A funny thing happened on the way to the idea that no one likes the incumbent. For the first time in six months, Gallup's daily tracker is showing Obama's job approval higher than his disapproval.
This is, of course, merely a single point in time, in a poll known to fluctuate (3 point jumps are not infrequently followed by equivalent drops the next day.) And 47 is hardly award-winning territory. Still, Gallup is showing what some other polls are showing (ABC/WaPo and CNN have him at 49): a slow rise from Obama's debt ceiling negotiation slump, when Democrats felt he gave up the store and Republicans and independents simply refused support.
Is it the economy? There's been some small amounts of good news lately, and the holiday sales look a bit better than expected.
Is it the populist rhetoric? Certainly Occupy Wall Street and "we are the 99%" are working their way into the political lexicon.
Is it the GOP payroll tax debacle? Nothing good has been said about the House or John Boehner since they caved.
Is it the general weakness of the Republican primary candidates? You can't open a newspaper or an internet news source without reading about it.
Is it Democrats coming home? Some are, some aren't.
Is it all of the above? Probably so.
Ah, but will it last? Now that's another question altogether, and one that's unanswerable now. The economy will be the single most important determinant of that, though the ability of the GOP to administer self-inflicted wounds appears to be a new-found skill, constantly honed through daily usage.
As has been the case in Iowa, don't start writing the ending to this novel just yet. We're not done with inflection points, and winning isn't assured—but neither is defeat inevitable.
Anyone who claims to know exactly what's going to happen at this point is just blowing smoke.