President Barack Obama’s favorability rating continues to gain as he steps up criticism of his would-be successor, Donald Trump.
The percentage of voters who think the country is on the right track has increased in the latest McClatchy-Marist poll, and 53 percent of registered voters say they approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared with 40 percent who disapprove.
That’s an improvement from July and represents some of the highest popularity ratings of Obama’s tenure, which could be a good sign for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The higher approval rating comes as Obama has spoken scathingly of the Republican presidential nominee, saying this week that Trump is unfit and “woefully unprepared” for the presidency. Obama also called on Republicans who back Trump to rescind their endorsements, declaring “there has to come a point at which you say ‘enough.’ ”
“I obviously have a very strong opinion about the two candidates who are running,” Obama said Thursday at a news conference at the Pentagon, mocking Trump for suggesting that the November election may be “rigged” against him. “One is very positive and one is not so much.”
I obviously have a very strong opinion about the two candidates who are running.
President Barack Obama
The poll comes as Obama is increasing his role in the campaign and as the White House “clearly wants, in the final stretch of months, to make sure the legacy points are all in order,” said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion in New York, which conducted the nationwide survey.
“When a president calls the nominee of another party unfit to serve in the White House, you’ve clearly moved into new territory,” the pollster said.
Obama’s characterization of Trump mirrors public opinion: Fifty-nine percent of voters in the poll would find it “mostly” or “totally” unacceptable if Trump were elected president. Just 45 percent would find it mostly or totally unacceptable if Clinton were to become president.
“The president saying he’s unfit does not appear to fly in the face of public opinion,” Miringoff said. Clinton surged to a 15-point lead over Trump in the same poll, gaining with two constituencies crucial to a Republican victory, whites and men.
The president saying he’s unfit does not appear to fly in the face of public opinion.
pollster Lee Miringoff, speaking of Donald Trump
Clinton has rejected Trump’s characterization that she is running for a “third Obama presidency” but has sought to benefit from Obama’s record even as she distances herself from some of his positions.
She has embraced Obama’s economic record and often says he doesn’t get the credit he deserves for the economic recovery. But at the first of two news conferences this week where he castigated Trump, Obama dismissed Clinton’s opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement he has championed and suggested that her disapproval of the deal may be politically motivated.
Nearly 60 percent of voters in the latest McClatchy-Marist poll think the country is heading in the wrong direction. But that’s a decrease from the nearly 70 percent who said the country was on the wrong track in a July survey.
The last time more than half of the electorate gave Obama such high marks was in 2009, after he was first elected to the White House on a message of hope and change.
Obama’s approval rating slumped to 40 percent before the 2014 midterm elections, when candidates did not want to appear on the campaign trail with him, but his numbers have improved since caucuses and primaries for the 2016 presidential race got underway at the beginning of this year.
By 91-6 percent, Democrats approve of the job Obama is doing, according to the poll. Independents approve by 46-44. Not surprisingly, just 15 percent of Republicans approve of his work, while 79 percent disapprove.
Approval of Obama spans most regions of the country, ages and incomes. African-Americans gave the first black president the highest marks, with 95 percent approving, followed by Latinos, at 68 percent, and whites, 43 percent.
The poll comes as Obama celebrates his last birthday at the White House. He turned 55 on Thursday and went out to dinner with his family in Georgetown. He was reportedly celebrating at the White House on Friday with a guest list said by The Washington Post to include actress Alfre Woodard, media queen Oprah Winfrey and comedian Will Ferrell.
The New York Post named other A-listers, including Jay Z and Beyoncé, Ellen DeGeneres, Stevie Wonder, Anna Wintour, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Magic Johnson, Kendrick Lamar and Alonzo Mourning.
The Obama family heads to Martha’s Vineyard for summer vacation Saturday.