October 8th, 2010
12:54 PM ET
4 years ago

CNN Poll: Was Bush better president than Obama?

(CNN) - Americans are divided over whether President Barack Obama or his predecessor has performed better in the White House, according to a new national poll.

And a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday also indicates in the battle for Congress, Republicans hold large advantages over the Democrats among independents, men and blue-collar whites. The poll also indicates that Republicans are much more enthusiastic than Democrats to vote.

By 47 to 45 percent, Americans say Obama is a better president than George W. Bush. But that two point margin is down from a 23 point advantage one year ago.

"Democrats may want to think twice about bringing up former President George W. Bush's name while campaigning this year," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"But that doesn't mean that Americans regret their decision to put Obama in the White House in 2008. By a 50 to 42 percent margin, the public says that Obama has done a better job than Sen. John McCain would have done if he had won. And by a 10-point margin, Americans also say that Joe Biden has done a better job than Sarah Palin would have done as vice president," adds Holland.

According to the poll, 45 percent of the public approves of the job Obama's doing as president, up three points from late last month, with 52 percent disapproving. Fifty-nine percent of independents disapprove of how the Obama's handling his duties, with 37 percent giving him a thumbs up.

In the fight for control of Congress, 52 percent of likely voters say they would vote for the generic Republican candidate in their district if the election were held today, with 45 percent saying they would back the Democrat. The Republican's seven point margin is down from a nine point advantage late last month.

According to the poll, independents say they would vote for the Republican candidate over the Democrat by a two to one margin.

"Blue-collar whites are also a particular problem for Democrats. Among white voters who describe their family as "white collar," the two parties are essentially tied. But more than seven out of ten whites who describe themselves as "blue collar" are planning to vote Republican in November," adds Holland.

The poll indicates that opinions on the economy may have a lot to do with that. Only 17 percent say the economy is starting to recover, and nearly four in ten say that the country is still in a downturn and conditions are getting worse.

The survey also suggests a strong gender gap.

"Democrats appear to be making steady gains among women and now get a majority of their vote, but the gender gap persists and more than six in ten men say they plan to vote Republican this year," says Holland.

According to the poll, another gap also exists: The enthusiasm gap. Most Republicans say they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this year. But only a third of Democrats feel the same way.

"That's the principle reason why the "generic ballot" question is tied among all registered voters while the likely voter numbers show an advantage for the Republicans," adds Holland. "There are plenty of people who support the Democratic candidate, but many of them are probably not going to actually cast a ballot. In fact, if you look at "unlikely voters" - people who are registered to vote but unlikely to cast a ballot - the Democrats have a six-point edge on the generic ballot question."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll was conducted October 5-7, with 1,008 adult Americans, including 938 registered voters and 504 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points for likely voters.


–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story

soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Pollwatcher

    This country has amnesia. Idiots.

    October 8, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  2. Chessnutz of Liverpool NY

    I see no difference between the two Presidents, both work for the same people and it sure isn't the American people.
    Lets see under Bush taxes up yes, under Obama taxes up yes.
    Paying for two wars we should never started, Bush yes, Obama yes.
    Both support the continued failed policy of prohibition, that causes corruption and violent crime.
    Both are opposed to the civil rights of the gay community.
    Both believe control and power are more important than doing right, YES

    October 8, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  3. Christopher

    So it's a toss-up between the guys who spent a decade making a huge mess and the guys who haven't been able to clean it all up in two years while the guys who made the huge mess keep throwing trash? Wake up, America.

    October 8, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. NVa Native

    You have got to be kidding? This is what we have become with the "dumbing of America". How could this even be a question – except that there is a huge media company coupled with eletist special interest groups funded by corporations serving as the propoganda wing of a political party. Through these people the terrorists are winning. The down fall of Rome.
    The whole world is laughing and there's nothing funny about it.

    October 8, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    "Fifty-nine percent of independents disapprove of how the Obama's handling his duties, with 37 percent giving him a thumbs up."

    As much as you Obamatards say otherwise, the first mid-terms of a new administration are a referrendum on the sitting president. Bad news for you. You lose the independents by 22 poinys, you lose... and lose BIG.

    October 8, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  6. Can't We All Just Get Along?

    Bush was a dunderheaded idiot! He was a wannabe theocratic dictator. He wanted to destroy and shred the Constitution. He wanted to line the pockets of his rich friends while he destroyed the middle and lower classes.

    President Obama is the exact opposite - he's intelligent, capable, works for the American people, understands what the Constitution is and its importance to our country and way of life.

    It's a no-brainer - Bush was the worst president ever, and Obama will go down in history as one of the most innovative presidents who did what was right for this country.

