NBC/WSJ Poll: Obama More Bipartisan Ahead of Budget Cuts Deadline

President Barack Obama
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President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama approaches Friday's budget deadline with a far stronger reputation than Republicans for seeking bipartisan unity, a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll has found.

The survey shows that 48 percent of Americans credit Obama with emphasizing unifying themes, compared with 43 percent who say he takes a partisan approach "that does not unify the country." By contrast, Americans by 3-1 say the Republican Party takes a partisan approach (64 percent) rather than a unifying one (22 percent).

A 49 percent plurality of Americans said the Democratic Party takes a partisan approach, outpacing the 37 percent who said Democrats emphasize unity. But the recently re-elected president's superior ability to attract attention to his message gives his party the edge in casting its approach to Friday's budget "sequester" as one that aims at compromise. (Learn More: What Is Sequestration?)

(Read More: Bob Woodward: Obama Made Big Mistake on Sequester)

The telephone poll of 1,000 adults, conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his Republican counterpart Bill McInturff, took place Feb. 21-24. It carries a margin for error of 3.1 percentage points.

—By CNBC's John Harwood; Follow him on Twitter: @JohnJHarwood