Obama and the polls: is opinion shifting?

National Journal's Charlie Cook, doyen of political rune-readers, on the latest numbers:

Just as the economic news was relentlessly negative until the last few days, poll numbers for Republicans were horrific for months. So the GOP should be heartened by the first encouraging polling news it has received perhaps since Lehman Brothers defaulted in mid-September: Republicans have pulled even with Democrats on the generic congressional ballot test, according to a survey by a respected pair of firms.

In the new National Public Radio poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and its Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, 42 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed March 10 to 14 said that if the next congressional election were held today they would vote for the Republican candidate; an identical percentage of respondents said they would vote for the Democratic one. For several years, Democrats held a substantial lead on this question...Many Democratic congressional leaders shake their heads with disdain or in disbelief over what they see as the Obama White House's preoccupation or even obsession with pleasing independent voters by promoting bipartisanship, but reaching across party lines is critical to Obama's success. Independent voters do not like partisanship, whether it is practiced by Democrats or Republicans. If Republicans really have pulled even or slightly ahead among independent voters, that is a very ominous sign for Democrats, an indication that Obama's talking the talk of bipartisanship isn't sufficient and that he and the Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill have to walk the walk.
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