CNN Poll: President's approval nearing 50%
December 20th, 2011
12:02 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: President's approval nearing 50%

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's approval rating, a crucial indicator of his reelection chances, is on the rise, according to a new national survey.

A CNN/ORC International Poll out Tuesday also indicates that the partisan battle over extending the payroll tax cut may be partially responsible for the jump in the president's numbers.

Full results (pdf)

According to the survey, 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," says CNN Polling Director Keating 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.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story.

Also see:

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Perry: Romney and Gingrich backed the 'biggest act of theft in American history'

soundoff (492 Responses)
  1. Dovetail

    A little over 1,000 people made up this poll with some not even being registered voters. It's a huge stretch to claim that the whole country feels this way, not scientific at all.

    December 20, 2011 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |

    If liberals are reporting it then it is a LIE.

    December 20, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. mittensonkittens

    Headlines last week said he was "sad" and "disappointed" aka Victim.
    They explained how he was overwhelmed by opposition. aka Victim
    Now, they say half the nation approve of the job he is doing. That's how they set it up. Dont make him feel sad! Feel sorry for Obama! A victim president for a nation of victims.

    December 20, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  4. Chris Edens

    Reading these comments are a great laugh. I'm as "middle class" as you can get and this president has done NOTHING for me. Actually, I can not remember a time in my 45 years that government policy has effected my life so much for THE NEGATIVE. If this fool get's re-elected it will be all out chaos and I plan to break any hand that comes holding an empty cup and asking for more freebies while I work my butt off. NO MORE!

    People keep going after the wealthy but what is it that you nitwits don't understand about the rich just passing their new tax burden on to their customers? It certainly almost always happens and has been this way for as long as business has been around. Why would it be any different now? You think sticking it do the job creators and people actually creating opportunities for the middle class and poor will actually help? I agree, the stimulus was supposed to spur business to hire and instead they continue to sit on the money.. Who was responsible for that stimulus, or as I call it the greatest theft of tax payer money in the history of this country? His ugly mug is at the top of this story along with this democrat cronies in congress.

    December 20, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  5. Vacationer-in cheif

    All Democrats, should be careful to not put too much into this latest poll,I know of no one, who voted for this guy the first time who plans on voting for him again. I am ashamed to admit that my wife and I bought his B.S hook line and sinker ,we made a mistake as a country ,we wanted a leader and got instead a disinterested and divisive president, who likes going golfing and on vacations more than working in the trenches to solve our problems as a country We are not partisans we are Americans and as down the middle of the road as possible and we are sickend at the lack of leadership May God bless all Americans during this holiday season.

    December 20, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota


    These poll results conflict mightily with many others considered to be reliable, such as Gallup.

    Gallup, huh? This is what Gallup wrote fall of 2007:

    When 2008 is history and one looks retrospectively at where the race stands today, the key factors forecasting Clinton’s success will likely be the following:

    #1. Clinton Has Had a Consistent Run at the Top

    #2. Clinton has led the Democratic pack in every Gallup Poll conducted between November 2006 and October 2007. For most of this time, Clinton has led Obama by a double-digit margin.

    #3. Clinton’s lead over Obama has expanded to nearly 30 points in Gallup’s latest poll, conducted Oct. 12-14: 50% vs. 21%.

    December 20, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. Artic Slayer

    I didn't vote for obama last time but this time I am gonna vote for him.... I think he is the best thing for America in recent history... WONDERFUL!!! 4 more years and this country will be purged of a corrupt congress and senate because the people are gonna purge every politician out by civil war.... There will be unrest like never seen in America. Because now Americans believe that good is bad and bad is good. Once this country goes even further to hell in a hand basket there will be a purging... When Americans can't say "Merry Christmas" because good is bad and once they can't store more than seven days worth of food because good is bad and once they can't own a gun because good is bad..... There will be a purging of the bad by the good!!!!! So lets pull together and re-elect this person.... OBAMA2012!!!!! yahooooooooo

    December 20, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. nate0313

    Only a 5 point bump? Doesn't everybody realize he's the 4th best president EVER?

