CNN Poll: Obama's job approval rating on the rise
January 18th, 2011
07:00 AM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama's job approval rating on the rise

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama's approval rating is up five points since December as a growing number of Americans consider him a strong leader who is tough enough to handle a crisis, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday also indicates that a jump in support by independent voters is behind the overall rise in the president's approval rating.

Fifty-three percent of people questioned in the poll approve of how Obama's handling his duties in the White House, up from 48 percent in a CNN poll that was conducted last month, as a very productive lame duck congressional session was nearing completion.

"Obama's approval rating among Democrats and Republicans is virtually unchanged since December, but among independents it has grown from 41 percent in December to 56 percent now," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "It's possible that his call for greater civility in the aftermath of the Arizona shootings was seen as a boost for the bipartisan solutions that typically attract independents."

The survey indicates that 59 percent of the public now thinks the president is tough enough to handle a crisis - up six points from last year - and 57 percent now consider him a strong and decisive leader - a four-point gain.

"That may be an indication that the public is seeing Obama as more 'presidential' after his reaction to the tragic events in Tucson," says Holland. "The president's speech in Arizona last Wednesday night may have helped as well. Nearly nine in ten say they consider him to be a good speaker and communicator, roughly the same number who felt that way about Ronald Reagan in 1984, and his call for greater civility in politics wins near-unanimous agreement from the public."

On the other hand, Americans are not optimistic that he can achieve that goal - only a third believe that he can end the partisan gridlock in Washington. And his biggest Achilles heel remains his positions on the issues, according to the survey.

"The poll tested Obama on a variety of personal characteristics, and he gets high marks for honesty, sincerity, leadership skills and compassion. But most Americans say that they do not agree with him on important issues, and the public is split over the direction in which his policies will take the country," adds Holland.

Nonetheless, Obama's 53 percent approval rating at the start of his third year in office is six points better than Bill Clinton's at the same time in his presidency and 16 points better than Ronald Reagan's figure in January of 1983.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted Jan. 14-16, with 1,014 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report

Filed under: CNN poll • President Obama
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Marie MD

    This is surprising because . . . . . .? I think people are finally beginning to realize that the President has what is best for the country in mind. He doesn't have to verbally attack anyone.
    He is doing everything he promised he would do and that IS why we voted for him.
    He proved that he can be a healing president who thinks of others.
    I really and truly don't think mcnasty and that woman would have done anything for us in the last two years. It takes a lot of time and energy to blame everyone for your mistakes and stupidity.

    January 18, 2011 06:32 am at 6:32 am |
  2. Diana

    America, you voted in President Obama, one of the most elegant, astute and diplomatic statesman the world has ever seen.

    Continuing congratulations; every country in the world wishes they had a leader like him.

    January 18, 2011 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  3. don

    Wait until he actually gets compared to the opposition side. His numbers will go through the roof.

    January 18, 2011 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  4. jules sand-perkins

    It was not any speech by Obama that raised my approval of his presidential work: his willingness and ability to negotiate with members of Congress whose views differ from his philosophically changed my negative view of his leadership to a positive one.
    His willingness to go against the furthest left members of his party in order to achieve results changed my view.
    Obama's eventual delivery of some of his campaign promises to his first supporters changed my view of him as a man.

    January 18, 2011 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  5. ST

    I knew it right from the beginning that time the then Sen. Obama was fit for the job. It was that time he worked out to put the Rev. Wright issue to rest. It was the first huge test to anyone who could put himself in his shoe that time. He did it, he is now continuing to show that he is a brilliant problem solver. Keep it up Mr. President and we are very proud of you!

    January 18, 2011 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  6. Mark

    I would hope with all the hype CNN is putting in their polls for Obama would approve at least a little:)

    January 18, 2011 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  7. Rob R

    All that matters is for Dems and independents to come out for Obama in 2012 and he will easily defeat any Republican challenger. Most people do not like the hate mongering and fear tactics that the folks on the right dish out. And I sure hope the Dems do a full court press on the Republican attempts to repeal health care.

    The Republicans are claiming that CBO says 650,000 jobs would be lost with HCR – which is completely FALSE. What CBO said was that a small percentage of people might VOLUNTARILY switch to part time work or leave work because access to health coverage would become EASIER and CHEAPER under the law, but that amounted to about 0.5% of the workforce. They in no way said that HCR was going to cause employers to make massive job cuts.

    January 18, 2011 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  8. T'sah from Virginia

    I've been posting comments about polls for years now. The polls swing to the center right – always have – does not reflect cell phone users; the young and the restless – therefore, if President Obama is @ 53% favorability – it's MUCH higher than that! When he was LOWER, it was much higher than that!!!

    In my opinion, his approval rating was always HIGH because I refused to allow the "every day" bickering (brought to you by the 24/7 cable news) deter me away from foreseeing the BIG positive PICTURE!! Those who SHOUT the loudest are heard but, those who are silent observers PREVAIL (hmm, like that statement, I should patent it).

    Let us all support our CURRENT leader, President Obama, as he continues to MOVE AMERICA FORWARD in a positive direction!! Yes We Will Prevail!

    January 18, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  9. Jerry

    I am starting to doubt most polls. I am also wondering who the pollster are interviewing. While I realize that President NObama is trying to charm (fool) voters again, he's got a long way to go. He and his administration have done too much damage to our country. And, American voters are not as stupid as he makes them out to be.

    Stay tuned America. Stand tall, speak your mind and most of all, be unafraid.

