A new poll by The Associated Press has found that a full 60 percent of Americans say they approve of the job President Barack Obama is doing -- his highest rating in two years.


Poll figures showed that the president has improved dramatically in the minds of most voters across nearly all key metrics, like his handling of the economy, competence in foreign policy and his ability to protect the nation from terrorist threats.

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The most important measurement -- whether he deserves reelection -- is not an exception to this surge in love for the president. The poll found that 53 percent believe Obama deserves a second term, marking the first time an AP-GfK poll has found a majority favoring his reelection.

Fifty-two percent also said they approve of the president's handling of the economy and the unemployment rate.

In other findings, the poll claims that 65 percent of Americans believe President Obama is a "strong leader," and 69 percent say they trust him to keep the nation safe. Another 63 percent said they believe that the president cares about them and understands the needs of ordinary Americans.

Obama did, however, receive low marks for his handling of taxation and the national deficit, with less than half of Americans saying they approve of the job he's done tackling those issues. This area is a likely line of attack for Republicans ahead of the 2012 presidential election, who claim that reducing tax rates for the wealthy and stripping out government safety regulations is the only way to create jobs.

The low ratings on taxation, however, could be construed another way: a CBS News poll in late 2010 found that most voters favored allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to expire, as Republicans nearly a decade earlier had stipulated when passing those tax cuts.

After a showdown with congressional Republicans, the president ultimately agreed to extend those tax rates for another two years, insisting he had no choice because Republicans were holding the economy "hostage" by threatening to raise taxes on the poor and middle classes.

Studies have shown that if the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy were to expire, approximately 75 percent of the national deficit would vanish over the next five years, effectively blunting the need for deep cuts to social programs like Social Security or health care for senior citizens.

The president has vowed to make these tax rates a major issue in his reelection campaign.

Read the full poll results here. (PDF)