From the New York Times:
President Obama’s political standing is rising along with voters’ optimism that the economy is getting better, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, a shift that coincides with continued Republican disquiet over the field of candidates seeking to replace him...
Showing steady improvement since early December, Mr. Obama’s approval rating has reached the 50 percent mark in The Times/CBS News poll — an important baseline in presidential politics and his highest approval rating since May 2010 (excepting the brief bump he received after Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011).
Why is Obama doing so well? It's the economy, stupid. From CBS
As many as 34 percent of Americans say the economy is getting better, according to the poll, conducted February 8-13, up from 28 percent who thought so a month ago. While more than four in 10 think the economy is stuck in place, the percentage that says it is improving is the highest it has been in nearly two years.
But whether it's the Republicans themselves (more on that in a later post) or whether it's Obama, it's clear the Democratic president is opening up some daylight between himself and his Republican opposition, at least for now. And there are plenty of folks who will tell you the president's own job approval being 50 or more is even more important than the head to heads in predicting what happens.
Another important finding (CBS):
Romney's drop in support against the president is attributable to a shift among independents. Last month, independents favored the former Massachusetts governor by eight points over Mr. Obama. In the new survey, Mr. Obama holds the edge, leading Romney among independents by nine points.
That's a 17 point swing, and that's a big deal.
Note: Margin of Error +/- 3, possibly higher in subgroups.