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. Occupy Wallstreet for Senate 2016

    People are finally realizing it's the wallstreet banksters who mooch off the system by paying for laws that benefit their greedy money grubbing agenda. The 30 year old Reagan created myth against the welfare queen robbing this country into debt by sitting on their duffs has finally been debunked.

    We finally see the greed of the banksters affecting our everyday lives with high oil prices, a broken healthcare for profit system, and elected representatives that only listen to the almighty dollar bill.

    February 15, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. cathstar

    Obama is infinitely better than his predecessor who created all of the nightmares that Obama is trying to dig us out of. The more the current cast of Republican contenders speak, the better Obama looks. If the voters wake up and really listen to the alternatives, Obama should win in a landslide.

    February 15, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. We need a true third party

    ORC International = Obama Re-election Committee. There's a poll that you can trust. Hey CNN, how about using a U.S. owned polling company, not one from the UK. Even CNN outsources.

    February 15, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I cannot understand how 50% of the participants in this poll approve of the way the president is running our country. Never in my adult life have I witnessed such an out of control, manipulative, for sale to the highest bidder, intrusive government. Our liberties and freedoms are being challenged by this administration and his like-minded, well-orchestrated czars every day. They are constantly looking for another soft spot to inject their ideology and social agenda. And every day people fall for his words and not look into his actions. Why don’t people want to know the truth? Just do your own research. The majority of the news media is in favor of Obama and will never expose this administration. It wasn’t long ago when the media did a great job of exposing everything the Bush administration did or even thought of doing. What happened to that level of scrutiny?

    February 15, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Canuck

    "i never trust the polls that the elite media reports"

    'Elite' seems to be the new catchword for the right. It seems to be used mostly in the context of describing someone who is smarter than the speaker.

    February 15, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. CarlaCCBC

    I believe that Obama should be in the top! GO 50%!! But I feel as if Obama has done a lot in the past four years, face it, he has a lot to clean up after the Bush era. I believe that Obama will continue to improve the country’s position. United Health Care seems to be a good deal, I am a bit skeptical, but it’s a huge leap for this country. If Obama gets another four years America would be better off. I believe that Obama is doing the best he can for our country and I predict that he will win this election because of his potential and the people see that.

    February 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. Don

    President Obama is far from perfect. His presidency is a work in progress. But, he has continued to improve, shown a real ability in foreign relations (especially with Pacific nations), and is always sane and clear-headed.

    As our economy gradually improves and the reactionary nature of the Republican candidates becomes more obvious I think he will become more popular–leading to his re-election.

    But it it truly the right time to look very carefully at the current Congress. I strongly believe that they are not representative of our nation and were elected in retaliation to the terrible economic climate of the time. Their inability to conceptualize and understand problems, remove themselves from a consistent far-right ideological set of blinders, and to master a basic understanding of economics–coupled with a repugnant obstinate and stubborn nature, has rendered them as enemies to any hope for bringing about improvement in our nation

    February 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. BarackBacker

    Go get 'em, Barack. Drive the lying, traitorous conservatives from the temple!

    February 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Guest

    Republicans had better find some way to sandbag the economy before Nov.

    February 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  10. JRH

    Gee, what a surprise. The GOP fronts a namby-pamby milquetoast and a couple of off the scale right wing lunatics and Obama's poll results are news? Can we just get this over with and move on?

    February 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. TheAlaskaCurmudgeon

    Republicans only have themselves to blame. Look at who's running against him. Obama is going to be the first president reelected by default.

    February 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. MBiggenson

    What I don't understand is that Obama inherited these problems from the war-mongering Republican party with Bush at the helm. The USofA was already in the toilet during the epic fail Bush administration. Then anytime Obama tried to do anything, he was C-Blocked by the same party of Republicans, who then complained Obama wasn't very effective at governing. The rest of the world isn't mentally challenged; we KNOW that Bush and the GOP RUINED the economy since before Obama was sworn in. It's NOT A SECRET. You cannot hold Obama responsible for the atrocities the GOP committed. You Republicans continue praying to God, but ask him to remove your head from your asses.

    February 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |

    That is good news. He is no FDR, but he is the best one for the job in our time

    February 15, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. babs

    Obama will be re-elected because he is ending the republican-caused recession and because people like him and do not like any of the republican wannabes.

    February 15, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  15. Dave

    Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    i never trust the
    polls that the elite media reports.

    Indeed. You believe lies, and nothing but lies. Everyone who is not already a die-hard Republican disagrees with you. Yours is a continuously shrinking tent of old white people.

    February 15, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  16. JT

    Oh great could you imagine a second term of this. Remember when he his party controlled both the house and senate and instead of focusing on the economy he chose to push health care. Yeah that's just what we all need to be forced to by insurance when we don't have jobs. Recall please.

    February 15, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  17. S Kyle

    @ REPUBLICAN ARE THE GREATEST – You might want to do a little research. Far more registered Democrats and Liberal-leaning Independents have college-level educations than do registered Republicans and social Conservatives... Far, far, far more.

    February 15, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  18. Dee

    finally people are back in-line in our country! OBAMA 2012! NO GOP.. NO WAY!

    February 15, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  19. James

    Can't wait to see how Fox News spins this one.

    February 15, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. Jack Be Humble

    I would not be surprised to see a brokered Republican convention at this point, with Jeb Bush emerging as the Dark Horse Republican Candidate. President Obama could defest him as well.

    February 15, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. Jack Be Humble

    I would not be surprised to see a brokered Republican convention at this point, with Jeb Bush emerging as the Dark Horse Republican Candidate. President Obama could defeat him as well.

    February 15, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |

    Yes, I agree media numbers can be difficult to swallow. When George Reign of Error" W. Bush hit 22% favorable I had a hard time believing that number. It would seem obvious that more than 80% of America could see he was a total and complete disaster.

    February 15, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. Lkhamblin

    This is breaking new? I think CNN needs to raise their standards for what qualifies as important enough to be breaking news.

    February 15, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. crazy

    I am so glad to hear this. Every repug need to go

    February 15, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. Brian

    Rami, even though historically you're on to something, but make no mistake POTUS is solely responsible for the increase in gas prices. Lack of production in the North Sea, turmoil in the Middle East to include a blockade in the Strait of Hormuz are the only factors. Last time I checked, the major oil companies continue to pull in record profits. Supply and demand.

    February 15, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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