Voters believe that Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHolder: DOJ, FBI should reject Trump's requests The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — Frenzy over Kennedy retirement rumors | Trump challenges DOJ Asian American and Pacific Islander community will be critical to ensuring successful 2018 elections for Democrats MORE has been a better president than George W. Bush and think that the country would be worse off if Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ MORE (R-Ariz.) had won the 2008 election, according to a new poll.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed that voters think Obama's time in the White House has been better than Bush's by a 46-30 percent margin. Twenty-two percent said they are about the same. Forty-one percent of voters also say that the country would be in worse shape if McCain was in the Oval Office. 

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The poll shows Obama in a stronger political position than he was on the eve of the 2010 midterm elections, when he conceded that his party took a "shellacking" from Republicans, who took the majority in the House and picked up six Senate seats.

"On balance, the American people are giving him thumbs up halfway through his presidency," Quinnipiac University assistant polling director Peter A. Brown said. "Given the pasting his party took at the polls in November, the president and his supporters can take some heart that things aren’t all that bad politically for Obama’s reelection."

The president also saw his approval rating rise to 48 percent in the survey.

But Obama could face some tough sledding once Congress resumes normal business following its break to honor the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.)

Republicans are anxious to hammer away at Obama's healthcare reform law when they bring up a repeal bill for final debate and a vote in the House.

A number of GOP presidential candidates are also expected to officially enter the 2012 race in the comings months, which would give them a greater public pedestal to criticize the president.

Quinnipiac surveyed 1,647 registered voters between Jan. 4-11. The poll has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points. 

—This post was updated at 10:25 a.m.