In noodling around yesterday on a story about how soon politics will get back to normal in Washington (prediction: very soon), a source reminded us to keep an eye on the polls:

"Obama's numbers may rally a little bit," said Aubrey Jewett, a political scientist at the University of Central Florida. "It's the 'rally 'round the flag' effect that political scientists look for. When the country is under attack in some way, people really do tend to rally around the president. And it wouldn't surprise me." Jewett added that the effect can be fleeting. "Take a month down the road, we are probably back to where we were before."

After 9/11, you will recall, President Bush's approval ratings shot from the low 50s to about 86 percent. Of course, by the time he left office it was another story.

And right on cue: behold, new polling numbers from AP-GfK show Obama with a 53 percent job approval rating. 

  The period during which the poll was conducted included last Saturday, when a shooting rampage in Arizona left six dead and several more injured, including a congresswoman, and touched off debate over the caustic nature of American politics. The December lame-duck session of Congress left an imprint on Americans who had made it clear in November that they were tired of one-party rule in Washington and hungry for bipartisanship.  

Before the shooting, Gallup noted an increase in Obama's approval rating on the wake of his big bipartisan tax deal with Republicans.