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. Foxfan

    Agree with the with the title.President Bush better than Obama

    October 8, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. DYLANSDADDY

    Bush 2002 was better than Bush 2008. Bush 2008 is not that much different than Obama.

    October 8, 2010 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. Realistic

    Well it just goes to show you how short peoples memories are. 2 wars thats has been paid only by the blood of our men and women. The Iraqi invasion based on lies, the Afghan was was pushed to the back burners, an economic policy that devasted our economy. So its no suprise that when asked which is more of a nuance to the American people, S.Palin or these polls? Palin edges out the polls by less than 2%, so as with Palin, these polls don't say much worth paying attention to.

    October 8, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  4. Jay

    You have to be absolutely crazy to think Bush was better than Obama. Absolutely out of your mind.

    Bush started 2 wars that did nothing beneficial and destroyed the lives of American soldiers and families of American soldiers and God knows how many of the people in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush's lack of regulation of the financial industry almost lead to economic collapse. Bush's arrogance was hated by the majority of the world. Bush mainly did good things that benefited Wall Street while the average American fared worse.

    This isn't even a comparison. It's lunacy. It's a tragic shame that we have to share this world with idiots who think horrible leaders are good. Stupid fools.

    October 8, 2010 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "There are plenty of people who support the Democratic candidate, but many of them are probably not going to actually cast a ballot"

    Not if the "news" media and their purposefully chosen narrative carefully designed to demoralize liberal voters have anything to say about it, that's for sure.

    October 8, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. Jim

    I am still curious as to who conducts these polls, and when and where. I NEVER participate. But then, I am just a little person, who works hard for a living and whose vote doesn't really count. Hence, I place no faith in any polls any where, for either side. Start polling real people, instead of the same, select people who answer the way you want. Use real, randomly selected people. That would be a real poll.

    October 8, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Me

    This gave me a good laugh. Any President would be hard-pressed to have been as bad as W. Obama is quite the opposite of W. Health insurance reform, Wall St reform, Letty Ledbetter Law, deporting of more illegals in his two years Vs. Bush in two terms. If any thing, President Obama doesn't toot his own horn enough.

    October 8, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Marco555

    Easy now. Just calm the hell down. Bush better than Obama? The economy is going to get better. Just stop all this craziness.

    October 8, 2010 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. Your Serious Right?

    Your serious right? I mean if Obama had opened a Gitmo, tortured, taped phones and email for easedropping the US, started a war with a country that had nothing to do with the Sad Sept day. Then of course throw in spending the surplus money the Dems made in the previoius two terms and creating the highest debt in history and then leaving it for the next president then yes Bush Jr is different than Obama.

    October 8, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  10. Andria

    You have got to be kidding me!!!! You all let George W. Bush run this country into the ground for 8 YEARS, and then you want to judge President Obama (only in office for 18 MONTHS) for not cleaning up Bush's messes fast enough?!?! Come on!!!

    October 8, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  11. walleye46

    ANYONE that thinks Bush was a better Prez has a short memory. Two wars, lying to the public about one of them (WMD), doing NOTHING while the economy went to pot. Funding two wars while cutting taxes to the rich/corporations. I can go on and on but there is not enough room here to put down the ineptitude of this moron. At least Obama hit the floor running and put an end to the economic bleeding. We would have been in a lot worse shape if not for his courage. Of course I can sympathize with those who are out of work, but the damage was already done by the previous administration.

    October 8, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. Americans are funny

    HAHAHA! U kidding me? I mean seriously are u pulling my leg? LOL

    October 8, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  13. LacrosseMom(real one)

    SO many polls, I always wonder WHO is being polled? Because, the majority of Obama supporters use cell phones. And those of us, like me who are registered Independents living in "red states" never get polled. Good to know that most Americans who still have land-lines think Obama is a better president than W. Obama has been in Office 22 months, just barely. Give him time.

    There was an interesting poll that came out recently, that every informed voter should read. The poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found and I quote "that 55% of Independent voters and 79% of Democrats support candidates that supported the Healthcare Bill"! This is a significant finding because it flies in the face of what the Koch-TeaParty/GOP has been saying "that Americans are angry at Obamacare"! Actually......... nope!

