always been a strong supporter of this man, and honestly things are shaping up...it doesnt happen over night since Dubya put us in a deep whole with all his outlandish policies and actions...this latino is proudly going to vote for you :) VIVA OBAMA!!!! 2012!!!! :)

    February 15, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  25. WDinDallas

    Matin Sheen was a better President than Obama. He could remember his lines and didn't stutter.

    February 15, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
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