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Poll: Bush enjoying a traditional 'honeymoon'

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President-elect George W. Bush is having a typically successful honeymoon, with about two-thirds of all Americans approving how he has handled the presidential transition so far, and most of the country giving at least passing marks to his Cabinet selections, according to the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

The public's reaction to the new Bush administration is almost the same as it was to the incoming Clinton administration in late 1992.

Bush also enters the White House with six in 10 Americans saying that they approve of him as a person -- a relatively robust rating, but down from his post-convention figure of 73 percent. Note that only a bare majority consider themselves a supporter of George W. Bush -- roughly mirroring the split in the popular vote in November. And the public is just as closely divided over Congress -- 41 percent say the country would be better off if the Democrats controlled the legislative branch; 39 percent prefer GOP control over Congress.

Although some critics have charged that Bush has not paid enough attention to important decisions and is letting Dick Cheney run things, most Americans don't think Bush is a slacker and don't think Cheney will really be in charge of the new administration. Sixty-two percent say Bush will not go too far in delegating authority when he moves into the White House later this month, and only 30 percent say that Cheney will make more important decisions than Bush in the next administration.

The poll consists of interviews with 1,018 adult Americans and was conducted January 5-7. The margin of error for all questions is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN/USA TODAY/GALLUP POLL
January 5-7

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his presidential transition?

Approve65%
Disapprove26

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his presidential transition?

Bush now65%
Clinton in 199267

Apart from whether you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his transition to the presidency, what do you think of Bush as a person? Would you say you approve of him?

 NowAugust
Yes60%73%
No3319

How would you rate the appointments President-elect George W. Bush has made so far to Cabinet-level positions? Would you say his choices have been outstanding, above average, average, below average, or poor?

Outstanding12%
Above average26
Average43
Below average6
Poor7

How would you rate the appointments President-elect George W. Bush has made so far to Cabinet-level positions? Would you say his choices have been -- outstanding, above average, average, below average, or poor?

 Bush NowClinton 1992
Outstanding/above average38%32%
Average43  43  
Below average/Poor13  9  

Do you think the Bush administration will have high ethical standards, or not?

Yes71%
No25

Do you consider yourself to be a supporter of George W. Bush, or not?

Yes51%
No48

Do you think the country would be better off if the Republicans controlled Congress, or if the Democrats controlled Congress?

Democrats41%
Republicans39

Who do you think will be making more of the important decisions in the next administration -- George W. Bush or Dick Cheney?

Bush55%
Cheney30

As you may know, George W. Bush has said he will delegate authority in his administration to his Cabinet secretaries and other high level administrators. Do you think he will go too far in delegating authority?

Yes27%
No62

Prioritizing Bush administration issues

Education and Social Security top the public's list of issues that the Bush administration should tackle first, but cutting taxes ranks nearly at the bottom.

Fifty-two percent say they favor the federal income tax cuts Bush has proposed, but the public is concerned that those proposals would favor the rich, and they are split over whether the tax cuts would leave enough money for other things such as education and Social Security.

Only 29 percent think that Bush's tax cut would help stave off a recession -- an argument the president-elect has made in recent days -- and 34 percent say his tax cut program would make a recession more likely. Bush has been bad-mouthing the country's economic prospects, yet 57 percent say the economy is generally moving in the right direction. But the number of Americans who say the country is moving in the right direction has dropped 17 points since the summer.

Should each of the following be a top priority for the Bush administration?

Education50%
Social Security46
Economy43
Health care43
Prescription drugs42

Should each of the following be a top priority for the Bush administration?

Balanced budget40%
Medicare40
Military39
Illegal drugs36

Should each of the following be a top priority for the Bush administration?

Environment30%
Race relations28
Tax cuts26
Campaign finance reform25

Based on what you have read or heard, do you favor or oppose the federal income tax cuts George W. Bush has proposed?

Favor52%
Oppose33

Do you think Bush will or will not be able to pass the federal income tax cuts that he has proposed?

Yes38%
No50

If George W. Bush is able to enact his tax cut plan, do you think there will or will not be enough money left over from this tax cut for such things as education and social security?

Yes45%
No46

Based on what you have read or heard about Bush's tax cut proposals, do you think the tax cuts would be fair to all Americans, or do you think the tax cuts would unfairly benefit the rich?

Favor the rich55%
Be fair to all39

If George W. Bush is able to enact his tax cut plan, do you think that Bush's tax cut would make a recession more likely or less likely, or would it have no effect?

More likely34%
Less likely29
No effect30

Which of the following statements do you agree with more: 1) The economy is generally moving in the right direction and needs only minor changes or; 2) The economy is generally moving in the wrong direction and needs major changes?

Economy is Moving in Right Direction
Now57%
June74

Pardoning President Clinton

Two-thirds of the public says that independent counsel Robert Ray should not indict Bill Clinton for any charges relating to the Monica Lewinsky, and 52 percent say that George W. Bush should pardon Clinton if he is indicted after he leaves office.

Clinton is leaving office with just about the same job approval he had when he came in -- 67 percent approved of how Clinton handled his transition in December, 1992 and 65 percent approve of how he is handling his job as president today. A majority, however, still disapprove of Clinton as a person, and although that number is up significantly since last year, he is still far less popular on a personal level than President-elect Bush.

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Clinton is handling his job as president?

Asked in 1992: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Clinton is handling his presidential transition?

Now65%
December, 199267

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Clinton is handling his job as president?

Approve65%
Disapprove31

Apart from whether you approve or disapprove of the way Bill Clinton is handling his job as president, what do you think of Clinton as a person? Would you say you approve or disapprove of him?

 NowApril
Approve41%29%
Disapprove5463

As you may know, the independent counsel in the Monica Lewinsky case is assembling a grand jury to decide whether or not to charge Bill Clinton with a crime once he leaves office. Do you think Bill Clinton should or should not be charged in a court of law with a crime for these matters, after he leaves office?

Yes30%
No67

If the Independent Counsel does indict Bill Clinton, do you think President George W. Bush should pardon Clinton?

Yes52%
No42

MORE STORIES:

Monday, January 8, 2001

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