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. ART

    Anyone with half a brain would vote for Obama,any one with no brain would vote Rethuglican

    December 20, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Patriot Awesome

    I'm so gad the American people are starting to notice how awful and out of touch the Republicans have been. I used to be a Republican and they just aren't republicans anymore. They're something different and scary now.

    If I believed in conspiracies I'd almost believe that the Republicans that are in office now and running for president are actually Democrats that have infiltrated the party to make the Republicans look insane.

    December 20, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Mikey

    @Courtney – you should start making your plans now. However, if you don't like Democrats, Hawaii may not be the best place for you.

    December 20, 2011 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  4. Scott S.

    Where is Huntsman's rating? He'd be rated way LOW because he doesn't pander to the far right! He has sense. I wouldn't vote for the man, but I can see rationality in him. Not the same with the rest of the Republican ticket.

    December 20, 2011 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  5. Former Republican, but never again!

    Goodbye Courtney. Enjoy your island!

    December 20, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  6. Anon

    Alan and Courtney, you're right, anything that supports your view is the truth and anything against it is just far leftist commie BS. No middle ground huh?

    December 20, 2011 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  7. dave

    If you want to know thereal truth, go to the Gallop poll. Obama has declined almost since day one.

    December 20, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  8. Mark

    I fairly certain that the President will win reelection. It's the nuts in the House we need to get out in Nov. I hope the American people now realize that the republican party is no longer anything like a normal party anymore, they are nothing more than THUGS paid by the rich to inflict more damage on the poor, even at the expense of the county. They are not only NOT patriotic, but actually an enemy to the well being of our nation. I agree with the reader who said "The Tea Party is America's version of the Taliban." Delusional religious zealots who practice terrorism. Yup, it fits.

    December 20, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  9. Anon

    You're right, anything that supports your view is the truth and anything against it is just far leftist commie dribble. No middle ground huh?

    December 20, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. NC

    As of now4:40 pm nasty bitter McCain is on CNN trashing President Obama. McCain is upset that our troops were pulled out of Iraq. I guess he is upset he has 1 less war zone to visit on a senate break. We are with President Obama because he has our country's best interest at heart. Do nothing republicans pass the tax break bill for us or go home. Republicans have upset the backbone of this country the middle class.

    December 20, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Bill

    Obama vs the GOP field is not a fair fight to begin with. The GOP should try debating snooki (or Palin) and then maybe one of those candiates could win.

    December 20, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. Mikey

    @Steven Bannister – The way I see it, the partiots are the ones supporting the President. If you want a new country, try Somolia – a conservatives paradise, no taxes, no regulations, no laws – true freedom for you and everyone else to do as they please.

    December 20, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  13. Andy

    Love President Obama. Best president since Kennedy.

    December 20, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  14. jorge washinsen

    Who would have thunk it? CNN ran the poll.

    December 20, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Pratt

    The Republicans are the scourge of our society, and the next election will prove that the American people are too intelligent to be fooled by their double talk and by FOX news.

    December 20, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. Senor Ed

    As bad as things are and Obama is still leading the current bunch of Republicons. Maybe people are seeing the Party Of NO! and the Greedy Old (Rich) Party for what they really are.

    December 20, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  17. Independent Voters

    Well want all you racist people leave america and dont come back to our wonderful country.
    Take Boehner,Cantor, McConell with yall to your tropical island.

    December 20, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. Mark

    "while Republicans win support only from the top end of the income scale" tells you all you need to know. If you are part of the 99%, vote for Obama. If you are lucky enough to be in the top 1%, vote for the Republican because he will support your tax cuts!

    December 20, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. Anon

    @jorge, and what would you be saying if the results said approval of 20%? Cherrypicking responses much?

    December 20, 2011 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  20. jim

    last nov when Biden said they would not loose the house, please Joe say you won't lose again, please. We will finish the job in 2012.

    December 20, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  21. Nick26

    It is crazy to see people still want Obama. What a bunch of loons.

    December 20, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  22. Jariv

    With respect. President Obama is not a good president. He does not know how to make tough decisions and does not know how he needs to be involved in the process. He has really created a none workable Government. He does not know how to lead. The Tax Cut is a big example. He should have been involved very seriously with this a long time ago. Not last minute. He is such a ... bad President.

    December 20, 2011 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  23. carly

    Is it a surprise that Obama is leading these right winger clowns? the only intelligence in that group is with Huntsman and he does not have a chance since the Tea Party crazies seem to have taken over the Republican party.

    December 20, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  24. jody

    President Obama will get my (and all my family's) vote in 2012. The "clowns" the republicans are running make Obama a sure thing. I am a red state DEMOCRAT!!!

    December 20, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Tekk

    A CNN poll showing Obama ahead? Yeah no bias there.... Fox says it's Romney... Go figure

    December 20, 2011 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
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