WASHINGTON – Just as temperatures are beginning to return to normal after a nationwide cold spell, voters are warming up just a little bit to President Barack Obama.
A national poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University Polling Institute shows the president’s job approval ratings have stabilized after reaching a new low in December. In a telephone survey of 1,400 registered voters conducted this week, 41 percent said they approved of Obama’s job performance while 53 percent disapproved, a modest improvement from the 38-57 percent split last month.
National polls showed Obama’s approval rating dropped significantly throughout 2013, a tumultuous first year of the president’s second term that included a rocky start for his hallmark Affordable Care Act and revelations of a controversial government surveillance program of millions of Americans.
“It’s too early to call it a comeback, but the [new] year begins a bit better than 2013 ended for President Obama,” said Quinnipiac Assistant Director Tim Malloy in a press release. “His approval is right above the 40 percent mark—a red line for any president.” A news conference at which Malloy was to discuss the survey was canceled due to weather-related flight delays.
Congressional Democrats also rebounded in the Quinnipiac poll—37 percent of voters said they would vote Democrat if elections were held today, a statistical tie with Republicans at 38 percent. In December, voters favored Republicans 41-38 percent.
Voters strongly supported extending unemployment benefits (58 percent) and raising the minimum wage (71 percent), two major Democratic policy goals for 2014 that could pay dividends for the party in November. Republicans can take solace in the continued unpopularity of Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act remains a loser for Democrats as 56 percent of voters, including 61 percent of independents, said they oppose the program.
Malloy said Congressional Democrats and the president are joined at the hip as voters look towards November.
“Any move in a positive direction by the president, even a small one, has to be welcome news to Democrats as the midterm elections loom large on the horizon,” he said.