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President Obama’s approval rating is up slightly and his popularity steady, but both the Republican Party and the Tea Party still have negative perception with voters, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released Wednesday.

Only 32 percent of Americans have a positive perception of the GOP, with 41 percent negative, a net of -9. The Tea Party’s perception is up slightly since January of 2013 but only 26 percent report having a positive perception of the right-wing movement while 38 percent feel negatively, a net of -12. The number of Americans identifying with the Tea Party is up 4 percent to 24 but the share that says they’re not — 65 percent — has increased by one percent.

The IRS’s singling out of Tea Party groups that applied for non-profit “social welfare” status has renewed interest in the Tea Party movement. Earlier this year Republican strategist and fundraiser Karl Rove had created a new organization designed especially to hedge against Tea Partiers who could threaten safe seats by defeating establishment candidates in primaries. Since then, Republicans seem to have re-embraced the movement, using the IRS investigation to raise money and attack the president.

President Obama has a net positive of +7, which is unchanged since April, and his approval rating is slightly above water at 48/47, up from 47/48 a month ago.

The swirling accusations of scandal have slightly lowered the president’s reputation for truthfulness. Majorities say that the State Department’s handling of Benghazi, the Department of Justice’s handling of investigations of reports and the IRS’s focus on Tea Party groups raise doubts about the Obama administration.

The public supports investigations into these matters, saying they’re legitimate, not partisan, by a margin of 8 percent

But the public doesn’t seem to think the president is facing an unusually troubling time. In August of 2011, during the debt limit crisis, a majority said that the president was facing a “longer-term setback” that would be difficult to recover from. Now only 43 percent say the same in this poll. A total of 55 percent say that things are likely to get better or that the president is “not facing a setback.”

The share of Americans who identify with the Republican Party continues to decline with only 21 percent identifying with the GOP.

 Photo: Dwight Burdette via Flickr.com

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