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. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    According to Rasmussen, McCain/Palin has a 3 point lead over Obama/Biden and will likely win in 2008. When Rasmussen gets their pay from the foreign owned media outlet, Fox, you know they have to skew the results.

    December 20, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Canuck

    Well, duh, anyone who thinks any of the dreadful Republican candidates are even in the same league as President Obama is either rich or deluded. Not that Obama is perfect, but he's waaay better than anyone the Republicans have presented. Seems Americans are slowly figuring this out.

    December 20, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. GROVER NORQUIST IS A ENEMY OF THE STATE

    If I were a republican, I would vote for the President. I have yet to hear from any of the republican candidates a real foreign policy platform. Not to mention all of their tax policies favor the rich. It doesn't matter who the President is up against.

    December 20, 2011 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I was at a car dealership this morning and had to watch foreign owned media, Fox, march out Herb Cain, and a bunch of their anti Obama experts. Reality will never be a part of the Fox agenda.

    December 20, 2011 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Go President Obama! You are the only candidate who understands working people.

    December 20, 2011 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. AL in West Palm Beach

    Republicans' secret motto

    I only work for those making $1,000,000/yr, if you don't make that much, talk to a Democrat

    December 20, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  7. sonny chapman

    "Thank You Eric K. & John B. & Mitch Mac"- Obama to Repub. leaders in Congress; "Oh yeah, keep those Repub. Prez. Debates going".

    December 20, 2011 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    My hope hasn't changed. Eat it, GOPers.

    Add these slowly increasing positive numbers to the GOP's disasterous manufacture of the payroll tax cut "crisis" and it's starting to look alot better than might be expected.

    December 20, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    >Go President Obama! You are the only candidate who understands working people.

    For somebody that " understands working people", he sure has kept millions of them unemployed!
    The only thing he understands about them is how to exploit them for their votes.

    December 20, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    Hmm. What is considered by many to be conservative poll is showing a trend that agrees with what many consider to be liberal polls. In fact, the conservative poll indicates bigger leads for Obama than the liberal poll. Interesting.

    December 20, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. Adp

    I expect much of President Obama's negative polling comes from people who don't think he's liberal enough, and hyperpartisan right wing critics who aren't satisified until the country's been sunk.

    Any normal Republican should look at the GOP contenders and say to themselves Obama is closer to them than anyone on that stage.

    If Obama continues to play the center like he has been he will get the democratic vote, the independent vote, and even a good chunk of rational republicans. This 2012 election will be a landslide in his favor and there isn't enough misinformation and distortion that could come out of Fox news to stop it.

    December 20, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. ST

    As a Dem, this is the best Christmas present which makes me celebrate in a good spirit.

    December 20, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. john

    In 1980, Jimmy Carter was FAR AHEAD against Reagan months before general election. This is what happens at this time. One thing is sure- Obama will be defeated with a landslide whatever the media does.

    December 20, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. joesixpackjr

    Every time Obama's ratings go up, there is a big story on CNN. When his ratings go down, CNN ignores.

    December 20, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. James

    Obama Killed Osama!

    December 20, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  16. paulbark

    Heck, yes, his poll numbers are up. The GOP is clearly showing they're the party of the wealthy, doing anything and everything to protect every penny from a tax hike. At the same time, the GOP is telling the middle class to take a hike, a tax hike.

    Americans were sold a bill of goods in the 2010 election. They won't make that mistake again. Obama will win, with Democrats gaining in the House and Senate. Americans got a taste of Republican power, and it tastes very bad.

    December 20, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    Where is Huntsman's rating in all of this? Has CNN dismissed the only possible REAL candidate in all of this?

    December 20, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. Louis Hirsch

    Where is Huntsman's rating in all of this? Has CNN dismissed his candidacy? SHAME ON YOU.

    December 20, 2011 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. Independent Voters

    President Obama you will get my vote and the rest of my friends, family vote.
    We need you 4 more years in the white house.

    December 20, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. Alan

    Don't believe a word of it, just more leftist crap from the far left.

    December 20, 2011 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. David

    Don't underestimate the bump Obama is receiving for getting troops out of Iraq – and the repubs look downright silly and out of touch by criticizing Obama for doing so. Just wait until the truth comes out on who Norquist is (slave labour to Saigon) and the GOP extremists that signed a pledge to him will fall (as they should).

    December 20, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. Courtney

    If President Obama gets elected again. I am going to move to a tropical island, far far away from here. (Possibly one that he was born on) OBAMA SUCKS!~ GO NEWTIE! I'm not listening to any of this LAME LIBERAL RAG you have presented me with.

    December 20, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  23. iHateStupid

    @Wire_Palladin, S.F.: I'm utterly amazed you were able to type out a comment while kneeling in front of your info throne, MSNBC.

    December 20, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  24. George

    Obama is going to be the president for another 4 yrs.

    December 20, 2011 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  25. Steven Bannister

    If this man actually gets re-elected it's time for conservatives, libertarians and other patriots to start seriously working towards the creation of a new nation within the US territory. Freedom MUST survive.

    December 20, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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