As Inauguration Nears, Americans Still Confident in Obama

by Frank Newport

Sixty-five percent confident in Obama’s ability to be a good president

PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup Poll Daily tracking shows that 65% of Americans continue to say they are confident in Barack Obama's ability to be a good president. Although down slightly over the last several days after peaking at 70% on Jan. 2-4, Obama's confidence rating remains high and within the general range he has enjoyed since being elected on Nov. 4.

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Obama's confidence rating has ranged from a low of 63% at two points in November to the recent high of 70%.

The slight decline in his confidence rating in recent days perhaps reflects the fact that Obama, who moved to Washington this week (although not yet into the White House, of course), is more visible and has been much in the news concerning his cabinet picks, his high-ticket economic stimulus proposal, and perhaps his reaction (or lack of one) to the situation in the Middle East.

Still, the 65% rating is well within the span of Obama's confidence ratings since his election, as noted, and it will take several more days to see whether the public's ratings of the president-elect begin to trend downward as Obama enters the daily political grind full-time. Gallup will continue to track confidence in Obama until Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and will then switch to the standard job approval rating used to measure public reaction to presidents since Harry Truman.

There is the predictable variation in confidence in Obama's ability to be a good president by party.

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Although Republicans are certainly much less confident in Obama than either independents or, particularly, Democrats, their current 36% confidence rating is relatively high. By way of comparison, the accompanying graph shows the partisan breakout in President Bush's job approval rating for the first few days of this month.

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The dramatic contrast between Obama and Bush is evident. Although the two measures are somewhat different, and Obama is clearly still enjoying a pre-inauguration honeymoon of public support that passed long ago for Bush, the 7% of Democrats who approve of the job Bush is doing can be contrasted with the 36% of Republicans who are confident that Obama will be a good president. Obama also receives much greater partisan loyalty from Democrats (91% of whom are confident) than Bush receives from Republicans (68% approve of the job he is doing).

Survey Methods

Results are based on aggregated telephone interviews from Gallup Poll Daily tracking, from Nov. 5, 2008-Jan. 6, 2009. Gallup interviews no less than 1,000 national adults, aged 18 and older, each day. The Obama questions are asked of a random half of each day's sample. For results based on an average three-day rolling average of approximately 1,500 interviews, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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