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Has Obama Hit a Confidence Ceiling?

Americans overwhelmingly approve of President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet appointments, but that hasn’t resulted in increased confidence in Obama’s ability to lead the country.

According to a CNN poll released Wednesday, 75 percent of Americans support Obama’s cabinet nominations, including 71 percent who back his choice of Hillary Clinton for secretary of state and 83 percent who approve of his retaining Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. A Gallup poll released Monday showed similar numbers: 69 percent for Clinton and 80 percent for Gates.

Yet today’s Gallup tracking poll shows that Americans’ faith in Obama to be a good president hasn’t budged. In fact, Obama’s overall confidence numbers since November 23 have been remarkably stable, never climbing above 66 percent or dropping below 64 percent:

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Of course, the rigidity of these numbers isn’t so surprising when you take a look at President Bush’s approval ratings, which have recently hovered between 26 and 29 percent:

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2008/12/bush-approval1.jpg

The die-hard Republicans who continue to support Bush unflinchingly may not warm up to Obama no matter what he does. That Bush’s job approval is roughly equivalent to those who are not confident in Obama suggests that it will be tough for Obama to reduce his no-confidence rating to less than 25 percent. That means he’s doing about as well as he can, and barring a cataclysmic event like 9/11 — which boosted Bush’s approval numbers to an unprecedented 92 percent — he may have nowhere to go but down.

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