Poll: Obama holds 52 percent approval rating ahead of deficit talks

A majority of Americans approve of President Obama's job performance, according to a poll released Monday.

The latest CNN/ORC poll finds Obama with a 52 percent approval rating, and 43 disapproval.

The poll shows a slight uptick for the president since the last survey, taken in early November before his commanding reelection victory. That poll showed Obama with a 51-45 positive split.

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The new poll numbers are likely to buoy Obama as he launches crucial negotiations with lawmakers on a deficit-reduction package to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of tax rises and spending cuts taking effect in January.

The president has argued that the election gave him a mandate to push for higher taxes on the wealthy in any deal, a move Republicans have said they will oppose.

Other polls show voters are more inclined to blame Republicans if the talks falter and no agreement is reached. 

But the poll also finds those surveyed are less optimistic about the nation's future than they were after Obama won the presidency in 2008.

Fifty-six percent say the country will be better off in four years, with 40 percent saying it will be worse off. That’s a sharp drop, though, from polling on the eve of Obama’s first term, when 76 percent said the country would be better off and 19 worse off.

Fifty-four percent said they were "enthusiastic" or "optimistic" about Obama's second term, with 44 percent saying they were "pessimistic" or "afraid."

By comparison, after President George W. Bush's reelection, 58 percent were optimistic or enthusiastic, with 41 pessimistic or afraid.

Fifty-three percent believe the lessons learned during Obama's first term will guide him in his second term and make him a better president, with 13 percent saying it would make him worse and 33 percent predicting no difference. 

Fifty-eight percent also express confidence that Obama will make the right choices to replace Cabinet members expected to depart.

The president still holds a positive favorability rating at 56-41, up from 55-44 on the eve of the election.

His GOP challenger Mitt Romney, though, has seen his favorability rating tumble to 43 negative, 50 positive. Romney held a slight favorable edge before the election, at 49-47.

But the GOP nominee has been sharply criticized since the vote by members of his own party and sparked criticism when he blamed his loss on Obama and Democrats giving political "gifts" to minorities. 

The CNN/ORC poll was conducted from Nov. 16 to 18 and has a 3-point margin of error.