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Obama approval ranks near top

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
President Obama's first Gallup approval rating since taking office is the highest for a president -- after an election -- at the start of their tenure since Kennedy.

Obama had a 69% approval rating, according to Gallup, on Jan. 21, the day after his inauguration. The only president to have a higher approval since World War II was Kennedy, who had 72% approval rating on Feb. 15, 1961.

Eisenhower equaled Obama's approval at 68%. Since Kennedy, Carter started with 66%, Reagan 51%, George H.W. Bush 51%, Clinton 58%, George W. Bush 57%.

Gallup notes: It "did not measure those three presidents' initial ratings until early February, and new presidents' approval ratings typically increase in the first few months of their presidencies. Thus, Obama's initial approval rating of 68% looks more impressive compared to the average 55% approval rating for the four presidents whose first ratings were measured in January after their inaugurations."

More: "The three presidents who took office after the death or resignation of their predecessors tended to start out with even greater public support, as the nation rallied around the new chief executive in times of crisis. These include Harry Truman in 1945 with an 87% approval rating, Lyndon Johnson with 78% in 1963, and Gerald Ford with 71% in 1974."

It will be interesting to track Obama's approval in the coming months. Even though he starts with a greater honeymoon than nearly any president in history, the myriad of challenges he faces could take a toll on his approval -- if particularly the economic climate doesn't appear to improve within a year.