A pre-inaugural Pew Research Center poll finds about eight-in-ten Americans (79%) say they have a favorable impression of the incoming president including 59% of Republicans; that is far higher than George W. Bush’s personal favorability shortly before he took office in 2001 (60%). Also, seven-in-ten (70%) approve of the job Obama has done in explaining his plans and policies for the future. This rating tops those achieved by both Bush and Bill Clinton as they were taking office. As is typically the case at this stage, most Americans think it is too early to tell whether Obama will be a successful or unsuccessful president. Yet optimists far outnumber pessimists (30% successful vs. 4% unsuccessful). At a comparable point in 2001, 26% said they expected Bush to be successful, compared with 15% who said he would be unsuccessful. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.