But his ability to rise remains limited by public pessimism. Only 35 percent say the country is headed in the right direction, while 57 percent call America "on the wrong track."
At no point in his presidency, which began amid a deep recession and financial crisis, has the public expressed greater optimism than pessimism. (Read More: Fitch Warns of US Downgrade Over Debt Fight)
Congress fares even worse than the president. Just 14 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, while an overwhelming 81 percent disapprove.
That's significantly worse than in Jan. 2009, when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and in Feb. 2011, after Republicans had taken over the House in mid-term elections.
The Republican Party's image has declined precipitously after its prolonged battles with Obama. Just 26 percent of Americans expressed a positive view of the party, while 49 percent express a negative view. The Democratic Party, by contrast, is rated positively by 44 percent, negatively by 38 percent.
And House Speaker John Boehner has seen his image suffer since assuming the speaker's gavel from Nancy Pelosi. In Jan. 2011, Boehner was rated positively by 23 percent, negatively by 15 percent. Now just 18 percent view him positively, 37 percent negatively. (Read More: Why the GOP Is Backing Away From Business)
The standing of Obama's party and his personal popularity— majorities rate him positively on likability, compassion, leadership and ability to handle a crisis—gives him an edge over Republicans in budget talks.