December 8, 2016 2:48 PM EST

Americans are viewing Donald Trump’s transition period less favorably than they viewed any other presidential transition since the 1980s. But they’re becoming more optimistic about what will happen once he takes office.

According to a new Pew Research poll, 40% of American adults surveyed approve of Trump’s Cabinet choices and high-level appointments and 41% approve of how he has explained his policies and plans. By contrast, in December 2008, 71% of Americans approved of Barack Obama’s Cabinet choices; in January 2001, 58% viewed George W. Bush’s picks favorably; and in January 1993, 64% approved of Bill Clinton’s choices. Similar shares for each president those years approved of how he was explaining his future plans.

Despite concerns over the transition, Americans now view the future Trump presidency with more hope than they did during the campaign. 35% of Americans say they think Trump will be a good or great president, compared to just 25% expressing the same view in October. The percentage of Americans who think Trump will make a poor or terrible president has dropped from 57% in October to 38% today, although that still means that slightly more Americans think Trump will be a bad president than a good one.

Americans responded with a clear sense of what in what areas they think President-elect Trump could be successful, as well as those in which they think he could struggle. While more than 50% of Americans say they feel at least somewhat confident in Trump’s ability to work with Congress and manage the White House, less than half feel confident in his ability to handle an international crisis, use military force wisely or prevent scandals in his administration.

The survey of 1,502 adults was conducted by Pew Research Center from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5.

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Write to Tessa Berenson at tessa.berenson@time.com.

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