A new Gallup Poll finds President Obama’s favorability rating is now the highest it has been since September of 2013: 53%.
Americans’ favorable ratings of President Barack Obama now stand at 53%, up four points from March. This comes after a year in which these ratings were mostly below 50% and marks the president’s highest score since September 2013.
A president’s favorable ratings are distinct from approval of his performance; job approval ratings generally tend to be lower. For the Obama presidency, Gallup trends show the two measures have changed largely in tandem. As Obama’s approval rating has rebounded nine percentage points from a low of 37% last fall, his favorable rating has increased 11 points from 42%. The resulting seven-point gap between Obama’s current 46% approval rating and his 53% favorable rating is slightly larger than the average five-point gap between these ratings for Obama since he took office.
The gap between job approval and favorable ratings over the course of Obama’s presidency has been as wide as eight points, and as narrow as two points. The latter took place just after Obama was re-elected, in November 2012, when his favorable rating was 58% and his job approval was 56%.
The key to his poll improvement? He’s regaining the support of independent voters:
Obama’s favorable rating in the May 6-10 poll reflects increases compared with November 2014 among Democrats (90%) and independents (52%). Republicans, on the other hand, continue to be chilly toward the president; their favorable ratings of Obama have been largely flat at low levels since last fall.
If this keeps up, Gallup says, Obama could wind up being seen in a favorable historical light compared two some other recent Presidents:
Americans in general are more inclined to give Obama a favorable personal rating than they are to approve of the job he is doing. Obama’s favorable and job approval ratings have each improved this year, and his current 53% favorable rating is the highest since late 2013.
The recent increase in how Americans view Obama, and likely also his performance, might have something to do with his attempts to bridge various communities in recent months — such as police and racial minorities; Cuba and the U.S.; and members of Congress from both parties who are pro- and anti-trade.
As he serves out his seventh year in office, Obama’s favorability is higher than it was in his sixth year, when he received a record-low rating after the 2014 midterm elections. Excluding his first year, when his favorable ratings averaged 62%, his favorables have been fairly steady — as have his job approval ratings.
Depending on how the final 20 months of his presidency go, Obama’s relatively buoyant favorability might stand in stark contrast to that of his two predecessors — President Bill Clinton, whose yearly averages peaked in his fifth year and dipped thereafter; and President George W. Bush, whose favorable ratings spiked early on in his presidency and descended rapidly in his second term.
And it’s clear the block he can never win over are conservative Republicans. Read Bruce Bartlett take on that HERE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.