President Barack Obama’s job approval rating is up 5 percentage points as he enters the fourth quarter of his presidency and America’s views of the nation’s economy have improved, according to a new national survey by the Pew Research Center. The survey, which was published Wednesday, found Obama’s job approval has increased from 42 percent to 47 percent since December, after fairly stagnant ratings throughout 2014.
Obama’s job rating, which is higher than George W. Bush's and lower than Bill Clinton's during a similar period, ticked upward from the gradual improvement in public views of the U.S economy. For the first time in a half-decade, more Americans say Obama’s economic policies have made conditions better than worse. Almost twice as many Americans expect the economy to be better than worse in a year and 27 percent say the current economic conditions are excellent or good compared to last year’s 16 percent, according to the national survey.
Still, people remain skeptical about the strength of the economy, with 66 percent saying the economy is recovering “but not so strongly” and 16 percent saying the economy is recovering strongly. The Pew Research Center also found a majority of Americans still say their family’s income is “falling behind” the cost of living. This number has fallen slightly in the last year by 2 percentage points.
Americans have more confidence in Obama than Republican leaders on the economy, but more than half continue to say the president is not tough enough on foreign policy and national security issues. Obama has long hoped to close the Guantánamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, where terrorist suspects have been held for years without indictments. But nearly half of Americans say shuttering the controversial U.S. prison is a bad idea, according to the survey which was conducted Jan. 7-11 among 1,504 adults.
Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain was once a crucial Republican ally in Obama’s plan to shut down the prison, but the Arizona senator and three other GOP lawmakers proposed plans Tuesday to restrict the transfer of detainees from the prison, according to Politico.