Obama approval ratings see boost before 2015 State of the Union address

US President Barack Obama (AFP Photo / Mandel Ngan)
President Barack Obama’s job approval rating is on the rise, according to major polls, even as some surveys show overall disapproval. Ahead of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the majority of polls show Obama attaining equal approval and disapproval.

The Washington Post/ABC News poll reported a 50 percent approval rating of Obama among respondents, a nine-point increase from December. Meanwhile, 44 percent disapprove.

This approval rating marks Obama’s highest reported by this survey in a year and a half, and matches the popularity jump he received in spring 2011, after the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Before his 2014 State of the Union address, Obama’s approval rating in the Post/ABC poll was 46 percent, while 50 percent disapproved. Those numbers marked the first time in his presidency that Obama’s job rating was overall negative just before the president’s annual State of the Union address in January. The 2015 address is scheduled for Tuesday, January 20.

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The approval boost this year corresponds with a sharp increase – up to 41 percent from 27 percent three months ago – in Americans who said the economy is in “good shape.” That confidence in the economic climate is the highest the Post/ABC poll has measured since Obama has been in office and since before the Great Recession began.

At 56 percent, the number of Americans who said the country is headed along the wrong track is down 12 percent from October, marking that number’s lowest spot since fall, 2012.

In a dramatic swing since the 2014 fall election – a landslide victory for the Republican Party nationwide – survey respondents said by a 40-36 percent margin that they trust Obama more than the Republican Congress to address the nation’s major problems.

Obama’s gains in the Post/ABC poll is driven by millennials and Hispanics, whose support for the president in recent months has gone up 19 points and 22 points, respectively. The president also garnered more support among conservatives and men; both groups’ approval of Obama went up 11 percent each.

Other major polls – including those conducted by Gallup, CBS News, and Rasmussen – also show that Obama is gaining ground after dismal ratings throughout 2014.

According to Gallup, 50 percent of Americans currently approve of Obama’s job performance while 46 percent disapprove. Just before the November 2014 congressional election, Gallup reported that only 41 percent approved of Obama while 54 percent disapproved.

Before the 2014 State of the Union address, Obama held only a 40-percent approval rating in Gallup’s polling, with 53-percent disapproval.

Buoyed by economic positivity and an increase in support from political independents, Obama’s overall job approval rating is up seven points since October 2014 among respondents of the CBS News poll.

Forty-six percent approved of Obama in the CBS poll, while the same number disapproved, mirroring numbers found in the same survey one year ago.

CBS reported that Obama’s 46 percent approval is higher than that of his predecessor, George W. Bush (28 percent), at this point in his presidency, though lower than both Ronald Reagan (52 percent) and Bill Clinton (65 percent).

Rasmussen, meanwhile, has Obama’s approval rating at 49 percent, with a 50 percent disapproval. These numbers contrast to the 45-53 percent margin recorded by the same poll just before the November election.

President Obama's support isn't on the upswing with all constituencies. According to a new poll conducted by the Military Times, only 15 percent of active-duty service members approve of Obama’s performance as commander-in-chief. That’s quite the drop from 35 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, 55 percent of respondents said they disapproved, up from 40 percent in the same time span.