December 24th, 2008
09:05 AM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama transition draws approval of 4 in 5 Americans

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama is drawing the approval of 4 in 5 Americans in a new CNN/ORC poll."] (CNN) - Hawaii's always been a great spot for honeymoons - and Barack Obama, who's spending the holiday season there on the beach at Kailua, is unquestionably having one of the best in modern presidential history.

Eighty-two percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday morning approve of the way the Obama is handling his presidential transition. That's up 3 points from when we asked this question at the beginning of December. Fifteen percent of those surveyed disapprove of the way Obama's handling his transition, down 3 points from our last poll.

The 82 percent approval is higher than then President-elect George W. Bush 8 years ago, who had a 65 percent transition approval rating, and Bill Clinton, at 67 percent in 1992.

"Barack Obama is having a better honeymoon with the American public than any incoming president in the past three decades. He's putting up better numbers, usually by double digits, than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, or either George Bush on every item traditionally measured in transition polls," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The poll also suggests that the public approves of the President-elect's cabinet nominees, with 56 percent of those questioned saying Obama's appointments have been outstanding or above average, with 32 percent feeling the picks have been average, and 11 percent saying Obama's choices have been below average or poor.

That 56 percent figure is 18 points higher than those who said then President-elect Bush's cabinet appointments were outstanding or above average and 26 points higher than those who felt the same way about then President-elect Clinton's nominees.

"Obama walks in with nearly twice the support on the economy that President-elect Clinton had in January, 1993, and he beats Ronald Reagan as well," adds Holland.

A third say that their impression of Obama has gotten better since the election, with only 8 percent saying their opinion has gotten worse.

Presidents usually start to lose support once they assume office and start making the tough decisions. But with eight in ten currently approving of Obama, he can give away 20 or 30 points, estimates Holland, and still have a majority of the country on his side.

The CNN/Opinion Research poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,013 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Filed under: CNN poll • Obama transition
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. bill for barack

    While Obama certainly deserves high ratings on his merits alone, I wonder how much of his approval is based on a negative reaction to the Bush years ?
    Is it just a collective sigh of relief ?

    December 24, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. Veteran in Chattanooga

    I believe that he cares about American issues. People will support a leader who does what is right. The Bible clearly says when the Righteous are in Authority the people Rejoice, but when the wicked bear rule the people mourn. Through out the past 8 years under Republican rule the whole world has been mourning. National horrors and world wide horrors and wars. It seems like everybody is trying to breath again finally. I am a huge Obama supporter, but let's remember that this nation was founded on faith in GOD. Let's all look to GOD for Obama's safety and well doing.

    December 24, 2008 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  3. Wesg

    Lets see what the approval rating is in 4 years.

    December 24, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  4. Celusil

    We need to turn the corner on partisan politics and this is a good start

    December 24, 2008 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  5. Russ

    Obama is smooth, intelligent, charming, very astute, and a great actor. All of these things are necessary attributes of a successful politician. Perception is reality. Bravo!

    December 24, 2008 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  6. OneLove2008

    Let's get this party started right !!!..Merry Xmas !!!

    December 24, 2008 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  7. mary

    I approve of the transition so far.

    However, I have HUGE doubts about his innocence when it comes to his involvement with Gov. Blago.

    They are deny access to emails and paperwork regarding Gov. Blago. If he and his team were truly innocent then they would release all emails and any documentation regarding their contact with blago.

    Instead they put out the Obama report which is tamed down and doesn't give us all the facts.

    Obama needs to disclose ALL correspondence regarding Gov. Blago.

    He promised transparency and that is what we are expecting......not more political game play.

    December 24, 2008 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  8. Tom

    I must be the one out of five because I certainly don't approve!
    Just who is asked to respond to these polls?
    Is this like the Trident Gum poll? You only ask people that will answer the way you want?

    December 24, 2008 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. Mike

    Attention CNN; the approval record for a transition period does not amount to anything. Please try and get some journalist integrity back – perhaps your New Year's Resolution?

    December 24, 2008 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. Mike in Cincinnati

    As far as I am concerned, he has earned these numbers. So far, this is the best transition of an incoming administration that I can remember. And lucky we are, because I cannot remember a time when we needed a new administration to hit the ground running more than now.

    December 24, 2008 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. Sharon Kitchen

    82% approval rating.......good.

    Please enjoy the vacation........

    Next......the ignauguation.

    Then.....all of us get to help you with all the mess left by bush/cheney.

    December 24, 2008 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  12. Roy from Illinois

    Every four years is a different set of circumstances surrounding a President's transition to power. So it may not be comparing apples to apples to compare a statistic to another President.
    But for what we see so far, Omaba has been much more visible during this transition than new Presidents I remember, and I approve of this. But, the real "test" (Biden's words!) will come after inauguration of course so let's (everyone) wait and see what happens, someone else is still the President for a few more weeks.

