President Obama’s approval rating jumped to 53% this month, an 8-point improvement over December, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. Even more significant: more independents held positive views than negative ones of the president for the first time since August 2009. Pollsters say the numbers may be inflated, however, because the survey was conducted in the wake of the Tucson shooting. The public overwhelmingly approved of Obama’s handling of the tragedy.
The public also trusts Obama to deal with the new Republican Congress, with 55% expecting him to strike the right balance between being flexible and sticking to his guns. But respondents doubt the GOP will meet him half way; 55% said Republicans would be too inflexible to deal with Obama, and only 25% said they’d bring positive change. For comparison, 42% thought the Democratic Congress ushered in in 2007 would bring positive change.