Obama's Approval Rating Flattens -- Albeit With No Sign of GOP Tailwinds (POLL)

A flattened approval rating is softened by some underlying gains.

After a 9-point jump in overall approval in January, Obama’s landed at an even split: Forty-seven percent of Americans approve of his work in office, while 47 percent disapprove. Partisan and ideological divisions are profound, including a record low in approval from Republicans.

See PDF with full results and charts here.

That compares with a scant 2-point gap between them in January. Further, among people who see Obama as taking the leading role in Washington, 73 percent say that’s a good thing. Among those who see the Republicans as taking the lead, fewer call it a good thing, 58 percent.

Even with the lack of momentum in his overall approval, Obama’s rating for handling the economy, 49 percent, is numerically its highest (albeit by a single point) since January 2013, shortly after he won re-election. And he’s tied with the Republicans in Congress in trust to handle the economy – a measure on which the president trailed by 9 percentage points in mid-December.

THE ECONOMY – The economy, while better, still is an irritant. Well fewer than half, 40 percent, say it’s in good shape, essentially unchanged from January after improving sharply in the fall. It matters, particularly in Obama’s ratings; he gets 72 percent approval among those who say the economy is excellent or good, plummeting to 38 percent among those who say it’s not so good and just 12 percent among those who say it’s in poor shape.

There’s essentially no such effect for Congress, however; it’s in the tank regardless of economic attitudes. At the same time, economic and political views are closely related, a phenomenon that may occur especially when economic conditions are mixed, opening the door for political predispositions to color such judgments. Sixty-one percent of Democrats say the economy’s in good shape; just 37 percent of independents and 22 percent of Republicans agree.

POLITICAL and OTHER GROUPS – More generally, while it’s become commonplace to note the extremely sharp political and ideological divisions in this country, they’re still breathtaking. Obama has a 7 percent job approval rating from Republicans in this survey – his lowest on record in 74 ABC/Post polls to ask the question since he took office.

As far as the parties in Congress go, one reason for the approval gap between Democrats and Republicans is that the Democrats are more popular in their base (69 percent approval) than are congressional Republicans in theirs (52 percent). It helps Obama that self-identified Democrats outnumber Republicans, 30 to 22 percent. But, as has become customary in these politically disaffected times, independents predominate, and they give 8 points more approval to the Democrats in Congress than to the Republicans now running the show.

METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cellular telephone March 26-29, 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, including design effect. Partisan divisions are 30-22-38 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.