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Gallup: Americans Give Obama Transition the Thumbs Up

By Jon Cohen
Four weeks after Election Day, Americans have found some political common ground: A whopping 78 percent approve of how President-elect Barack Obama is handling the transition, according to a new USA Today/Gallup poll.

The poll also shows widespread support for a major economic stimulus package along the lines proposed by Obama, although there is a deep partisan divide on the plan, potentially foreshadowing a political clash ahead.

There is more agreement about Obama's national security cabinet picks, revealed yesterday in Chicago: Eighty percent of those polled approve of his decision to have Robert Gates, the current defense secretary, continue on in that role for at least a year, and 69 percent are in favor of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state.

Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike approve of Obama's work on the transition in general, and the Gates pick in particular. And while 55 percent of Republicans disapprove of Clinton as the country's top diplomat, a sizable minority approve of the choice (40 percent), as do 69 percent of independents and 89 percent of Democrats.

Obama gets high marks for these specific Cabinet choices, but he also benefits from the takeover from an unpopular president. Asked whether they trusted the incoming or the outgoing president to deal with the economy, about two-thirds sided with Obama, two in 10 with George W. Bush.

Eight years ago, Bush also got high marks for his transition, just as Bill Clinton had in 1992. But neither reached the level in Gallup polls where Obama is now.

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 2, 2008; 4:12 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , The Pollster  
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Dr. Tantillo, who blogs from a branding perspective , published a post last month about the difficulty--and importance--of Obama staying true to his brand.

"President Obama will need to continually listen to the electorate, respond to the pragmatic core and the center. Real marketing —i.e., knowing your Target Market and its needs— will preserve the promise of the candidacy from the rigors of the presidency."

Tantillo's full post

Posted by: elo8 | December 5, 2008 12:04 PM | Report abuse


You had me all the way until "Bush screwed up everything else" since 9/11.

Posted by: JakeD | December 3, 2008 5:05 PM | Report abuse

JakeD "George W. Bush set a record high Gallup approval rating after 9/11 though."

Really D-Bag? I mean that may be true, but let's be fair now, it wouldn't have made a difference who was president then, a pet rock would have received high approval ratings after 9/11. We as a country were united and it wasn't so much that we agreed with Bush but that we agreed to set aside our differences. Now Bush of course screwed that all up with his horrible handling of everything else since. And also I would like to point out that Bush was in fact president when we got attacked in the first place, so really he should accept the blame for being asleep at the wheel and allowing the attack to occur in the first place.

Posted by: formlessness | December 3, 2008 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Gator-ron said:

"I am very hopeful about the future but I wait to be convinced that my decision to vote for Obama was a good one."

Yup. Exactly right. But then that IS our job.

What I like to see is that Obama seems to believe that government should work.

Expectations are high and I think his cabinet must know they will be held accountable for results.

I've said it before, you can be appointed means you can be fired.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | December 3, 2008 1:12 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if foreign leaders will appreciate her ability to look them in the eye and know, like her "we had to run for cover while under fire" story.

I know it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that I can count on her to be so detached from reality.

Posted by: dwj2215 | December 2, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

During the eight years of Clinton the economy provided jobs for the country. There was deregulation that may have been in part a contributor. But it is up to the President to realize what problems exist in the country and move to counteract that problem. He chose Christopher Cox to head the SEC and he failed to do his job or to go to the Congress to get the authority to regulate the financial service industry.

President Bush was out of his league being president. He was intellectually lazy and by temperment unsuited to be president. Sarah Palin is as well. Does the Republican Party have a penchant for untalented leaders?

Posted by: Gator-ron | December 2, 2008 7:40 PM | Report abuse

That is exactly why this man will be a great President....But, I feel that we as a society need to get away from always comparing....I will tell you this.....When you compare, you will always, always, always, come up with greater or lesser of the situation, and that is beacause noone is the same and not everyone does things the same way, nor do they think the same.....And let me ask.....Can you compare this Obama Presidency to any other? No.....because their has been NO OTHER!!


Posted by: Hheeaatt | December 2, 2008 7:16 PM | Report abuse

OBAMA'S CO-OPT CITY: Making Sense of Hillary as SecState

Posted by: scrivener50 | December 2, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Why isn't Obama selecting more DEMOCRATS from States with Republican Governors? Take Sen. Boxer or Feinstein, PLEASE!!!

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

I am happy to see that George W. Bush has aided the transition to a new president in a classy manner, unlike the transition from Clinton to Bush.

Bush has shown that he places the Country ahead of politics!

Posted by: mwhoke | December 2, 2008 5:46 PM | Report abuse

We'll see.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Until Obama actually does something, I will not give him the "Thumbs Up". I fear that he will drive this country into a deeper recession with the plan he has. After all, he wants to bankrupt any business that doesn't fit his plan. This is not a good time for that kind of action. His plan could triple the cost of energy. Again, not a good time for that. The economy is in shambles, but people seem to want to blame President Bush. People seem to forget that the policies taking effect now are those that were put in place by President Clinton.

Posted by: dingyyngie | December 2, 2008 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I am very glad that the country is happy about these choices. What is important is how they perform as a team. The single most important economic statistic I want to see is how the income of the middle class does relative to the income of the top quintile.

I am very hopeful about the future but I wait to be convinced that my decision to vote for Obama was a good one.

I hope that Obama's approval ratings never reach those of George Bush. Ratings in the high sixty percent range will be satisfactory. Hopefully it will never drop below the mid forty percent range. If that is the case the country will have done well.

Posted by: Gator-ron | December 2, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

George W. Bush set a record high Gallup approval rating after 9/11 though.

Posted by: JakeD | December 2, 2008 4:15 PM | Report abuse

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