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Obama's Approval Rating Appears Stable Despite Economy

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 07/22/11 04:09 PM ET Updated: 09/21/11 06:12 AM ET

Obama

WASHINGTON -- In spite of 9.2 percent unemployment and overall "satisfaction" with the state of the country at a two-year low, Americans continue to give President Obama higher approval ratings than experts would predict based on the economic climate.

The latest Gallup poll marks a 43 percent approval rating and a 49 percent disapproval rating for President Obama. A newly released CNN poll has the president's approval rating at 45 percent with a 54 percent disapproval rating.

While those approval numbers are nothing to brag about, they are surprisingly high given the state of the economy, according to Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport.

"Based on where every president has been, his approval rating now is higher than we would predict it would be based on satisfaction [with how the country is doing]," Newport told reporters Tuesday at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

Gallup finds the economy continues to the be most important issue for Americans, and in a recent Quinnipiac poll only 38 percent of Americans approved of the way the President is handling the economy. The Quinnipiac poll also found that only 27 percent were satisfied with the direction of the country.

Despite those tepid marks, that same poll had the President earning a 47 percent approval rating.

Several factors may be keeping Obama's approval rating up even with the economy the way it is.

One is the public's perception of who is working in their interest, and who is working against it. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 59 percent of Americans see congressional Republicans as more concerned than President Obama with protecting the economic interests of Wall Street financial institutions, while only 26 percent said Obama is more interested in Wall Street.

The second is the president's handling of the debt crisis. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found 43 percent approval for the President's handling of the debt crisis with 48 percent disapproval. Conversely, congressional Republicans earned a whopping 71 percent disapproval and only a 21 percent approval on their handling debt crisis.

ABC news pollster Gary Langer also speculates, "Obama looks to have turned the budget debate to his advantage."

Obama may also fare well when compared to Republican alternatives. The CNN poll finds 55 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party, a seven point increase since March.

According to TPM, Gallup's Newport offered a few theories as to how the president has kept his approval rating up:

"The two major threads of theories are something about the personality of the man, and the other is the nature of coalition politics today," he said. "[They have] become such that he has a strong coalition of certain types of voters who are going to support him no matter what and that props up his approval rating."

The president will need that support to hold up as he faces his reelection campaign; he will likely have an increasingly hard time insulating his poll numbers from economic reality.

"Obama's job approval ratings defy political gravity," wrote ABC News Political Director Amy Walter. "The only question now, is if they can do so for much longer."

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