    December 24, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  13. daddydoogles

    Not bad for a guy who doesn't really have any power yet, hasn't actually been officially elected yet, and has no real budget for his "office of the President elect", other than what President Bush has given him. Isn't this like giving a pitcher a "Cy Young" before he even goes to spring training ? Oh....and those winds of change coming....are they really going to come with all of these re-cycled picks for cabinet and staff.
    I didn't vote for him, but he DOES have my support and prayers.

    December 24, 2008 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  14. Charlie in Maine

    Don't get me wrong. I love Obama and I am among those who are enthusiastically awaiting Jan.20, 2209.
    But how about a little context here: Reagan followed Jimmy Carter, who, although less than stellar as a politician is a great person. Enough people disagreed with his policies to get Reagan elected. Clinton followed Bush Sr. who had some political shortcommings as well and mishandled an economic crisis so lost the election.
    With both Reagan and Clinton we had Republicans and Democrats, respectively enthusiastic.
    Obama, while may find getting us out of the mess that W has put in a lot of work, has the fortune of coming after the worst president ever. Even staunch Republicans are anxious to turn the page, if only so W will stop hurting ther brand name. You see the Republicans must do in the US what our nation has to do with the world. Get beyond George W Bush and behave in such a way that a great change is seen. One of the blessings of Democracy is that the US, by choosing Obama has already started the process and once President Obama actually starts being in charge the world will see a great difference.

    For the Republicans the task is harder but not impossible. They will have to support Obamawhen they can (or risk being seen as obstacles to economic recovery) and oppose him when he goes to far.
    Anyway that process cannot begin until George W Bush and the band of crooks he calls an administration becomes "history "instaed of "current events".

    I think the only people not looking forward to Jan 20th are those repsonsible for cleaning after the Enauguration. Come to think of it they to will probably be happy to have a job in this economy.

    December 24, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  15. We Approve

    We approve because so far, President Obama is doing exactly what he said he would do: rejecting polarizing ideology and putting together a centrist government of experts, who have proven track records of succes, and bringing in new blood, when it is needed. He ran one of the best political campaigns I've ever seen and this almost always means that the succeeding government will be effective. It's upsetting to a lot of people that Obama is not the bleeding heart liberal his opponents want us to believe he is. He's a moderate and he's intelligent. It's hard to effectively attack that. Attack politics isn't going to work this time.

    December 24, 2008 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  16. raagos


    December 24, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. EW

    Why don't we save the opinions until they actually do something?

    December 24, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  18. Sensible Cape Coral FL

    It just goes to prove that there is no substitute for intelligence.

    December 24, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  19. Marty

    All I can say is: Praise God! I still think I'm in a dream because McCain and Palin won't be taking over in January. It's been an excrutiating 8 years, but good things eventually come to those who wait! 🙂

    December 24, 2008 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  20. John

    Be sure to NOT report the FACTS as to WHY Obama's transition is going so smoothly..... The BUSH ADMINISTRATION instituted new policies and procedures to make sure a new President's transition could indeed go this smoothly.

    But of course..... its all about Obama being so wonderful.....

    Thanks Mr. President (Bush), for once again putting into effect policies that make our country safer.

    So sad and embarrasing how the media has totally lost all its credibility. they have become nothing but propaganda machines for thier various agendas.

    December 24, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  21. B.O by any other name is still b.o.

    Are these the same 1,013 dimocrats they always survey?
    No wonder.

    December 24, 2008 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  22. SLB

    Great numbers, but bear in mind the guy hasn't actually DONE anything yet.

    Let's check back in a year, OK?

    December 24, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. Nice Try

    ***The CNN/Opinion Research poll was conducted Friday through Sunday, with 1,013 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

    Does anyone (CNN, for instance) realize what an absolutely low sample this is? And a sampling error of +/- 3%? Come on, guys! Try again, CNN. I know you love Obama, but please quit with the ridiculous #'s!

    December 24, 2008 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  24. kim

    Its so exciting to have a man that looks this good, is this smart, and has such a great family life to be the role model for the world. He is such an awesome figure to have in the white house. He is doing a great job. Obviously you cant please everyone, but its not about personal feelings, its about doing what is right for the ENTIRE country!

    December 24, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  25. Dick in CT

    Excellent and as expected. I always thought he'd do a great job and this beginning is a perspective of what we can expect.
    Unfortunately, no matter how good someone does, there will be those few who disapprove of whatever is done.

    One wonders if those naysayers could do anywhere near as well.

    December 24, 2008 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
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