One beneficiary of the intense focus on the Republican presidential contenders heading into Super Tuesday appears to be President Obama, according to a new poll by The Washington Post and the Pew Research Center.

About half of Democrats say their opinions of the president are getting better as they learn more about the candidates who might emerge as his GOP challenger in November. That’s up significantly since late last year, before voting started in the caucuses and primaries. (Fewer Democrats now say their views are staying about the same.)

(Washington Post/Pew Research Center)

While the GOP candidates are helping Obama appeal to the Democratic base, so far, most independents continue to say the Republican contest has no effect on their views of the president. But he may still be benefiting among those in the middle: as in December, by about 3 to 1, independents say the more they hear from the Republicans, the worse rather than better their overall impressions of those candidates become.

As before, more than half of all independents say their opinions of the GOP field is not changing.

One group moving toward Obama as a result of the Republican campaign may worry GOP strategists: since December, white women are now eight percentage points more apt to view Obama positively. Among Democratic-leaning white women, the number with improving opinions of the president has nearly doubled (from 25 to 49 percent).

The poll was conducted March 1-4, among a random national sample of 1,009 adults. Results for the full poll have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.