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. jorge washinsen

    Who would pay the bills if all the conservatives left the country?

    December 20, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. 1%er

    Great porch sitting in chief! His numbers always goes up when he is on vacation.

    December 20, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  3. Terry Moore

    Yes of course. Because Obama cares about the people. And in these hard times. It would be foolish of America to vote for someone who doesn't care about them. I believe Obama cares about each and every one of us, rich and poor. And he looks out for our best interest. These Republicans, i must say, are the epitome of selfishness.

    December 20, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  4. wpc

    To Courtney: Get your sun screen's a no brainer!

    December 20, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F..

    Romney is the best option the GOP has. He will be the best President.

    December 20, 2011 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. vet in tx

    "Ha ha" – nelson from the simpsons

    December 20, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Mike

    Obama didn't beat Republicans. Republicans beat themselves.

    December 20, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  8. Americaneedsrealists

    This is a nationwide poll. When you poll the battleground states the President will have to win to get reelected he is not fairing nearly as well. National polls are not a good barometer for a presidential election.

    December 20, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. True To My Word

    @Steven Bannister: We will give you and others Alaska to get your kind off the lower 48 and Palin can be your president. Don't come to us when you need help.Our country will be better off without you and your kind. We will be educated, prosperous and free of racism. People like you are what keeps our country down and ignorant.
    Merry Christmas Everyone, Enjoy you family and loved ones and pray for the Steve Bannister's in our country.

    December 20, 2011 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Steven Bannister let me help you pack your bags because there will be NOTHING holding back this President from fulfilling his destiny in a second term!
    Hope your passport is up to date. Bon voyage!!
    Obama 2012. Seriously America.

    December 20, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. Henk

    The Republican candidates are really dreadful. Last time I voted, Dem, the time before that Rep. I will vote Dem if Gov. Mitt Romney is the GOP candidate. Not 100% sure if it’s Newt Gingrich, the man’s values is suspect. I might actually vote for Rep. Ron Paul, although I’m not sure he will win the GOP vote, or a national vote for that matter. How I wish Gov Perry didn’t get foot in mouth disease. That would have made it so much easier to vote Republican.
    Where’s that 3rd party to vote for?

    December 20, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  12. Mike

    You could see this coming seven debates ago. How could anybody in their right mind vote for someone in that rogue's gallery?

    December 20, 2011 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. victimsannon

    After last weeks reports of an overwhelmed president, the media has decided a different approach of manipulating the masses. Now he is triumphing with half the nation against his failing and destructive administration? How about the fact that he has been awol for 5 months? Never spoken to a GOP leader in 5 months! How about his administration saying the Taliban is not our enemy and urging them to have an embassy in Qatar? How about his administration doubling the costs related to massive food stamp use and fraud? Sure, everyone approves....

    December 20, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  14. frootyme

    No doubt he will beat any one of those GOP jokers and even all of them together!
    He stopped the war that was profiting contractors and making Halliburton and Blackwater rich at the cost of tax dollars!

    December 20, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  15. george of the jungle

    we are with you mister President Take it to the repos and makee holler uncle.

    December 20, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    "Who would pay the bills if all the conservatives left the country?"

    Hey genius, looking at the past 6 presidents and the congresses they were dealt, historical record shows that it's the GOP who's done the vast majority of running up the bills and not paying them, not the Dems. The numbers don't lie.

    December 20, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Eric

    Considering the pathetic dreck the GOP is tossing us for potential presidential candidates – Obama should be a foregone conclusion. If he does get a backbone, speaks up more often, stops trying to make nice with these zealots who want nothing short of destroying him and sticks to his message – he is easily the best possible person for the job for four more years. The ones hurling insidious insults at him are the same ones who saddled us with four years of Bush and the reality we live with now – the housing bust, the Wall Street rip offs, the missing jobs. This is what the GOP has to offer and nothing in their message now changes their results at all. Only fools believe the tales they tell.

    December 20, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. T'sah from Virginia

    It does not matter now with the "match-up" – when the "clearing" is done with the RIGHT maniacs – we shall see.

    For Now & Forever – Obama 2012!!!

    December 20, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ True To My Word: AMEN!!!!

    December 20, 2011 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. Toonces

    I am a registered Democrat and I will be holding back the vomit, registering as a Republican so I can vote for Ron Paul in the primaries. Obama's approval rating is up because he finally (4 years later) pulled through on his promise to bring the troops home... even though he's just going to send them all off to Afghanistan. Ron Paul is a true American that believes in civil liberties and the American people. Please spend some time seeing what he's all about. 4 years ago, if you would have asked me if I'd ever vote Republican I would have laughed in your face. But here I am, doing it.

    December 20, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  21. paul

    I would hope that Obama leads the Republican field. I have never seen such a bunch of right wing extremists running for president. The only one with a little common sense is Huntsman and he is to "liberal" for the tea party primary voters. If we elect one of these Republicans I expect medicare, social security, and personal rights to take a big hit. Less regulation, more environmental damage, more private schools, and the list goes on.

    December 20, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Tommy M

    After 8 years of the Bush Party, the results speak Volumes! Now people expect Obama to have a magic wand to make it all go away? If the republicans do all the right things in all the right ways, then John McCain would be president, our country would be standing tall, and there would be no need for any stimulus packages or bailouts would there!

    December 20, 2011 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  23. M-AZ Independent -

    Obama/Biden 2012!!!!

    December 20, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "Republicans' secret motto

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

    If by "secret" you mean "wildly obvious but the MSM helps them pretend it's not true," then yes, "secret."

    December 20, 2011 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |

    I think its rather funny arguing about a 2 party system,,,The
    debate is thus, no your guy stupid,,,uh un your guy stupid,,,your guy a crook
    took that lobbyist money,,,so did yours,,,yeah but my guy promises to lower
    taxes,,,so does mine,,,yeah but my guy the best,,,uh un my guy the best...well
    both parties giving it to you,,, while taking it from you,,, and got you calling
    them the BEST

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