Obama can thank Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton for his growing popularity

Rand Corp.’s Presidential Election Panel Survey (PEPS) provides further insight into Obama’s rising popularity. The PEPS data track changes in the president’s favorability rating among the same 2,679 individuals who were interviewed in December 2015 and March 2016. Using those data, I estimated the influence of views of Clinton and Trump on changes in Obama’s popularity after accounting for other relevant factors, such as partisanship, ideology and demographics. The graph below presents the results.

Again, Obama’s rising popularity is concentrated among those with unfavorable opinions of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Obama’s favorability rating increased by about 12 percentage points from December 2015 to March 2016 among PEPS respondents who had a very negative opinion of both candidates. His popularity, however, did not change significantly among those with more positive opinions of Clinton and Trump.

It appears, then, that Obama can thank both Clinton and Trump for his growing popularity. Dissatisfaction with the leading presidential candidates seems to have made Obama more popular than he has been in years.