President Barack Obama's approval rating reached 51 percent in mid-January, according to a new Gallup poll. That's an improvement from his November 2015 numbers and is good news for whoever becomes the Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential election.
The president's approval rating had dipped to 46 percent on Nov. 24. A Washington Post/ABC News poll indicated that respondents were unhappy with how Obama had been handling the growing threat of ISIS. Following the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, the fear of terrorism became acute and the president's luster took a hit.
Now the president's approval ratings seem to have stabilized, hovering back and forth between 49 and 51 percent in regularly updated Gallup polls. Maintaining even a middling approval rating can be a tough feat for a president to pull off in the fourth quarter of a presidency after re-election.
For comparison, George W. Bush had an average 33 percent approval in January 2008. Ronald Reagan was clocking in at 49 percent in January 1988. Going back earlier in the 20th century, Harry S. Truman had 23 percent in 1952.
Only Bill Clinton and Dwight Eisenhower remained highly popular in this stage of a presidency, with 62 and 66 percent approval ratings, respectively.
These new numbers are good news for Obama and should be a welcome gift to the candidates currently vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Historically, parties whose incumbent leaves office with an approval rating above 40 percent go on to win the White House, according to Politico.
The only time this has not occurred in the last nine elections was when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000 following a popular Clinton administration. George W. Bush had lost the popular vote and his victory was secured following a Supreme Court ruling.
So, if the president remains reasonably popular heading into the final months of his presidency, historical patterns suggest the Democratic nominee for president will have a competitive edge. That means that Obama’s approval ratings would have to remain stable. Anything can happen between now and November.