President’s Poll Numbers Up – Except Where He May Need Them Most This Week

President Obama and his party may have just been given a shellacking in the midterm elections but a brand new ABC News/Washington Post Poll just released indicates President Obama's poll numbers are rising.

Up five points from last month -- and 8 points from his career low in September -- President Obama now has a fifty four percent job approval rating, tying his highest rating in more than a year.

You can read the full poll analysis HERE.

Perhaps even more striking: in September Americans split 50-48 percent on whether president Obama “understands the problems of people like you.” Now that number is overwhelmingly positive for the president by an 18-point margin, 58-40 percent.

So what may have changed? A series of lame duck successes last year, and in Tucson, Az., last week, with more than 30 million Americans watching live, the president delivered a well-received speech to a nation in shock.

Seventy-eight percent approved of his handling of the tragedy, including 71% of Republicans. And 51 percent of all Amercians approved of his response "strongly." -- the highest rating on a single issue that President Obama has received during his presidency

In contrast, perhaps the most prominent republican responding to the crisis – former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- saw a mere 30% approval in her response, and 46% disapproval.

But it is hardly time for the president to pop open the champale. While the percentage of those saying the country is heading in the right direction is up 7 points from last month, a whopping 60 percent believe the US is headed seriously off on the wrong track.

And the president is still under 50% when it comes to his handling of the economy, which 72% of all Americans say should be the highest priority for him and Congress.

Perhaps the most troubling data point for the president – he and the Republicans are tied for the first time in trust to handle health care, with trust in Obama dropping 9 points since last month to a new low, and trust in the GOP gaining 4 points, rough news for the president in advance of the vote this week in the House to repeal the health care law.

-Jake Tapper

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