PRINCETON, NJ -- Barack Obama's job approval rating has increased in recent days and now stands at 50% in Gallup Daily tracking for April 21-23.
The 50% approval mark is notable because all incumbent presidents since Eisenhower who were at or above 50% approval at the time of the election were re-elected. Obama's job approval rating has typically been in the mid-40% range for the last three months.
Obama reached 50% briefly earlier this month, but that soon dissipated, perhaps due to mixed news in the government's April 6 unemployment report after largely positive reports in the prior two months. In recent days, Obama appears to be more solidly around 50%, averaging at least 49% approval in each of the last four individual nights of Gallup polling.
One possible reason for Obama's recent rise is the decline in gas prices, which some analysts believe could indicate that prices have peaked. Rising gas prices have often been associated with a decline in presidential approval ratings.
Obama Takes Lead in 2012 Campaign
Obama's increased approval coincides with his taking a lead, 49% to 42%, over Mitt Romney in Gallup Daily tracking of registered voters' 2012 presidential election preferences. That marks a shift from last week, when Romney held an edge in Gallup tracking.
The seven-percentage-point Obama advantage in April 19-23 Gallup Daily tracking, based on interviews with more than 2,100 registered voters, also represents the largest lead Obama has held over Romney in Gallup polling on 2012 election preferences, dating back to last August.
Obama's lead is owing in large part to his improved standing among independent voters. In April 11-15 Gallup tracking, Romney was up, 45% to 39%, among independent voters. Now, Obama holds a 45% to 43% edge among this group.
Democrats and Republicans still overwhelmingly back their own party's candidate, although Obama may have improved slightly, and Romney declined slightly, among their respective parties' loyalists over the past week.
In recent days, Americans have become more positive about the job Obama is doing as president, and at the same time now prefer him by a significant margin over his likely opponent in the fall election. Although readings on these measures are likely to change again in the days and weeks ahead, the data suggest at the moment a solid footing for the Obama re-election campaign.
Several key indicators of election outcomes, such as Americans' satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States and their confidence in the economy, are low from a historical perspective; however, they are improved from where they were late last year and early this year.
The economic situation, particularly recent weaknesses such as unemployment and gas prices, will likely be particularly important in how Americans evaluate the state of the nation, the performance of the president, and whether he deserves another term in office.
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 President Obama's approval rating are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking April 21-23, 2012, with a random sample of 1,534 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 ±3 percentage points.
Results for 2012 election vote preferences are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking April 19-23, 2012, with a random sample of 2,157 registered voters, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of registered voters, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 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.
The questions reported here were asked of a random half-sample of respondents each night on the Gallup Daily tracking survey.
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.