Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Obama Needs Support From Congress, Country


This land is also Cokie Roberts' land. She joins us every Monday morning for analysis, and she's with us once again. Cokie, good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS: And you admit you're really singing right now.


INSKEEP: We'll sing, we'll sing right after the break. In about four minutes, you and I can sing. Right off air - off air, we should stress.

ROBERTS: Off air.

INSKEEP: Exactly. OK, so the real work starts tomorrow. President-elect Obama becomes President Obama. And I suppose we should remember amid all this celebration, this is a guy who won with 52 percent of the vote. How broad is his support?

ROBERTS: Almost 80 percent of the people saying that they like him. Similarly, his political approval is way up there; two-thirds give him - you know, pass the Goldilocks test, saying that his ideology is about- just right, not too liberal , not too conservative. And in the New York Times-CBS poll, almost 80 percent say they're optimistic about Obama's presidency.

INKEEP: Well now, Cokie, does that mean if you've got millions of people - if those polls are right - millions of people who didn't vote for the guy, who now support him just a couple of months later, does that mean he's been successful in reaching out to conservatives and other kinds of voters?

ROBERTS: But look, it's also true, Steve, that people are terrified about the economy. I mean, both polls show huge numbers saying the economy is bad, close to 100 percent - in the 90s in both. And 80 percent say it's worse than it was five years ago. So these people are ready to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on just about anything at this point.

INSKEEP: Does the president-elect have a benefit now that he will not have in six months or a year? Meaning, that if people are thinking about whether they approve of him or not, they compare him with President Bush, with whom many people disagree?

ROBERTS: Also, people are saying his place in history will be poor. Fifty-eight percent in the ABC poll believe he will be rated as an average or poor president. And he's the only recent president to be that high. Carter was about 46 percent. Compare it with George Bush's father, at 12 percent saying that. So that definitely makes Obama's task easier.

INSKEEP: Although, let me ask about something else. Because, of course, just four years ago, President Bush was taking office for a second term. His party had control of Congress. He had a huge agenda he wanted to push through, and almost none of it got done. Is it likely that Barack Obama is in position to do better?

ROBERTS: More than 60 percent of the people say they're confident in him, compared to only 43 percent confident with the Democrats in Congress, only 29 percent with the Republicans in Congress. And the Republican identification, only 23 percent of the people are calling themselves Republican. That's one of the lowest in history. So they have to be very careful not to be seen as obstructionists. Especially after tomorrow, Steve, when Obama's likely to even get more approval.

INSKEEP: OK, thanks very much. That's NPR's Cokie Roberts. And of course, NPR News will be bringing you live coverage of tomorrow's presidential inauguration. You're listening to Morning Edition from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cokie Roberts
Cokie Roberts was one of the 'Founding Mothers' of NPR who helped make that network one of the premier sources of news and information in this country. She served as a congressional correspondent at NPR for more than 10 years and later appeared as a commentator on Morning Edition. In addition to her work for NPR, Roberts was a political commentator for ABC News, providing analysis for all network news programming.
Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.