January 18th, 2009
01:27 PM ET
13 years ago

CNN Poll: Obama more popular than ever, despite speed bumps

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/23/art.getty.obama.closeup.jpg caption="a New poll suggests Americans overwhelmingly approve of Obama's transition performance."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new national poll suggests that Barack Obama is more popular than ever, regardless of recent speed bumps on the road to transition.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Sunday morning also indicates that most Americans see Obama's inauguration as a chance for the nation to come together.

Eighty-four percent of those questioned in the survey say they approve of how Barack Obama is handling his presidential transition. That is up two points from the middle of December and up five points from the beginning of December.

The rise in approval also comes after a series of missteps in the Obama transition the past few weeks - situations that have included New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announcing that he was withdrawing his nomination as commerce secretary, calling a federal grand jury investigation in his home state a distraction; the disclosure of Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner's failure to pay $34,000 in taxes, and some initial pushback by Republicans and even some Democrats to the naming of Leon Panetta as CIA director.

"If the public is blaming Obama for those missteps, it isn't registering in his approval rating," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"You know the country is in the middle of a honeymoon when six in 10 Republicans have a positive view of Obama."

The poll also indicates that six in 10 Americans think Obama's inauguration will be a celebration in democracy. Four in 10 Americans felt that way when George W. Bush was inaugurated eight years ago.

Thirty-nine percent of those questioned said they feel that Obama's inauguration is a celebration by supporters of the winning candidate, 33 percent lower than the percentage who felt the same way about Bush's 2001 inauguration.

"Unlike the ceremonies of the Bush years, this inauguration is being seen as a chance for the country to come together rather than [as] a political celebration. The public saw both of Bush's inaugurations as celebrations just for his supporters," said Holland.

The poll also suggests that 68 percent of those questioned say they are personally thrilled or happy that Obama will soon be inaugurated as president, 18 points higher than the way people felt in the days before President Bush's second inauguration four years ago.

Expectations for Obama's speech on Tuesday appear to be quite high, with 85 percent saying they expect his speech will be excellent or good. That's 24 points higher than the 61 percent who felt the same way about Bush's first inauguration speech in 2001.

Nine of out 10 African-Americans questioned in the poll say that Obama's election is a dream come true. Also, nine out of 10 African-Americans questioned say they are thrilled or happy by Obama's impending inauguration. Only a quarter of white respondents say they are thrilled.

Virtually every African-American in the survey says that it is likely they will watch Tuesday's ceremonies on TV.

Fifty-seven percent of whites say they are likely to do the same. Virtually every African-American interviewed approves of how Obama has handled the transition so far.

"But there is a note of caution that tempers blacks' enthusiasm about an Obama presidency. Most of them say that the American public will hold Obama to a higher standard than past presidents because he is black," Holland said. "Most whites say that Obama's race will not matter in how he will be judged as president."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted January 12-15, with 1,245 adult Americans, including 798 white and 332 African-Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the overall responses and plus or minus 5.5 percentage points for the questions broken down by race.

Filed under: President-elect Obama
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. mel

    obama is going to make Bush look good in a few years

    January 18, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  2. Tim

    Obama seen pondering the unponderable.

    January 18, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  3. Tim

    Britney feels Obama stealing the spotlight.

    January 18, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. Erik in Real Pennsylvania

    No surprise. I'm not a Democrat and some of President-elect Obama's economic policies already annoy me, but you can't deny the man has intelligence, strength and dignity working for him. Most Americans are hungry for these qualities in their leaders.

    January 18, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  5. Ray Fisher

    America has simply waited patiently for a change and the clouds of doom to exit the scene. Too much instability in all aspects of our lives have made daily living quite challenging. Perhaps very soon we can return to caring about our lives without regards to what the government will do next to present us with further challenges.

    January 18, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. BB

    Less than 51 hours to go. I'm loving the feelings of hope and renewal. It will take time, but I'm willing to do my part.

    January 18, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. minan59

    I sincerely hope that after President Obama's first year in office he continues to have this much popular support.

    January 18, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Jim Hall

    Go Obama Go. You and Joe Biden are the best since John F Kennedy. You will restore hope again to this country and the world better than the last 8 years signed a republican family who voted for you Jim Hall Kansas City Missouri

    January 18, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. Change - Yeah Left!

    What they aren't saying is that 1200 of those polled were Left Wing Democrats. I know he's less popular with me now than he was at the election as he gets ready to put the national security at the bottom of the things he considers important.