    December 20, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  9. Libs Are ID10Ts

    It is FRIGHTENING to see you libs and your delusional posts. Holy cow! You're still on this Republicans are for the rich CRAP! Go find some new talking points, this POTUS has been a complete disater and for you morons to sit here and act like hes been anything but is.....well frightening. He flies around and parties with the uber RICH and supported by the rich but he's for the middle class? REALLY???? I can only hope you D bags are in the minority.......unbelievable.....just unbelievable...WHAT HAS HE DONE FOR ANYONE BUT HIMSELF???

    December 20, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |

    Maybe voters are starting to realize that anyway Obama goes the GOP goes the opposite. After Obama won the election some in the GOP said they'd would doing anything to see Obama fail and though they've said they were misunderstood or denied it. It is evident by what's transpiring today and over the past 3 year, Obama will faii at any cost to you and I.

    December 20, 2011 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. Mitchie124

    We are doomed by a population of gullible, ignorant dolts! Obama's a puppet of the banking cartel, and you're buying in to a bunch of political propaganda.

    December 20, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  12. Jack

    You're kidding right? Gallup has him at 43%. Rasmussum 44% 51% disapprove. You sharpies only asked democratis didn't you? Hey that's a high % for ONLY asking DEMOCRATS.

    December 20, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  13. ACDenco

    The CNN poll (and comments herein) is about as reflective of the American opinion as are their ratings........What, did CNN poll ALL of it's viewers and then ask them to comment here?

    December 20, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  14. Ben Dover

    He definitely has most of the fanatic followers posting her on CNN/White House Press Office. That is the 40% or more that pay no federal taxes every year and have no hope or change.

    December 20, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. Carolyn

    Somehow I've lost all confidence in CNN since they are part of the Democratic left news media DETERMINED to keep Barack HUSSEIN Obama in the White House no matter the cost ie., tell lies, hype up the numbers in his favor, hide the truth about his background, his grades, his birth certificate, and the list goes on and on!! We all know the only reason this president is in the White House is because of the deception, and non reporting that goes on at CNN who would never report the truth that Obama wants to turn this country into a European, government run, government controlled Facist/Socialistic country, the kind of country he was taught to idolize by his professors and friends like the terrorist, Bill Ayers, Rev. Jerimiah Right and Louis Farrahkann to name a few. Your poll was probably taken from only Democrats which does NOT represent a legitimate poll!

    December 20, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. Monte

    What tax cut; Accoding to Debbie Wasserman Schultz the economy and unemployment have improved under Obama


    December 20, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. DeeNYC

    I'm not the biggest fan of Obama but his approval ratings are up because the pubs have become so overt with their disdain for the middle class working Americans. They don't even try to hide the fact that they want us to foot all bills so they and their rich buddies can enjoy all the tax breaks. The pubs arrogance will finally do them in.

    December 20, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  18. commonlogic

    Statistical noise. It's meaningless. Even if these numbers reflect a properly sampled poll, if his numbers didn't hold up after getting Bin Laden, they certainly won't hold up this time. Obama won't win re-election because his lost the independents that put him over the top last time. Also, 80% of polls out there run in contrast to this one.

    December 20, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  19. Paolo

    It's CNN, what do you think the results will be.

    December 20, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  20. it is sad

    To Truth and Nothing But the Truth: You are nothing but a sore loser. The fact that the economy has continued to grow for 23 months escapes your truth. The fact that unemployment is dropping despite efforts by republicans to stifle any plan to get it going is just eating away at you. The fact that your conservative friends are only looking to give welfare to the rich (huge tax breaks) and make the middle class carry the burden escapes your small brain. Stick to your fantasy and leave the truth to those who have facts.

    December 20, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  21. Greg

    CNN is a joke just like Obozo – really 50% of what, illegal immigrants - LOL.....

    December 20, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. joeamerican1

    Community Organizer Obama governs the US like a foreigner. That comb-over communist from Brooklyn David Axelrod is his brain, and Barry is George Soros's puppet. America cannot decline fast enough for these men........and they are all making it happen.

    December 20, 2011 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Theo

    After last week, every time I see a photo of Obama I can't help but think what an arrogant POS he is...

    December 20, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. VLADtheimp

    NOTE: " A CNN/ORC International Poll out Tuesday also indicates that the "
    International poll, They’ll do just about anything to try and make him look good. Good thing the international community cant vote here……………..

    December 20, 2011 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. gar

    Teabuplicans smell like dead meat.

    December 20, 2011 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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