Obama’s approval rating in the poll stands at 57%, his highest since September 2009. That figure is on par with Ronald Reagan’s approval rating shortly after the presidential election in 1988, and approaching the level reached by Bill Clinton in November 2000. Obama far outpaces George W. Bush’s approval rating in November 2008, when just 24% approved of the outgoing president.
Improvements in Obama’s approval rating seem to stem largely from Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Among that group of leaned Republicans, 22% now approve of Obama’s job performance, up from 16% in late October. Among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents, it has held steady at 91%.
The president’s favorability rating is also at its highest point since fall of 2009, with 59% saying they have a positive impression of Obama and 38% seeing him unfavorably. But the warm ratings for Obama do not extend to his party. Favorability ratings for the Democratic Party dropped 6 points since October, and the 54% who hold an unfavorable opinion of it is the highest in CNN/ORC or CNN/USA Today/Gallup polling dating back to 1992.
Among Democrats, favorability ratings for the party have dipped to 81%, down 10 points since late October. That’s the lowest mark Democrats have given their own party in CNN polling in more than a decade. Just 28% of independents have a favorable take on the Democratic Party, an 11-point drop since October.
The Republican Party, meanwhile, has seen its stock rise somewhat in this poll compared with its ratings during a heated presidential campaign. Overall, 41% hold a favorable opinion of the GOP and 52% an unfavorable one. That’s a 5-point uptick in favorable views, and the highest mark for the GOP since last summer.
With majorities saying they have unfavorable views of each party, there’s a large amount of overlap in those groups: Nearly a quarter of Americans say they have unfavorable views of both the Democratic and the Republican parties (23% say so).
There is not as much overlap, however, between those who think the current president is doing a good job and those who expect the next one to do well. Overall, just 15% of Americans say both that they approve of Obama’s performance in office and that Trump will do a good job as president once he assumes the office. More say they approve of Obama and expect Trump to do poorly (41%) or that they think Trump will be a good president but disapprove of Obama (37%). A scant 3% disapprove of Obama and think Trump will be a bad president.
The poll also finds Obama is seen as having a range of positive traits that fewer perceive in his successor. About 6 in 10 consider the president a person they admire; just 33% say the same about Trump. Sixty-two percent consider Obama to be honest and trustworthy vs. 41% who say so about Trump. And Obama tops Trump by 17 points on empathy, with 63% saying the president cares about “people like you” vs. 46% who feel the president-elect does. Obama also outpaces Trump by 7 points on managing the government effectively — 57% say Obama has, 50% predict that Trump will.
But Trump has the edge on what some consider Obama’s signature message: Change. While 49% think Trump can bring the kind of change the country needs, 45% say Obama did that during his time in office, with 54% saying that he has not accomplished that goal. The two are near-even on uniting the country, with 46% saying Obama has united the country and not divided it, and 43% saying they think Trump will.
The poll was conducted by telephone from Nov. 17 through 20 among a random national sample of 1,003 adults. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.