President Barack Obama waves as he walks out from the White House in Washington before his departure to Vietnam, May 21, 2016.
Photo by Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Obama hits highest job approval since second inauguration

As the race to succeed President Barack Obama rages around him, the man who currently sits in the Oval Office has hit his highest approval rating since his second inauguration, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll shows.

Fifty-one percent of registered voters say they approve of the job Obama is doing as president, compared to 46 percent who disapprove.

The last time more than half of the electorate gave Obama a thumbs up in the poll was in January 2013, when Obama took the oath of office after his successful re-election campaign against Republican Mitt Romney. His approval rating sunk as low as 40 percent before the 2014 midterm elections but subsequently rebounded, particularly since primary voting in the 2016 presidential race got underway at the beginning of this year.

Obama’s approval rating remains dismal with self-described Republicans, who disapprove of his performance by an 88 percent to eight percent margin. It’s nearly the inverse image for Democrats, who approve of the job Obama is doing by 88 percent to 11 percent. And more than half - 54 percent - of independents give Obama high marks, compared to 44 percent who do not.

Voters overall were less enthusiastic about the idea of electing Obama to a third term in office if such a move was allowed by the Constitution, although about four-in-ten respondents said they were willing to entertain the idea. Fifty-nine percent said they would not consider voting for a third Obama term, while 39 percent said they would consider it. That’s compared to 34 percent who said they would consider voting for a third term for Bill Clinton in September 2000.

The president’s relative political strength could be a significant boon for Hillary Clinton, whose 2016 candidacy is largely focused on preserving key aspects of his Democratic policy-making.

The poll shows that Clinton, despite her own high negative ratings as an individual candidate, could enjoy some other structural advantages as well in the 2016 contest.

Asked if they prefer to see a Republican or a Democrat succeed Obama in the White House regardless of who each party’s nominee might be, 47 percent of respondents said they preferred a Democrat, compared to 43 percent who said they would rather see a Republican take Obama’s place.

This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.

Barack Obama

Obama hits highest job approval since second inauguration