Obama Up, Republicans Down In Latest Poll

Leading into tonight’s State of the Union Address, Barack Obama’s approval is improving while the approval of his Republican rivals is falling:

Fifty-three percent of Americans in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll express a favorable opinion of Obama overall, up by 5 points from last month to the most since April 2010. It can matter: Favorability is the most basic measure of a public figure’s popularity.

Obama may be benefitting from a less-grim economic outlook, but also by comparison to the Republicans, deep in their intramural food fight. As he’s gained, Romney has stumbled badly, with unfavorable views of the recent Republican front-runner up by 15 points in just two weeks.

Forty-nine percent of Americans now see Romney unfavorably, a new high in ABC/Post polling this cycle. That far outstrips his favorable rating, 31 percent, down 8 points to a new low. The shift, moreover, has been led by political independents, swing voters in national politics.

While that reflects a remarkable reversal of fortune for Romney, Gingrich, too, has lost ground, dropping 6 points in favorability since December — and with more than half of Americans, 51 percent, now seeing him unfavorably, up from the low 40s last fall. While it would be speculation to link the slip in favorability to recent criticisms by his ex-wife, his decline occurred among married adults.

Imagine how much more unpopular the Republican candidates could be if their nomination battle extends into June.

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