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Joining other polls in showing an Obama head to head lead over Republican challengers, Fox News notes improved Obama numbers (MoE plus/minus 3 for registered voters, higher margins for sub-groups):

Looking ahead to November, Obama edges Republican Mitt Romney by 5 percentage points (47-42 percent) in a hypothetical matchup today. In January, the president had a narrow one-point edge (46-45 percent). Both leads are within the polls’ margins of sampling error.

The president’s advantage widens against the other GOP contenders. Obama leads Ron Paul by 10 percentage points (48-38 percent), Rick Santorum by 12 points (50-38 percent) and Newt Gingrich by 13 points (51-38 percent).

An important part of the story is the 85 percent support from Democrats, and that:
48 percent of voters approve of the job Obama is doing as president. That’s up from 45 percent in January, and the highest positive rating Obama has received since June 2011.
Here's some enthusiasm data:
More voters overall would be enthusiastic or pleased if Romney (28 percent) or Santorum (27 percent) were to become president than Gingrich (23 percent) or Paul (21 percent). Still, President Barack Obama tops them all, as 41 percent of voters would be enthusiastic or pleased if he were re-elected.

Twice as many voters overall would be enthusiastic if Obama were to be re-elected than if any Republican contenders were to win. And twice as many Democrats would be enthusiastic if Obama were re-elected than Republicans would feel enthused about a victory by any of the GOP candidates.

If the Republicans think social issues are what this election is about, well, they are Republicans. There's no accounting for what they think, because it's certainly not based on data.

For example, the poll contains a question regarding employer coverage of birth control:

The new Obama health care law requires that employer health plans provide birth control coverage as part of preventive services for women. Catholic and other religious-affiliated hospitals and universities typically have not provided any birth control coverage for their employees, and oppose the new requirement because it violates their religious rights. Overall, do you approve or disapprove of requiring employer health plans to cover birth control for women?

Approve 61%
Disapprove 34
(Don’t know) 5

This data joins that from PPP showing the White House has strong backing from the public.

Let's say that again, so no one misses it. Two polls released today, one by PPP and one by Fox, confirm the earlier data from the Public Religion Research Institute that this should properly be referred to as the "popular White House position."

So, if anyone missed out on the week's sturm und drang, here's what happened:

Obama proposed an ACA rule, conservatives inside the beltway freaked out for 3-4 days, the public sides with Obama (see this poll), then Obama nails a reasonable compromise while Mark Halperin figures it's all good for John McCain. Meanwhile, Obama increases his lead against all comers.

Hope that clears it up for you.

Originally posted to Greg Dworkin on Fri Feb 10, 2012 at 12:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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