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Obama job approval up 4 points, now 48%
01:08 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

New poll shows Obama's approval rating at 20-month high

Americans starting to feel positive about economy

More Americans still disapprove of Obama's job performance than approve

Honolulu CNN  — 

Improving views of the economy have helped hike President Barack Obama’s approval rating to a 20-month high, a new CNN/ORC poll showed Tuesday, as markets climbed to record levels at news of an economy in overdrive.

More Americans still disapprove of the job Obama is doing as President. But at 48%, Obama’s approval rating is at its highest point in CNN polling since May 2013.

The gains were driven by newfound backing among women, independents and millennials — groups where Obama’s approval numbers jumped 10 percentage points from a month ago.

RELATED: Read the entire CNN/ORC poll

Meanwhile, Obama’s approval numbers ticked down among men, Republicans and Americans between 35 and 49 years old.

The approval jump follows a late-quarter jolt in Obama’s governing agenda, which gained momentum after unilateral actions on immigration and relations with Cuba. Separate surveys have showed those moves popular among the American people.

It all amounts to some welcome good news for Obama, whose unpopularity — despite consistently improving economic conditions — led to widespread losses for his party in November’s midterm elections.

Tuesday’s poll still reflected pervasive disaffection for Obama: 56% of respondents said the President has fallen short of their expectations, and 49% said his policies would take the country in the wrong direction.

The steady economic recovery has posed a conundrum for the White House, which wants some credit for decisions that helped pull the country from last decade’s recession. To the frustration of Obama and his aides, polls until recently showed Americans largely pessimistic about the country’s financial state, despite solid job growth and a bull market on Wall Street.

In public remarks — even those unrelated to the economy — Obama has touted the latest positive economic sign. But even as the unemployment rate dipped below 6%, a large portion of Americans were still gloomy about the economy.

That’s because of how people felt about their own economic standing, which for many still includes stagnant wages or jobs in low-paying service fields.

READ: U.S. economy grows incredible 5%

But as the recovery powers on, and the days of the downturn fade further into the past, Americans appear to have turned the page in their views of the economy.

Tuesday’s CNN/ORC poll showed for the first time in seven years, a majority of Americans — 51% — have a positive view of the economy, a sharp increase from the 38% who felt that way in October.

The jump was present in every demographic group — men, women, whites, non-whites, urban, rural — and was largest among Americans who earn less than $50,000 annually.

Americans’ increasingly positive economic views parallel a drop in gas prices — a phenomenon most experts say a President has little control over.

And they come as new data show the American economy growing at a surging rate. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that gross domestic product grew at 5% in the third quarter — its fastest pace in more than a decade.

Stocks rose sharply, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average topping 18,000 for the first time ever and the S&P 500 also reaching new heights.

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