Isaac Brekken/Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit(NEW YORK) — Numerically more Americans approve than disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the nation’s economy, only the fifth time that’s occurred in ABC News/Washington Post polls since the second year of his presidency.
While the 49-47 percent division on his economic performance is within the poll’s margin of error, it’s a rare result: Obama’s been numerically in the black on this measure in just five out of 53 ABC/Post polls since 2010: that June, twice after his re-election in 2012, last March and now.
The result reflects an easing of the public’s economic anguish, reflected by lower unemployment – from 10.0 percent after Obama took office to 5.1 percent now. It’s helpful to his overall job approval rating, now 49-46 percent, numerically positive for only the second time in two years.
Approval of Obama’s work on the economy is 14 percentage points higher than his career low, 35 percent in October 2011. His overall approval rating is 9 points above its low, in October 2014, and 16 points higher than George W. Bush’s at this point in his presidency.
This poll was conducted for ABC by Langer Research Associates. Two separate analyses have been released previously, one testing Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, here, and another taking a fuller look at the 2016 election, here.
Obama’s virtually even scores leave him slightly shy of majority approval overall and on the economy alike. And intensity of sentiment remains against him – 10 points more have “strongly” negative than strongly positive opinions of his performance. Bush’s overall rating at this point – in the throes of the Iraq war – was strongly negative by a 33-point margin.
Among groups, the gender gap in Obama’s overall approval rating is the largest of his career: He has 56 percent approval among women, his highest in this group since January 2013, vs. 42 percent among men, four points from his low in September 2011.
Other differences are even sharper, for instance, 58 percent approval in the Northeast and West alike vs. 39 percent in the Midwest, 63 percent among young adults vs. 35 percent among seniors; 91 percent among blacks and 70 percent among Hispanics vs. 35 percent among whites; and 60 percent in urban centers vs. 31 percent in rural areas.
The sharpest gaps, of course, are political and ideological. At the high and low ends, 88 percent of liberal Democrats approve of his job performance, while just 7 percent of conservative Republicans agree.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Sept. 7-10, 2015, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points for the full sample, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 33-22-35 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.