A new CBS News poll has found that President Obama’s approval rating has jumped seven points to reach its highest level in a year.
Overall, President Obama is back on even ground with a split approval/disapproval rating of 46%/46%. The key to the president’s shift in popularity is that his executive actions have been very popular with Independents. Obama has seen his approval increase by 11 points with Independents. According to CBS News, the president is also getting credit from the American people for the improving economy, “Mr. Obama appears to be getting some credit for an improving economy. Forty-three percent say Mr. Obama’s policies have helped the economy while fewer — 34 percent — say his policies have hurt. Still, these views are colored by partisanship: most Democrats think the president’s policies have helped the economy, while most Republicans say they have hurt.”
The extreme partisan divide in the country is going to weigh down President Obama’s approval ratings. It is unlikely that he will be able to approach Bill Clinton’s approval ratings over the same period, but Obama is already more popular than Ronald Reagan was at the same point in his seventh year in office. In February 1987, Ronald Reagan’s approval rating was 42%. If the president’s approval rating holds at its current position for a few more weeks, he will be more popular than Ronald Reagan.
President Obama’s growing popularity is setting up a nightmare scenario for Republicans. Should the economy continue to improve, Obama will leave office as a popular president. The Republican Party is counting on voters to be suffering from an Obama fatigue that might not be there. The stage could be set for Hillary Clinton to run on expanding Obama’s gains into an economic juggernaut. Obama’s achievements combined with for Sec. of State Clinton’s strong message could form a Democratic wave that no Republican nominee can stop.
While the pundit class is focused on the who will run discussions, the political climate is shifting. The current president is gaining popular momentum, and Obama’s resurgence could create a good environment for Democrats in 2016.