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Most approve of Obama's Cabinet picks, poll shows

  • Story Highlights
  • 75 percent of those surveyed approved of Barack Obama's Cabinet picks
  • 71 percent approve of Hillary Clinton as secretary of state
  • 83 percent approve of keeping Defense Secretary Robert Gates on board
  • Many of Obama's picks have ties to Clinton administration or Washington
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By Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Editor
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new national poll suggests that Americans think President-elect Barack Obama's getting it right when it comes to his Cabinet picks, especially Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates.

A poll shows 71 percent of Americans approve of Barack Obama picking Hillary Clinton for secretary of state.

A poll shows 71 percent of Americans approve of Barack Obama picking Hillary Clinton for secretary of state.

Seventy-five percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey approve of Obama's Cabinet choices, with 22 percent disapproving.

That's 16 points higher than those in favor of then President-elect Bush's Cabinet picks eight years ago.

The poll indicates that 71 percent approve of Obama picking Sen. Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. Democrats overwhelmingly approve of the choice, with two-thirds of independents agreeing and Republicans evenly split on the pick.

Clinton and Obama were rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination during the very long and bitter primary season, and the two didn't see eye-to-eye on some major international issues. Video Watch more on the Obama-Clinton alliance »

But the poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday, suggests that Americans don't think Clinton will go rogue when she and Obama disagree.

"Will Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton try to push their own foreign policy agenda? Americans say no," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director.

Fifty-seven percent say Clinton will follow Obama's policies rather than her own when she disagrees with the future president, and 54 percent think her husband, former President Clinton, will stay out of U.S. foreign policy.

Holland adds that the "favorable ratings for both Clintons have risen dramatically since the election."

Americans also seem to like Obama's move to keep Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon for at least the next year. Gates was appointed two years ago by President Bush. Eighty-three percent of those polled approve of the move, with just 15 percent disapproving.

iReporter Ben Hicks, a self-described liberal who attends the University of Houston, said Obama's choices represent "a good combination of conservative and liberal views." What do you think about Obama's cabinet?

"Bush's Cabinet was strictly conservative, and it's proven that too much of anything cannot be a good thing," Hicks, 23, told "Instead of having an abundance of liberals and pretty much angering every conservative in the nation, you can have both."

Many of Obama's choices for his Cabinet, his White House staff and other high level positions in his incoming administration are people who have ties to Washington and the Clinton administration. But nearly three-quarters of those questioned think an Obama administration made up of such Washington insiders can bring about change.

A similar amount feel that that the Obama Cabinet should be made up mostly of people who have served in the federal government in Washington.

And 88 percent feel that an Obama Cabinet made up of former rivals and opponents of the president-elect will be able to work together.

"Obama is so popular that 52 percent of Republicans approve of his Cabinet choices," Holland said.

iReporter Tracy Crews, a Republican from Jacksonville, Florida, isn't among them. She said she doesn't believe that Obama can bring change with an administration containing people linked to Clinton's administration.


"The men and women he's chosen these past few weeks ought to be a warning to all the Obama supporters out there. He either can't or has no intentions of [fulfilling] the many promises he's made to the American people," Crews wrote on

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey was conducted by telephone with 1,096 adult Americans questioned. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

CNN's Rachel Rodriguez contributed to this report.

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