Obama approval ratings on the rise
Forget November’s election “shellacking,” at least for now. Things are looking up for President Barack Obama.
A flurry of new opinion polls show Obama’s approval ratings climbing above 50 percent for the first time in months, fueled by growing public confidence in the economy and a positive reaction to his response to the Arizona shootings and the spurt of bipartisan accomplishment in Congress in December.
An ABC News/Washington Post poll published earlier this week put Obama’s approval at 54 percent, up five percentage points since December, and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had him at 53 percent, up eight percentage points in a month.
At least four other recent polls show Obama’s approval climbing above 50 percent, a strong turnaround after his ratings hit new lows in the fall and his fellow Democrats were crushed in elections that saw Republicans seize control of the House of Representatives.
The improvements came across the board, with gains seen among Democrats, independents and Republicans.
“The last six weeks have been the best six weeks the president has had in his first two years in office,” said Democratic pollster Peter Hart, who conducted the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey with Republican Bill McInturff.
Republicans have their own problems. The NBC poll found only one-quarter of Americans say Republicans in Congress will bring the right kind of change, and a majority believe Republicans will be too inflexible in dealing with Obama.
But polls also find plenty of doubts about Obama heading into his 2012 re-election campaign, and his recent success could be short-lived without sustained improvement in the economy and unemployment.
A Gallup analysis said the pattern of Obama’s approval ratings in 2011, his third year in office, could be a critical sign of his re-election chances in 2012.
Of the three recent presidents with approval ratings most similar to Obama’s at this point in their presidency, the two whose ratings improved in the third year — Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton — were re-elected, Gallup said. The one whose ratings continued to decline — Jimmy Carter — was defeated.
Photo credit: Reuters/Larry Downing (Obama speaks at event honoring 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration)