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Obama’s job approval rebounds in latest polls, but can it last?

The latest polls show Obama's job approval back up to 50 percent. His response to Tucson and the bills passed by the lame-duck Congress are credited, but the economy remains a challenge.

By Staff writer / January 20, 2011

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle depart after joining government employees on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Jan. 10 to observe a moment of silence for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the other victims of a mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz. Obama's response to the shooting is seen as a reason behind a bump in popularity.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File



On the second anniversary of his inauguration – and days before his State of the Union address next Tuesday – President Obama is on the rebound with the American public.

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A slew of major polls now show Mr. Obama with more public approval than disapproval of his job performance, many of them putting him over the 50 percent mark. A survey of the latest polls by RealClearPolitics shows Obama averaging 50 percent approval versus 45 percent disapproval. The last time the positive outweighed the negative was in July. The last time that gap was at least 5 percentage points was a year ago.

Pollsters attribute Obama’s rebound to his response to the Tucson shootings, some positive economic trends, and the burst of bipartisanship in last month’s lame-duck session of Congress. But, they warn, this surge could be fleeting, as unemployment remains stubbornly high and the feeling of national unity post-Tucson fades.

RELATED: Six big achievements of a surprisingly 'do something' Congress

“It’s a remarkable turnaround for a president so recently hammered in the 2010 midterm elections,” write Gary Langer and Julie Phelan in an analysis for ABC News. “Yet the public’s mood remains glum, with attendant, continuing hazards for the president and Congress alike.”

In the ABC News/Washington Post poll, released Jan. 18, Obama came in with a 54 percent job approval, and 43 percent disapproval. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday showed Obama at 53 percent approval, up 8 percentage points from last month. Disapproval was 41 percent, down from 48 percent in December.

The NBC/WSJ poll also showed Obama gaining ground among independents, from 35 percent approval to 46 percent. This is a critical group of voters whom the Democrats lost in November and Obama needs to hold onto if he is to win reelection in 2012.

Warning signs for GOP

When asked to label Obama politically, 40 percent of all those surveyed chose “moderate,” compared with 45 percent “liberal” and 11 percent “conservative.” The number for moderate is the highest the NBC/WSJ poll has ever found for Obama, including before his inauguration.


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