CNN Poll: Obama gains strength in 2012 matchups
December 20th, 2011
04:03 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama gains strength in 2012 matchups

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's numbers are on the rise in two important indicators of his reelection chances, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International Poll out Tuesday indicates the president's margins have increased against five possible Republican presidential challengers in hypothetical general election matchups and that Obama's approval rating is up five points since mid-November.

Read full results (pdf).

According to the poll, Obama leads former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney 52%-45% in a possible 2012 showdown. Romney, who's making his second bid for the GOP nomination, held a 51%-47% margin over the president in last month's survey. Obama also holds the same 52%-45% advantage over Rep. Ron Paul of Texas. Last month the president had a 51%-47% margin over Paul, who's making his third run for the White House.

The survey indicates that Newt Gingrich doesn't fare as well against the president in a possible general election matchup, with Obama up by 16 points, 56% to 40%. Last month Obama led Gingrich 53%-45%. The president holds an 18 point advantage over Texas Gov. Rick Perry, up from a seven point margin in November. And he leads Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota by 19 points, up from a 12 point advantage last month.

"Bill Clinton and George W. Bush - the last two presidents who won reelection - had roughly this same amount of support in December of the year before the election, but so did Bush's father in December of 1991. He ended up losing in the general election," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Polls taken this far in advance of an election are not meant to be predictions of the ultimate outcome."

The survey also indicates that the partisan battle over extending the payroll tax cut may be partially responsible for the jump in the president's approval rating numbers.

According to the poll, 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," adds 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.

soundoff (115 Responses)
  1. Arizona CowGirl

    Why does a mediator need to check my posts. I thought that this was the US with free speech. I guess I was wrong, and there is none, this site is just like Korea and the rest of those commie countries. I'm going to hide under my bed, now.

    December 20, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  2. jim

    Obamas pulling of troops was pretty conveniently timed.....bring change and intelligence into the whitehouse VOTE RON PAUL 2012....and save this damn country

    December 20, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama


    Courtney stay out of Hawaii, we don't need you here... if you come here I'll throw you over the PALI, where our king kamehameha threw his enemies off... STAY OUT!!!!

    December 20, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
    Well Courtney I hope you have a friend in Jesus because from the looks of it you certainly don't have one with some folks here on this blog!(wink, wink!).

    December 20, 2011 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. JT

    A do nothing Republican President presiding over a do nothing Republican Congress? This is something Americans can not afford, at least 99% of us can't. Obama 2012!

    December 20, 2011 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    Sniffit wrote:

    You're in for a rude awakening in 2012.
    Republicans were shellacked in 2011, but they still haven't awoke from that adrenaline high from 2010.

    December 20, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  6. billman

    Yeah-a CNN poll...we believe you. Obama will lose, to any republican.

    December 20, 2011 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  7. OC Jim

    Wow, this Poll info keeps getting better and better as the day goes on. Earlier it just Had Obama scoring better, Now he's ahead!!!!

    I supposed some Handler somewhere called up CNN and told them to fix the numbers even more to make him look better.

    December 20, 2011 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  8. Hickenlooper

    Polls or no polls, there will be a third party candidate. Tea party etc. Remember Ross Perot? That will make it very difficult if not impossible for a Repub. to get elected Pres. The right wing is beyond fragmented. Their leaders get reports evry 5 min. as to how they must respond. They are turning on each other. Happy hour starts around noon for their leader these days

    December 20, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. clr

    um... it's a CNN poll..... duh

    December 20, 2011 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    Obama/Biden 2012

    December 20, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. Robert J

    The problem for the Republicans (other than they are all crazies) is that Americans are beginning to realize that they will do anything – even at the expense of ruining the economy or preventing it from growing, just to beat Obama in 2012. More and more Americans are also beginning to see the Republicans as favoring a tax break for the wealthy and none for the middle class and poor. Pres. Obama could hammer home this point i his campaign, but the Republicans are doing a good job of it themselves. Foreign policy is a no brainer. Obama got Osama and the troops are coming home from Iraq. America is a lot more liked than under Pres. Bush. Mubarak and Ghadafi fell without a drop of American blood.

    December 20, 2011 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  12. roland

    @Scott wrote – Here we have Romney and Paul tied for a matchup against Obama – now why is it that Paul is unelectable, again? If he beats Newt, Bachmann and Perry, and only matches Romney?

    Exactly. I'm starting to think the left fears him just as much as the right.

    December 20, 2011 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Philabias

    Thats funny Cnn is a third rate leftist news hack and they have more liberals than all other networks
    in short you where preaching to the choir. obama win? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Oh Oh Ha Ha Ha Ha

    December 20, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  14. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Your VOTE is the best and most accurate poll.
    Obama 2012. Seriously America.

    December 20, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  15. craig

    "The Democrats do particularly well among middle income Americans, while the Republicans win support only from the top end of the income scale,"

    Is this actually a surprise to anyone? Who? The GOP needs to remember that this represents the 99% vs. the 1%, and, at least in theory, every person's vote counts the same. 99 beats 1 every day, and it will on election day too.

    December 20, 2011 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
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