Obama sees uptick in likability rating

More people are beginning to like President Obama again, according to a new poll, even if most still say they don't approve of the job he's doing as president.

A new poll from The Associated Press found that 58 percent of Americans now view the president as very or somewhat likable — up 9 percentage points from October.

That's an encouraging sign for the White House, which has long banked on the president's personal popularity to help him survive political missteps and administration gaffes.

There are also signs that the president's recent focus on the economy, which the White House says will be a central part of his State of the Union address next week, has paid dividends. The number of Americans who disapprove of his handling of the unemployment situation has dropped 7 percentage points since October, buoyed primarily by a surge of support among independents.

Still, a number of red flags persist for the White House. The president's approval rating remains underwater, with 45 percent approving and 53 percent saying the president is not handling his job well.

A plurality — 42 percent — describes the Obama presidency as below average or poor, while 31 percent say he's been outstanding or above average as president. A quarter of respondents describe Obama as average.

More than half of Americans say they wouldn't describe the president as decisive or honest, and 52 percent say they don't find the president inspiring.

But other polls also released Thursday show there could be a rebound in the making for Obama.

A CBS survey found the gap in the president's approval rating to be much narrower, with 46 percent of respondents approving and 47 percent disapproving — a 4-point improvement from December, and a 9-point gain from his all-time low during November, when problems with the ObamaCare website were at their worst.

And surveys show Americans are souring on Congress, despite a bipartisan budget deal that passed last month.

A Fox News poll released Thursday found just 13 percent of respondents approved of Congress, down 3 points from December. And for the first time since the GOP retook the House, more than 9 in 10 Republicans say they disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.

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