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. Reggie from LA

    That's an interesting spin.
    So that's how it's done. Kinda short on facts, but your fellows are dying to gobble THAT up.

    December 20, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  2. S.positive

    As I have been saying, President Obama will win in 2012...

    December 20, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  3. CLT

    I guess people see the options. LOL

    December 20, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. D

    I'll be honest, as a investment banker I have done phenomenally under both the Bush and Obama administration. I am richer than I have ever been in my life and I am LOVING IT.

    Obama 2012!

    December 20, 2011 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  5. PhoenixRising

    I'm SO happy to know that I'm in the top end of the income scale (according to Holland) since I support Republicans! I can truly get a good night's sleep tonight

    December 20, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  6. Weasler

    This is such crap, and I don't buy it for a moment. It's just the media's way of trying to save their "tool".
    The truth is, Oblahblah is dead meat next year. Whoever the GOP nominee is – be it Newt, Perry, or romney – will destroy the Commie Muslim in the general election. You'll see.

    December 20, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |

    As long as the POTUS continues to fight for the middle class, his approval rating will stay steady. If he can knock of Zawhiri before the election, that really will sure up his reelction. The economy may be issue #1, but this President has kept us safe. I don't see any republican out there that can pick up the Obama foreign policy mantle.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    December 20, 2011 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Rudy NYC

    Dave wrote:

    Really? Even after learning he and his family and support staff are going to cost the taxpayers $4,500,000.00 to go on their personal vacation in Hawaii ......
    Pres. Obama has spent roughly 60 days on vacation so far, not including this trip. At this point in his administration, Bush-43 had spent over 180 days on vacation. Republicans defended him to a man, claiming that he was dealing with the war on terror ,on two fronts no less.

    December 20, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  9. lance corporal

    he needs to send a thank you note to the republican party – Obama vs the clown show that is the current republican primary is like asking someone to pick the next man for a basketball team while your looking at a 7 ft man standing next to a bunch of midgets hmmmmm no brainer there.....

    December 20, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Post American

    @stevege Obama isn't a socialist, he's a centrist. If he was a socialist he would have nationalized the banks, he didn't. He would have fought for a public option in the health insurance bill, he didn't. Get out of your pathetic echo chamber.

    December 20, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. nobrainer

    nobody complained when bush went to Florida to play golf with Jeb. Because of bad weather in Texas.

    December 20, 2011 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Really? Even after learning he and his family and support staff are going to cost the taxpayers $4,500,000.00 to go on their personal vacation in Hawaii, when 50% of the general American public is approaching or at povery level?"

    First of all, Captain Exageration, the report in Hawaii papers was clocked in at just under $4M. Second, the vast majority of it comes from the $181K per HOUR that it costs to operate Airforce One...and I'm pretty sure that there's no rule that POTUS's that come from Hawaii don't get to go home to Hawaii because it's too far and costly for us....and certainly no rule that a POTUS from Hawaii has to fly domestic despite the security risks that would engender. Moreover, the remainder of the costs are largely the costs fo things like Secret Service details WHICH WE WOULD BE PAYING FOR REGARDLESS SINCE THEY ARE 24/7 NON-STOP. The attempt to turn it into a talking opint that damages Obama is completely ridiculous, dishonest and a sham. Thanks for playing.

    December 20, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. kerpluk01

    Polls mean nothing. They are like focus groups. The merely give you the results you want to prove. CNN just like all other media outlets can word questions to prove what they want to show. They can issue another poll right now and word the questions to show his approval number in the garbage.

    December 20, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Jampy

    Give the man a chance...this president has seen more roadblocks, how could you possibly do your job is everyone around you is not willing to work and compromise. He is FAR from perfect, but he's done things that others haven't...trying to begin fixing our healtcare system (all of it is not great, but many will get coverage), he's brought our troops home as promised and with the military took down Osama Bin Ladden. Our economy is going to take YEARS to fix, but at least if from the other side you would find solutions that could better help the middle class, possibly there is a chance. It's not easy times we live in, but as long as these politicians keep on playing this game of who can out do the other, we won't get ahead. I think he will be re-elected...

    December 20, 2011 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  15. blake

    Why? Only explanation I can come up with is that a stalemated Congress is preventing any new features of Obama's Marxist agenda from being implemented.

    December 20, 2011 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. Patriot Awesome

    I'm beginning to think that the Republicans are mostly made up of Democrat operatives out to destroy the Republican party from the inside. It's the only explanation I can come up with to explain their erratic and insane behavior. It's like they're trying everything they can to loose big in 2012.

    December 20, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. gary

    I don't know if many of the people here are of a certain age, but I'm in my mid-forties and all these stereotypical comments have been used for so many Presidents, Democrat or Republican. Do you really want to say he's a Socialist or he's for the rich or he's a welfare guy? I mean really, think about what you are saying? Each President has had their good and bad points but no one man can fix everything. Maybe instead of complaining about this or that try running for local elections or more and try fixing it...

    December 20, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. mike

    CNN will print any kind of lie to get people think he is ok -– OBAMA is pathetic and needs to be voted out in 2012

    December 20, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. antisophist

    The general election will be pretty simple. If you believe that what's good for millionaires is always good for the country, you will vote one way. If you believe that what's good for millionaires is sometimes at odds with what's good for the country, you will vote the other.

    December 20, 2011 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. ..a laurel and hardy handshake..

    ...............................BETTER THAN PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY !

    December 20, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. wake up

    please wake up... money spent during this administration was to stop the bleeding...and for those who don't know that..wake up... big bailouts and 2-3 wars... and the continued Bush cuts (that isn't paid for)... I understand both parties and they both have good ideas and bad...but to blame Obama for stopping the the president delivered on every campaign promise and the promise that he didn't was due to political blocking by the republicans..and his own party watch him fight alone.... he also promised it will take two terms maybe longer to get out of this... what he saw happening during his 08 campaign and then once he got into office was worse... he had to act immediately once he got in...please look at the facts and give the man credit...instead of being so partisan....

    December 20, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  22. Westward

    ..meanwhile, the Republicans couldn't do more to TRY to lose the 2012 elections. Newsflash, GOP: You can't win without the support of the middle class and poor.

    December 20, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. mittensonkittens

    Oh this is HUGE news! Acorn was able to resurrect 20 dead people for the latest poll! That was right after they went to a homeless shelter and promised them all rent free apartments if they would accept the pay, I mean, message, of Obama.
    Afterall, he hasn't met with GOP leaders for 5 months and has been "busy" either on vacation or in hiding from opposition.
    He'll do anything to avoid leadership, including voting present dozens of times when senator.

    December 20, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  24. L. T. Fang

    We need to blame the people who deserve it: GOP in congress.

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

    When Obama's only success 'ObamaCare' falls in March, the great fool's rating will fall to 30%.

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