Most Americans rate President-elect Barack Obama's cabinet selections positively, and just over half think his choices represent the change he promised to bring to Washington.

In addition, Obama's popularity has soared, and most have high expectations for his presidency, according to a FOX News poll released Thursday.

Overall, 65 percent rate the quality of Obama's cabinet choices positively as some 24 percent say they are "excellent," and another 41 percent says "good," while 20 percent say "fair" and 8 percent "poor."

Not surprisingly, most Democrats (88 percent) give a thumbs-up to the cabinet picks (40 percent "excellent" and 44 percent "good"). Among Republicans, 43 percent rate Obama's choices positively, as do 62 percent of independents.

For comparison, in 2001 Americans gave similar ratings to the cabinet selections then president-elect George W. Bush had made: 16 percent "excellent" and 37 percent "good," with 22 percent saying "fair" and 8 percent "poor" (10-11 January 2001).

Opinion Dynamics Corp. conducted the national telephone poll of 900 registered voters for FOX News from December 9 to December 10. The poll has a 3-point error margin.

More than half of voters -- 56 percent -- think Obama's cabinet picks represent "real change," while 35 percent think they are "more of the same" from Washington.

Most Democrats (78 percent) think the people Obama has chosen for his team "represent real change," though some 15 percent disagree. Among Republicans, 31 percent say the picks represent change and 60 percent more of the same. Independents are more evenly split: 53 percent change and 36 percent more of the same.

Looking at the selection of his formal rival Hillary Clinton, more than 7 in 10 Americans (72 percent) say she will make a good secretary of state -- including almost all Democrats (90 percent), nearly half of Republicans (49 percent) and a majority of independents (69 percent).

Women (78 percent) are more likely than men (64 percent) to think Clinton will do a good job in the new role.

Why did Obama choose Clinton to serve as his secretary of state? A 53 percent majority of Americans say he picked her because he thinks she is the best person for the job. Some 16 percent think it was because Obama needed to "mend fences" with the Clintons, and another 15 percent because he wanted to keep an eye on Clinton.

High Expectations for Obama Presidency

With about six weeks to go before Obama takes office, the poll finds many Americans have high expectations for his administration. A majority thinks he will do a better than average job, including 19 percent who think he will be "one of the country's greatest presidents" and 43 percent who say he will be a "good" president. Twenty-three percent think Obama will be an average president, 5 percent below average and 6 percent think he will be one of the worst.

In addition, Obama's favorable rating has jumped to 68 percent, up from 57 percent in the days before the election (1-2 Nov 2008), and up from 49 percent a year ago (18-19 Dec 2007). Furthermore, nearly 4 of 10 Republicans (37 percent) say they have a favorable view of Obama.

The president-elect's favorable rating is alone in seeing that kind of increase. Vice President-elect Joe Biden's favorable rating holds fairly steady at 54 percent, down one point from 55 percent favorable in November. Similarly, Hillary Clinton receives a 59 percent favorable now, up from 57 percent (19-20 August 2008).

This Event is Sold Out

Despite Obama's high popularity ratings, there is at least one event more Americans would like to attend than his inauguration -- the Super Bowl: 50 percent say they would rather have a ticket to the Super Bowl game and 38 percent pick Obama's inauguration ceremony.

Most Democrats (61 percent) would attend Obama's inauguration, while majorities of Republicans (71 percent) and independents (56 percent) would rather go to the Super Bowl.

Click here to view the raw data.