Obama’s Approval Ratings On The Rise After SOTU

February 1, 2010 10:51 a.m.

The Rasmussen daily presidential tracking poll is registering its highest level of strong support for President Obama in months. At the same time, the number of poll respondents saying they “strongly disapprove” of the job Obama is doing has dropped to it’s lowest level since Scott Brown won Ted Kennedy’s old seat in Massachusetts Jan. 19. According to the pollster, the shift came after Obama’s State of the Union address last week.

The latest numbers from Rasmussen’s rolling poll of 1500 likely voters shows 35% “strongly approve” of the job Obama is doing as president. The last time the number was that high was in June. The day before Obama’s State of the Union, it was 27%. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 39% strongly disapprove of Obama’s performance in the latest results. That’s down from 42% before Obama’s address to the nation.

Obama’s overall approval is on the rise in Rasmussen’s poll as well. For the last three days, Obama’s approval rating has hovered around 50%. It had fallen to 44% after Brown was elected. Today’s approval/disapproval split was 50/49.Over at Gallup, the granddaddy of presidential tracking polls, Obama has also seen a bit of a boost since the State of the Union. Before the speech, Obama’s Gallup approval split was 47/46. In the last poll, taken in the days following the address, the numbers have shifted to 50/44. Gallup doesn’t break out strong approval and strong disapproval the way Rasmussen does and in the pollster’s own analysis of the recent Obama poll surge, Gallup says it’s too early to tell if the speech had an impact.

The day after the speech, I dug into the overnight insta-polls that showed strong support for the speech among all viewers, and a shift in support for key policies and programs among Independents, who were a key to Obama’s 2008 victory but have turned away from the Democrats in recent elections. The new approval polls don’t confirm the insta-poll results on the policy front, but they do suggest that results showing that the speech revitalized Obama’s image among his supporters — and maybe changed a few minds among his detractors — were not a fluke.

Late Update: A few of you wrote in after this story went up, arguing that the boost in Obama’s approval ratings could be attributed more to last Friday’s “Question Time” with the House GOP than to the State of the Union. I asked Scott Rasmussen about that, and he told me this evening that it’s possible the Q&A session was part of an Obama boost, but that his polling shows the Obama approval surge began with the State of the Union.

“Did the Friday event contribute to it? I don’t know; it’s impossible to quantify,” Rasmussen told me. “But what we do know is that the numbers from Thursday, the first night after the speech, showed the president got a bump.”

Rasmussen said that Obama’s stepped up willingness to take on the GOP, evident in both the State of the Union speech and the Q&A, fired up his base, and shook off some of his detractors leading to both the recent rise in rise “strongly approve” rating and the dip in the “strongly disapprove” rating. So it’s possible the Q&A is part of the improved numbers, but unlikely that it’s entirely responsible for it. Either way, Rasmussen said, the most important polling is still to come.

“The real key is where the numbers are a week from now,” he said. “If [Obama’s approval rating] stays up, it shows that he may have changed the storyline for the 2010 elections.”

Later Update
: Greg Sargent asked Gallup’s Frank Newport the a similar question to the one I asked Rasmussen. Newport told Sargent that “it’s possible” that the rising Obama approval ratings “could be a delayed reaction to the SOTU, the session with the Republicans, or some other factor.” But Newport said his “data do not allow us to make that determination.”

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