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. Georgia Girl

    Well with all the fear mongering and insanity being spouted out by the Fox News and the Tea Party, Glenn, Sarah and Rush, how can you blame them. It is totally insane how simple minded and stupid these voters are to believe that these rich, white collar republicans are looking out for their best interest. And when you vote them in, just watch how little change you will see from them. They just want to get their jobs back, they could care less if you lose yours. But remember, if you lose your job, they do not want to give you unemployement benefits because they feel it is unconstitutional. They have have a play book on how to campaign on fear. That is why we have only had 4 democratic presidents in the last 46 years and one was assasinated, one only got one term, one got two terms and the current president has only been in office for 2 years. Back then they filled voters head with fear on social security and interracial marraige, not it is healtcare and gay marriage or even worse not letting gays serve openly in the military and the republicans are the ones who start wars. So America, keep buying into the same "40 year old" hate fearing politics that have kept a republican in the white house for centuries. I would like for someone to answer one question...what freedoms did you have 18 months ago that you do NOT have now?

    October 8, 2010 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. IHTCF

    Was Bush A Better President Than Obama?!?!..................ROTFL!!! Thanks CNN. I needed the laugh!!

    October 8, 2010 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. T'SAH from Virginia

    Lord Have Mercy – BUSH has been there 8 years – President Obama 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where is the FREAKING comparison???? Bush’s history is now being written and the pages in President Obama’s book are still BLANK – Dang, the hard cover was not made yet!!!

    BUSH started 2 WARS
    OBAMA will END 2 WARS

    BUSH put TAX CUTS in place for the RICH and FAMOUS
    OBAMA will end those TAX CUTS

    "Fifty-nine percent of independents disapprove of how the Obama's handling his duties, with 37 percent giving him a thumbs up." CNN – who are the 'Obama's'?????????????? In addition, you FAIL to mention that MOST of the Independents ARE RepubliCAN'Ts!!

    "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"
    YEP, and the FREAKING RepubliCAN'Ts are still bringing up President Carter???????? The FREAKING RepubliCAN'Ts also still Pray to their GREAT WHITE HOPE REAGAN!!!

    DEMOCRATS – Don't believe the HYPE!!! Everybody all of a sudden wants to be an EXPERT in the NEWS!!! The MORE news you hear like this – the MORE a person would want to STAY HOME and NOT VOTE!!! Let's prove that the POLLSTERS and the PUNDITS are WRONG!!! We are excited because you see my post every day and I represent MANY and NO ONE has ever polled me – nor anyone I am associated with – and ask we feel about ANYTHING??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    DEMOCRATS – continue to STATE the CASE and mean it – UNITE the BASE and believe in it and we will WIN this RACE in November 2010. We will ‘lay to REST’ all of the PUNDITS, POLLSTERS and FAR RIGHT EXTREMIST!!!

    T'is T'SAH from Virginia and I approve this message!!!

    October 8, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. j

    UH !!!! Let`s see--- the economy was robust with a non-existant debt when Bush came into office ; the economy was in a crash dive, Paulson`s TARP plan for bank bailouts in full swing, pay-as-you go was "thrown into the wind" when Obama was handed the helm--- You tell me !!!!

    October 8, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. PalmReader

    Oh, good Lord! Now I remember why I left CNN. This reminds me of when, after each presidential debate, CNN pundits were left shaking their heads in wonder as to why the majority of Americans thought Obama won. I can't put my finger on when, exactly, CNN became ambulance chasers, but no doubt, it has severed them well - 40% loss of viewership notwithstanding. What can be expected from a news corporation that hasn't yet been able to fess-up that ALL American employers are required by LAW to determine the legal status of their employees, thus negating the argument that Whitman (and others) could possibly NOT have known whether their domestic workers may or may not be legal citizens? Keeping the Republican fear mongering illegal immigration talking points alive and welll . . . at the expense of the *brown* people, right CNN? I have yet to see an article where CNN has actually gone out on a limb and challenged the lies being perpertrated by the right. Sad for CNN employees and sad for America.

    October 8, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Too transparent CNN. With every single poll that depicted Obama or the Dems gaining or surpassing you managed to (1) be vague (women voters for e.g , what was that ratio), (2) or insert a BUT.

    You totally did not mention the whole Chamber of Commerce debacle yesterday as it developed, choosing instead rehashed or fluff (read Palin, O'Connell) pieces. I used to come to this site for news, knowledge, and reasonable debate. You've become deceptively 'leading', and a source of entertainment not news. Pity.

    October 8, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  7. Independent

    I'm no Bush fan, but I can't say I'm surprised.

    Epic fail.

    October 8, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  8. Bob Moore

    What an absolutely stupid thing to ask. Did Obama get us into an unnecessary war in Iraq? Did he cause this recession? Hell no he didn't! Dumb CNN!

    October 8, 2010 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  9. Lisa - VA

    I cannot believe anyone would think George W. Bush was a better president than Obama. It's because of George W. Bush that the economy is in such a mess right now – i.e. two failed wars, blowing a surplus, giving tax breaks to the rich, etc. I don't see how anyone can think that Obama isn't doing everything in his power to make this economy better...but he cannot do it by himself. When you have the party of NO (even when it's its own idea) always against him...I don't see how he or any Democrate for that matter can win at anything. That's why this election is so important.

