Immediately following the Democrats' midterm disaster, there was much talk about whether Obama was toast, doomed to dwindling approval numbers en route to a one-term presidency. The punditry was also abuzz with speculation that Obama was so weakened by the defeat that a liberal candidate could emerge and challenge him to a spirited primary contest in 2012.
That speculation, it's now clear, was premature.
In a Quinnipiac poll released this week, 48% of respondents said they approved of Obama's job performance, while 44% disapproved, the first time in approximately one year that the president posted a net positive rating in that poll. It also came two months after Obama's worst ever showing in the Quinnipiac poll, when 44% of respondents approved of the job he was doing, compared to 49% who disapproved.
Similarly, the latest Marist poll found that 48% of Americans approve of Obama's job performance, while 43% disapprove. That's a stunning 13-point swing in net approval from December, when Obama posted a record low 42% approval rating and a 50% disapproval rating.
The trend is clear in other polls as well:
- Ipsos-Reuters found that Obama's approval rating hit the symblic 50% threshold this month for the first time since last June.
- An AP-Gfk poll this month pegged Obama's approval even higher, at 53%, also the first time they'd found the president with a positive net approval since June.
- Though Obama still posts a net negative approval rating in polling done by YouGov (46% approval to 48% disapproval in the most recent poll) that's still far better than his marks in mid November when his approval sank to 40% compared to 55% disapproval.
And both Rasmussen and Gallup, who release daily tracking polls of the president's approval rating, have shown it trending up recently. Obama's approval reached 50% earlier this month in the Gallup poll, the first time it had done so since last May. And while Obama posts a net negative in the latest Rasmussen poll, with 47% of respondents approving of his job performance versus 51% disapproving, that split is better than the 45% to 54% split Obama held exactly one month ago.
There are a number of factors that could be contributing to Obama's recent approval bump.
For one, he signed several popular bills during the lame duck session, including the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, a bill providing health care for 9/11 first responders, and a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans.
One month of improved approval numbers is not necessarily indicative of a reversal of fortune for the President, especially as he prepares to govern for the first time with a Republican controlled House. Yet they do show that recent reports of the President's political demise were greatly exaggerated.