The news keeps coming for President Obama. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds an 11 point net jump in his approval to its highest level since May of 2011.
The poll revealed that Obama’s approval rating stands at a 49%-47% split. This is a net 11 point swing from last month’s upside down 44%-53%. Obama has an 82% approval rating with Democrats, and has gained 10 points with Independents, (34% to 44%) since October.
While still at a 16 point net negative (41%-56%) on the economy, Obama’s numbers are his best since April. When respondents were asked who they trusted to handle the economy, Obama led the Republicans in Congress, 44%-40%, and led the congressional GOP on creating jobs, 44%-41%
There are two numbers that best explain Obama’s rising approval ratings. Respondents trusted Obama more than congressional Republicans, 46%-41% on taxes, and by a 15 point margin (50%-35%) they trusted Obama more to protect the middle class. Obama has gained 11 points on the Republicans on protecting the middle class in the last month.
Even though 52% of those surveyed said that they were pessimistic about the state of the national economy, by a margin of 61%-35% respondents were optimistic about their own family’s financial situation. Although this is a 4 point drop in optimism from last month, people still remain optimistic about their personal financial situation.
The two primary factors behind the uptick in Obama’s fortunes appear to be his advocacy for the middle class, and the decrease in the unemployment rate. The president’s advocacy for the payroll tax cut extension has been a big political winner. It is much of the reason why his trust numbers have approved on protecting the middle class. It is also why his approval rating is improving with Independents. The declining unemployment rate has a direct impact on how Americans feel about Obama’s handling of the economy. If the unemployment rate sharply jumps, you can count on approval of his handling of the economy going down.
It really doesn’t matter what the Republican nominee does. If Obama can keep things moving in an upward direction, he will win a second term in 2012.