The Secret to Obama's Rebound
Here's the most telling statistic from the new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll: More voters view President Obama as a moderate and fewer view him as a liberal than at any point in his presidency -- or even his presidential campaign.
Exactly 40 percent of respondents said they view Obama as a moderate - a ten-point spike from when the question was asked this time last year, and even three points higher than when he was first inaugurated in January of 2009.
The number of respondents who believe he's liberal has correspondingly declined as well. The survey shows 45 percent view him as either "very liberal" or "somewhat liberal" - four points lower than his previous low-water mark in January 2009, when 49 percent viewed him as liberal.
All this comes before Obama delivers his State of the Union address next week designed to recalibrate his presidency, and barely after new staff designed to reorient the president on a more moderate path have taken their places in the White House.
Obama's bounce could be a result of his well-received memorial address in Tucson last week, but this poll question is an ideological one - not one based on his favorability or likability. It suggests that, in near-record time, Obama has restored his standing, with the opportunity to move to the middle in the next two years to improve his numbers further.
It could be a short-lived moment, thanks to the country's sour economy and the continued unpopularity of his signature health care law. But at the same time, his improved standing is remarkable for a president dealing with 9.4 percent unemployment and coming off an election where his party was overwhelmingly rebuked at the ballot.