Keeping in mind what Nate Silver said about the weak relationship between approval ratings this far out and eventual reelection, this is still obviously good news for Obama and the Democrats. As I said when Obama first reached 50% in Gallup a couple of weeks ago, perhaps the biggest takeaway is to remind everyone, again, that there's no reason for anyone to expect Obama to underperform the fundamentals in 2012. And in the meantime, as we perhaps approach a major budget confrontation this spring, the odds of Democrats rallying to the White House increase as Obama's poll ratings increase, while the odds of Republican solidarity against him decrease. Of course, there's plenty of time between now and March for all sorts of changes in presidential approval.
I would add one thing: contrary to what Andrew Sullivan and Christina Romer advise, I think the White House would be foolish to take polling on the deficit at face value as the president moves to the State of the Union speech and then the upcoming budget battle with Republicans. Romer says:
Voters made it clear last November that they were fed up with red ink. President Obama should embrace the reality that his re-election may depend on facing up to the budget problem.But as usual we don't really know what voters were thinking in general, and specifically voters have often claimed to care about deficits without acting on that concern, or indeed without adopting opinions on specific policies that would conform to their stated beliefs about budget deficits. If the White House thinks that deficit reduction will help short-term (that is, through November 2012) economic growth, then it's probably better to do that from an electoral point of view even if it will mean adopting unpopular spending cuts or higher taxes. If not, then there's no electoral reason to give anything more than lip service to deficits while putting the real weight of the the presidency behind pro-growth policies.