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. Joe

    Of the regisstered voters that took part in the poll, I have to wonder, based on CNN's past polls, how many were R's and how many were D's. Anyway we can find out?

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

    Are you nuts! Or just have clinically short memories! "W" lied (WMDs) lied us into a war that's cost tens of thousands of lives and sent our economy into a death spin! That alone should rank him as the worst US President ever!

    October 8, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  3. DIANA

    Really, some people think Bush did better than President Obama?! Let's see, we haven't had an attack since he became President, he saved us from what could have been a depression, we haven't gone into another unnecessary war.

    Bush was good about the environment, I'll give him that.

    October 8, 2010 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  4. CNN+corporate america=match made in hell

    You're trying hard as hell aren't you CNN to bring back the status quo? In reality, the two are polar opposites. Bush's laissez faire economic approach (for whatever reason) brought us to the brink of depression. Obama is slowly – but steadily, even given the obstruction by republicans and corporate america – digging this nation out. But, since the corporate media conglomerates control how and what information is disseminated in this country, Americans will forever believe that there are actual death panels (although, in reality, these are called insurance companies); that Sarah Palin is actually a qualified presidential candidate; on and on, yada yada... After this country devolves into civil war over basically nothing, it is the network heads that will hang.

    Think about it people: "News" reported by an organization ultimately answerable to its shareholders (i.e. Time-Warner) is not actually news at all. At this point, it is simply corporate propoganda.

    October 8, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  5. Joe

    You have to be kidding me. Healthcare for all versus starting two wars and dragging the economy into the ground. What a joke!!

    October 8, 2010 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  6. TC

    Heres the deal.. Americans have very short attention spans. The pain and suffering of the BUSH recession unfortunately was not truely felt until the end of his Term. So Americans feel financial pain See obama and then forget it was Bush and blame him. Add in the crazy right wing media chatter that even seems to dominate CNN now a days and you get a perfect storm. Don't forget all the lies about Death panels etc.... The scary black man in office stuff ( yeah I went there because it is relevant). I just love how the right wingers says blantently racists stuff or things that are at the very least bigotted then when people point it out they are accused for playing the race card... It really is sad for our country..

    October 8, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  7. Connie

    It took 8 years of Republican leadership to get the country in the mess we were in when President Obama took office. Please allow him the courtesy of 8 years – then you can be the judge.

    October 8, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  8. politicalstance

    How quickly America forgets that Bush & Co. were in the White House when the economy took a nose dive. I remember very well because I graduated college in 2001 and found it nearly impossible to find a job, maintain a job (many layoffs). Just remember Obama and the Democrats are NOT the root of the cause, it is CONGRESS in general that is the root of the current evil.

    October 8, 2010 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  9. CaliforniaBC

    This really illustrates the utter ignorance of the average American voter. They actually hold the administration responsible for getting into the deepest recession since the Great Depression in a more positive light than the the administration the kept OUT of another depression and put us on the path to recovery.

    What is a good definition of stupidity?

    October 8, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. GOP FTW

    GOP is gonna get her done.

    Hope and Change? bwahahah it was funny two years ago...even more funny now.

    October 8, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. Lori

    Bush was absolutely a better President than is Obama. Obama has no heart, no class, he is without doubt the least Presidential individual to ever sit in the Oval Office., and his arrogance, his policies are destroying this country. I am confounded by the polls where people say they like him personally, but don't like his policies...I think this country is so controlled by political correctness that these people fear they'll be called racist if they say they don't like him.. What a sad state of affairs

    October 8, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  12. bk

    women vote democrat because democrat means redistribution – and chicks love redistribution as long as that money is flowing to them. interesting thought: now that our gynocentric culture has debased men to the point where the large majority of university graduates are now female, will vaginas start becoming more repub-happy – or will they still think democrat governments will give them someone else's hard-earned cash?

    October 8, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  13. Tim Barton

    It shouldn't take too long for the other 47% to come around.

    October 8, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  14. AndyS

    Would be sooooooo funny if Obama ended his presidency with a lower rating than Bush. And I think he's trying RELLY hard to get there.

    October 8, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  15. Brian

    If not for racist blacks supporting him at 91% the numbers for Obama would be high 30%'s

    October 8, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  16. PJ

    Poor George Bush didn't have a clue as to what was going on. Cheney ran the country for 8 years. We are better off with Obama who tells the truth and isn't afraid to take the lead, make decisions and take the consequencies. I don't understand how anyone can expect Obama to correct 8 years of disaster in 2 years.

    October 8, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. dick brown

    Obama should join the Miami Heat and play along siide lebron james and cris bosh and dwane Wade. Obama would fit in well after all he thinks he a champ even though he hasn't done anything yet.

    October 8, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  18. Michael

    a bit of buyers' remorse going on, I guess.

    October 8, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. Rob

    They should have asked me. Hands down, Obama is a better President than that dingbat we suffered for 8 looooooooong years!

    October 8, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. DH

    this height of a blog!! Where are we going BTW???

    October 8, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Publius13

    Oh please. Bush and the Republicans are WHY we have to be rescued. That Obama is not doing it fast enough to suit my stupid fellow white men simply shows the short attention span of the U.S. electorate.

    October 8, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  22. Eugene

    That's priceless. It goes to show that the parties who put their big money supporters (corps or unions) first are beginning to get exposed.

    I'm beginning to wonder if any of this mess would have ever happened if Congress didn't meddle in the mortgage industry....then Bush would have left with 5% unemployment.

    Hmmmmmm

    October 8, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Bug

    First rule of power- Never follow a strong leader!

    October 8, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  24. Tom

    This is comparing dumb and dumber

    October 8, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. John

    Republicans are brainless droids that follow the party line, whether it makes sense or not. That is the ONLY reason George may have looked effective. I want my representative to represent me, not his party. I want that person to speak up if something doesn't make sense. Republicans do not do so.

    October 8, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
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