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Obama Favorable Rating Up, Best Since September 2013

Obama Favorable Rating Up, Best Since September 2013

Story Highlights

  • At 53%, favorable rating up four points from March
  • Favorable and job approval ratings usually move in tandem
  • Favorable ratings continue to vary by party identification

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans' favorable ratings of President Barack Obama now stand at 53%, up four points from March. This comes after a year in which these ratings were mostly below 50% and marks the president's highest score since September 2013.

Trend: Personal Favorability Ratings of President Barack Obama

A president's favorable ratings are distinct from approval of his performance; job approval ratings generally tend to be lower. For the Obama presidency, Gallup trends show the two measures have changed largely in tandem. As Obama's approval rating has rebounded nine percentage points from a low of 37% last fall, his favorable rating has increased 11 points from 42%. The resulting seven-point gap between Obama's current 46% approval rating and his 53% favorable rating is slightly larger than the average five-point gap between these ratings for Obama since he took office.

The gap between job approval and favorable ratings over the course of Obama's presidency has been as wide as eight points, and as narrow as two points. The latter took place just after Obama was re-elected, in November 2012, when his favorable rating was 58% and his job approval was 56%.

Trend: Personal Favorable Ratings vs. Job Approval of President Obama

Independents' Favorable Ratings of Obama Surge Since Last Fall

Obama's favorable rating in the May 6-10 poll reflects increases compared with November 2014 among Democrats (90%) and independents (52%). Republicans, on the other hand, continue to be chilly toward the president; their favorable ratings of Obama have been largely flat at low levels since last fall.

Recent Trend: Favorable Ratings of Barack Obama, by Party -- April 2014-May 2015

Bottom Line

Americans in general are more inclined to give Obama a favorable personal rating than they are to approve of the job he is doing. Obama's favorable and job approval ratings have each improved this year, and his current 53% favorable rating is the highest since late 2013.

The recent increase in how Americans view Obama, and likely also his performance, might have something to do with his attempts to bridge various communities in recent months -- such as police and racial minorities; Cuba and the U.S.; and members of Congress from both parties who are pro- and anti-trade.

As he serves out his seventh year in office, Obama's favorability is higher than it was in his sixth year, when he received a record-low rating after the 2014 midterm elections. Excluding his first year, when his favorable ratings averaged 62%, his favorables have been fairly steady -- as have his job approval ratings.

Depending on how the final 20 months of his presidency go, Obama's relatively buoyant favorability might stand in stark contrast to that of his two predecessors -- President Bill Clinton, whose yearly averages peaked in his fifth year and dipped thereafter; and President George W. Bush, whose favorable ratings spiked early on in his presidency and descended rapidly in his second term.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 6-10, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,024 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 ±4 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.

View survey methodology, complete question responses, and trends.

Learn more about how Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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