President Barack Obama’s approval ratings are starting to rise after declining ever since his inauguration, new poll figures show as the country’s mood begins to brighten. But concerns about the economy, health care and war persist, and support for the war in Afghanistan is falling.
An Associated Press-GfK poll says 56 percent of those surveyed in the past week approve of Obama’s job performance, up from 50 percent in September. It’s the first time since he took office in January that his rating has gone up.
People also feel better about his handling of the economy and his proposed health care overhaul.
But not about the war.
Support for the war in Afghanistan has declined, the poll said Tuesday. And approval of Obama’s handling of it is holding steady — in contrast to his gains in other areas — as he considers a big troop increase there. Poll respondents narrowly oppose the increase.
Overall, 39 percent said they disapproved of Obama’s performance in office, down from 49 percent last month.
While a majority of those surveyed remain pessimistic about the direction of the country, that number has begun to improve, too. The poll found 41 percent now believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction, compared with 37 percent in September.
But a large majority of respondents said they remain very concerned about most of the major issues facing the country. The economy was the biggest concern, with 88 percent saying they consider it extremely or very important, followed by unemployment, health care, terrorism, the budget deficit, taxes and the war in Afghanistan.
The increase in Obama’s job approval rating was driven by a more positive view of his handling of nearly all of those issues.
Fifty percent of those surveyed said they approved of the president’s handling of the economy, up from 44 percent in September. And 48 percent said they approved of his handling of health care, up six points and about equal to the 47 percent who said they disapproved. Obama has made health care the signature domestic issue of his presidency.