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. cerjio

    Obama has never stopped campaigning for one minute. His divisive rhetoric has paralyzed this nation for three plus years.
    Probably the least Presidential person ever to occupy the White House.
    Fortunately, the American people know the difference between leadership and dictatorship so Obama will be retiring from his political career very soon.

    December 20, 2011 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Your 'All Knowing' Mother

    Obama is going to win reelection. A womanizer, a mormon, and a retard are the leading candidates in GOP field, which would you choose? America's people are not that stupid

    December 20, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  3. Sparticus

    No surprise. The Republicans are hawking a combination of unqualified, blatantly dishonest and crazy with the exception of Huntsman and Romney and the GOP evangelicals can't stand either one of them because they are Mormon. Too bad for the Republicans because they could actually be good. But the GOP right is fundamentally bigoted and ignorant so they will reject them and end with...Gingrich. Ironic since he's a bigger cheater than Clinton, but he says all the right things about abortion, guns and ware so they like him anyway. He'll melt down in the general and won't attract any independents. So Obama wins dues to GOP overconfidence and hijacking by the far right. That'll make two elections in a row where the Tea Party has hurt the GOP. Wonder how long that can go on...

    December 20, 2011 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  4. M luther

    Do you know why Hitler won the heart of the German people? He was a smooth talker, he promise change, captivated the attention of the youths and gave them hope for a new Germany, but after, it was too late. Guess what, Obama resembles the spirit of the most hated being in the 1940's. I hope he changes and not change America.

    December 20, 2011 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  5. Scott

    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?

    Again, Media Black Out. Mention it, but not talk about it.

    December 20, 2011 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Les

    My Friend you the same OBAMA is best man for the job
    Not the bigguts that is running ...The Repubs need to take redundancies and get LOST

    December 20, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    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?
    I hope the " It's all Bush's Fault" excuse becomes Obama's Campaign strategy again. Voters already sent that to the trash heap in 2010. Or have you already forgotten the mid-term shellacking? That's okay. Pay attention in 11 months. It will be repeated. We need someone with ideas going forward, not excuses going backward.

    December 20, 2011 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  8. Lisa

    If the GOP didn't tie in that oil pipeline, poll numbers might be different. But alas, they'll fight tooth and nail to not increase taxes on the millionaires and blackmail the middle class into giving the 1% what they want. It looks like the country is getting the concept that the GOP will do absolutely anything – including letting the country fail - to ensure Obama is one term.

    Add to that the pandering the GOP candidates are doing to the far right conservative sector (see signing "pledges") that will not allow them to move to the middle in a general election (the ideals of the middle would violate those pledges) and well, they've pretty much guaranteed an Obama win. Can't blame anyone but themselves. Until they figure out taking the country backward 100 years is not the answer, they'll keep shooting themselves in the foot.

    I'd vote for a Huntsman/Paul ticket but apparently neither of them are the darlings of the Tea Party.

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

    @ Patriot Awesome:
    I agree with you. I have voted Republican in the past (no regrets...well maybe a few!) and I don't recognize these mutants either. They don't compromise, they don't recognize facts historical or otherwise, and they don't care about their country or the people they represent. They are more interested in making sure this Black man is buried in 2012 under high unemployment, and a near depressed economy thinking that would sabotage his re-election than in earning their paychecks and helping in the general recovery.
    Your conspiracy theory sounds almost plausible! lol!

    December 20, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  10. cerjio

    The liberal media fears Newt Gingrich so much that they create stories to make it seem he can't win. I want to see 7 face to face debates between Newt and Barrack without tricky moderators slanting the game.
    Then everyone will see the difference between a knowledgeable Newt Gingrich and a know-it-all Barrack Obama.

    December 20, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  11. Dan

    I see that CNN is trying to drive the election again. What a surprise.

    December 20, 2011 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  12. Arizona CowGirl

    This is just boring. The real election is a year away. I'm sick of the whole lot of them. The only reason that we have to keep hearing about these stupid polls is because the 24/7 media needs to fill its dance card.