    January 18, 2011 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  10. Willa-PA

    In the end, rational people know...whether Cheney says he is a one term president or not, he is for the people, by the people and off the people. Obama always said, even if he is a one term president, he will do what is right for the people. He will go down in history as one of the great presidents...and only time will tell, usually years later looking back on todays economical hardships and political climate.

    January 18, 2011 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  11. Jerry

    What????They mus have taken this poll at either the national Democratic Headquarters or in a state where the voters always vote democrat no matter the circumstance. If the republicans can field a strong candidate, President Obama will not get re-elected. He is totally out of touch with the will of the American people, though he talks a great game.

    January 18, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  12. Dan

    The only that support him are the left and those that view a government check as an entitlement. He has lost all credibilty in Europe and Asia where he was once hailed as a rock star, the Arabs and China view him as weak.

    January 18, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  13. Beauty

    Character and integrity is like smoke, if you have it, no one can cover it. It will flow through no matter what. This President has it from Day One. This country is blessed to have a president whose character is worthy of emulation! God bless him.

    January 18, 2011 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  14. Sherri W.W.#1~ ILLinois

    I have said it many times before,and will say it again.President Obama is is a very good man,family man,very caring about restoring the middle class to America,as well as helping the poorest of our country,and a Great President. This is the only man we need to lead us until 2016.That will give him the time he deserves~and we deserve~to finish straightening out this country ,as much as possible,before someone else gets in there,mucking around. What we do NOT need before then,is another president~especially a Republican to go along with congressional Repubs and TP to make things worse. My hope is that we can get some of these extreme candidates,that got voted in on nonsense an anger in 2010 .voted back OUT in 2012. But,whatever else,we must keep the good President we have for the full 8 yrs,to try and restore some order for all of us in this country.We certinly dont want to trust our future~and our childrens' right now~to some wild talking Repub President,catering 1st and foremost to the top few hundred wealthiest,and leaving all of us further behind!

    January 18, 2011 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  15. dave

    I thought Barry did a much better job during his visit to Arizona than when he visited Fort Hood, Texas and met with the victims of that tragic shooting.

    January 18, 2011 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  16. Daniel Coates

    Considering all the baggage the President inherited when he took office I would say his current status is more than acceptable.

    January 18, 2011 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  17. Alina77

    Way to go Mr. President!

    January 18, 2011 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  18. Rob Johnson

    It's getting harder and harder to see the GOP beating Obama in 2012. Any incumbent President with an approval rating over 50% is practically impossible to beat, and when you consider the uninspiring group of Republican candidates for 2012, it becomes even harder to imagine Obama losing.

    Future historians will look at the period between the mid-term election and the Arizona shooting and say "This is when Obama recovered his mojo and saved his presidency." A lesser man would have folded after the big "shellacking" in November, but Obama just got tougher, smarter and better. By rising to the occasion in Arizona, he proved that he can be a national leader, and by winning so many victories in the lame duck session of Congress, he proved that he can get things done politically.

    Never underestimate Barack Obama.

    January 18, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  19. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    when they do these polls I just wonder who it is that they are asking. Because it appears that the people that either don't like the president nor support him are not going to change their minds no matter what he does. That shows up here everyday with some of the anti-Obama folks that post here alone. Is it that I don't like him this week but now I like him better? Do they ask more Democrats than Republicans to get the response they are looking for?

    January 18, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  20. Darkiya

    I may not always agree with Obama but I cannot say the man does not work very hard. He's constantly juggling so many projects in addition to his typical duties. You could claim that he's a little hard-headed never veering from his goals (part of why I think the Health Care reform bill was such a hard-nosed topic for so long) but he HAS kept his promises. You have to admire a politician who at least does that. I don't always agree with the President but I do admire him.

    January 18, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  21. informed voter

    President Obama has done an amazing job of fulfilling his promises to move America forward. Has he done everything progressives would like? Of course not, but he has managed, against insurmountable opposition, to get health care reform passed, consumer protections passed, START treaty passed, and much more. I thank God (and the intelligent voters of our country) for electing one of our most insightful and nimble presidents ever. As the economy continues to recover, he will be a tough candidate to beat in 2012.

    January 18, 2011 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  22. Peter Q. Wolfe

    Who cares about polls? They appear to use inductive reasoning anyways? I'm a moderate democrat, but remember Truman in 1948? Anyways, philosophically logically speaking that its a particular negative or a particular positive affirmation of the thing not universal reality positive or negative anyways. Obama even though I didn't vote for hm is actually doing much better than I originally estmated. I might actually vote for this guy the next go round cause he has really alievated my fears about experience. He has done miles and leaps over jBush in multilatteral internaitonal foreign affairs and in the domestical front the health care, financial reform!, environmental reaction!, tax cuts for the middle class (no so with the upper class), investments, ADA support for disabled people like me!, etc are great puses. I really like how this guy is operating the show for real. If he can hold the tide till 2012 so that I can financially support him my small contribution of 25-550$s that would be cool!

    January 18, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  23. kds562

    The more the President speaks the more the country will understand his values and admire him. It is the opposite for that woman from Alaska.

    January 18, 2011 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  24. ABM

    WAY TO GO AMERICA – you are beginning to see the light again and the truth that this President is the REAL DEAL!!!!! The GOP right-wingers and tea partiers are choking right now.

    January 18, 2011 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  25. The reality is...

    No matter how you spin it we need someone who has the will and wisdom to help this country recover from the onslaught of the "progressive" agenda. That is NOT Obama. Was that yet another bow to another communist leader? Hmmm...guess he's just giving us a cue.

    January 18, 2011 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
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