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This country appears to be on the right track, at last. Was it release of the torture memos? The stock market? Michelle's arms? Teabagging? Regardless, the new AP and Pew polls have some striking changes in the political landscape, and some reaffirmation of Obama's leadership.

First, from AP (MoE +/- 3.1) there's the startling result of right track being higher than wrong track
for the first time in years (January, 2004, actually. And right track was 17 in October, prior to the election.)

Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction or in the wrong direction?
      Right  Wrong

4/20:  48    44
2/17:  40    49
1/14:  35    54
12/08: 32    60

Obama also gets a 76 for being a strong leader and Republicans are seen (by 65%) as not cooperating enough with him. His overall approval is 64 (67 in the last poll in February, 2009.) And Americans cut Obama slack in terms of when to expect economic improvement (72% say it will take longer than the first year.)

On the important question of how to spend the public's money:

As you may know, it is estimated that the federal budget deficit now exceeds one trillion dollars. If you had to choose, what do you think should be the HIGHER priority? [READ EACH ITEM.] [RANDOMIZE ORDER]

Increasing government spending on education, health care
reform, and the development of alternative energy sources,
even if that means the federal budget deficit will increase
even more
 49

Reducing the federal budget deficit by cutting spending, even
if that means the government could not enact new programs
on education, health care reform, and the development of
alternative energy sources
  43

That's actually pretty impressive as no one likes to spend money.

Other highlights include a 50-29 lead for support of Dems over the GOP in Congress on handling the economy, support for troops to afghanistan (53) and withdrawl from iraq by 2010 (74).

The respected Pew poll (MoE +/- 3.0) notes Obama exceeding recent history:

As he approaches the 100-day mark of his presidency, Barack Obama’s job approval ratings are higher than those of his most recent predecessors. However, the 44th president is even more distinguished by his strong personal popularity. Fully 73% of Americans – including as many as 46% of Republicans – hold a favorable view of Obama as a person. Fewer people held favorable impressions of George W. Bush (61%) and Bill Clinton (60%) early in their first years.

Obama’s job approval stands at 63%, while 26% disapprove of the way he is handling his job as president. His approval rating is up slightly from March (59%). Opinions about Obama’s performance remain highly partisan. Fully 93% of Democrats approve of the way Obama is handling his job as president, compared with just 30% of Republicans. Independents’ opinions fall in between, with 58% expressing positive views of his performance and 27% negative opinions.

In terms of the ever-popular "partisan" question, along with "what do independents think?" the answer is Obama's doing very well:

Obama’s approval rating among independents is on par with those of Bush and Clinton. However, more independents approve of Obama’s performance very strongly (37%) than did so for either Bush (29%) or Clinton (10%). About a quarter of independents (27%) disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job, which is about the same as Bush’s disapproval mark (26%) and lower than Clinton’s (35%).

These are very strong numbers for Obama and his policies. Even Bayh, John Boehner and the media: take good notes. If you are going to try and stand in the way, you'd better have some aspirin and bandages handy. You're going to need them. Oh, and note what this means for the future, Republicans. Younger voters are not impressed with the party of "no".

But people 50 and older are more skeptical of the way Obama is handling his job and dealing with individual issues. The largest differences are in opinions about Obama’s handling of health care: 63% of those younger than 30 give him positive marks, compared with 55% of those 30 to 49, 42% of those ages 50 to 64, and 40% of those 65 and older.

Older Americans are divided in their opinions of Obama’s handling of the budget deficit, while majorities of those younger than 50 approve of his handling of the issue. That also is the case with opinions about Obama’s job performance on tax policy.

Obama is still seen as a change agent, and most see Obama fulfilling expectations. People really like Michelle, too. Democrats and lower income folks have an improved view of Obama's policies, and that's true (less so) for Rs and Is.  For out-of-power Republicans looking to the future, things couldn't get much worse. Could they?

More conversation with Paleo and indepenocrat.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 10:50 AM PDT.

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