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.
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.
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.
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.
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 in Gallup's latest Economic Confidence Index figures, Obama's economy rating will almost certainly continue to rise accordingly.
Explore President Obama's approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 2-5, 2012, with a random sample of 1,029 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.