The Inauguration Audience

Whatever he does for the economy in the long term, Barack Obama’s inauguration may not be the best thing for the nation’s productivity tomorrow: Three in four Americans plan to watch or listen in as the 44th president takes office.

That peaks, naturally, in Obama’s highest support groups – 90 percent of Democrats plan to tune in, compared with a low of 54 percent of conservative Republicans. But any way you slice it, the overall number’s an impressive one: Among all adults, 74 percent in our latest ABC News/Washington Post poll plan to take in the ceremony.

Perhaps most striking is the evident pride among African-Americans as the first black president takes office. A remarkable 93 percent of blacks say they’ll watch or listen as Obama takes the oath of office on Abraham Lincoln’s Bible. That compares with 71 percent of whites and 77 percent of people in other racial groups.

The poll also finds little in the way of broad controversy about one planned speaker, the evangelical pastor Rev. Rick Warren, who’s to offer the invocation. Some liberal and gay rights groups have complained, noting that Warren supported California’s newly passed ban on gay marriage. In our poll, however, just 23 percent oppose Warren’s selection, with yet fewer, 11 percent, strongly opposed.

Even among liberals, substantially more support Warren’s participation, 54 percent, than oppose it, 30 percent.

In apparent response to the criticism, Obama separately asked the Rev. Gene Robinson, a gay Episcopal bishop in New Hampshire, to give the invocation at a pre-inaugural event yesterday. These could be the kind of moves that have helped Obama earn, as we reported yesterday, the most centrist ratings of any president in the past 30 years.

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