President Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015, in Washington, as Vice President Joe Biden applauds and House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, listens. (AP Photo/Mandel Ngan, Pool)

President Obama's approval rating in Gallup's tracking poll hit 50 percent on Monday for the first time since May 2013. This comes on the heels of a Washington Post-ABC News poll last week that showed the exact same thing -- approval at 50 percent, first time since May 2013.

And many Democrats have had the same sarcastic response: Just in time.

Nearly three months after you've lost control of both chambers of Congress, after all, isn't a great time to start being popular again.

But this is hardly the first time Obama's image has been less than timely for his party. The first significant ebb in his approval rating came in 2010, when he became unpopular just in time for Democrats to lose control of the House.

Obama's approval rating tied an all-time low of 41 percent just two weeks before the 2010 midterm, and it was underwater through Election Day. By Jan. 2, it had climbed back to 50 percent and didn't creep much lower for the next few months.

Gallup Presidential Approval Center

The same thing happened last year. Obama's approval hit another all-time low of 38 percent on Sept. 1 and 2, and it was in the low 40s through Election Day. Today, it's back at 50 percent.

Gallup Presidential Approval Center

Of course, Obama benefited from the inverse in 2012. That year, he actually came into the election on a high. After he was stuck in the 40s for almost the entire year, his approval climbed as high as 53 percent in the fall and was measured at 52 percent right before voters headed to the polls in early November. (Hence, it wasn't really a big surprise that he won.)


We've got a little bit of a chicken-and-egg question, though. Was Obama's approval high in 2012 because he was campaigning for reelection? And was it low in 2010 and 2014 because his 2008 and 2012 campaigns were more distant memories?

It's quite possible. What's clear, though, is that Obama has been unpopular at some of the most inopportune times for his party -- and popular at the most important times for his own campaigns.