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Obama's approval climbs as his would-be successors line up

As it turns out, the more the 2016 campaign unfolds, the more popular the current president becomes.
President Barack Obama walks along the colonnade of the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2016, to the residence from the Oval Office. (Photo by Carolyn Kaster/AP)
President Barack Obama walks along the colonnade of the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2016, to the residence from the Oval Office.
When it comes to the political world's current focus, nearly all of the attention is centered around the 2016 race and the major parties' competitive nominating contests. But let's not look past the guy the candidates are ready to replace.
The L.A. Times reported today on a development Republicans will probably find deeply discouraging, if not downright baffling.

As if Republicans aren't having enough problems, several new polls indicate an additional one -- an upswing in the public standing of President Obama. The popularity of the incumbent president often has had a measurable impact on how elections turn out. If Americans have a more favorable image of the current occupant of the Oval Office, they're more likely to keep his party in power.

Just this afternoon, Gallup daily tracking found Obama's approval rating up to 52%, a three-year high. Last week, Gallup's weekly averages also showed the president's support at its highest level since 2013.
A Washington Post/ABC News poll released earlier this week showed Obama's approval rating up to 51%, which is also a three-year high.
FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver recently joked, "Maybe Obama looks a little better in comparison to the unpopular set of candidates they've been seeing and hearing so much from lately."
Circling back to our coverage from a couple of months ago, I'm not unsympathetic to the argument that Obama's approval rating is irrelevant, since he obviously can't seek another term. This might have some effect on historians' perspective when the president's legacy is being debated, but it's understandable that much of the political world would be far more interested in the latest poll results out of Ohio and Florida.
But don't be too quick to dismiss the significance of Obama's support. He won't literally be on the ballot, but there's little doubt the president's standing will have a real impact on the public's appetite -- or lack thereof -- for radical change in 2017 and beyond.
Indeed, the aforementioned L.A. Times piece added, "Obama's approval rating now is almost identical to that of President Ronald Reagan in his final year in office -- the last time the incumbent's party won a third election in a row."
For the record, according to Gallup, on this date in 1988, Reagan's approval rating was 51%. As of today, Obama's is 52%.