By all accounts, this Administration seems to be having a hard time keeping its head above water—so why are its polling numbers improving?

A Gallup poll released today reveals that, for all his troubles, President Obama has managed to force his personal approval rating back over the 50% mark, with 51% of American adults willing to say that they have a “favorable opinion” of Obama. A generic sort of benchmark—and completely separate from his job approval rating, which normally clocks in lower than general favorability—but still a significant one, because it serves as a hint about how well the Administration is doing in terms of optics, generally.

Obama’s approval ratings with regards to his handling of the economy and foreign affairs are also up, but still well below the 50% mark.

Americans like the guy, but generally dislike his policies—what a bizarre piece of data.

More from Gallup:

The recent improvement in Obama’s economy and foreign affairs approval ratings mirrors the trajectory of his overall job approval rating, which was 40% in Nov. 3-9 Gallup Daily tracking but was 47% in the latest weekly average, through Feb. 15. The increase has been aided by more positive economic news, including lower gas prices, which have boosted Americans’ perceptions of the U.S. economy’s health to the best they have been since the 2007-2009 recession.

The more positive economic news may also explain why his economic approval rating has increased more (up 10 percentage points) than his foreign affairs approval rating (up five points) since November. While the economy is getting better, Obama continues to deal with a challenging international environment, including the Ukraine conflict, the Islamic State’s presence in Iraq and Syria, as well as the ongoing threats of international terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and North Korea and Iran. As a result, his foreign affairs rating remains on the low side relative to his 2009-2013 ratings.

Obama has been rated higher for his handling of foreign affairs than for his handling of the economy for much of his presidency, but that has changed since mid-2013 in the context of the economic progress and significant international challenges facing the U.S.

Obama’s overall approval rating has also generally exceeded his approval for handling both the economy and foreign affairs. This has been the most common pattern for presidents, but there have been many exceptions.

Independents are the culprits when it comes to the uptick in approval on both general favorability and economic issues; Obama gained 17 points from them on economic issues, and 12 on favorability.

Gallup’s analysts attribute Obama’s gains to an improving economy, as well as his attempts to court the immigrant community via his executive amnesty plan. The one thing that can be said about this Administration when it comes to their disastrous policy decisions is that they don’t back down—and that could actually be helping these ratings crawl back up from the bottom of the barrel. No one likes a waffling president, and the fact that Obama has stayed the course through a barrage of public ridicule, scandal, and a 26-state coup is probably not insignificant when it comes to how his reactions affect the way Americans perceive him both as a man and as a leader.

It also highlights the importance of shining light every time this Administration makes one of its stupid, dangerous decisions—they’re still in control of the narrative, and it’s our job to see just how far we can push that status quo.