ALAN FRAM Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON
President-elect Barack Obama is getting high marks on his transition so far, with even most Republicans saying he's doing just fine. Nearly three-quarters overall, or 73 percent, say they approve of the job Obama has done preparing to take office next month, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. The positive reaction is spread broadly across age, gender, income and racial lines, with 73 percent of whites a group Republican candidate John McCain carried on Election Day giving a thumbs up. While 90 percent of Democrats approve of Obama's transition, so do 54 percent of Republicans. Only about one in 10 from the GOP voted for the Democrat Obama last month. "He's chosen very qualified people for his Cabinet," said Kenyon Thorp, 19, a college student from Northfield, Minn., who voted for McCain. "I don't necessarily agree with all their views, but they're highly educated." Overall, four in 10 said they strongly approved of how Obama has done so far, compared with about one in 20 who strongly disapproved. The survey was completed a day Before Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested and accused of trying to sell Obama's vacant Senate seat. Obama has not been implicated in any of Blagojevich's alleged schemes. Newly elected presidents typically receive high marks from the public in the days before they are sworn into office. In other areas, people continued their generally bleak view of how things are going. Just 32 percent said the country is moving in the right direction. That is a bit lower than the 36 percent who said so in an AP-GfK poll last month, but better than the mood earlier in the fall. In the new survey, four in 10 Democrats said things are heading the right way, about double the number of Republicans who said so. Underscoring how Obama's victory has shifted the outlook of partisans, Democrats were more glum than Republicans about the country's direction before the election. President George W. Bush remained mired in low ratings, with just 28 percent approving of the job he is doing, about where he' s been al l fal l . Among Republicans, 54 percent give him their approval, a low figure from members of a president's own party, including only 26 percent of whom approve strongly. Congress also received typically poor grades, winning approval from just 24 percent, virtually unchanged all autumn. The AP-GfK poll was conducted Dec. 3-8 and involved landline and cell phone interviews with 1,000 randomly chosen adults. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.