President Barack Obama got more than rest and relaxation while he was on vacation in Hawaii over the holidays: His job approval rating, which had been languishing in the mid-40-percent range for more than six months, rose to 50 percent, according to Gallup Daily tracking.
The results are the average from tracking conducted Dec. 28-29 and Jan. 2, Gallup said.
Obama's rise in ratings comes after a particularly busy lame-duck session of Congress, which the president termed "a season of progress." Compromise was reached on extending the Bush-era tax cuts, Congress repealed the ban on gays serving openly in the military, and a measure was passed to pay for health benefits for rescue workers who became ill after working at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Gallup also said that presidential approval ratings often benefit from a burst of optimism that accompanies the New Year.
Approval for Obama was sharply divided along partisan lines, the poll found. Among Democrats, 80 percent approved of the job the president is doing, while 16 percent of Republican respondents approved. Among independents, his approval rating was 47 percent.
The last time Obama's approval rating hit 50 percent was near the end of May and the beginning of June, Gallup said.
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