    December 20, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  13. Les

    Do you understand what HATE is ,it look like your ENVIROMENT TEACHES you HATE

    December 20, 2011 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Al-NY,NY

    everyone knows that these lame crybabies that threaten to leave won't. They think their big words will somehow resonate and stick with people. It will with the dumb that is, while thinking americans know that right now Obama is in good shape for reelection and the GOP field is a complete joke.

    December 20, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Woman In California

    "Polls taken this far in advance of an election are not meant to be predictions of the ultimate outcome."

    While I agree with this – the president WILL win re-election because every "other" person in America is considered middle class and could care less about tax cuts for people who really don't need them.

    Go Mr. President!

    December 20, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. dave

    well it looks like people are falling for obama's lies, he pulls out of iraq JUST in time to make people happy so they stupidly reelect him so he can war with north korea or iran or who ever is next on the list. Vote ron paul 2012!

    December 20, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. Iamnotfooled

    President Obama-–The People's President.
    Republicans---The Koch brothers stooges.

    December 20, 2011 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Mark

    This country is screwed!

    December 20, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  19. lisa2010

    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 |
  20. Seriously!

    Let's all re-elect a person who has NEVER run ANYTHING in his life. No business, no department, not even a lemonade stand. Promised immigration reform within the first year he was elected, promised to close GITMO within the first year he was elected, promised to get our troops home within 18 months after he was elected, promised that the stimulus would keep unemployment below 8%, promised to reduce our national debt (which is climbing above $15 TRILLION) all while the democrats controlled both houses of congress. The democrats are a joke! All they want to do is create a welfare nation so the people in this country are completely dependent on the government. Oh, wait! He did give the order for our brave Navy Seals to take out Bin Laden. Chalk one up for Obama.

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

    Regarding the battleground states–President Obama should do well in those also–depending on who the republican nominee is. The fact is that there are no real leaders in the republican party, and no good leadership skills are being demonstrated by the current group of GOP president hopefuls. Republicans are a scattered, leaderless party, so where Obama might have a tougher time with battleground states this time around, odds are still in his favor because all GOP candidates are hopelessly flawed except Huntsman, and the GOPtards aren't giving him the time of day.

    December 20, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. LaPlut

    The only sane option, Obama 2012!!

    December 20, 2011 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. A Mom

    Ron Paul's foreign policy sounds great and much of his civil liberties policy is also good, however there is NO WAY I would vote for him because his economic policy is the same old GOP rhetoric (all we need is lower taxes on the rich and less regulation and things will be great - yeah, been there, done that and it wasn't). Also Ron Paul holds very backward libertarian beliefs such as we do not need to protect minorities from discrimination because "the market will do it" and he does not believe that all Americans should be able to see a doctor when they are sick. He is perfectly fine with only people who are wealthy enough to afford it receiving medical care. I heard him giving an interview on the radio when he expressed this belief. He said that there is "a right to life" but there is no right to medical care. In some cases not having access to medical care will cost you your life so his statement makes little sense. Do not let Ron Paul's good foreign policy/some civil liberties policy pull you in. He is NO different than the worst Tea Partier when it comes to everything else. If you are concerned that President Obama is not liberal enought Ron Paul is the LAST person you want to turn to! OBAMA 2012

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

    "Or have you already forgotten the mid-term shellacking? "

    Calm down there Sparky. If it lasts more than 4 hours, go see your doctor.

    You're in for a rude awakening in 2012.

    December 20, 2011 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. John E

    Enjoy your propaganda dems as that is all this poll is. First, it is REGISTERED voters, not LIKELY voters, which has always been shown to be far more accurate. Registered voters almost always tilts democrat. They also didn't release the sample's political affiliation. How many of the 980+ respondents were democrat? how many republican? independent? These things matter. If 600 of the respondents are democrat (far higher than national average), you're going to get a democrat weighted result. This poll means absolutely nothing other than that CNN is trying to put out something to make Obama look better. If they were trying to produce an accurate poll, why would they not use likely voters which is the more accurate sample???

    December 20, 2011 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
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