    October 8, 2010 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  7. morons

    people in this country are idiots! i'm sorry, but americans (independents) are absent minded and retarded in their way of thinking...are you seriously thinking about handing the baton back to republicans?!!! i'm movign to europe where to them, we are a laughing stock!

    October 8, 2010 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. michael tampa

    Give me a break CNN, the debt, the wars, the shrinking middle class, all curtesoy of GWB.

    October 8, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  9. Jack

    Neither one lit up the sky but at least Bush had been a governor. Obama is suffering from what many of us recognized as his lack of experience. He can't command the military because he simply does not have the knowledge or experience, he is totally lost on economics because he has only had to balance a checking acount if that (his wife may have accomplished that chore), and certainly his international experience was probably at best limited to eating at an Intalian restuarant once in a while. Unfortuately the American people are going to have a very long period of pain until he gains enough experience (if ever) to make him a viable administrator and manager capable of understanding and taking action on his key advisors recommendations. Of course if you look at his key civilianadvisors it is pretty thin too, lots of domestic experience in some cases and little if any experience in other key areas such as global economics, military, war (NONE), and international diplomacy. Of course they all graduated from some nice law school but apparently none have ever really worked for a living.

    October 8, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  10. GREGOIRE

    Hey Sniffit... which side of the "polls are meaningless cuz they only ask a thousand people", or "this poll is bogus cuz I'VE never been called before" argument will you fall on today? I've seen you play both sides my friend... c'mon... which will it be today? So... do we bash all your friends saying this poll is bogus (because it doesn't support your/their world view), or do you call them "armchair statisticians" like you did to those who disagreed with the poll that DID fit your world view. Or maybe today you will once again be mad at CNN for giving Republicans "free advertising"

    October 8, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  11. usualone

    The men I know are weak at math. It was the last administration that got us going in the wars. It is obvious that those who aren't in power will promise things. Once they get into the office, the military will give them all kinds of stats to keep the wars going. People have to realize that they are expecting too much of someone who has not been in the Presidency to do all he/she promises,,,once they are handed "security and secret" issues. This President has done a lot of positive things for those who don't evwn like him. We all do need medical help. It seems to me women are taking the time to read and evaluate the facts. One doesn't know what gives with the Independents. They certainly didn't like the last time around. They too need to read the facts and not get fooled by the propaganda of the naysayers. To date no one has said what the jobs should be. Of course, jobs are the answer, but who is the candidate who will say what they are? I am still waiting.

    October 8, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  12. 25 Days until Socialism dies in the United States

    By 47 to 45 percent, Americans say Obama is a better president than George W. Bush. But that two point margin is down from a 23 point advantage one year ago.
    =================================================================================================

    Familiary breds contempt. If Obozo had been properly vetted by the Lame Street Media he would have able to pull off his con job of the American public. Did even ONE of them even pressure him to explain "we just want to spread the welth around"?

    and then this....
    According to the poll, independents say they would vote for the Republican candidate over the Democrat by a two to one margin.
    and this
    but the gender gap persists and more than six in ten men say they plan to vote Republican this year,"
    and this
    Fifty-nine percent of independents disapprove of how the Obama's handling his duties

    Can you say "Bye Bye DemocRATS" come November??!! Every Republican should be running AGAINST OBOZO and FORGET about the other guy running. He is NOT YOUR OPPONENT!

    October 8, 2010 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. Rob

    this is a joke right? Obama is stuck with the Bush mess. The volume of the screaming from the right is the only reason no one can see what the President has accomplished, or because of the way it's been twisted by the right into an unrecognizable pretzel. it's time to turn down the volume and listen to the facts not the rhetoric!

    October 8, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. ficheye

    Well, I voted for Obama, but let's be clear... he hasn't accomplished one of the things that he said he would when he ran. Not one. Health care? Making me pay for health care or be fined? He abandoned the public option, which would have put a leash on the industry, but he caved, making it a non-reforming move. Gitmo? The list goes on. I'm wondering why conservatives don't love him... because he's done almost everything the way that they would have. Seriously. Make a list. Check it twice. Santa Claus is not coming to town.

    October 8, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Klaxon McFlinderginder

    This poll is really more a reflection of how quickly poeple forget. For all his mediocrity, Obama did not have a policy of torture, did not do secret renditions, did not open concentration camps (Guantanamo, Abu Graib), did not use other countries to torture and kill our prisoners, did not suspend habeas corpus, did not start an illegal unjust and unwinnable war in Iraq, did not illegally wiretap American citizens, did not try to stack the judiciary with party loyalists, and just so much more.

    People can only like Bush because they have forgotten, or were always happy with the ruthless sodomy Bush did on the constitution.

