-- More than half of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Barack Obama’s job performance, a first in nearly two and a half years. That compares with 71 percent disapproval of the Republicans in Congress, with six in 10 calling their struggle to select a new House speaker a sign of dysfunction within the GOP caucus.
Likely boosted by improving economic sentiment, Obama’s job approval rating has gained 6 percentage points since July to 51 percent, a level he hasn’t seen since May 2013. That’s up 11 points from his career low a year ago. Forty-five percent disapprove, down 5 points since midsummer and 10 points from its peak in late 2013.
The poll also finds that Obama gets more support than opposition for his newly-announced halt in the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan: Fifty percent are in favor, 39 percent opposed. He receives less than his usual backing from Democrats compared with other issues, but more than usual from Republicans.
While Obama enjoys a rebound from his lows, the Democrats in Congress are rated far more weakly – a 35 percent approval rating, with 59 percent disapproving. And the Republicans in Congress are weaker still, with 24 percent approving, 71 percent disapproving. Disapproval of the Republicans in Congress peaked at 75 percent in early 2012, its highest in ABC/Post polls back 21 years.
Indeed nearly half of Americans, 49 percent, “strongly” disapprove of the Republicans in Congress, 10 points more than strong disapproval of the Democrats and 14 points more than Obama’s strong disapproval.
These results are the first from a new ABC/Post poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, which will be released in stages this week. Next up, for release at 7 a.m. Tuesday, are results on views of the Democratic presidential contest.
GOP differences over the next House speaker are not being well received: Just 29 percent of Americans see this as “healthy debate,” while 59 percent see it as “a sign of dysfunction” among House Republicans. Even among self-identified Republicans, more than four in 10 see the leadership battle as a sign of dysfunction within their party. That rises to 59 percent among independents and 72 percent of Democrats.
Among those who see the disagreement as dysfunctional, only 15 percent approve of the House Republicans’ overall job performance. That compares with 40 percent approval – better, but still well under half – among those who see it as healthy debate.
The GOP’s fractious situation is evident in its weaker in-party ratings. While only 31 percent of Democrats disapprove of the Democrats in Congress, 51 percent of Republicans disapprove of the Republicans in Congress. Similarly, in ideological terms, just 39 percent of liberals rate the Democrats negatively, while 64 percent of conservatives disapprove of the Republicans.
Independents, for their part, aren’t happy with either party, with 65 percent disapproving of the Democrats, 75 percent for the GOP. Interestingly, disapproval of congressional Republicans is nearly identical among whites and nonwhites, two groups that tend to disagree politically.
Along with Democrats and independents, majorities of liberals and moderates alike see GOP disagreement in selecting the new House speaker as a sign of dysfunction. Conservatives as well as Republicans split on the question – including “very” conservatives. Even among conservative Republicans, just a narrow majority, 53 percent, see this as healthy debate.
Approval ratings for the congressional Republicans are essentially the same as they were a year ago. Approval ratings for the Democrats are up by 5 points, with disapproval down by 8. Obama, as noted, has gained 11 points in approval the past year – a period in which unemployment has dropped and consumer confidence has gained substantially.
This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone Oct. 15-18, 2015, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points, including the design effect. Partisan divisions are 30-24-39 percent, Democrats-Republicans-independents.
The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by Abt-SRBI of New York, N.Y. See details on the survey’s methodology here.