Something to chew on for the David Brooks fans of the world, who were duly informed this morning that The One’s new embrace of pragmatic Brooksian centrism means that “Obama and the Democrats have had an excellent week.” Check the Pollster.com scoreboard and you’ll see that his numbers were just as bad (or even a point worse) among some major pollsters in October, but that was because independents were gearing up for the big red wave on election day. This new downturn isn’t because indies are souring on him — his numbers among that group are static — but because, after the federal pay freeze and the heart-ache of the tax cuts deal, liberals are suddenly very chilly indeed about Hopenchange. Even if that’s just a blip rather than the start of a new ceiling for his numbers among the left, it’s worth flagging this as the first signpost on the road to finding out just how angry progressives will get at him for breaking his promise on taxes. Are we actually going to see him south of 40 percent next week?

The poll was taken from Dec. 2 through Wednesday, as the president proposed a two-year freeze on federal civilian workers’ pay and cut a deal with congressional Republicans to extend expiring tax cuts — even those for the wealthy, which he’d opposed.

Overall, just 42 percent of registered voters approve of how he’s doing his job, while 50 percent disapprove.

Obama’s standing among Democrats dropped from a month ago, with his approval rating falling to 74 percent from 83 percent, and his disapproval rating almost doubling, from 11 percent to 21 percent.

Among liberals, his approval rating dropped from 78 percent to 69 percent and his disapproval rating jumped from 14 percent to 22 percent.

In a hypothetical match-up with Huckabee, he leads by just four points, and against Romney he actually trails by two. (Against Palin, he leads by, er, 12.) And yes, it is depressing that even at a moment of terrible weakness for The One, the creme de la creme of Republican contenders aren’t way ahead of him in the polls. What’s it going to take for Mitt or Huck to bounce out to a five-point lead? Iranian nuke test? Federal default? Bizarre, tone-deaf White House press conference in which The One hands the mic to Bill Clinton so he can go drink eggnog with Michelle? What?

Don’t celebrate too hard, though. Charlie Cook, who was on the money in predicting a big GOP midterm landslide months before it happened, says independents are sure to smile on the tax cuts deal based on the focus groups he’s observed. Will they smile enough to offset the bleeding Obama’s going to do among lefties, though? Exit quotation from Cook’s piece, which I’m proposing as the official slogan for RINOcon if/when it happens: “The difference in attitude between those focus-group participants and the bloggers on the left and the right, not to mention the conservative and liberal combatants on the cable-news food-fight shows, is striking. Liberals and conservatives have passion. Moderates and independents have lives.”

Update: Yeah, I’m thinking we’re definitely going to crash 40 percent next week:

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) criticized Obama’s plan to extend all tax rates for two years as following in the vein of “Reaganomics,” the free market-oriented policies sought by the GOP president when he was in office in the 1980s.

“If we recklessly cut taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent, then Obamanomics will look an awful lot like Reaganomics,” Jackson said in a statement…

“That was President Reagan’s strategy: a ‘starve the beast’ plan of lowered taxes and increased military spending that would force Congress to make deep cuts in programs for the most vulnerable,” the Chicago Democrat added.

Jesse Jackson Jr was national co-chair of Obama’s presidential campaign.