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Originally published Wednesday, January 21, 2009 at 9:40 AM

Live inauguration coverage: AP | Washington Post | KUOW

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AP Poll: People optimistic on Obama by 3-1 margin

Americans by a 3-1 margin feel more optimistic about the future of the country now that Barack Obama has been inaugurated president, a new Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll found.

Associated Press Writer

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NEW YORK —

Americans by a 3-1 margin feel more optimistic about the future of the country now that Barack Obama has been inaugurated president, a new Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll found.

The poll released Wednesday found that 53 percent of those surveyed said they felt more optimistic, while just 15 percent said Obama's ascendancy to the White House made them feel more pessimistic.

With Obama stepping into history as the nation's first black president, 67 percent of those polled said they felt proud, including 47 percent of Republicans.

Americans came together in large numbers to witness Obama's inauguration. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed said they saw or heard at least part of his inaugural address, and of those, 51 percent deemed it "excellent."

By comparison, only 46 percent said they saw or heard part of President George W. Bush's second inaugural address.

Obama's speech - a somber call for a sharp break from Bush administration policies and a "new era of responsibility" - also generated optimism, the poll found. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed said the speech made them feel more optimistic about the U.S. image in the world, while 61 percent said they felt more optimistic about race relations.

While Obama made his opposition to the Iraq war a central theme of his presidential campaign, just 46 percent of those polled said his speech made them feel more optimistic about the conflict.

The poll was conducted Tuesday and involved online interviews with 835 adults. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

The poll was conducted over the Internet by Knowledge Networks, which initially contacted people using traditional telephone polling methods and followed with online interviews. People chosen for the study who had no Internet access were given it for free.

Polls conducted on one night can be less reliable than surveys conducted over several nights because they only include the views of people available that particular evening.

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Associated Press Polling Director Trevor Tompson contributed to this report from Washington.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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