    October 8, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. No Tea For Me

    CNN why do we never hear about blue collar blacks or white collar blacks or working class blacks? Why do you lump all blacks in the same category but you don't lump whites in the same category? These sounds racist to me.

    October 8, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Me

    First and foremost, Your polls mean nothing. They carry no weight or validity. Your use of polls is a poor excuse for real journalism.

    To answer your question, 'Was Bush a better president than Obama?'
    After ignoring warnings from his national security advisors, CIA and the International intel community, Bush ALLOWED a terrorist attack on our soil. The following year Bush had this country at war with a country that never did anything to us.
    All of this happened within the first 3 years of Bush.
    By the end of Bush's second term our economy was SO BAD, it caused an INTERNATIONAL GLOBAL MELTDOWN.

    Obama has only been in office for a little bit less than 2 years. Knowing all of these facts, How could you even pose the question 'Was Bush a better president than Obama'. If we judge these two men on the first 2 years alone, Obama is a far far better president than Bush

    October 8, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Pollsa are nice....
    I stand with our President.

    Obama 2012

    October 8, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Bush is reason this country is in the state it is!! President Obama is trying to fix it, even though the party of NO is holding him back. Such a foolish question!! You people will not give him a chance. How in good conscience and fairness, can you all blame the mess we are in on the current President?

    October 8, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. FM

    One has to laugh here of how people think. How does it happen "W" is sitting some where in Texas doing nothing for the nation, and his approval rating goes up!
    Better President while he left the entire economy and jobless in a big shamble one could imagine!

    October 8, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  15. cevans, texas

    Bush is reason this country is in the state it is!! President Obama is trying to fix it, even though the party of NO is holding him back. Such a foolish question!! You people will not give him a chance. How in good conscience and fairness, can you all blame the mess we are in on the current President?

    October 8, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    When the stocks get over 14,500, when Obama beats the record of most consecutive quarters of growth (HELD BY" W" BY THE WAY) and his unemployment get's down to 3.5 the Stuffit and Obama Mamma can post how great Sotero is.

    I'd actually like the deficit to be where Bush left it, WAY TOO HIGH, but now it is tripled.......

    But the world loves us now, based on what exactly, any proof the world REALLY loves us or is that in the myth bin like the rest of your heroes lies, more lies and brutal lies.

    Funny how the coward in chief changed his China trip to now be right after the elections, he is a gutless and clueless fraud, but he knows a butt kicking when he sees it.

    October 8, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  17. JonDie

    Ridiculous. Bush was the WORST president of all time; he and his fellow thieving Republicans nearly put the U.S. into a second Great Depression. Obama no far is no FDR, he seems pretty average.

    October 8, 2010 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  18. all the news that's fit too omit

    When the stocks get over 14,500, when Obama beats the record of most consecutive quarters of growth (HELD BY" W" BY THE WAY) and his unemployment get's down to 3.5 then Stuffit and Obama Mama Drama can post how great Sotero is.

    I'd actually like the deficit to be where Bush left it, WAY TOO HIGH, but now it is tripled.......

    But the world loves us now, based on what exactly, any proof the world REALLY loves us or is that in the myth bin like the rest of your heroes lies, more lies and brutal lies.

    Funny how the coward in chief changed his China trip to now be right after the elections, he is a gutless and clueless fraud, but he knows a butt kicking when he sees it.

    Good job campaigner in chief, another great jobs report, so much for the laser beam focus you FRAUD.

    October 8, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  19. larry

    Obviously President Obama is 100% better than Bushy Boy who drove the economy into the ground with tax cuts for the rich and his unwaranted attack of Irac, a soverign nation that had no ties to our biggest threat, Al Queida and no ties to America's second biggest threat, "The White Annoying Teabagger" party. This poll reveals that we should be very afraid of the right wing zealots and the republicans who are fooled by them.

    October 8, 2010 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. vic nashville tn

    We are living in Tea party era no more smart conservatives look at the list who popular in 2010

    Sarah Palin, Sharron Angle ,Joe Miller , Christine O’ Donnell, Rand Paul, Ken Buck Carl Paladino , Marco Rubio

    This polls right

    October 8, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. ClementW

    The time now is 1:37 pm. The moderator probably does not like my post. I have noticed this over and over again, especially at NYT and Newsweek. No wonder NewsWeek netted a final price of $1.00.

    October 8, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. Linda

    You're kidding right? But it's the economy. And with the high unemployment numbers people want results yesterday. How soon they forget who put us here.

    October 8, 2010 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Pretzel Logic

    Anyone who believes that a man who knowingly lied to the country about an eminent threat of WMDs from Iraq can be considered a "Good" anything is a completely delusional and partisan fool with an extremely short memory and limited capacity to understand cause and effect.

    October 8, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Lori in St Pete

    In a word: NO!!!!! The previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will go down in history as the worst president of all times. He and his rethugliban henchmen destroyed this once great nation, and President Obama has spent the last 20.5 months trying to undo some of the damage they wrought while they fight him every step of the way. That Americans are now ready to turn the reins back over to the thugs who got us into this fiasco is mind boggling to say the least.

    October 8, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  25. John

    It's a real shame how soon we forget.

    October 8, 2010 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
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