President Barack Obama’s approval rating climbed above 50% in a new poll for the first time in more than two years, a level that could prove significant in the 2016 election.
The poll, from ABC and The Washington Post, found that 51% of Americans approve of Obama’s job performance, up 6 points from July.
It’s the first time since May 2013 that the president’s approval ratings have soared above 50%. The pollsters attributed the rise to improving sentiment about the strength of the US economy.
Obama’s approval numbers could prove especially important for the candidates vying to succeed him in office.
The current president’s approval rating has traditionally a key bellwether in predicting whether someone from his own party or from the opposite side succeeds him — although the sample size of modern presidential successions is rather small. According to Republican pollster Frank Luntz, no president with an approval rating below 50% has passed the torch to someone in his party in more than seven decades:
And one candidate and one would-be presidential hopeful both have deep ties to the administration.
Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner and the former secretary of state in the Obama administration, has embraced much of Obama’s accomplishments on the campaign trail. And a top political adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, who is mulling a late entry into the race, sketched out a preview of a campaign platform that would emphasise securing Obama’s legacy.
“He believes we must win this election. Everything he and the President have worked for — and care about — is at stake,” Ted Kaufman, Biden’s former chief of staff who replaced him in the Senate, wrote to Biden alumni last week.
Here’s a look at how Obama’s approval rating has swung throughout his time in office:
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