As Jan. 20, 2010, approaches, pundits and pollsters are scanning the numbers to see how President Barack Obama has done during his first year in office.
A group of news analysts discussed Obama's job approval rating Jan. 17, 2010, on ABC's This Week, and specifically focused on a new ABC-Washington Post poll conducted between Jan. 12 and 15, 2010.
Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said that Obama is doing the best job he can given the circumstances.
"He's had to inherit two wars, he's had to work with a Congress that often tries to take the lead. ... And of course he's worked against a Republican Party that was united against him and against all of his policies," she said. "Despite all of that, there's some good stuff in [the poll results]. ... Not only is his job approval up but most Americans consider him a strong leader."
Brazile's comment that Obama's job approval is up piqued our interest. Could the numbers be so optimistic?
We went back to the ABC-Washington Post poll and found that Brazile is technically correct: Obama's approval rating has increased three percentage points from 50 percent in December 2009. That was his lowest job approval rating to date, according to the same poll.
So, Brazile is correct that Obama is polling three points higher than he did in December. But the latest figure also falls within the poll's three-point margin of error; statistically speaking, not much has changed since December. (She was more accurate with her claim that "most Americans consider him a strong leader." The poll showed that overall, 63 percent of the people characterized him that way.)
To get some perspective, we looked at other recent job approval statistics.
Pollster.com, a Web site that aggregates polling data from numerous sources and averages the results, shows that Obama's approval rating has been increasing since December. These averages are a bit squishy because each poll has a different margin of error, but they give a good estimate of where the country stands.
Fox News, for example, has Obama's approval ratings up four percentage points from November to 50 percent this month. According to Gallup, Obama's approval rating is up slightly as well. Rassmussen polling demonstrates a similar trend, though it also shows that slightly more people disapprove than approve of Obama's performance.
Other polls, including Quinnipiac, however, show Obama's numbers on the downturn.
So, Brazile claimed that Obama's job approval ratings are improving, and generally speaking, it seems they are. But we're going to lower our rating by one notch because she based her claim on one poll in which the increase is within the margin of error. So we rate this one Mostly True.