President Barack Obama is feeling more love from the American public than he has in nearly a year, according to two new polls released Wednesday that found the commander-in-chief's approval rating is currently at its highest since June 2011.
While recent polling has shown a slight dip in Obama's approval rating as gasoline prices across the nation continue to soar, other recent economic trends -- combined with a divisive and seemingly never-ending Republican presidential primary cycle -- may have boosted the president's esteem in the eyes of the average American.
Obama's approval rating rose to 49 percent in a Gallup survey taken March 9-11 and released Monday, which reports his approval seemed to build on an upward trend that began early last week when it hovered at 43 percent. The three-day average corresponded with a uptick in the overall Economic Confidence Index, which reached -13 and -14 between March 8-10. Gallup reports the -13 average is the most optimistic three-day economic confidence average recorded since it began tracking it in January 2008.
An additional Reuters/Ipsos poll of more than 1,000 adults conducted during the same weekend found Obama's approval rating just higher 50 percent, although a considerable 48 percent of respondents said they disapproved of his job performance. Moreover, the survey found that 37 percent of respondents said the U.S. is heading in the right direction, up from 32 percent in February.
Job Gains Likely Aided Obama
Both surveys reported that the fact the U.S. economy gained approximately 227,000 jobs in February, released on Friday, likely contributed to the president's higher approval rating over the weekend. Obama may also be benefiting from the often bitter GOP presidential race, which has been unusually focused on highly divisive social issues such as contraception and abortion.
But while women's reproductive health may have taken center stage with Republicans this presidential election cycle, Gallup reports Obama's weekend approval boost primarily came from men. Forty-five percent of men told the organization they approved of Obama's job performance, up from 41 percent the week before. Among women, the president's job approval rose by two points to 51 percent.
There is a huge discrepancy in Obama's approval rating among party indentifiers: 85 percent of Democrats approve of the president's job performance, according to Gallup, compared to 44 percent of independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
Both the Gallup and Reuters/Ipsos poll agreed on one key factor: Obama's approval rating -- and ultimately, his re-election chances in November. As Gallup points out, Obama's current job rating puts him on the low end of the range of approval levels at which modern presidents have been re-elected. Still, there is hope for him -- George W. Bush job performance approval was at a cool 48 percent in late October 2004, only weeks before he won a second term.