CNN poll puts Obama approval at 54%

The new poll from CNN gives plenty of reason for skepticism, and not just because they failed to include any demographic data from their sample.  Barack Obama hit his highest approval rating in months in the survey at 54%, rising from 52% earlier this month — but still underwater on almost all issues:

President Barack Obama’s performance on national security and international affairs and his image as a strong leader appear to be behind his rising approval rating, according to new national poll conducted as the president was on an overseas visit to four countries.

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday indicates that Obama’s approval rating among Americans stands at 54 percent, with 45 percent saying they disapprove of the job he’s doing as president. Obama’s approval rating appears to have steadily risen in the past two months, from 48 percent in early April to 52 percent in early May and the current mark of 54 percent.

“On specific issues, the president’s approval rating is over 50 percent on only three out of 11 items tested, and all three – terrorism, Afghanistan, and Iraq – are foreign or security issues,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “But his approval rating on every domestic issue listed in the poll is well below 50 and on most of them – including the economy, health care, taxes, and the budget deficit – his rating has remained flat or dropped since the start of the year.”

Right.  So how did CNN find his overall approval rate rising?  Those foreign-policy numbers for Afghanistan, Iraq, and terrorism actually dropped from the last survey by between 2-3 points on each topic.  Obama’s approval also dropped on Libya, where it went from 50/41 in March (the last time CNN asked the question) to 45/48.  Even in his strengths, mainly on topics that voters find less relevant these days, Obama went backwards.

That’s the same direction Obama went on other topics, too, including an interesting drop in Medicare policy:

  • Economy — Obama dropped from 42/56 to 41/58
  • Health care — Was 41/58, now 40/57
  • Medicare – Was 47/48, now 44/53
  • Taxes – Was 46/52, now 46/53
  • Federal deficit – Was 35/61, now 34/64

CNN asked about Obama’s response to gas prices for the first time, but that didn’t give him any help; he only rated 25/73 on the issue.

So how did CNN get a rise in Obama’s approval rating?  Considering that Obama’s overall approval rose while his approval dropped on every single issue, it’s a good question.  An explanation of their sampling ratios between Democrats, Republicans, and independents might help, but CNN neglects to provide it.  It’s not that they didn’t take the information, as CNN’s poll data breaks out approval ratings on demographic bases for each specific question.  For instance, Obama’s overall approval rating among independents is 47/51, which certainly makes his overall among the general electorate at 54/45 look very, very suspicious.