December 3rd, 2008
04:06 PM ET
10 years ago

Poll shows public approves of Obama's Cabinet picks

Americans are happy with Obama's Cabinet choices so far.

Americans are happy with Obama's Cabinet choices so far.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that Americans think President-elect Barack Obama's getting it right when it comes to his Cabinet picks, especially when it comes to Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates.

Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey approve of Obama's Cabinet choices, with 22 percent disapproving. That's 16 points higher than those in favor of then President-elect George W. Bush's Cabinet picks eight years ago.

The poll indicates that 71 percent approve of Obama's nomination of Clinton, the senator from New York, as his secretary of state. Democrats overwhelming approve of the choice, with two-thirds of independents agreeing and Republicans split on the pick.

Clinton and Obama were rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination during the very long and bitter primary season and the two didn't see eye to eye on some major international issues.

But the poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, suggests that when Clinton and Obama disagree, Clinton won't go rogue.

"Will Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton try to push their own foreign policy agenda? Americans say no,"states CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Fifty-seven percent say that Clinton will follow Obama's policies rather than her own when she disagrees with the president and 54 percent think that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, will stay out of U.S. foreign policy.

Holland adds that the "favorable ratings for both Clintons have risen dramatically since the election."

Americans also seem to like Obama's move to keep current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who was appointed two years ago by President Bush, at the Pentagon for at least the next year. Eighty-three percent of those polled approve of the move, with just 15 percent disapproving.

Many of Obama's choices for his Cabinet, his White House staff, and other high level positions in his incoming administration, are people who have ties to Washington and to the Clinton administration. But nearly three quarters of those questioned think that an Obama administration made up of such Washington insiders can bring about change. A similar amount feel that that the Obama Cabinet should be made up mostly of people who have served in the federal government in Washington.

And 88 percent feel that an Obama Cabinet made up of former rivals and opponents of the president-elect will be able to work together.

"Obama is so popular that 52 percent of Republicans approve of his Cabinet choices," Holland adds.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Survey was conducted by telephone with 1,096 adult Americans questioned. The surveys' sampling error is plur or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Matt

    Im sorry, but i refuse to "approve" of President Obama's cabinet selection before they have done anything in the white house...its almost time for Obama and his team to step up, and i am going to reserve my judgment until I can see how Obama and his staff act in office.

    December 3, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  2. 48% Repug

    It's the other 48% of the backwoods, right-wing bible thumpers that disagree that hold this nation down....

    December 3, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  3. Paul

    Really? What happened to change we can believe in? What change? Picking insiders and polarizing figures for your cabinet is change? I bought into his slogan during the election. Listened to him rip the Clinton's down as the "old way" blah blah and then he goes and makes her S of S. What the heck man?

    Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice sahme on me. I won't be fooled again on 2012.

    December 3, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. john from sandiego

    54 % of the people are completely fooled by this poll.

    December 3, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  5. DebM, Allentown, PA

    His choices have been outstanding, for the most part. He has collected a group of people who will test him, who will present him with all possible alternatives, and who will let him know when he's wrong. He will not be surrounded by cronyist yes-men, as Bush had been. I'm encouraged so far by our PE's actions and choices. I shudder to think at what the alternative (McCain/Palin) would have presented to us.

    December 3, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  6. Sue

    Napolitano is an awesome choice for Homeland Security Secretary – she is going to have Rendell, and anyone else who wants to play around with her, in a bind answering to her – she will set people straight! This is great! Obama is awesome.

    December 3, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  7. Dayahka

    Well, if Bill or Hillary want to go their own way, they can always be shown the door. I don't think Hillary will make it for longer than a year anyway.

    December 3, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. Al

    "Democrats overwhelming approve of the choice, with two-thirds of independents agreeing and Republicans split on the pick."

    Most journalists, thinking more like show biz gossip columnists, look at the nominations from the point of view of personal political intrigues (keep your friends close and your enemies closer, neutralize the rivals, etc.). I've always taken the more expansive view that Obama is planning momentous changes in the federal government and policy and he knows the only way to succeed is to get the support of all of the Democrats, most of the independents and some of the Republicans. Based on the quote above, seems like the president-elect is on track.

    December 3, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  9. 3strikes

    of course lemmings approve of their false prophet

    December 3, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  10. Jack in Tampa

    Anyone with half a brain knows how intelligent and thoughtful Barack is. He is surrounding himself with highly intelligent people as well and is not afraid of their egos.

    He is going to make us all proud once again to be Americans!

    December 3, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  11. vb

    I would of of liked to seen John Kerry as the S.O.S. but I am sure Clinton would do a good job as well

    December 3, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  12. adam

    The only horrible choice i see is Obama himself!! Right now what ever Obama does his supporters are going to say it is great, they are too simple minded to contest it........simple minded people can easily fall under a dictatorship!!! HMMMM – the whole continent of Africa!!!!!!

    December 3, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. frankie

    Whomever he picks for his cabinet, we still have to respect his choices. So far he is picking the right candidates for his cabinet.

    December 3, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Franky

    "Obama is so popular that 52 percent of Republicans approve of his Cabinet choices," Holland adds"

    LOL!!! Even MJ doesnt have anything on his dynasty years, LOL!! Let's just sit back, relax and let the money roll...wait a minute, that's what we're trying to figure out, sorry, LOL!!

    December 3, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |



    December 3, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. Ia Guy

    Go Hillary!

    December 3, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  17. Ryan - Reality, MI

    Brilliant decisions so far. I think prosperity and world peace are days away.

    December 3, 2008 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  18. PJP


    December 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  19. MsRotten

    Why wouldn't we approve?! We hired the man for his intelligence, judgment and vision.

    Let the man do his job already!!

    December 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  20. Aussie

    Will this shut the right wing nuts?

    Unfortunately no.....

    December 3, 2008 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  21. Noel Teku

    I feel that Obama has done a good job with the cabinet nominations. Also, for all those critics saying that he's not bringing change; jhe said change from Bush(Fine Print: Never said anything about Clinton). He even said that the change comes from him, and that he'll bring new faces with experience. So we just have to wait and see what he'll do next.

    December 3, 2008 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  22. Practical Gal

    I support Obama and his choices but can't help thinking of the old saying 'keep friends close and enemies closer'.

    December 3, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. Phyllis, MD

    Of course we approve. He is the reason people traveled all over the country, working so hard to get him elected.

    So far, he is living up to the hype. He's doing a great job and I'll be proud to call him my president. I'll be proud to see that beautiful family in my White House.

    It's a new day America and we are moving on up.

    December 3, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Janet, Fl

    Hillary and Bill have a chance for a clean slate. They can overcome all of the bad publicity by being team players. So far, so good. We'll see.

    December 3, 2008 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  25. P

    Hey its Bill clinton era all over again. Different President same cabinet.

    December 3, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
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