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. Michael

    Hey Truth, even the most recent Fox news poll has Obama with a 48% approve/45% disapprove rating (although for some reason they won't update the numbers on their Politics front page). It's not just real news networks that are coming up with these numbers, the GOP propaganda channel is also getting them.

    February 15, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Socialist

    In response, the Republicans are going to beg their speculator friends to raise the price of oil to make Obama look bad.

    February 15, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. Romano

    This so called "president" stinks along with all of his policies. He pulled out the military from Iraq because Bush set those dates. He always takes credit for someone else ideas. Bone head!

    February 15, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  4. Lean6

    With all the good that this President has done, it's a shame that it's come to this: the more Republicans talk, the better President Obama's numbers performance. Go figure.

    February 15, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  5. RillyKewl

    Go Mr. President!
    and thank you, GOP + CPAC.

    February 15, 2012 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  6. Jim Rousch


    BTW, gas is ALREADY $4.00/gallon in some places. Nice try.

    President Obama ended one war, is concluding another, lowered taxes for the middle class, saved the American auto industry, and killed Osama Bin Laden. Meanwhile, we all know that it's OPEC and American oil companies who are to blame for high gas prices, and we all know that the Republicans are in bed with the Saudis-even though WE'RE the ones who are getting screwed.

    Don't like President Obama? Leave, just don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

    February 15, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  7. Mike F

    Good for the President, and it will continue to get better. He's the best America has right now. And right thinking Americans are not buying the nastiness the Republicans are constantly saying about the President. First they gave him the worst economy any President has ever inherited. Then, in less than 1 year they wanted him to turn the economy around like some magician. They have insulted him repeatedly and encouraged and excused the dirt thrown at him. No credit for anything. Only insults, questioning his birth and anything they could do to get him out of office. Well! finally, Americans are waking up to the reality that things are in fact getting better. I can't wait for him to be re-elected President of the United States. President Obama, the people are with you all the way.

    February 15, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. Orchid333

    The media likes to make it seem close, but I have no doubt that Obama will win by a landslide this year. The GOP field is just far too weak.

    February 15, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  9. Mark

    CNN, get a grip ... Every news cycle is the Republicans beating each other up. when they start to focus on the President (along with a 100 million Catholics), his numbers will plummet. He's just not in the limelight right now. If the situation was reversed, and the sitting president was a republican, you know CNN would be "EXPLAINING" the issue.

    February 15, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  10. Shireen Gr├ęgorius

    American wake up... President Obama is worth another 4 years... He was not born to wealthy parents so he knows what it is to "do without" . Sometimes I wonder if the problem is as Don Lemmon says "It takes just one drop"....
    I am a Canadian ...

    February 15, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  11. basketcase

    @Ben- Nice job taking one irrelevant statistic known for large fluctuations and equating it to the overall health of the economy. If you look at actual indicators of economic activity, we are slowly but surely improving.

    February 15, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. Jimmy

    This is a direct result of Santorum doing better in the polls. All the libertarians, independents and a large portion of the republicans can't stand the sweater vest wearing christian sharia law candidate. I may throw up all night the day after the elections if I vote for Obama but Santorum would make me throw up every day for 4 years.

    February 15, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Mari

    This is sad. Just shows how uninformed Americans are and how little they value their lives. I could never support a president that thinks arresting and detaining American citizens for an indefinite amount of time without trial is a good idea.

    We need extreme change, not more of the same.

    February 15, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  14. BusyLizzy

    They forgot to mention they called 1,026 adult Americans with free government cell phones!

    February 15, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  15. Sam

    I voted for him but the way the press covers for him and bashes the republicans 24/7 it's no wonder the polls favor him.

    What ever it takes for Obama to win, I'll take it. Great.

    February 15, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  16. Jimmy

    Direct result of Santorum doing better in the primaries.

