WASHINGTON — President Obama heads into his second term with political momentum on his side, and leads congressional Republicans when it comes to dealing with the country’s debt limit according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

More Americans now approve of the way Obama is doing his job than at any point in the past three years, except for a fleeting spike upward after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The number seeing him as a “strong leader” is sharply higher, and a clear majority again sees him as empathetic with the problems they face. Still, barely half see Obama as performing well on the economy, which is the overwhelming top priority across party lines. Registered voters split 48 to 49 percent on his handling of what they see as his clear job No. 1.

And most continue to see the country as pretty seriously on the wrong track, a general, stubborn pessimism that colored much of Obama’s first term.

Fully 55 percent say Obama is doing a good job overall, more than double the 24 percent saying so of the Republicans in Congress.

The new Post-ABC poll of 1,001 adults was conducted Jan. 10 to 13.