Obama Inches Up to 50 Percent Approval

After months of low approval ratings, President Obama’s popularity has begun to trend upwards toward 50 percent. According to the latest survey from ABC News and The Washington Post, Obama has advanced to a 49 percent approval rating. What’s more, he maintains a substanial advantage over Republicans in Congress on who the public trusts to protect the middle-class, 50 to 35 percent. This is almost certainly a product of the recent fights over payroll tax cuts and the unemployment insurance extension, where the president is on the side of most Americans, compared to congressional Republicans, who are pushing forward on a deeply unpopular position. On the economy, his approval rating is 41 percent, but this is an improvement from earlier in the year, when it was near 30 percent.

The Washington Post and ABC News aren’t the only ones to document Obama’s rising stock with the public. In their most recent survey of the public, CNN found that 49 percent of the public approves of the president, compared to 48 percent who disapprove. Likewise, Real Clear Politics has Obama at his highest average since this summer, when his approval dipped following a post-bin Laden spike.

The big takeaway here is the extent to which the public is sharply divided on the question of Barack Obama’s tenure. With near-even approval and disapproval ratings, there is almost no space between those who see good things in the Obama’s term, and those who don’t. It’s hard to draw a line from here to 2012—a lot can happen in a year—but it’s fair to say that the election will be incredibly close.