CNN Poll: Obama approval rating back to 50% mark
February 15th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
11 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama approval rating back to 50% mark

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's approval rating is back to 50% for the first time in more than eight months, and he currently holds an edge against all the remaining Republican presidential candidates in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups, according to a new national survey.

And a CNN/ORC International Poll released Wednesday also indicates that the GOP's advantage on enthusiasm has been erased, and that the number of Americans who think things are going well in the country is on the rise. Six out of ten say things are going poorly in the country, but four out of ten say things are going well, up 15 points since November.

See full results (pdf)

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"Does that mean it's morning in America? It is for Democrats - a solid majority of them now say things are going well in the country. But overall, six in ten still have a gloomy outlook about the state of the country," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Optimism is on the rise among independent voters, with a notable increase among men as well, although a majority of both groups still think things are going poorly."

The rise of Americans who say things are going well appears to be helping the president, whose approval rating now stands at 50%, with 48% saying they disapprove of the job Obama's doing in the White House. The president's approval rating has edged up three points from last month and is up six points from November. The last time Obama's approval rating was at 50% or above was last May, as a result of the killing of Osama bin Laden, and it stayed there for about a month before fading.

"Independents now have a net-positive view of President Obama," says Holland. "His approval rating has also reached 50% in the suburbs."

Looking ahead to November, the poll indicates that the president's re-election chances are on the rise. In hypothetical matchups among registered voters, Obama holds a 51%-46% margin over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, leads both former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas by the same 52%-45% advantage, and beats former House Speaker Newt Gingrich 55%-42%.

The president appears to have gained ground since January against Romney, Paul, and Gingrich. Only Santorum has held steady. The poll also indicates that Obama wins a majority of independent voters in all four general election match-ups.

"More than six in ten Americans believe that the policies of Romney and Gingrich favor the rich; Santorum and Paul do better on that measure, but only a quarter feel that way about Obama," says Holland.

The survey suggests that the contentious Republican primary season has decreased enthusiasm among Republican voters, virtually erasing the "enthusiasm gap" that promised to provide the ultimate GOP presidential nominee with a major advantage in the fall. In October, 64% of Republicans said that they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president, compared to only 43% of Democratic voters. GOP enthusiasm since that time has tumbled 13 points, to 51%, virtually the same as the Democrats' level of enthusiasm.

Other findings in the poll: 67% of the public says they are either very or somewhat angry about the way things are going in the country, down five points from September. And 31% approve of the job Democrats in Congress are doing, with 22% giving congressional Republicans a thumbs up. Both numbers are virtually unchanged from last autumn.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from February 10-13, with 1,026 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 report

Also see:

Gingrich: Santorum 'misunderstands' modern warfare

Santorum slams Obama administration as 'elite snobs'

Romney surrogates attack Santorum's record

CNN Poll: Romney's likability fading

CNN Poll: Gender and income gaps in GOP nomination battle

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • President Obama • Rick Santorum • Ron Paul
soundoff (429 Responses)
  1. Charles


    " paid for college myself. I also spent two unpaid years in Africa performing volunteer work . . "

    Who among us can't relate to this Kurt?

    February 15, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. Undercover95

    I just love it when CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC come up with these off the wall poll numbers trying to prop up this "looser in chief"! It would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic! This empty suit will be one and done just like it was in 2010 when the House fell hard for Democrats! Get ready for round two in November boys and make sure you got plenty of tissues to wipe those tears away!

    February 15, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  3. bugmetoo

    Sell all our nukes? What a great idea! Sell them to Iran, throw in Obama, and he'll ruin their country in three years! Then we don't have to worry about them anymore!

    February 15, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  4. John

    Typical CNN – Left Wing reporting. Get real with your reporting.

    February 15, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. rdg18

    Dems have no need to vote since they have this election by a landslide.

    February 15, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Any one who votes for the GOP American Taliban is crazy.

    February 15, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. Mike

    I wish I knew where these poll numbers come from; I have not found one person in the last 3 years that supports this president or Congress. Just once I wish I could get a poll call here in the Midwest to let them know how the middle of the country feels about Washington.

    February 15, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. us1776

    President Obama is the adult in the room compared to all the GOP extremist candidates.

    Santorum, Romney, Gingrich, Paul? Gimme a break.

    Not a one of these GOP nitwits stands any chance of being elected.


    February 15, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. Howard

    "Poll Numbers On The Rise For President Obama"

    Of course they are. This hissy-fit fest between the Repub candidates is making The President look like the only adult in the room.

    February 15, 2012 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. mike2236

    Gas has gone up 84% under Obama, but funny how CNN refuses to report negative facts. Obama owns the media. Any intelligent person can see this.

    February 15, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. Rick

    A new poll shows that 80% of those who disapprove of Obama think the world was created in six days 6,000 years ago and that the Earth is flat.

    February 15, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. migeli

    Now lets please get rid of the Tea Party Morons in congress so that this president can get something done.Tax the rich as they were before.They are responsible for the mess Obama inhereted.Obama 4 more years.

    February 15, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  13. alfranken

    When G.W. took office and immediately after 911, the GOP talking heads worshiped him, Then when it became obvious the guy is a complete idiot, these same GOP talking heads just disappeared from the comment boards. Now I'm suggesting that as the economy improves and it becomes more and more apparent that Obama will get elected, they will again crawl back under their rock where they belong.

    February 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  14. Angela

    BusyLizzy says:
    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm
    Bet they didn’t call any Catholic’s!
    You mean the 98% who use birth control? Them?

    February 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Lovely Brown (lovelybrnfemale)

    President Barack Obama 2012 - keep your head up - we love you

    February 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. Rick

    Anyone who doubts that these polls accurately represent most Americans should compare recent polling and election results. They're usually very close.

    February 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. jgnewman

    His ratings should not be rising, he is doing everything he can to trash this wonderful country of ours.

    February 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. Knucklehead

    We owe the Chinese a little over $1 trillion. The bulk of the rest of the debt is held by the Fed and American citizens. Not sure what it means when the Fed buys American debt...isn't that like your left pocket loaning your right pocket money? In any event, it's not as bad as you'd think. When you've let things go as far as we have, you have to spend money to make money(within reason, of course). The infrastructure won't rebuild itself.

    February 15, 2012 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. BVN

    My fellow Americans; CNN Polling Director Keating Holland exists for one reason, and that reason is to get specific results required by his employer to further their multi-billion dollar special interest media conglomerate. I beg of you to consider this absolute, and undeniable fact before you absorb this "news" as fact in your lives. Thank you kindly for your considerations.

    February 15, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Josh

    1,026 people surveyed and CNN thinks the results speak for a majority of America? Whoever authorized this story should be fired – hot garbage!

    February 15, 2012 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  21. So Glad

    Just like things keep getting better and better, people trust our fearless leader more and more!! Yeah Obama!! Four more! WooHOO!

    February 15, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  22. Angela

    This only means the bloggers paid by Koch will have to work a little harder. Lol

    February 15, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  23. Phil

    Funny how CNN is pushing the worse GOP candidate in Santorum, then talk about how Obamas numbers are rising on their own poll.

    February 15, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  24. Kalowg

    Seeing how the GOP likely won't sponsor a conservative candidate I'm going fiddle with Obama while America is burning. Who is with me?

    February 15, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. felix

    Not a surprise, considering who the GOP candidates are. Plus the economy is showing signs of a true turn. Looks like Obama isn't going to be another Carter and Bush W still goes down in history as the worst president ever!

    February 15, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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