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)

    What a bunch of BS. Nice try CNN.

    February 15, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Veritas

    I am not surprised. As bad as Obama has been, the alternative of GOP candidates is that much worse.

    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. Bill C

    I get partisan politics. I get that those on the left don't like Republicans. But how anybody can want four more years of this corruption and incompetence is beyond me.

    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. carly

    Just logic. The man delivers while the right wing nuts distract, obstruct and generally annoy. He will win by a landslide and hopefully help sweep out all right wingers in Congress.

    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  5. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    More and more people are beginning to discount the lies of foreign owned media at Fox, and Hanoi Hannity.

    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. BusyLizzy

    Bet they didn't call any Catholic's!

    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    Go Obama, Go USA!

    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. Reason for disapproval

    48% disapprove of him... however, what percentage of that is because they feel Obama isn't liberal ENOUGH? That would be a more useful number than just a generic "disapprove" label.

    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  9. Independent

    GOP Candidates tearing other down building the democrats up.

    February 15, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  10. Chris

    This is certainly an article you won't find on Fox News.

    February 15, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. davetharave

    Bad news for the Republicans – the economy is improving and slowly gaining momentum. By September things will be rolling along nicely and President Obama will get the credit. Repubs have only 1 argument – they'll say the recovery is slow, if they were in control it would be moving much more quickly. Democratic response – yeah but at what expense ... more deregulation, less control of banks and Wall Street, a return to the policies that caused the 2008 catastrophe. Slow, sustained growth is better than fast growth without rules.

    February 15, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. ktown8

    Can't tell who's side CNN is on! Gees. The man is barely at 50% approval 9 months away from the election, and this is "breaking news"? I wonder if this poll was conducted before or after his contraceptive and budget gaffe's? The man is garbage!

    February 15, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. cali girl

    Hope we can believe in.
    Way to go my man!

    February 15, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  14. KatR

    YES!!!! Obama/Biden 2012

    February 15, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  15. elle

    for me, it was about the President overlooking the job situation in the first years. I was subsequently laid off. I am still suffering through those consequences so it is a constant reminder of why I don't feel like I would vote for him. The way health insurance is set up – no job, no healthcare.

    February 15, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  16. Facepalm28

    Two questions are really all that matter here: will the economy stay on the course of recovery, and will the Republicans stay on the course of extremism and backstabbing, in that order of importance.

    Yes and yes: easy Obama win
    Yes and no: gets closer, but Obama still probably holds on
    No and yes: toss-up, depending how bad it gets
    No and no: probably the eventual Republican nominee ekes out a win.

    February 15, 2012 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. Andrew

    I fully support the President in his principle and actions. Although I do not agree with all of them, I knew that in 2008, running on 'Hope and Change' was pie in the sky in light of 35 years of single minded big government. Afterall, you can't win on 'Hope and attempt to Change'. I went with realistic expectations and 80% satisfied. Once America realizes our only leading polling figure is 'Pride', will we ever be able to back it up with real innovaiton and growth. The world is changing and we need to get on!

    February 15, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. Rami

    Yes, wait till the price of gas go to $4.00... and tell me his aproval.

    February 15, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  19. cpc65

    Well next to Moe, Larry, Curly and Shemp on the other side, anyone will look good.

    February 15, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  20. Yan Alexander

    I can feel the change in the air tonight!!! Obama 2012

    February 15, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. tstorm

    President Obama is very intelligent, makes tough decisions without the help of the do-nothing Republican congress. He cares greatly about our troops and has kept us from a Great Depression. Obama is also well-respected by world leaders. Something George Bush and Dick Cneney were totally unable to do. When I see these clowns on the Republican side get all into a lather about social issues and tell poor people and the middle class it's their fault if they lost their jobs or their homes, I'm voting for Obama.

    February 15, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. uisignorant

    And I bet your panties are damp.

    February 15, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Ricardo

    There's no better candidate to be the president than President Obama himself!

    February 15, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Thinking7

    CNN – No one believes this.

    February 15, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. Darth Cheney

    The more the people know about Santorum and Romney, the more they like Obama.

    February 15, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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