It was a long road back, but President Obama is now back in positive territory in our TPM Poll Average.
The shift comes on the heels of a completed Iraq withdrawal, a legislative win on the payroll tax cut before Christmas, and perhaps most importantly, good economic numbers in January and early February. The President’s numbers have jumped in the last few days in both Gallup and Rasmussen tracking polls as well as individual national polls.
This isn’t the first time that Obama has been in positive territory in the last calendar year. But the other periods of sustained approval were triggered by individual events — the President’s rating went over water after his response to the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), and continued as the first events of the Arab Spring transpired. After his rating went into negative territory during late February of 2011, it peaked again after he announced a successful strike against Osama bin Laden. Then it trailed off again and fell deeply when Congress and the White House fought viciously over raising the debt ceiling.
Since the early days of the debt fight in early June, Obama has been underwater, hitting a low of around 42.6 percent approval to 52 percent disapproval in early August. It was then the President started toward a slow recovery, based on a pivot to jobs and economy. He proposed a jobs package that didn’t put a dent in Congress’s intransigence, but helped him make a pitch to the American people. As you can see in the chart below, things steadily improved as the Republican presidential nomination process heated up, and as the economy showed signs of improving. Here’s the chart, since January 1st, 2011.
National approval rating, President Barack Obama
The number finally went positive with the release of Saturday’s Gallup tracking poll. Things could change tomorrow. But the general trend is more than clear — as the economy moves up and stubbornness in Congress continues, President Obama’s numbers look up.
Kyle is the Editor of TPM Media’s PollTracker. He graduated from Beloit College (WI) and began working in politics before getting an M.A. in magazine journalism from New York University, where he interned at TPM and the website of The New Yorker.