A very good start

A VERY GOOD START…. I guess the media drive to connect the president-elect to the Blagojevich controversy isn’t swaying public opinion — support for Obama continues to soar.

Eighty-two percent of those questioned in a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Wednesday morning approve of the way the Obama is handling his presidential transition. That’s up 3 points from when we asked this question at the beginning of December. Fifteen percent of those surveyed disapprove of the way Obama’s handling his transition, down 3 points from our last poll.

The 82 percent approval is higher than then President-elect George W. Bush 8 years ago, who had a 65 percent transition approval rating, and Bill Clinton, at 67 percent in 1992. […]

“Obama walks in with nearly twice the support on the economy that President-elect Clinton had in January, 1993, and he beats Ronald Reagan as well,” adds Holland.

What’s more, a third of those polled said their opinion of Obama has improved since the election.

As I’ve noted before, I don’t take these pre-inauguration polls too seriously. The transition period offers potential pitfalls, and by large, Obama has avoided them, which contributes to poll results like this one.

But I still didn’t think 82% was a realistic number. Frankly, 82% of Americans don’t agree on much. A couple of weeks ago, Bill Schneider, CNN’s senior political analyst, said, “An Obama job approval rating of 79 percent! That’s the sort of rating you see when the public rallies around a leader after a national disaster.” Of course, the rating has gone up even further since.

All of this is likely to change once Obama starts, you know, governing. But as Republicans plot strategy on how to oppose and obstruct the next president’s policy agenda, they may want to remember that Obama will enter the White House with a very deep well of public support.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.