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.

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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. Crocker's Common Sense

    A point about polls. All we hear is that this poll says this and that polls says that. Has ANYONE here ever participated in a poll or been contacted by one of these polling agencies??? Where do they get these figures they keep bandying about? Are there professional polsters? How do they get their figures? This inquiring mind wants to know.

    February 15, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. hal

    Well...that suck!

    February 15, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  3. JC

    How? How, how, how?

    February 15, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Sheeze

    The GOP is undergoing a rebranding or die out phase. The way the country is, the size in numbers of its 99%, I don't think you'll ever see another republican president elected in the future. They just did not adapt.

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

    Give his policy time to catch hold, and I think John Q American will be pleased. Problem is the Republicans will throw the kitchen sink at him to tank the economy. Plus the old Republican stand-by, scare the public to death with the old 'death is coming from the skies if you keep Obama' strategy. Just take a look at Mary spewing her nonsense already:


    The worst U. S.A. President since Carter. Wait till you see the price of gas go up to $8.00 a gal.

    February 15, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |

    February 15, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  6. tina

    The polls had Gore winning too. We will see!

    February 15, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  7. Charles


    "Wait till you see the price of gas go up to $8.00 a gal."

    I guess you patriotic Americans on the Right have given up on the economy collapsing, so now you're routing for gas prices to spike.

    If this is how you super informed geniuses gauge economic growth, then why are you surprised when you have a totally dysfunctional government?

    February 15, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. David S

    administered by ACORN???? Only way could happen....

    February 15, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  9. Kev

    Yeah right you really expect me to believe his ratings went up? Where did you take the survey? I don't believe you not one second. Honestly I think CNN would do anything to make Obozo look good and it that is a fake survey then so be it. Obozo is doing NOTHING at all to help the economy but spending money.

    February 15, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. asktheexperts

    obama didn't do a sh.. about economy and gas prices so why would we vote for him

    February 15, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  11. mary

    I think it's a joke about the ratings on Obama....whatever will make him look good! That's the liberal media for

    February 15, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. Gloria222

    We will get a lot done this year since everyone is trying to be so sweet to win the election. Why did we go through all the fights the pass three years? Why is congress all of a sudden letting things pass. Really, you know GOP about why things were held back since President Obama was elected.

    February 15, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. anthony Stark

    Dear GOP,

    Come up with some real ideas and let go of your conservative religious rhetoric or become obsolete.

    Dear Ron Paul,

    Run as an independent.

    February 15, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. Jaggar

    America has been going down the toilet for the past 5 years. Obama is a great speaker but it ends there. By the time he leaves office, this country will be in debt so far that we will never get out. Of course he is happy to give money to the poor because it doesn't have any effect on him. He gives and gives but the money has tobe made up somewhere. I think our whole tax system needs to be revamped quickly but that will never happen. He has targeted the poor, illegals, and anyone else who needs a hand out and gladly gives them what they want for votes. In the end, it will destroy our country. EVERYONE in congress and the president need to go and bring in fresh young talent. Michelle Obama spend millions on her personal tour of Africa to find her roots. They went to Hawaii in separate planes that cost the taxpayers more millions. It is all talk folks. His job is to bankrupt this country and you will feel very differently when you can not afford to retire!

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

    Poor brainwashed, right-wing nutjobs. See what blaming everything wrong in the Universe on Obama has gotten you.

    February 15, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  16. osu

    There's a lot of people talking about gas in here. I only remember paying $4 for a gallon of gas for about a week under Obama. I did it for an entire year under Bush. Thank God Bush's oil baron buddies dropped the price to $2 right before Obama took office so Republican mouthpieces can cry about how gas has skyrocketed under this administration.

    February 15, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  17. Carolyn Williams

    "OBAMA" 2012

    February 15, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  18. Bern in Western PA

    Com on people – he going to win. The GOP is dead.

    February 15, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  19. pastmorm

    Romney and Santorum represent the very thing we left behind over 200 years ago: A Theocracy. We told the King of England – when we declared our independence – that we wouldn't be ruled by religion. We're saying it again to these religious throwbacks from the dark-ages. Stand up Americans and say NO to Romney and Santorum and their backward thinking and medieval beliefs!

    February 15, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  20. jimdf

    This thread contains every single CNN viewer.

    February 15, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  21. Dom

    Did CNN interview elitists in NY and LA? There is no way this guy will get re elected.

    February 15, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  22. Jay

    Better than twenty- three percent Romney.

    February 15, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  23. John

    I personally don't care about poll numbers, I care about how the economy and this nation is doing. Let's see what the mood of the country comes November, we still have a long way to go before then. Anything can happen before then. I personally don't care if Obama gets re-elected or not, just as long as the Democrat Party doesn't have the majority in the Senate and in Congress (Same goes to the Republicans I don't want them to have the majority in all branches of Government).

    February 15, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  24. Steve the Atheist

    I love all these people claiming this is a false poll. Open your eyes and look at the 4 Republican clowns going for the nomination, now tell me Obama isn't looking better each and every day.

    @mike2236 – "gas has gone up 84% under Obama." What fantasy land do you live in bud? I have some real stats for you; May 2007 (before Obama) national average $3.23, the highest at that point was Chicago at $3.59. So your stating that current average is $5.94? Please show us 1 source that even claims the current average is above $3.75

    February 15, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  25. kathy


    February 15, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
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