Don't call it a comeback, but President Obama has gotten a steady stream of good polling news in recent weeks.

The lame-duck president has seen views of him, the economy and his signature health-care law all edge up -- not to the point where any is seen as a success, to be clear, but better than before.

To wit:

1. Obamacare hits a post-rollout high

The 43 percent who approve of the law in a new Kasier Family Foundation tracking poll is up nine points from November 2013, at the depths of the flawed HealthCare.gov rollout. It's also the best number for the law since before the rollout.

As we noted Tuesday, it's also despite continued misinformation about how much the law costs. Just 8 percent of Americans think the law has come in under estimates, which it has. Half think it has been more costly.

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The bump also comes as new data show the number of uninsured Americans has dropped by one-third over the last year and a half. Of course, some kind of drop was to be expected, given the mandate in the law that people acquire health insurance.

2. A majority of Americans now view the economy positively

For the first time in Obama's presidency, more than half (52 percent) of Americans say their personal economic situation is getting better, according to a Gallup poll this week.

This measure had long lagged despite continued good jobs reports (this month's subpar numbers excepted) and the rapidly recovering stock market, as middle-class Americans didn't see the economic recovery reaching them personally.

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Meanwhile, a CNN/ORC poll shows -- also for the first time in Obama's presidency -- that a majority (52 percent) rates the economy as "very" or "somewhat" good. That's up from 38 percent in October.

The same poll showed 60 percent said they expect the economy to be in good shape a year from now. That's the highest that has been since 2012.

3. Obama's numbers are climbing too -- slowly

The president's approval rating hasn't risen sharply, but it has inched upward. CNN/ORC had him at 48 percent approval, 47 percent disapproval -- his first net-positive review in nearly two years. And Bloomberg had him at 47 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval -- the best since June 2013.

Similarly, for much of the month of April, Gallup's tracking poll has shown Obama's approval rating about even with his disapproval. In the latter part of 2014, it was generally about 10 points (or more) lower.


And yet, all of this comes with a big asterisk. Despite these signs of improvement, people still think Obama hasn't measured up to his overall approval on non-economic issues, nor do they see him as having the qualities of a successful president. The same Gallup poll that showed his approval rating evening up also showed:

  • People say 52-46 that he's not a strong and decisive leader
  • 61-36 that he doesn't have a clear plan for solving the nation's problems
  • 55-44 that he can't manage the government effectively

Obama does better on personal measures like honesty and understanding the problems of average people, but the biggest missing piece of his presidency remains confidence in his leadership.

And until those numbers start to come up, he's less likely to get credit for whatever continued improvement there is in perceptions of the economy and Obamacare -- his two most important issues, we would argue -- and will be hard-pressed to leave office as a popular president.

But, at the very least, he's not unpopular anymore.