President Barack Obama’s job approval rating has seen notable improvement over the last few weeks. About 48 percent of people approved of the president’s performance at the beginning of 2016 ― but now, after steadily increasing for a few months and a recent spike, that number is up to 51 percent and his disapproval rating is down to 46 percent.
This might not seem very important because Obama’s presidency is winding down, but these numbers are significant for the 2016 election.
Increasing approval of Obama should bode well for Hillary Clinton, who is currently leading in almost every battleground state. Her lead in each of these states has grown substantially as Obama’s approval rating has improved.
This isn’t a coincidence. There’s often a correlation between presidential approval ratings and how much support voters in battleground states throw behind the nominee from that party. Places with higher approval ratings for a Democratic president are more likely to go blue than states with lower ratings.
Obama’s approval rating has grown significantly in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia since the beginning of the year. The only battleground state where this hasn’t happened is Nevada, as the president’s ratings have remained fairly stagnant there. Nevada is also the only swing state where Clinton lags behind Republican nominee Donald Trump, according to HuffPost Pollster ratings.
In a June HuffPost/YouGov survey, 62 percent of voters said Obama’s endorsement of Clinton wouldn’t change their voting plans. However, the Democrats who approve of Obama’s job as president are also very likely to vote for Clinton in November. Both parties have described a Clinton win as a symbolic third term for Obama.
“A president’s popularity, combined with strong U.S. economic data, historically have proven better predictors than horse-race polls this far from the general election,” reports Mike Dorning of Bloomberg Politics.
While Obama’s endorsement didn’t clinch the election for Clinton, it could help her if he maintains his popularity among voters.