Pew poll: High scores for Obamas, mixed views of legacy

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Story highlights

  • 45% of those surveyed expect Obama to be remembered as an "above average" or "outstanding" president
  • Obama's overall approval rating has steadily risen over the last year

Washington (CNN)Both President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are leaving the White House on a high note -- both are viewed more favorably now than when the President was re-elected in 2012.

In a new Pew Research Poll released Wednesday, 45% of those surveyed expect Obama to be remembered as an "above average" or "outstanding" president, while 26% expect he will be viewed as "average" and about the same percentage (27%) said he'll be viewed as a "below average" or "poor" president.
Obama's overall approval rating has steadily risen over the last year. In the poll, 58% said they approve of how he's handling his job, while 37% disapprove. More approve of Obama now than at any point since shortly after he was re-elected in 2012.
    Obama polled significantly better than his predecessor, George W. Bush, at the end of his term -- 57% of people surveyed predicted that he would be viewed by history as a "below average" or "poor president." And Obama's poll numbers are similar to former President Bill Clinton's.
    The public has an even more positive view of the first lady, with 72% surveyed viewing Michelle Obama favorably, while just 22% view her unfavorably. The first lady's favorability has changed modestly over the course of eight years, but the share of those who see her favorably is up 11 points from last year.
    However, the public is divided over whether the Obama administration's accomplishments will outweigh its failures. In the poll, 49% said that his administration's accomplishments will outweigh its failures, while 44% expect the failures will outweigh his accomplishments.
    The poll also showed that Obama will be most remembered for the Affordable Care Act. In the poll, 35% said he'd be remembered for his health care law or mention of health care more generally, while 17% said he'd be remembered as the first black president.
    The poll was conducted November 30 to December 5 among 1,502 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.