Barack Obama’s Approval Rating Reaches 60 Percent As He Leaves Office

His numbers are the highest they’ve been since early in his first term.

Sixty percent of Americans approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing in his final days in office, according to new polls from CNN/ORC and The Washington Post/ABC News, his highest numbers in those polls since June 2009.

Those numbers are slightly higher than polls released earlier in the week. Gallup reported a 57 percent approval rating, and both Monmouth University and NBC News/Wall Street Journal reported 56 percent approval. Rasmussen gives Obama the highest approval rating of this week’s polls, showing the president at 62 percent approval. The lowest is a YouGov/Economist survey that puts him at 52 percent.

Obama’s approval rating has been increasing since early in 2016, but the climb picked up speed after the November election. According to the HuffPost Pollster aggregate, about 56 percent of Americans approve of his job performance, up from 50 percent in the summer of 2016 and about 53 percent on Election Day.

A large chunk of Obama’s approval increases have come from Republicans. Although most still disapprove of the job he’s doing in office, approval among self-identified Republicans has increased nearly 7 percentage points over the last few months from around 12 percent to 19 percent. 

Approval among independents has increased by about 3 percentage points to reach nearly 46 percent, and among Democrats it has pushed up to 87 percent from 84 percent last summer.

Those improvements don’t mean that Americans necessarily want to see Obama’s policies continue. A HuffPost/YouGov study shows that most Americans don’t want to see President-elect Donald Trump continue on Obama’s path. Most likely, the increased approval ratings are simply a function of improving goodwill toward a president who’s about to leave office.

Historical data from Gallup show that it’s not unusual for presidential approval to improve as the commander in chief prepares to leave office. Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan all saw at least small increases in approval at the end of their second terms. Even George H.W. Bush, who had been defeated and was leaving office after only one term, had an approval rating spike from below 40 percent to above 50 percent in his last months in office.