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. hwy911

    President Obama is hands down the better president – Bush was minor league all the way.

    October 8, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. RG

    "But more than seven out of ten whites who describe themselves as "blue collar" are planning to vote Republican in November," adds Holland."

    So they will be voting against their best interests. Republicans offer no advantage to blue-collar workers, other than to make their jobs disappear.

    October 8, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. chris

    gotta love that change and hope.........i'm still waiting for that hope to fill up my left hand........b/c i sure have alot of $hit in my right hand!!!

    October 8, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. sammieb51

    Saw an interesting bumper sticker today – - "VOTE REPUBLICAN, IT'S EASIER THAN THINKING", consistent with these poll results. Maybe our constitution should have stipulated "an informed vote" rather than just a vote. At the intellectual rate of attrition in our country I think the days when we can hail "President Palin" are not far down the road!!

    October 8, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. CommonSense

    AWESOME! I just watched Bush's first pitch after 9/11 on youtube. Gave me chills AGAIN.

    October 8, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  6. Phattee

    Mass delusion. I always hoped that the events of the first half of the 20th century would have made mankind more introspective, but nope, it seems like many of us are still hopelessly at the mercy of our baser instincts.

    October 8, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  7. John

    There are either some very crazy or stupid people in the United States. Anybody who thinks Bush is either better or equal to Obama as a President is either(a) on drugs or alcohol or both(b) very stupid, (c) very wealthy or (d) listens to Fox News only or a combiantion of those forementioned. John R.

    October 8, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. Oregon Calling

    Not only no but Heck no!

    Peace :-)

    October 8, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. sandi

    I believe Bush was much better. I believe Bush was more serious and determined and loved American more. I believe Bush had a huge heart and showed it often. I dont see any of this in obama

    October 8, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. Texas Doc

    This is a gag....right? GWB compared to Mr. Green Jeans, but not this President.

    October 8, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  11. Josh

    Since Bush and Obama are related.....it doesn't surprise me. We need to get back to "We the People" instead of "We the Banks and Politicians"

    Sad...sad time in America, tyranny is all around us.

    October 8, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. HDFE

    I hear cricketts....

    October 8, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Thersa

    Imagine what would have happened if Americans had voted Republicans back into power two years into FDR's presidency. We would have no middle class now.

    October 8, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. Dean Walsh (CT)

    No contest; I'd take GWB 100 times out of 100 over the current incompetent disaster squatting in the Oval Office.

    October 8, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  15. Louis

    What an idiotic survey to compare 2 years of Obama with 8 years of Bush–I don't like either, but at least have a survey that makes sense

    October 8, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  16. Ron

    Nothing from CNN is truthful. The democrats will pay for their arrogance and deceit.

    October 8, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  17. dave

    no contest....Bush is a leader and a man. O is a child.

    October 8, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  18. Jayden,FL

    This is just sad shameful to say the least. smh

    October 8, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Marry

    This question is an insult! To name these two in one sentence! President Obama is intelligent, a hard worker, thoughtful and sincere. He works for every single American (not just for the rich) and he has a good program for the country. It is the GOP and former President Bush (unjust wars, gigantic deficit, etc. etc.remember?) that brought the country to the brink of destruction and they envy the President so much that they openly want him to “fail”! What a bunch of No ideas, No honor, No respect People the GOP is! President Obama is all they would love to have been but are not… lack of character! Go out and vote! But inform yourself, be responsible and smart. Don’t let the GOP/TP fool you – again!

    October 8, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. Brian

    Ok, just so I'm not missing anything here, but one guys is solely responsible for the mess this country is currently in, while the other guy is left to clean it up. Yet it's the guy left with the mess who seems to be getting the blame? That's like blaming the firemen for a fire that cannot be extinguished, while putting no blame on the arsonist who set the fire to begin with. And for all you people who want to put Republicans back into power: please remember is was the Republican Party who empowered the Bush White House to wreak all that havoc. Be very careful what you wish for...

    October 8, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. Boo-Yah

    People are too easily duped by the media to figure out what is really going on. I don't necessarily blame them... politics and world events are complicated issues and when you work all day trying to keep a roof over your head and food in your stomach, who has time or energy to wade through all the BS. But the thing is we HAVE to wade through it all to make better decisions and know the truth. Obama by FAR is a better president than Bush and the fact that the average American doesn't understand that is more than a little unnerving.

    October 8, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. RightStuff

    If anyone thinks that Barack Obama is performing as good as GWB, they are as delusional as Barack Obama is. Obama is trying to DESTROY this country by bogging its economy down, and exploiting weak minded peoples' covetousness. It's called class envy, and he does it very well. Pray for Barack Obama. "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." Psalms 109:8

    October 8, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Gill

    For those who voted in the poll... what exactly has Joe Biden actually done?

    October 8, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Nick

    Well since over 90% of blacks still support the Obamination I would say the poll is skewed

    October 8, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  25. Stan

    uhbama is a disaster, so count me in with President Bush being better.

    October 8, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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