Obama's Favorability Best Since '09; 2-1 Approval for Inaugural Address

Brendan Smialowski/AP Photo

Barack Obama has advanced to his highest personal popularity since his first year in office, and Americans who've formed an opinion of his second inaugural address last week broadly approve of it, the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finds.

At the same time, Obama's favorability rating is lower than that of two of the last three re-elected presidents as they started their second terms, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. He's in better shape compared with the third, George W. Bush.

See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.

Sixty percent of Americans now express a favorable opinion of Obama overall, up 10 points since last summer, in the heat of the presidential race. His popularity peaked at a remarkable 79 percent days before he took office four years ago, and last saw the 60s in November 2009.

Obama's approval rating for his inaugural address last week is lower - 51 percent approve in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, but just 24 percent disapprove, a 2-1 ratio in favor of the speech. A quarter of Americans have no opinion of it either way.

Favorability - which differs from job approval - is the most basic rating of a public figure's personal popularity. Obama's exceeds Bush's at the start of his second term by 5 percentage points, but trails Clinton's by 5 and Reagan's by 12.

Intensity of sentiment is a plus for Obama: More have a "strongly" favorable opinion of him than a strongly unfavorable one, 39 vs. 26 percent, and twice as many strongly approve of his inaugural speech as disapprove. It's the first time he's been significantly more strongly popular than unpopular since early 2010.

GROUPS - The president continues to be highly popular within his own party, with 92 percent favorability. Notably, 60 percent of independents see him favorably vs. 36 percent unfavorably, his best since his first year in office. He remains unpopular, however, with 80 percent of Republicans.

Similarly, 87 percent of liberals and 68 percent of moderates view the president positively, dropping to 34 percent of conservatives overall and just a quarter of strong conservatives.

In other groups, Obama's more popular among women than men by 9 points. And he's rated favorably by 87 percent of nonwhites, two-thirds of young adults and two-thirds of those in the lower- to middle-income brackets. By contrast, his favorability drops to 45 percent among whites - a group he lost to Mitt Romney by 20 points - and 47 percent of those with household incomes more than $100,000 a year.

The president's inaugural speech - peppered with messages appealing to his core supporters - hit home with broad majorities of Democrats, liberals and nonwhites, as well as majorities of young adults, women, moderates and lower- to middle-income Americans.

Though not majorities, significantly more approve than disapprove of Obama's address among a variety of other groups, including political independents. Whites and "somewhat" conservatives split more evenly, while "very" conservatives and Republicans disapprove by wide margins.

METHODOLOGY - This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone Jan. 23-27, 2013, among a random national sample of 1,022 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y., with sampling, data collection and tabulation by SSRS/Social Science Research Solutions of Media, Pa.