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. JUstABill_NOCH

    I see the liberals are cooking the books when it comes to poll numbers now in hopes of snowing over the more gullible sections of the populace. Guess what... it's won't work and barry the man-child potus will be a ONE TERM abomination.

    December 20, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  2. Lee

    Robert put the Crack Pipe down please!!!!!!!

    December 20, 2011 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  3. Shish

    This means nothing. CNN are known water carriers for Teleprompter Jebus. They sought out only liberal Dimocrats to question in this poll. This clown is so gone next year. Regardless of what the Liberal Media wants you to believe about their messiah

    December 20, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. Independent In Albany

    At this point all he has to do is sit back and let the republicans continue to wage class warfare on the middle...

    December 20, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. Pastor Mike Palevo

    You've got to be kidding me????? Approval for What??? For looking good? For Sounding good?? For a good show?? For putting our country under??? For giving away money we don't have??? For dressing well?? For speaking well??? For socialism??? For Communism???
    What's to be approved thus far? Four more years of this Jack-leg President will put this country down for the count!

    December 20, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. vatoloke

    How could his ratings not go up with the GObP serial clowns and their show? All these clowns are doing is assuring President Obama's 2012 election. Yes, four more years and a pencil in your eye GObPers!

    December 20, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  7. Phocus

    Come ON folks...It's CNN...C N N! Nuff said.

    December 20, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  8. Ryan

    Sure CNN. We believe you. hahahahahahaha

    December 20, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  9. Nothing New

    Meh. Yet another skewed, manipulated poll.

    December 20, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  10. Tacitus Talks

    Who did CNN poll? Their own employees? Rasmussen and Zogby are the most accurate, and they have him at low forties or high thirties. The main indicator is the "path" the country is going. And that is lower than Bush's. CNN is doing what they accuse FOX news of doing.

    December 20, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. kenny

    When you consider that Republicans have said "NO" to everything President Obama has wanted or tried to do, I am amazed that he has accomplished very much at all. Republicans have been willing to "Tank The Economy" and keep it in the "Tank" in an effort to lay all the blame on the President. Now I'm sure the Pressident has had his own re-election on his mind and understanbly so but until he cones to the realization that you cannot negotiate with a bunch of hatemongers and airheads, he will continue to be on the losing end of all negotiatings. Until we remove the TeaPublicans from Congress, the only way this nation is going to go is down which is what they want as long as Obama is in office. I say put NASA back in business and load all TeaPUblicans in the cargo bay of the space shuttle and send it to the moon and let them colonize the moon.

    December 20, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  12. James Anderson

    This is the largest pile of BS coming out of CNN in a long time.

    December 20, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. MTB

    If this country reelects that idiot, then there truly is no hope....

    December 20, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  14. KM

    The socialist-liberal Pravda's propaganda begins.....

    December 20, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  15. MaryA

    "...Obama's efforts to portray himself as the defender of the middle class." Really? The same Obama that bills the taxpayers for his and hers jets for the Hawaii vacation that's estimated to cost US $4 million??? The Vacation King finds it necessary to take yet another vacation at our expense; this one for 17 days (at least for Moochelle and the girls and their family and friends.) He's nothing more than an arrogant narcissist that's in this for himself; his vacations, his re-election and his fame and fortune.

    December 20, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  16. DoctorJ

    Any poll showing 50% or less disapproval of Obama is simply not to be believed.

    December 20, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  17. toledofan

    Well, there you have it; no need to hold an election, no need to pick a GOP candidate and we may as well resign ourselves to four more years of hope and change. The CNN poll god has spoken and we should just sit and watch the debacle unfold because the main stream media says so. How can anyone disagree with CNN? What is really odd, some have written the Republicans are to blame, but the Senate hasn't developed a budget for over 1000 days, the democrats are the majority, so who is to blame for all this crap? A two month budget, give me a break.

    December 20, 2011 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  18. Cosmos42

    Maybe, just maybe, people are finally starting to realize that all of the delays and non-action and partisanship in Congress has been due to... Congress. It requires some real mental contortions to blame "Obama's policies" when Obama hasn't been able to get most of his proposed policies passed in the first place.

    December 20, 2011 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. no mo-obo

    The only way Obama's approval ratings are up is if all of his daddy's baby's were surveyed
    CNN what a joke

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

    Those who keep blaming Obama for today's economy are either stupid or just plain ignorant of the facts. Do you think the economy just tanked 3 yrs. ago? Don't you think it took some major events to contribute to the decline, like two unfunded wars, tax breaks for the wealthy (that were intended to be temporary) to name just a couple? In late '08 the country was losing 700,000 jobs per month and Obama wasn't even in office yet. What is wrong with you fools? He's not perfect, but we sure as hell know who he represents and who he fights for, the middle class. You go ahead and vote GOP if you want to see us move back to the same policies that got us in this mess, not to mention a war with Iran. Wake up!

    December 20, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. brian

    Obama is a disaster for the nation. Ron Paul is the right guy at the right time. Lots of Ron Paul articles at

    December 20, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  22. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

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

    Actually June when they issue their ruling, but March is when the Obama administration goes in and lies about the fine for not buying healthcare. They'll claim it is a tax, which they said it wasn't. America will see the Obama admin for the lies it tells the American people.

    But of course, he'll demonize the USSC if they rule against him, just like he did in the State of the Union address. Obama is going to lose either way the court rules. Over 60% of the American people want Obamacare repealed.

    December 20, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. bcanook

    Check the sampling numbers and you'll see why the approval number increased.

    December 20, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. Beth Vann

    Right. CNN is MY "go to" to find out how Obama is doing in the polls! I recommend going to They have a history of integrity and accuracy that is unsurpassed by other pollsters and were absolutely right in both the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections.

    December 20, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. Ben

    and it should. disclosure: im a republican. this guy has a sincere desire to do good things for his people, whereas i can no longer think my party does

    December 20, 2011 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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