Obama Approval Gets a Boost

More Americans approve of Obama than not.

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For the first time since early July, more Americans approve of President Obama's job performance than disapprove, according to a recent Gallup survey. The poll, from Dec. 21-23, shows 47 percent support for the president versus 45 percent disapproval.

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The poll also marks a notable improvement since earlier in December, indicating Obama's tussle with House Republicans over the payroll tax extension may have helped his image with voters. During a survey taken Dec. 8-10, Obama's approval was just 43 percent compared with 50 percent who disapproved. During the days leading up to Christmas, the president – stuck in Washington while his family vacationed in Hawaii – was more visible than usual, continually making his case for Congress to extend a temporary payroll tax cut for employees.

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Obama could also be benefiting from a perceived improvement in the economy. Recent economic data have come in better than expected, notably first-time unemployment filings, and the stock market has rallied as well. Whether that continues is an open question, with an important read on December unemployment coming in the first week of the new year.

But the good news for Obama is all relative – according to a Gallup news release, unless his approval ratings increase even further, "he will be the first elected president in Gallup records to be below 50 percent in December of his third year in office."

Email: rmetzler@usnews.com

Twitter: @rebekahmetzler