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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Romney blasts Gingrich over judiciary ideas

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

soundoff (492 Responses)
  1. Bill in CA.

    Sorry, I can't go along with this...he has yet to prove(along with Congress) that ANYONE in DC can get ANYTHING done. I call for the resignation of ALL 535 members of the House and Senate. Dems. Cons. are totally useless!!!

    December 20, 2011 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. cajr

    there is no way that many people can think obama is doing a great job. he isnt doing anything. economy still blows going into his 4th year. if anything his administration keeps trying to stifle growth and jobs including the pipeline. to stop something of this magnitude and under the pretense of keeping enviro wackos happy is absurd. first of all we need the oil. secondly, we need the jobs. seems to me it just ends up in texas, a red state and obama cant handle that.

    December 20, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Pat

    Hillary will crush him

    December 20, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  4. Mike

    America needs Ron Paul!!!!

    December 20, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. MTATL67

    President Obama has dredged on doing his job domestic issue and international issues all the while Congressional Republicans have done everything they can to blocking any and everything the President has tried to do and in doing so they have neglected their job. Republican have used some of the worst adjectives that they would never use to describe any previous President...I digress. It boils down to one very simple thing who is doing what we are paying them to do. The President has been doing his job Congress has not. The President has earned re-election Congressional Republicans have not. I do not agree with polls but Rep Boehner latest pathetic stunt has me agreeing with the PEW poll of 67% think all members of Congress should be replaced. The Democrats failed the Republicans failed and the extremist group called the Tea party more than failed. It is time to move Independents into Congress.

    December 20, 2011 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  6. Brando

    The lies you told. You haven't learn your lesson CNN from 2008, huh? No wonder FOX OWNS YOU ratings wise.

    December 20, 2011 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. da

    OBAMA 2012!!! Thank YA!!!

    December 20, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  8. GOP ~ "tax the middle class, blame the poor"

    As the President continues to put the GOP in it's place as the spoiled pubescent teenagers they are his approval rating among Americans (with the majority who thinks) will get better and better. The President will be way above 50% when he gets sworn in for his second term. The 27% of mindless fox followers care only about their ideology, and little for our country – that they are ashamed of for evolving away from their lizard brain mentality.

    December 20, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  9. Joe Smith

    So people are starting to realize that fox is lying, republicons are lying, republicons are obstructing everything regardless of how many get hurt, and this president is actually the real deal.

    About time.

    December 20, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  10. Patriot Awesome

    Hey you folks ripping Obama for taking vacations, where were you when Bush spent 1/3 of his presidency on vacation?

    December 20, 2011 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  11. RinMaine

    Maybe Gingrich is capable of miracles after all.

    December 20, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  12. Nat Turner

    I can't wait to see how repubs react when Pres Obama wins another term. I'm envisioning mass suicides!

    December 20, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  13. once upon a horse

    seeing at what the alternative is at the moment it would not shock me to see it go higher. Then again polls are only approved by those who like the results. The right will say it is skewed, the left will say it's about time. You can tell just by reading the post HERE.

    December 20, 2011 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  14. Irene

    Sad to see how hateful the GOP bloggers are about President Obama. All their plans to make him a 1-term president are going to fail and they just can't take it. Next we need a 60% super-majority to stop obstruction in the house and vote out filibusters in the Senate. Then we will be able to start fixing the mess Bush/Cheney left us.

    December 20, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  15. Independent Voters

    Keep up the good work president Obama. The republican teaparty congress got to be voted out of office 2012

    December 20, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  16. Marc G.

    This is the second poll in two days to show the president's poll numbers jumping up to ~50 (CNN and ABC/WASHINGTON POST). Middle class America is awakening to the agenda of the extremists in the GOP who have made it clear they will gleefully destroy the American economy if it means having an opportunity to undermine President Obama. They are willing to raise taxes on the midle class in the middle of a recession because they thought it may look like a victory for President Obama.

    December 20, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  17. Really?

    He may be on the rise with liberals and blacks (he can't really get much higher with this group), he sure isn't rising among the hard working people of America. He continues to steal our dollars and give them to his voters.

    December 20, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  18. Tom

    What was the sampling for this poll? How many dems/repubs/independents? The results of a poll is highly dependent upon the people that are sampled.

    December 20, 2011 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Carol

    Obama doesn't stand a chance up against Ron Paul.

    December 20, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    The American people are being played for fools by the Democrats. They'll spend like drunken fools and YOU will pay for it, ooops I mean those other people will pay for it and it'll be FREE FOR YOU. All you have to do is vote for us. So they will use others peoples money to bribe their voters.

    NOW THIS NEW ONE. They will bribe you with YOUR OWN MONEY to vote for them!! They are willing to damage a social security system THEY created in order to use the money (YOUR MONEY) to bribe you into voting for them, but not telling you they are stealing from YOUR RETIRMENT ACCOUNT to do it!!

    Democrats sure did learn a LOT from Bernie Madoff!!! They should be sharing the same cell with him.

    December 20, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Robert, Please put the Crack Pipe down!!!!!!!

    December 20, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. Really?

    You can't make comments on this site that goes against the liberal views they have.

    December 20, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  23. adam

    I really would like to see Ron Paul's ratings. I have no idea why the media is hiding him, talking about everybody's rating accept the one who is doing very well.

    December 20, 2011 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  24. Bolsheviks

    My guess is that these numbers are likely to build. People are (slowly) realizing that what the GOP candidates are offering (with the exception of Ron Paul) is essentailly the same governing approach that got us into this mess in the first place.

    December 20, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. HansJurgen

    If this "gansta of a prez" gets re-elected, America will go down as the dumbest country in the world.

    December 20, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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