WASHINGTON - Barack Obama is riding the crest of the best approval ratings of any president-elect in decades, a new poll showed. Less than a month before Obama takes office in the teeth of the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a new CNN/Opinion Research survey found 82 percent of Americans approve of how he is handling transition to power.

Obama's rating is higher than President George W. Bush's corresponding figure of 65 percent after the disputed 2000 election and higher than the 67 percent posted by Bill Clinton in 1992.

The poll was taken between Friday and Sunday, at the end of a period in which Obama has rolled out a high-profile cabinet line-up and hosted almost daily press conferences as economic turmoil deepens.

"Barack Obama is having a better honeymoon with the American public than any incoming president in the past three decades," said CNN polling director Keating Holland on the news channel's website.

"He's putting up better numbers, usually by double digits, than Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, or either George Bush on every item traditionally measured in transition polls."

The survey also found that 56 percent of those asked backed Obama's plans for a huge stimulus package to ignite the crisis-hit economy, with 42 percent against. Obama was spending Christmas Eve at a beachfront compound in Hawaii with his family, a day after paying tribute to his grandmother Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him, but died aged 86 two days before he was elected in November.

The CNN poll seemed to indicate that public satisfaction with Obama has not been harmed by the distraction of the scandal over the Illinois Democratic governor's alleged bid to sell off the president-elect's former Senate seat. An internal report on Tuesday cleared the incoming president Obama and top aides of any improper contacts with accused governor Rod Blagojevich, who is facing corruption charges.