PRINCETON, NJ -- President Obama's job approval rating averaged 45.9% during his 13th quarter in office, showing improvement for the second consecutive quarter. His rating is essentially back to where it was before declining last summer and fall.
These results are based on more than 45,000 Gallup Daily tracking interviews conducted from Jan. 20 through April 19, the 13th quarter Obama has been in office since he was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2009.
The improvement in Obama's approval rating is likely tied to more positive economic news in recent months, especially concerning unemployment. Obama's approval rating reached as high as 50% in Gallup Daily tracking, for April 3-5, before settling back down into the mid- to high 40% range in recent days.
Although Obama's approval rating is improving, this is offset by the fact that it remains below the averages at the same point in time for presidents who were re-elected. All presidents since Eisenhower who were re-elected enjoyed average approval ratings above 50% during their 13th quarters in office.
The above list does not include Harry Truman, who seemed certain to be defeated during most of 1948 but surprised experts by winning the election. Gallup conducted just two polls during Truman's 13th quarter in office, in which he averaged 39.5% job approval, and did not measure his approval rating again until after his re-election.
The two recent presidents who were below 50%, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, did not win re-election. Carter's 13th-quarter average was slightly higher than Obama's. However, Carter's approval rating tumbled during his 14th quarter, to 35.8%. The elder Bush's average also declined in his 14th quarter, perhaps suggesting Obama may be in a better position if his approval rating continues to improve in the next quarter.
George W. Bush averaged above 51.0% approval in his 13th quarter but slipped below the 50% mark in his 14th. However, his approval recovered to 50.2% in his 15th quarter, which ended just weeks before the election. Other re-elected presidents remained above 50% right up to the election.
Obama remains short of the historical comfort zone -- above 50% approval -- that most successfully re-elected presidents achieved during their re-election year. However, he is not far below that threshold, and has seen his approval rating improve over the last two quarters.
The latest Gallup Daily tracking three-day rolling average of 46% suggests Obama is ending his 13th quarter at precisely his average performance for the entire quarter.
Explore President Obama's approval ratings in depth and compare them with those of past presidents in the Gallup Presidential Job Approval Center.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 20-April 19, 2012, with a random sample of 45,362 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 ±1 percentage point.
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.