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.