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. PBrown

    Blue-collar whites???? Guess everyone has forgotten this country is made up on people of all race/creed/ethnicity. Sometimes it just isn't a good idea to believe polls especially when the focus is on white people only. Guess I now see why white folks are screaming about taking their country back. Too many other folks that don't look like them.

    October 8, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    Bush is better only if you think the Bush tax cuts, which took trillions out of the Treasury and will continue to take trillions out of the Treasury if they are extended, in the face of a trillion dollar deficit, are a good idea.
    Bush is better only if you think starting the war with Iraq, who had no involvement with the 9/11 attack and had no weapons of mass destruction, at least none that could be found, while the people who attacked us on 9/11 recovered and became stronger in Afghanistan, was a good idea.
    Bush is better only if you think enacting Medicare Part D, which was completely unfunded, was fiscally responsble. If you are outraged by the health care bill, at least Democrats tried to pay for their spending by raising revenues. With Republicans, they simply spend.
    Bush is better only if you

    October 8, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  3. junglejim123

    The polls always seem to favor Obama but when you talk to most Americans its always the opposite. I think i'll trust most Americans who see what a total disaster this Marxist Muslim loving Kenyan born fraud really is.

    October 8, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  4. Jared

    Well its about time people are starting to wake up.... but more need to wake up fast or its over.... D or R, they all have the same agenda ...directed by their masters... Divide and conquer

    October 8, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Do_as_Say

    Plugs Biden had done a better job than Palin would have. Plagiarizing perhaps?

    The man IS the village idiot. We can always expect that CNN will be a good laugh.

    October 8, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. K.Chiaro

    Why was the link for this article titled "Ticker: Bush was better than Obama?". The title certainly gives the impression that the poll referenced in the article would reflect a Bush over Obama result. If one continues on to the full article it shows a 47% to 45% preference for Obama, a drop in numbers from a year ago sure, but still a majority. Phrasing it as a question does not alter the misleading nature of the link's title. Please explain.

    October 8, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. Sisao Tresed

    In my heart I know George Bush was a good and honest, God-fearing president. I know he is a patriot, and a lover of American and all of the wonder that America has brought to the world. He was mindful of others needs, and he worried about the way his decisions affected his countrymen. He was a sensitive and humble family man.

    Obama is an agenda. He cares little for people who are not of his race or ideology. He does not care much about others, he is cold and calculating, and is not a patriot, he is a citizen of the world. He does not love America, and as such does not govern in her best interest. Most of us, regardless of our party or beliefs, hoped, wished and prayed for his success, but have come to realize that he is NOT American presidential material.

    October 8, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. Obama is a great president.

    Bush got us where we are now- he's the cause. Obama is simply helping to weather the storm he didn't create.

    October 8, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Mixed Bag

    Oh my...

    President Bush is actually closing on President Obama. While Obama engages in increasingly more partisan rhetoric at a time when unity is needed, Bush is silent...in spite of the vicious personal attacks he's endured.

    Nevermind...the electorate is about to render a verdict on the Obama presidency thus far. I suspect President Bush won't comment on that, either.

    October 8, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. firstpoppa

    If Obama and Biden have dropped that much in just 20 months, imagine what those numbers will be this time next year.

    October 8, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  11. tor

    You gotta be kidding me. Bush and his Republicans were the biggest deficit spenders in history, and literally took the country right to the brink of collapse. And now they have the audacity to whine about Obama's deficit and accuse him of failure after he saved us from another Great Depression. Starting with Reagan, Republican presidents have grown the government and increased the deficit far more than Democrats. It’s historical fact. What’s happened to the American people? Wake up. Pay attention. Remember. Do you really think the rich getting richer and an unrestrained corporate free-for-all is going to save us? That’s all the Republicans have to offer.

    October 8, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  12. _d_funk_

    Seriously...this is a question! GW had 8 years to get us in the mess we're in today. Obama has had 1 year and 3 quarters to try and get us out. The Party Of No doesn't get to shed the responsibility of teh last 8 years. We also can't forget the state that Clinton pulled us out of after the first Bush had aterm in the white house, either. Obama is allready a better President than both Bushes put together.

    October 8, 2010 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  13. fergie

    I think we all know that President Obama can't do anything right. I hope he decides not to run again. He didn't create this mess. President's like Bush did. This country will not be happy until they have another Bush-like president. Let these dam dumb white folks fix this shit.

    October 8, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  14. lucky

    bush was a hell of a president and did a much better job running things.This guy does not have a clue

    October 8, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  15. marvin kegeron

    I miss Bush.

    October 8, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  16. oast2co

    The problem in America is they hate women period. They'll allow them to hold office and positions of authority as long as its not VP or President. No matter who it is there always portrayed as inept or dizzy blond or something.

    October 8, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  17. Dennis D

    Obama will go down as worse than Carter and Bush

    October 8, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  18. sonny trinh

    Of course President Bush is much better than Obama. He is a strong leaders and He has done many things for the country and the world.

    October 8, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  19. California Observer

    The only way that Obama is only 2 points ahead of Bush on who has performed better in the White House is that Americans have an incredibly short span of attention. By any objective analysis, GWB was one of the worst presidents in American History.

    October 8, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  20. devildog

    Who ever would have thought – but now that we have had this socialist – YES Bush was a much better president

    October 8, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  21. Lisa

    The democrats must be scrambling to come up with a new campaign. All Obama has ever done is campaign against Bush.

    October 8, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  22. Foodstamper

    Same joker.. different year. Legalize Freedom!! Vote Ron Paul. Get this scum out of our house!

    October 8, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  23. carlos

    the stupidity of those pollsters, how can you compare 8 years of ineptitude, incompetence and LIES with 2 years to only begin to fix the $hit the repugnants left behind...........as usual, cnn s poll: twisted crap

    October 8, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  24. Patricia Lee Como

    Define "better". More willing to go to war for invalid reasons? More willing to ignore the international community? More willing to turn a blind eye to corporate corruption and more willing to accept money and political influence from corporate lobbyists? More willing to allow church to get in the way of state? More willing to be trigger happy. The very nature of the story reported is inherently murky. It depends on how you define "better" and also who you ask. Also, our President inherited the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. Context is also important. The story lacks substance.

    October 8, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  25. Fed Up

    Yes, Bush defended America when we were attacked. This President goes around apologizing for us defending ourselves, and never listens to what the people want. I don't think he would defend America from any attacks. That remains to be seen.

    October 8, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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