    America has to ask one simple question, "what have the Republicans done to help America back on its feet since the Bush Financial Disaster?" No one from the Koch-TeaParty/GOP every answers this questions....... make me wonder.

    October 8, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  14. Why are Rush and his Mafia in hiding all the time?

    He was a better puppet for the Corporate scumbags.

    October 8, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. John

    This just shows the depth of ignorance and the effect of mis-information from the media of the american public, its amazing how quickly people forget how horrible the previous administration was and that Bush was responsible for two wars one that was illegal and unnecessary and he was the one that ran the country into the worst recession in u.s. history, and was responsible for the 100's of billions in bailout money to banks and corporations, not to mention eroding the constitution, creating an atmosphere of unfounded fear and sinking this country to the level of a fascist police state, Obama inherited all of this including a run away derailed train of an economy that was still crashing and bailouts that were already earmarked to go out, Obama has done some good, ending iraq war, health insurance reform, new laws to protect the consumer from predatory practices from banks and corporations, and aid to homeowners facing foreclosure, however I am displeased with him for not repealing the patriot act and restoring our rights to privacy, and a more aggressive stance on green house gas emissions, scuttling the manned space program to name a few.

    October 8, 2010 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. seebofubar

    Why would any of this surprise anyone? Obama is a disaster. If he would put 10% of the effort into doing his job that he does campagining, democrats wouldn't be in this bad of shape. The unfortunate thing is that he has no ability to solve this country's problems. So in order to feel some sort of accomplisnment and self worth, he turns to the only thing that he thinks that he can do....campaign.

    October 8, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  17. Four and The Door

    History will be much kinder to GWB than it will to Barack Obama. Leadership is one of those things that retrospect brings into focus.

    October 8, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  18. jerseylou

    What is this some kind of Damn Trick Question ? My Answer is Hell No,Bush is neither here or there!

    October 8, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. jimmyjojo

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahah.....seriously, though: HA.

    October 8, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Chicago Voter

    I, nor anyone I know has ever been polled. It seems every day a new poll comes out and says something different. I am just curious as to who is being asked the questions. How about CNN does an online poll along with a telephone poll that anyone can answer. Let me see those numbers. I would like to see what the average person has to say about issues. Not just the select few that are supposedly polled. How about it CNN – are you up to the challenge?

    October 8, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. La Piovra

    A caution about the "likely voter" gap: the "unlikely voter" who may not be enthusiastic enough to vote for a Democrat may nonetheless be grossed out enough by Election Day to vote against a Republican.

    October 8, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. Observer

    Bush was WAY ahead of President Obama when it came to starting wars, ignoring Americans dying in our streets, praising incompetents, sounding like a 2nd grader in English class, tanking the stock market, and reading childrens books at one of the most critical moments in our history.

    October 8, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. Faisal

    What the heck! Is this even a question to ask? Such a preposterous question. I mean you put a mask on a donkey and call him Mr. President, even he would be better than Bush. Do you even realize that what Bush did hurt the very fundamentals and the constitution of this country – the very ideals that this great country was built on? Economy is a short term thing, goes up and down. Obama is still trying to clean up his mess. I would like to ask this question, what if Obama, who you hate for the spending, did not spend that money in the bail-outs? Probably you would not be have the time and the job to hate him. He may not have improved the economy, but he prevented the worst from happening. In any case, that is not what I compare him on with Bush. Bush destroyed the country morally, ethically and economically.

    October 8, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  24. Dave

    Does anyone else think that the average American has absolutely no understading of the actual issues that are debated in this country? The average person only looks at taxes as money coming out of their paycheck. They don't understand what that money buys. I see articles about $10 million spent here or there and people are up in arms. Do they realize that that's a drop in the bucket when compared to the federal budget? The same people who complain about the country borrowing too much and leaving this debt to their grandchildren (we've been using that old line since I was a kid 30 years ago) are in debt up to their eyeballs and putting more on their credit cards every day. The average person has no idea what a recession even is and yet they get all upset that the President can't get us out of it by waving his magic wand. Doesn't work that way people.

    October 8, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. TIMOTHY GALVIN

    Are you kidding me? Are you really kidding me that someone could look at Obama vs. Bush and choose Bush? How stupid is this country?

    October 8, 2010 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
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