updated 1/24/2009 2:53:57 PM ET 2009-01-24T19:53:57

Barack Obama is enjoying about a two-thirds approval rating for his first days as president, a poll released Saturday found.

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The Gallup Organization survey found 68 percent of Americans approve of Obama's performance as the nation's chief executive. That's a number near the high end for new presidents, but short of President John F. Kennedy's 72 percent in 1961.

The poll also found that 12 percent in the survey disapprove of Obama's job performance, a typical number all presidents face after an election.

Among presidents elected to their first term, Kennedy had the highest initial job approval rating, 72 percent, in Gallup polling three weeks after his inauguration. Next were Dwight Eisenhower with 68 percent approval and Jimmy Carter with 66 percent. Every other president elected to a first term since Eisenhower started office with at least majority job approval: Richard Nixon's 59 percent; Ronald Reagan's and George H.W. Bush's 51 percent; Bill Clinton's 58 percent and George W. Bush's 57 percent.

Compared with his immediate predecessors, Obama faces fewer Americans who disapprove of his performance. Clinton faced 20 percent disapproval after taking office in 1993, and George W. Bush faced 25 percent disapproval after the Supreme Court delivered him the presidency in 2000.

Gallup finds approval ratings improved after about 100 days in office for all recent elected presidents — except Carter and Clinton — as Americans became more familiar with their work.

An Associated Press-GfK poll released last week showed Obama with a 74 percent approval during his transition.

Obama was sworn in Tuesday. Gallup conducted telephone interviews of 1,591 adults Wednesday to Friday, which cover his first three days in office. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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