Obama Approval Surging
Don't look now but President Obama's approval ratings are closing in on levels that point to re-election.
Don’t look now but President Obama’s approval ratings are closing in on levels that point to re-election.
CNN (“CNN Poll: President’s approval nearing 50%“):
President Barack Obama’s approval rating, a crucial indicator of his reelection chances, is on the rise, according to a new national survey.
A CNN/ORC International Poll out Tuesday also indicates that the partisan battle over extending the payroll tax cut may be partially responsible for the jump in the president’s numbers.
According to the survey, 49% of Americans approve of the job Obama’s doing in the White House, up five points from last month, with 48% saying they disapprove, down six points from mid-November. The 49% approval rating is the president’s highest since May, when his number hit 54% thanks to a bounce following the killing of Osama bin Laden. Since then, in CNN polling, Obama’s approval rating has hovered in the mid-40s.
“President Barack Obama’s approval rating appears to be fueled by dramatic gains among middle-income Americans,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “The data suggest that the debate over the payroll tax is helping Obama’s efforts to portray himself as the defender of the middle class.”
Obama’s gains have come at the expense of the Republicans in Congress and the GOP in general. By a 50% to 31% margin, people questioned say they have more confidence in the president than in congressional Republicans to handle the major issues facing the country. Obama held a much narrower 44% to 39% margin in March.
And the GOP’s overall favorable rating has dropped to six points, to 43%, since June, while the Democrats’ positive rating remained steady at 55%.
“The Democrats do particularly well among middle income Americans, while the Republicans win support only from the top end of the income scale,” adds Holland.
Overall, only 16% say they approve of the job Congress is doing, with 83% giving lawmakers from both parties the thumbs down. The Congressional disapproval rating has topped 80% since August in CNN polling.
The survey indicates that Obama remains personally popular, with three-quarters saying they approve of him as a person.
The last of these is likely the most crucial: Most Americans want to approve of Obama and always have. The wretched economy has made that very hard but Obama is doing a very good job of positioning himself as someone who cares very much about the plight of those suffering, is working hard to find solutions, and–most importantly–is doing so despite the intransigence of Republican obstructionists.
Now, it’s worth noting that the polling on this question is surprisingly fluid. Of the five recent polls included in the RealClearPolitics average–which has not been updated to include this just-released CNN poll–four still show higher disapproval than approval. But the three newest polls–four, if we include CNN’s–all show an upward trend.
I’m still betting on Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination and think he’s the available Republican with the best chance of beating Obama. If the economy is still in the toilet next fall, he might just do it. But it’s going to be an uphill fight. As I’ve noted many times in this space, the default position in American politics has been to re-elect incumbent presidents. And this particular one is a great fundraiser, a great campaigner, and a sunnier, more personable, fellow than any of his opponents.