    January 18, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. Curious dude

    Poll me, they'll go down

    January 18, 2009 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  11. Slider

    Wow. A poll, with results driven by the sheep that voted for this shambles of a politician that continues to climb.

    What exactly has Obama done to merit such results?

    I'm gonna enjoy watching this man get questions he can't answer from reporters who aren't invested in his success as CNN continues to carry the water in a vain attempt to regain lost credibility.

    When this little life-raft you media bozos have patched up begins to take on holes I'm gonna enjoy watching the American people do what the do best: blame the ones responsible for being irresponsible.

    January 18, 2009 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. jaye

    If people would listen to him and get to know him they would find that he is all about us. He has no improper agenda. He wants the united states to succeed and be strong again.
    BUT, long as the likes of sean hannity, rush limbaugh, and fox news are on air, there will always be haters.

    January 18, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. jaye

    Those speed bumps are small considering what our country has been through and is going through.
    Anyone with any sense at all should support him and his administration.

    January 18, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. Kathy S. Cloughn

    What a relief! Bush would have run this country into the ground if he had stayed any longer. Hopefully the country will get behind Obama and we can return to the prosperity of the Clinton years.

    January 18, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. Herbie

    Pres elect Obama is one of the best things that have happened to our beluved country and around the world in manny, manny years. Pray for him that he will do God's will in carring out the duties of the highest office in the world. We LOVE you MR. PRESIDENT!!!!!!!!

    January 18, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  16. jean mitchell

    where you report above that "only a quarter of white respondents say they are thrilled," in order to make a true comparison that you are implying, you need to report the number of white respondents who say they are thrilled or happy, as you did for the African-American respondents..

    January 18, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  17. Carramea

    Mel Hate to disappoint you , nothing in this world will ever make Bush look good... Obama has his work cut out for him but hes twice as intelligent as Bush

    January 18, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Obama 2012

    To "mel" & "Curious dude" you guys are just a few out of millions and millions of people that love him. So, please, sit back and enjoy the ride.

    January 18, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  19. Barbara L. Giles

    I am so proud of Obama. Whenever I see on television, I cry. Whenever I see him with his family I cry. He is such a likable person. He has a nagnetizing personality that draws people to him. The love that he has for his family is genuine and heartwarming. His actions indicate that he is genuinely concerned about people and that he wants to help everyone. There is no empty rhetoric here.
    His victory has shown me that the sky is the limit for us. His victory symbolizes hope for everyone. Yes, he is in the spotlight and deservedly so. It is so hard to believe that we have come this far, and what is so heartwarming is that people of all nationalities show that they admire him. Obama/Biden 2009-2016!!

    January 18, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  20. Todd Peterson

    As an American who is living in Dubai, I can also attest to his approval ratings in the Middle East. Despite what you read about in the papers of certain middle eastern leaders wishing he would have reacted differently on the gaza situation, I have yet to meet anyone who feels he truly should have stepped in on Bush's toes.

    January 18, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  21. traveler

    All of these angry people...this is about Obama's popularity. You aren't angry with him...you are angry that people like him and that you cannot control how people feel about him. No matter what angry hateful thing you write, people still approve. I really see what this is now. It isn't even about the new President....it is about the multitude of people who care for him and want him to succeed so that we all can succeed. People like Mel and Tim, please accept that you can no more make us hate our President than we can make you get past his colour and give him a chance. We need to call a truce and support whatever leader we have at the time. How can Obama make Bush look good? Oh, if a major environmental issue occurs in a predominantly white area and Obama ignores it for three days...oh that is how. Good point Mel. (yeah right)

    January 18, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  22. Accountant Guy

    America voted him in overwhelmingly and I can't wait for him to get into office and start to fix what Bush and his useless administration destroyed!!

    January 18, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. Anonymous

    How the heck can he have such a high approval rating...has hasnt done anything yet.....he didnt even do anything as a "junior senator" .....
    people.....he is not the messiah that the media and hollywood make him out to be....judge him starting tuesday not based on a campaign and false promises...i mean promises.

    January 18, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Kevin

    enjoy the honeymoon everyone...

    the train ride "re-arrival" in Washington D.C. will be his "Mission Accomplished" debacle

    waiting for the Obama balloon to pop...

    January 18, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  25. Merle

    Ok CNN! We know your liberal...Hes already gonna be the next president...lets not get ahead of ourselves. He hasnt done anything yet!

    January 18, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
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