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.

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soundoff (492 Responses)
  1. Robert

    President Barack Obama will secure four more years in office.

    On foreign policy matters, President Obama has been our most successful President for a very long time, overseeing the death of Bin Laden, the toppling of Gaddafi's regime within a single US soldier lost, the successful withdrawal from Iraq, the signing of Arms Limitation Treaty with Russia, and re-establishing the trust and respect of our allies.

    On economic matters, President Obama has performed admirably, as best as can be expected given the circumstances. In a globalized world, our fortunes are tied with the rest of the world. With Europe, China and Japan simultaneously in crisis, we could be a lot worse. But even here, President Obama's policies prevented a complete economic collapse, saved the Auto industry, saved US jobs. Far more could have been achieved if the opposition would work with the Obama administration, instead of expending all of its energy to try to make the President a failure from Day One – which was the Republican strategy as articulated by its numerous leaders including Eric Cantor and John Boehner.

    December 20, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  2. Granger

    Ha! ha! ha! ha! "NEARING 50%" The Communist News Network is trying everything they can to show this loser of a President in a positive light. LOL!

    December 20, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  3. Food4Thought3

    In other words, over half of the nation doesn't approve of the President.

    Enough of the Left and Right, it's all wrong when the President only has support and approval from half the governed.

    December 20, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. America Above Parties

    Based solely on his capabilities and performance, Obama's number should be much higher but too many GOP/TP idoloty, country over their party only attitudes and constant bias Fox News coverage have got to too many ignorant but well meaning people.

    December 20, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. V in Chicago

    Thanks Republicans! Your inabilibty to come to the table and get things done are providing the Democrats with everything they will need to send you packing in 2012. Bye – bye!

    December 20, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  6. Hangar13

    ORC International can always be counted on to deliver poll numbers with a frightening left-wing tilt. No doubt the President's standing has been helped by the 24/7 free commercials on all but one of the cable news outlets. We can only hope that enough voters show up in November to overcome the media blitz, the ACORN fraudulent votes, the Soros money, and the DNC smear machine.

    December 20, 2011 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  7. Meki60

    I guess poll fraud accompanies voter fraud

    December 20, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  8. Dave

    Yeah! Republicans are good at fixing numbers.

    December 20, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  9. Mike

    When Obama censors the internet it's going to be for our own good. When Obama signs the indefinite detention bill supported by John McCain, both liberals and conservatives will agree it's for our own good. Yay illusion world.

    December 20, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  10. Pab

    The republicans seem to want him to be reelected, with the terrible, absolutely terrible, choices they're presenting to run against him.

    December 20, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  11. Granger

    CNN's polling demographics come from all democratic party members. LOL! Nearing 50% is hilarious title.

    December 20, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  12. lolol

    it will surelly go down since we have learned Barry Obama Saotero little trip to Hawaii will cost $4M of taxpayers money

    December 20, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  13. Change

    Big deal! His actual approval rating is near 85% but of course the republican owned and operated mainstream media would tell you otherwise as its been doing for three straight years.

    December 20, 2011 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  14. Mike

    The republicans absolutely refuse to do anything that this president asks for. When the democrats offer a compromise, the republicans refuse. For them, it's all or nothing. With the presidents poll numbers going up, the republicans can hear that Jaws theme starting to ring in the background, Either work with the other side or you may be voted out. They should give a special "Thank You" to the Tea Party for their dilema.

    December 20, 2011 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  15. Tom

    I almost feel bad for the people who think they are going to have a Republican president anytime soon.

    December 20, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  16. simple yet complicated

    Finally people are realizing that the Prez is on the side of middle class people. There are more of us than the wealthy few. Yes...we need more weathly citizens and I am going to be one of them – but also realize that with wealth comes responsibilty to pay my fair share in taxes.

    Obama 2012 !!

    December 20, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  17. GR NYC

    A sampling error of +/- 3% for each month (November and December) mean that it is difficult to believe that a 5% increase is statistically significant..

    December 20, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. tom-ay

    maybe its because we are looking at the potential republican candidates and going... "really?"...

    December 20, 2011 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    "If there is one great argument for privatizing social security we are seeing it right now."

    Keep your hands off my social security. PERIOD.

    December 20, 2011 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. NL


    good, he is the best president of my life time... sure he has made a few errors, but hardly anyone can carry a full bucket down the street and not spill any water... OBAMA!!!!!

    I am older than you so he is one of the two best presidents in my lifetime, Bill Clinton being the other. Otherwise I agree with you 100%!

    December 20, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "CNN's polling demographics come from all democratic party members. "

    Never heard of random sampling? CNN polling articles' comment sections could seriously be used in a Psych 101 class to teach about confirmation bias and denial as a defense mechanism.

    December 20, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. V in Chicago

    Boy, you on the right sure are angry. Is it possibly because the American people are waking up and not buying your crap anymore? They are finally seeing that the POTUS is trying to help the middle class, while you T-Party enthusiast (and the republicans who are too afraid to step up to them) are trying to knock it down. It's all downhill from here. Obama will win 4 more years and those of you on the right who have refused to do you jobs will be sent home packing in 2012. I especially can't wait until Cantor gets booted.

    December 20, 2011 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Paul

    Unread Americans will vote him in. I am middle class and there is no way in Gods green earth that I will be voting for Oboma. Yes, the picking are slim but just take a look around (and dont blame it on Bush), I have never seen the economy in such bad shape in my 52 years. It will not get any better. Why not ask the mgrs and employees of our biggest industries what their outlook is. That should change some uninformed minds. Or...............take the media as gthe gospel truth. I am ashamed to be an American at this point.

    December 20, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    President Obama is giving the Republicans an opportunity to reveal who they are and what they're about: Paying lip-service to doing "the will of the people," while ignoring polls that say a majority of Americans want to raise taxes on the rich and extend the payroll tax cut.

    It's become abundantly clear who the Republicans care about, and it isn't the average American, nor the long-term prosperity of our country. All they care about is rewarding their wealthy individual, corporate and foreign entity sponsors (who, thanks to Citizens United and the Republican majority on the Supreme Court, now have unlimited and unaccountable influence on our elections).

    Republicans are all about short-term profit, regardless of the long-term consequence. Starting in the 80s, they destroyed family farms, savings and loans, and industries that once employed Americans producing quality products while earning living wages; now they are trying to impose their toxic, failed policies on our whole country.

    Independents, Democrats and thinking Republicans are reading the handwriting on the wall – so of course the President's numbers are going up.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    December 20, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  25. ATL Guy

    Maybe this explains why the Republicans are trying so hard to tank the economy. What they're not realizing is that the more that they try to harm President Obama by tanking the economy, the worse the approval rating for Congress becomes. People are looking at the President and can see that he geniunely is trying to do a job and then the look at the Republicans and see clear attempts to harm the economy, inflate doubt and to protect the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. Obviously the Republicans will have their detractors who will defend their actions but the proof is in the pudding. Boehner and company are doing a horrible job and will pay the price at the election booth.

    December 20, 2011 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
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