Obama 42, Francis 76: Gallup Poll

Photograph by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis tries to catch a white rose thrown by a pilgrim as he arrives for his general audience at St Peter’s square on March 26, 2014 at the Vatican.

This is hardly a level playing field:

As President Barack Obama prepares to call on Pope Francis at the Vatican tomorrow morning, the pontiff’s approval ratings are soaring back in the U.S. of A.

Three-quarters of all Americans surveyed hold a favorable view of the first pope from the Americas, according to the Gallup Poll.  And that 76 percent favorability rating has risen from 58 percent nearly a year ago, just after his selection at the Vatican.

This puts the pontiff in the statistical stratosphere occupied by Pope John Paul II near the end of his reign, 78 percent approval in the U.S. — though he had peaked at 86 percent approval early during his tenure.

By comparison, Obama’s job-approval rating is running at 42 percent in the latest Gallup tracking poll. He peaked at 68 percent early in his first term.

Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev reports on the eve of the president’s meeting with the pope that the candidate who ran on “hope and change” in 2008 is counting on some goodwill rubbing off of the leader now most identified with hope and change.

Catholics in particular like what they see in the current Holy See: 89 percent approving of Francis.

Now the pope has 3.4 million followers on Twitter.

Compared with Obama’s Organizing for Action at 42.2 million, and the White House’s account at 4.7 mllion.

In the 2012 election, Obama basically split the Catholic vote with Republican Mitt Romney, the president receiving 50 percent support, his rival 48 percent, according to the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project. Obama had fared better among Catholics in his first election, with 54 percent of the vote, John McCain claiming 45 percent.

At the height of his popularity, this pontiff’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had a 63 percent favorable rating in the U.S.

The survey of 1,023 adults asked about the pope was conducted Feb. 6-9 and has a possible margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. The presidential survey, last conducted March 23-25, reaches 1,500 adults, with a 3 percent margin of error.

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