Obama’s Popularity Surges With Improving Economy

Posted February 15th, 2012 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama's popularity appears to be growing alongside the U.S. economy, a good sign for a president who hopes to win a new term in November.

Two new polls Wednesday indicated a 50 percent approval rating for the president. It is the first time Mr. Obama has reached that threshold since last May, when he received a boost in popularity after Osama Bin Laden's killing.

In the last several months, the economy has grown, the stock market has seen a rather sharp rise, and unemployment fell to 8.3 percent — the lowest rate since Mr. Obama took office.

Many poll respondents seem to be giving Mr. Obama credit for the good economic news. Forty-four percent said they approved of how he was handling the economy — that's a higher percentage than in nearly two years.

Also good news for Mr. Obama's re-election campaign: Republicans' enthusiasm to vote for the next president is falling. For the first time, Republicans and Democrats were about equally likely to say they were more enthusiastic than usual about casting their ballot.

And both polls indicate Mr. Obama would beat any of his Republican opponents if the election were held right now.

The polls were conducted by The New York Times and CBS News and by CNN/ORC, and suggest in part the Republicans are being hurt by the contentious nomination process.

Although former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has long been considered a front-runner, he has traded first place status with other candidates a number of times over the past several months. Most recently the former venture capitalist has fallen behind former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Santorum pulled off unexpected wins in nominating contests in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado last week, and three major opinion surveys Tuesday indicated Santorum had surged to a virtual tie with Romney.