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Obama Job Approval Hits 50% for First Time Since 2013

Obama Job Approval Hits 50% for First Time Since 2013

Story Highlights

  • President's three-day average job rating through Sunday reaches 50%
  • First time Obama has hit 50% threshold since 2013
  • In the past month, Obama up most among younger, lower-income adults

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Less than a week after President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address to Congress, his job approval rating reached 50% in Gallup Daily tracking conducted Friday through Sunday. This is the first time the president's rating has returned to that level in Gallup's ongoing three-day rolling averages since June 2013.

President Barack Obama's Job Approval Rating

Only three months ago, in mid-October, 39% of Americans approved of Obama's job performance -- near his term low of 38%, last reached in September. His approval recovered slightly to 42% by the time of the Nov. 4 midterm elections. Following the elections -- after announcing executive actions on immigration and benefiting from an improving economy and falling gas prices -- his approval rating has gradually improved, averaging 44% in December and 46% thus far in January.

Improved Job Rating Follows Healthier Economic Confidence

Even if Obama's job approval rating doesn't hold at the 50% level, it has consistently registered in the mid- to high 40s throughout January, earning him the highest weekly averages he has seen in more than a year. His weekly average for the seven days ending Jan. 25 was 49%, up from 46% each of the prior three weeks, and from 44% in late December.

Notably, the recent uptick in Obama's weekly job rating follows a period of significant improvement in Americans' confidence in the U.S. economy. Economic confidence started improving in September. It then intensified in late December when Gallup's Economic Confidence Index crossed into positive territory for the first time in more than seven years, and it has since remained positive. Americans' ratings of Obama appear to be catching up with their improved economic views.

President Barack Obama's Job Approval Rating

It is not entirely clear why Obama's job approval rating has been slow to rebound relative to improved economic confidence, but one reason could be the political blow Obama took in November over his party's sweeping midterm election losses. Another could be the racial tensions that engulfed the country late last year over certain police interactions with young black males. This was evident in a sharp spike in Americans mentioning race relations as the nation's top problem in December.

The president's Jan. 20 State of the Union address may have helped him reframe the national discussion on terms more favorable to him -- namely, the economy. Although presidents rarely get much of a bounce from their State of the Union speeches, this year's address afforded Obama the opportunity to tout good economic news that some Americans may not have already known about, or at least allowed him to convince viewers that he deserved more of the credit.

Obama received a three-percentage-point bounce in approval after the speech, with his job score rising from an average 45% for Jan. 17-19 to 48% for Jan. 22-24 (the first three days of Gallup interviewing following the speech).

It is difficult to determine which groups are most responsible for Obama's immediate post-speech approval gains, as many of the changes are within the margin of error. However, compared with late December, it is clear that Obama's approval rating is up more among whites than among nonwhites, as well as up more sharply among younger adults -- those aged 18 to 49 -- than among older adults. Also, his rating is significantly improved among lower-income and lower-middle-income Americans, whereas it is flat or down among higher-income Americans.

President Obama's Weekly Job Approval by Key Demographics

Bottom Line

With Gallup's Economic Confidence Index consistently positive in January, past Gallup research suggests Obama ought to be enjoying job approval scores of 50% or better, and now he is. Given the increase in Obama's approval rating after the State of the Union address to Congress, it appears that speech may have helped him over the hump. These speeches aren't always effective at moving the public-opinion needle, but -- similar to the experience Bill Clinton had in 1998 -- on occasion, when the president has credibly positive economic news to report, the attention it brings can be useful.

Editor's Note: President Barack Obama's job approval bounce after his State of the Union speech has been changed from earlier publication.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Jan. 23-25, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,527 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, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

The Jan. 19-25 weekly average results are based on telephone interviews with a random sample of 3,043 national adults, aged 18 and older. For results based on this weekly sample, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

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