    October 8, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  16. truth

    Is MSNBC better than CNN? Does CNN ever report the positives of President Obama? Does CNN write articles to spark conflict? Is CNN willing to credit President Obama for his many accomplishments in such a short time like Chris Matthew did on 10.07.10?
    Will CNN continue to market unqualified candidates to America (Palin and others) seeking ratings, all while still falling short in the their rating polls? When will CNN start back to reporting real news the way it did when Ted Turner was the CEO? Will it ever happen?

    October 8, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  17. Phil in KC

    I don't know how anyone can say George W Bush did a better job than Obama – unless you're a defense contractor. Bush is the one who got us into this mess and now people are blaming Obama because he can't get us out of it in 2 years? Really? It took 8 years to get us here and it will likely take that long to get us out. Not to mention the fact that Bush couldn't put together a coherent sentence in any language and was an embarassment when he went abroad.

    October 8, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  18. "I Want My Country Back" Libs Go Home

    47% to 45%....uhmmmmm and in 6 more months it will be 60% Bush and 25% Obambi.....now where is all that "failed Bush policies".....and "it's all Bush's fault"......could it be that the Dems were....ehhh....ahhh...... LYING!!!???...... there is the word that fits! I can guarntee you though that Obambi and the Liberal Left will continue with their idealogy of all Americans are stupid and the Libs need to tell us all what to do regardless of how low Obambi goes in the polls! They are already saying that all the polls are wrong. YOU DON"T GET IT! People do not like anything (especially ObamaCare) forced down their throats! America is a unique and independent nation....we do not want to be like other nations!

    October 8, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  19. joehoesley

    This is a typical liberal comparison, suggesting they know how McCain and Palin would have governed. I guess you could also say that Obama's 23 point drop in the comparison to Bush's popularity in one year will be another 23% drop in the next year. This is something you have a legitimate set of numbers to go by a 23% drop in popularity in one year. McCain and Palin not having actually governed is mere subposition, a guess. Also, the polls indicate 12 out of 13 issues the president has sided with are all unpopular with the American people. These Americans include Democrats, Independants and Republicans.

    October 8, 2010 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. JULIE

    You have got to be kidding me? What is wrong with you people. AMNESIA.

    October 8, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  21. ClementW

    In early to mid-2008, after I had watched the Obama Campaign's treatment of Hillary Clinton, gave me a clue as to what was likely to happen if Barack Obama became the next President and I started speculating on how the country and the world would come to see George W. Bush in about 10 years from then. I was surprised when I read about the sign "Miss me Yet?" somewhere in the Mid-West. This poll and story makes me think that I won't have to wait much longer, certainly not 10 years, to find out how the country is seeing the predecessor of the current President. The early rehabilitation of G.W. is entirely the gift of Barack Obama and the puerile antics of his coterie in the WH, the Democratic majority in the House and Senate. This is a gift that keeps giving, the birth of the TEA Party and its rapid maturation.

    October 8, 2010 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  22. diridi

    Obama is the best president of the century......for 150 years....Bush and Reagan are the worst presidents of 150 years. It is truth....I am not biased. GOP thugs should know this. Economic Policies of Reagan, Iraq war of Bush messed this nation like "Hell". Enough GOP thugs...John Boehner does not have any kind of Brain....o.k.....just vote for any Democrat...GOP thugs want to repeal health care, cut down on Minimum Wage....Watch these GOP bastards....they are radicals, thugs, and criminals...looted this nation, sold to Saudi Arabia, and China....look we are paying 2;85 cents gallan gas...

    October 8, 2010 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  23. Chris-Chicago

    WOW!!!!!! Obama is essentially tied with W????? How things change!

    October 8, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  24. Brigham

    Carter may be the only President in my lifetime worse than Obama. Obama is tone deaf to concerns of all and his economic policies are a disaster. Bush made huge errors his last two years financially and the wars and 911 were a beating but Obama has already doubled what Bush did in 8 years. Obama blames everyone else as he cannot run on his own pathetic record.

    October 8, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. ladybug

    CNN has gone on the wrong venture. It is quite disappointing. This country is being bitterly divided by the far right wing religious fanatics and CNN seems to be further encouraging this behavior. I am a Christian as well, but I have no idea what God the religious right serves because of their hate. Why are you comparing President Obama to all other presidents who, are factually white. Your Jack Cafferty had a nasty question yesterday about those same "white working class voters" and it is nothing more than a repeat of what you network did during the campaign season for ratings, no matter the feelings of minorities. You have fallen way short of your reputation, CNN. May your slide into a Fox Lite network continue. I stopped watching months ago. Get back to the facts and the center or you will loose even more viewers. You never seem to question Republicans, and yet you grill Democrats until they answer your questions. And David Gergen, you are so not speaking for me. Your bias is beyond obvious. You pundits think it's all about "you". That may be true for the hard to understand and the ignorant voters, but not the sane and somewhat educated ones who know better. Stay classy, CNN.

    October 8, 2010 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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