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Obama approval rating reaches four-year high

 By Sarah Dutton, Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Anthony Salvanto

With just weeks to go before Barack Obama’s presidency comes to an end, his overall approval rating is the highest it’s been in four years, and public assessments of the nation’s economy have grown more positive.

Fifty-six percent of Americans approve of the overall job Mr. Obama is doing as president – the highest since December 2012, shortlyafter his reelection, while 36 percent disapprove.


As has been the case throughout most of his presidency, President Obama gets high approval ratings from Democrats, while most Republicans disapprove. But Mr. Obama’s approval rating has been inching up among independents in recent months – 56 percent now approve.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Obama's impact 06:00

Compared to previous two-term presidents at similar points in their presidencies, President Obama’s approval rating is considerably higher than that of his immediate predecessor, George W. Bush, but lower than both President Bill Clinton’s and Ronald Reagan’s.


On two important issues, evaluations of the president are more positive than negative. Fifty-five percent now approve of President Obama’s handling of the economy – his highest approval rating on the issue since 2009, the first year of his presidency. A lower 48 percent approve of the job he is doing on foreign policy, but that’s the president’s highest approval on this issue since 2013.

For the third straight CBS News Poll, the percentage of Americans who say the condition of the national economy is good is above 50 percent.  As recently as the spring, more than half of Americans said the economy was in bad shape.

Obama on national security 43:05

There is also increased optimism about the direction the economy is headed: More now say the economy is getting better than say it is getting worse. 

Thirty-six percent think it is getting better – up 10 points since last month.


Perhaps with their party taking control of the White House come January, Republicans are now more positive about the direction of the economy than they were before the election. Twenty-eight percent say it’s getting better, up from just 7 percent in early November. Independents are more positive as well.

This poll was conducted by telephone December 9-13, 2016 among a random sample of 1,259 adults nationwide. Data collection was conducted on behalf of CBS News by SSRS of Media, PA.  Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard land-line and cell phones.

The poll employed a random digit dial methodology. For the landline sample, a respondent was randomly selected from all adults in the household. For the cell sample, interviews were conducted with the person who answered the phone.

Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish using live interviewers. The data have been weighted to reflect U.S. Census figures on demographic variables.

The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher and is available by request. The margin of error includes the effects of standard weighting procedures which enlarge sampling error slightly.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.  

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