By I-Hsien Sherwood | ( | First Posted: Jan 09, 2013 04:11 PM EST

U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama depart Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, for their return trip to Washington aboard Air Force One, January 5, 2013. (Photo : Reuters)

President Obama's approval ratings have climbed since the contentious fiscal cliff deal with Republicans last week.

While the president's positive numbers have bested his negatives consistently since before last year's election, he took a slight hit in popularity as it looked like the country might face an economic crisis.

Still, most Americans felt Republicans should bear the brunt of the blame, but no one escaped unscathed.

Gallup's daily tracking poll of the president's approval ratings shows him at 56 percent, up four percent from the days prior to the fiscal cliff deal.

Even Rasmussen Reports has Obama's positives at 53 percent.

Both polls show Obama with strong negatives, though. Rasmussen puts his disapproval rate at 45 percent of the public, while Gallup pegs it at 39 percent.

The RealClearPolitics average of several daily tracking polls gives Obama an aggregate rating of 11 points net positive. That is, averaging all the polls show his approval numbers about 11 points higher than his disapproval ratings.

But many of those polls are from the end of last year, while the fiscal cliff still loomed large (and maybe even the Mayan apocalypse?)

If we ignore any polls from before the beginning of the year, and admittedly, that is most of them, Obama has a net positive rating of 12.5 percent, his best since all the way back in 2009.

Yes, better than right after his reelection (those numbers were actually terrible, only around a net 4.5 percent), and better than his most recent high at Christmas, when he had a net positive rating of 12 percent. 'Tis the season, after all.

These numbers continue a relatively steady trend for Obama, but will it last?

He has a contentious debt ceiling battle in two months, and that might hurt his popularity. The last time Obama suffered a sustained period of disapproval - where his negatives consistently beat out his positives - was back in the summer of 2011, the last time Republicans got obstinate over the debt ceiling and the fiscal cliff and sequestration "compromise" was hammered out in the first place.

But Americans have seen it before, so it might look like more Congressional recalcitrance. Obama may have earned the public's trust when it comes to fiscal policy, so people might stay more calm than last time.

And if Obama is able to renew the assault weapons ban and the Violence Against Women Act, both popular measures, he may win over even more support this year.

Americans love a winner.

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