Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pew: Obama Approval Ticks Up, Bests All Challengers Nationally

A Pew Research Center for the People & the Press poll shows that with much of the recent political focus on the ever-changing flavor of the month Republican presidential front runner, Barack Obama’s job rating has improved over the past month. While a majority of Americans (52%) continue to hold a favorable personal opinion of Pres. Obama, this is not the case for his main GOP rivals.

Among the leading GOP candidates, none is viewed favorably on balance. Slightly more have an unfavorable opinion of Mitt Romney (42%) than a favorable opinion (36%), and the balance of opinion toward Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry is even more negative.

Obama holds clear advantages over Cain, Gingrich and Perry in head-to-head matchups among all registered voters. As was the case in October, however, Obama runs about even with Romney: 49% say they would vote for Obama or lean toward Obama while 47% support or lean toward Romney. Obama continues to trail Romney by a wide margin among independent voters. Currently, 53% of independents favor Romney while just 41% support Obama. In matchups with other leading GOP candidates, Obama leads or runs about even.

While Obama’s overall job rating has ticked up recently, few Americans (35%) approve of the way he is handling the economy. However, the percentage of Americans saying that they have heard mostly bad news about the economy has declined steadily over the past three months. Further, Obama gets more positive ratings for dealing with foreign policy (46% approve), and a resounding 75% approve of his decision to remove all combat troops from Iraq at year’s end.

Republican voters remain generally unimpressed with the quality of the GOP field. Only about half of Republican and Republican-leaning voters (48%) say the Republican candidates are excellent or good while nearly as many (46%) say they are only fair or poor. GOP voters’ ratings of the field have shown little improvement since May and are at least as low as ratings for Republican candidates at comparable points in the 2008 and 1996 campaigns.

The survey finds that Obama’s personal image remains positive and his overall job rating has drawn even, but his approval on the economy remains low. Moreover, just 35% say Obama is doing as much as he can to improve economic conditions, while 61% say he could be doing more. In March 2009, two months into Obama’s presidency, these numbers were virtually reversed (60% doing as much as he can, 30% could do more).

However, the public is hearing less negative news about the economy than it did just a month ago. The most recent Pew Research Center News Interest Index found that as many say they are hearing a mix of good and bad economic news as say the news has been mostly bad (48% each). In early October, 58% said they were hearing mostly negative news about the economy and in early August 67% said the economic news was mostly bad – the highest percentage in more than two years. (see “Fewer Hearing Mostly Bad News about Economy,” Nov. 15, 2011)

Read the full Pew report for findings on these subjects:

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