The trend is Obama’s friend

Obama’s Economic Approval Rating Improves

Economy rating is still low vs. other issues, but is most improved since November

by Lydia Saad (Source Gallup Polls)

PRINCETON, NJ — By 59% to 38%, more Americans continue to disapprove than approve of President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy. However, his approval rating on the economy is up from 30% in November after descending to a term-low 26% in August.

Trend: Approval of President Barack Obama's Handling of the Economy

Obama’s slight improvement on the economy essentially restores that rating to the level seen for 2010 and the first half of 2011, prior to the economic and political events of last summer that sent Americans’ underlying confidence in the economy tumbling. This improvement coincides with a similar recovery in economic confidence.

Economy Ranks Near Bottom of Issue Ratings

Still, Obama’s rating on the economy continues to be one of his poorest issue evaluations from Americans — on par this month with his handling of foreign trade, relations with China, and creating jobs. Of the 11 issues on which Americans rated his performance in the Feb. 2-5 Gallup poll, only his rating on the federal budget deficit came in lower, at 32%.

The president’s highest issue approval ratings — all near 50% — are for the environment, national defense, Afghanistan, and foreign affairs generally.

Obama Job Approval Ratings on 11 Issues, February 2012

Gallup last measured six of these issues in November 2011, and Obama’s approval rating has since increased on two of them: the economy, up eight percentage points, and the federal budget deficit, up six points. There have been no meaningful changes in his ratings for Afghanistan, foreign affairs, healthcare policy, or creating jobs.

Obama's Job Approval Ratings on Issues -- Recent Trend

Independents’ Ratings of Obama Mirror All Americans’

Approval of Obama on the issues by party follows expected patterns, with majorities of Democrats and less than a third of Republicans approving of him on all 11 issues measured.

Approval among independents ranges from 27% for the federal budget deficit to 53% for national defense; the latter is the only issue on which the majority of independents positively review him. More generally, Obama receives near 50% support from independents on foreign policy-oriented issues and near or below 35% support from them on economic issues — similar to his ratings nationally.

Obama's Job Approval Ratings on Issues -- by Party ID, February 2012

Bottom Line

After falling perilously low last summer, President Obama’s approval rating on the economy has climbed to 38%, similar to the economy ratings he received from 2010 through the first half of 2011. That less-than-stellar rating is significantly lower than his 47% overall job approval rating in the latest Gallup Daily tracking figures — indicating Americans are factoring more than the economy into account when reviewing the president’s job performance. Obama’s relatively strong ratings on national defense and foreign affairs could be playing a role. Further, if Americans’ economic mood continues to improve, as is indicated inGallup’s latest Economic Confidence Index figures, Obama’s economy rating will almost certainly continue to rise accordingly.

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