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Poll numbers climb for both Obama, Republicans

Associated Press / January 13, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Americans gave higher marks to President Obama and congressional Republicans after a holiday season of compromise paid dividends for both, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll.

At the start of the divided government era, the survey found 53 percent of Americans approve of how Obama is doing his job, up 6 percentage points from just after the November elections. The rating is his best since the divisive health care vote 10 months ago.

Republicans in Congress got a slight bump too, with 36 percent giving them high marks, compared with 29 percent last fall.

And 48 percent expressed some degree of optimism that Obama and the new Republican-controlled House can work together to solve the country’s most urgent problems, chief among them the struggling economy. Only 41 percent did so last fall.

“It’s going to be difficult because there are some bleeding-heart liberals way over on the left and some uptight conservatives,’’ said Spirit Fliege, 83, a Republican from Brentwood, Calif. “It’s going to take someone who can operate very smoothly. Whether Obama can or not, we don’t know.’’

Most people, according to the poll, now are putting their faith in Republicans to implement the changes needed to fix the economy. But a majority also now view the Democrats favorably, an oddity just two months after voters dealt Obama’s party what he called “a shellacking’’ in congressional elections.

Democrats generally viewed by 53 percent of those polled, with 45 percent holding an unfavorable view. That’s better than at any point during the height of the 2010 campaign. Views of the Republican Party are evenly split at 48 percent.

The period during which the poll was conducted included last Saturday, when a shooting rampage in Arizona left six dead and several more injured, including a congresswoman. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

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