YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

President Obama's approval rating surges at midpoint of term

Several polls note a rise in public approval for Obama. The bump comes after his Tucson shooting speech and a productive lame-duck congressional session.

January 20, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — President Obama is enjoying a surge in public approval as he marks the midpoint of his first term, an uptick that follows a productive lame-duck congressional session and his well-received speech on the shooting tragedy in Tucson.

The same polling shows that although new Speaker of the House John Boehner is getting favorable reviews early on, Americans don't expect that much from the new Congress.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released Wednesday night showed Obama's job-approval rating at 53%, an eight-point jump from mid-December and his highest rating since July 2009. Surveys from CNN/Opinion Research and ABC News/Washington Post also put Obama's approval rating above the 50% threshold.

An aggregation of polling data by Real Clear Politics shows Obama with a net approval rating of 5%, a jump of 8% from mid-December and at the highest level since January 2010.

Obama also may be benefiting from an improved political climate after a hyper-partisan midterm campaign in which he was an active participant.

"The last six weeks have been the best six weeks the president has had in his first two years in office," NBC/WSJ co-pollster Peter Hart told the network.

Americans are still pessimistic about the course of the nation, but less so than recent months. According to the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 35% say the nation is headed in the right direction, while 56% say it's on the wrong track. It's the best finding on that question since October 2009.

Thursday is the second anniversary of Obama's inauguration, the halfway mark of a four-year term. He was elected with the biggest majority in two decades in 2008, but one year later, his political fortunes began to decline. The first anniversary of his inauguration a year ago was marked by fallout from the upset victory of Republican candidate Scott Brown in the race to fill what had been Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat. He rebounded to push through a historic health-reform bill nearly two months later, but his party suffered defeat in congressional elections in November.

Just weeks into that new Congress, where Republicans hold a majority in the House but still sit in the minority in the Senate, Obama scores better than Republicans on key issues tested by ABC and the Washington Post.

Respondents trust the president over Republicans by five points on the economy, three points on the budget deficit, six points on the threat of terrorism, two points on taxes and 14 points on helping the middle class. But they are equally divided on who would better handle healthcare, with 42% choosing each and 10% saying they trust neither.

The NBC poll found a majority of respondents thought Obama was likely to work well with the Republican Congress, but just as many thought Republicans would be too inflexible in dealing with him.

As the White House gears up for a likely reelection campaign — announcing Thursday that it would base the effort again in Chicago — advisers may be taking heart in positive numbers from Ohio, where Democratic losses were especially severe in November.

Despite — critics might charge because of — multiple visits from Obama, Vice President Biden and other top Democrats, Republicans won the governorship, U.S. Senate seat and five congressional seats. But a Quinnipiac poll of Buckeye State voters released Thursday morning showed the president's approval rating back in positive territory. By a 44%-39% margin, voters also said they would choose Obama over an unnamed Republican in a hypothetical 2012 matchup for the bellwether state's 18 electoral votes.

Los Angeles Times Articles