Obama Approval Moves Ahead Though Challenges Remain

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In terms of priorities for Obama and the Congress in the year ahead, as noted, the economy rules, with 72 percent calling it a highest priority, little changed from 76 percent at this point last year. Following it are the deficit, called a highest priority by 50 percent; education and health care, both 43 percent; and terrorism, 42 percent.

Lower-tier issues in terms of top priorities include taxes and the war in Afghanistan, both cited by 31 percent; immigration issues, 24 percent; and global warming, 16 percent.

Obama Gains in ABC News/Washington Post Poll

ELEMENTS -- As noted, there seem to be three elements to Obama's rebound in approval overall. One is the easing of criticism on the troubled economy, an issue very closely linked to presidential approval. Another is the lame-duck legislation; in an ABC News/Yahoo! News poll earlier this month, 77 percent approved.

And the third is broad support for Obama's response to the Tucson shootings. As previously reported, 78 percent approve, including seven in 10 Republicans and conservatives. And one of Obama's significant advances in his overall job rating in this poll is among Americans who call themselves "somewhat conservative" -- a 10-point boost, to 40 percent approval.

METHODOLOGY -- This ABC News-Washington Post poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 13-16, 2011, among a random national sample of 1,053 adults, including landline and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points.

The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.

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