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
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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.
This is good news?
He's getting the "good lord those republican candidates all belong in a rubber room" bump.
We need to be invaded and liberated. All of our presidential choices stink. Over run by the media and those with money.
Too early! You're starting to peak too early!
Take a page from the NY football Giants. Lay low until the end, then pour it on!
noooo.. say it aint so... the liberal presidents numbers are on the rise on a liberal media's poll???!?! im shocked!!
Give me a break! What is wrong with people? Obama stinks.
Amazing what happens when Republicans get exposed as liars again and again and again and again...
...what intrigues me is the ability of about 30% of people (independents) to forget just how bad Republicans are after such a short time...
...but, no one is perfect I guess...
...those 30% could be worse, they could be insane and start calling themselves Republicans...
Flawed, Flawed, and Flawed. Nobody believes this anymore CNN.....
Obama is the best man for the job, thank goodness we have a great president.
Hope and change? Hardly. Oh, I forgot-Now the low wage temp worker will HAVE TO buy health insurance. Moreover, to what extent do the headline unemployment statistics mask an enormous unemployment problem?
It's the second half America! Our president has laid down the gauntlet in terms of what we need to do over the next few years to restore some of the glory we lost under W's watch. Will we answer the call or vote back the "cut taxes and regulations for the job creators and everything trickles down to the middle class" ideology that got here in the first place?
Geek, nerd, dork or dweeb – no wonder, there hasn't been much to choose from
Obama sucks and we can't do another four years of him. However, the republican candidates aren't worth a sh** either and we have no viable third party candidate. We are all screwed!!!
If things are improving, why are gas prices so dam high? It takes 1/4 of my paycheck every week just to drive to my job!
Before the usual suspects start making noise about CNN being "The Communist Network", check real clear politics dot com and look at a BUNCH of different polls. All say pretty much the same thing. But remember: election day is a long way away!
The shape of things to come.
Life is good
Good news for the nation
Who wasn't expecting this? This is why Jeb didn't run, Obama's gonna ride the recovery to a second term.
it took a decade to get out of the great depression. fortunately, we avoided that. i think people will see that this presidency has been about making lemonade with this lemon of an economy that we had in 2007-08.
How many Americans can't tell that this is all a pony show with the winners already predetermined.
Kool Aide anyone?
Not surprising. As horrible as he has been, the alternative of GOP candidates makes him look godly.
I will be voting for President Obama again in the Fall! No chance of me casting my ballot for Willard Mitt Romney.
Way To Go OBAMA!!!! #2012
About time! Way to go Pres!