    February 15, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  17. Tim

    It amazes me that everybody thinks he is doing a great job, seriously the man has the worst fiscal record of any president in history, another four years with him in office will push this country beyond the brink of insolvency. His new proposed budget of 3.8 trillion the highest in history, and what about his promise to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, he has done the exact opposite, I am not saying Bush was a good president, but anyone who thinks he is doing a good job or that the state of the country is okay, are clearly uneducated and swayed by simple political rhetoric instead of doing their own research. Obama is a great public speaker and has great speech writers, but people need look at the substance of his record than base their political devotion on emotionalism.

    February 15, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. mary

    I find that his polls went down at all, with the antics the GOP so obvious...Shocking.....
    It is shocking how many didn't even notice how the GOP were obstructing every thing that would help Americans.
    It is obvious what the GOP has been up to.. If only 1% hold the wealth and the rest of us are the 99% then there are a lot of people out there that have no clue what is really going on..
    Glad his poll numbers are going up.. And if people are really taking notice they will continue to rise...
    The GOP might start back peddling now.. But the last thing we need is them in control. they are for Corporations and the wealthy..
    I fear people will forget what they have been up to the past three years.. See them as being helpful now.. And forget what their real agenda is.. And that is to turn America into a place where only the rich have hope.. The rest are poor..

    February 15, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. Sam

    Can't wait until after the election when Obama gets mean and sticks it to the rich white guys.

    February 15, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. Jstic

    With the exception of the hard core right wingnuts who have been brainwashed by the GOP propaganda machine, I know few, if any people who don't think Obama has done a lot of things right as POTUS. Considering the hand he was dealt, it could have been a lot worse. If a Republican had been elected and continued the borrow and spend tactics of Bush 1 &2, along with the expensive war mongering which we got nothing in return for, and continued cutting taxes for the few who don't need the cuts, we would be in a lot worse shape today.

    February 15, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. King

    Sounds to me like everything is coming along like he said it would back when he got elected. Everyone just expected everything to be fixed withint the first 48 hours of his election. That is crazy, but I guess people just believed in him that much. It is taking time to fix this country and he is using that time to do just what he promised. He probably would have done more if every damn repub didn't fight him tooth and nail in trying to fix this mess their leader got us into. Obama is the best we've had in a very long time and those that are saying otherwise are immune to truth.

    February 15, 2012 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Joe P

    The only reason Obama is rising in the polls is because the majority of Americans are even more afraid of Romney/Gingrich. Obama sucks and these others are worse. This economy is beyond repair and we're owned and controlled by foreign money. Will America fail? No, we're the consumption engine that keeps the world economy moving, but are things going to suck for us, you betcha! The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer and there won't be anything left in the middle. Look at the bank bailout... Why didn't $50 billion dollars just get distributed across the average people as a stimulus? Because Americans would have paid their bank debt, and the banks wouldn't be able to charge us interest. Giving the money directly to the greedy people who caused this in the first place allowed them to bonus themselves, and continue to squeeze the average American for whatever money they had left, AND charge the American people interest on the debt. The entire system is broken, and none of these clowns want it fixed.

    February 15, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  23. Paul

    I am amazed at the state of sorrow of the GOP... so sad ... but hey, that's good news for the country and the world, finally the end of the big scare, finally freedom from stupidity and bigotry, finally the era of enlightenment has started and will last so long, in the end, in just 4 years from now, children will say, Dad, why didn't the GOPers start using their brain, before dying of and going extinct?" and the fathers all over the country will say, "Well, kid ... most of us did have a sense of why, but we weren't sure, now that science has proven it, we know and I can tell you, GOP leaders have no brain".
    and the kid will say, "Thanks dad, I thought so too, I am proud to be part of a country where education and facts count more than bigotry and fear!".

    February 15, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Chairman Obama

    Our plan for university professors and the media to indoctrinate liberal propaganda appears to be working ! Soon we will be a Marxist stronghold ! Hail Chairman Obama ! Mwua ha ha ha ha ha ! Ah ha ha ha ha ha !

    February 15, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. GLIFEX

    YAY!!! Thats Right Obama 2012

    February 15, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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