CNN Poll: How will history remember George W. Bush?
April 24th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
12 months ago

CNN Poll: How will history remember George W. Bush?

Washington (CNN) - Was George W. Bush's presidency a success or failure?

A new national poll suggests it depends on who's answering the question.

A CNN/ORC International survey indicates wide partisan and generational divides when it comes to rating Bush's years in the White House. And according to the poll, released Wednesday on the eve of the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, views of his presidency among all Americans are starting to improve.

"It's likely that time will only improve his standing in the public's eye," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Although a majority of Americans still call him a failed president, the number who believe that 43rd president was a failure has dropped significantly since he left office."

Fifty-five percent of those questioned say Bush's presidency was a failure, down 13 percentage points since a CNN poll conducted in January, 2009, during his final days in office. Forty-two percent now say Bush's presidency was a success, up 11 points from when he left the White House.

When it comes to Bush, Democrats and Republicans still don't see eye to eye. Eight in ten Republicans now say that Bush's eight years in office were a success, but that number drops to 43% among independents. Only 13% of Democrats agree, with nearly nine in ten Democrats saying the Bush presidency was a failure.

"There is a big generation gap as well, with most senior citizens giving Bush's years in office positive reviews, but two-thirds of younger Americans say he was a failed president," adds Holland.

The survey also points to a geographical divide, with those living in urban areas giving Bush a thumbs down, and suburbanites and rural Americans divided.

The George W. Bush Presidential Center includes a library, museum, and a public policy center. America's 43rd president will be joined at the dedication ceremony by President Barack Obama, and former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

Bush's second term was one of the most unpopular in modern times. His approval rating stood at 31% in a CNN poll conducted at the time he left office and it was at 33% in an ABC News/Washington Post survey. The post-presidency uptick for Bush's numbers seen in the CNN poll is also registering in an ABC News/Washington Post survey on Bush's approval rating, which now stands at 47%.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

soundoff (623 Responses)
  1. Aaron

    The man who started a murder campaign in a country that had not attacked us and left us open to even more terrorist attacks. That not only says failure, it also says he should be in prison.

    April 24, 2013 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  2. Spgfld Tom

    Bush was an honest ethical man who tried to do what was right for the U.S. He never bowed to a Saudi king or demonized those who did not share his views. I truly miss having a leader in the White House.

    April 24, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. ALLuh

    GOP and all the Benghazi nonsense, shove it dweebs, you lost, get over it. Bush is a mass killer and should be standing tall before the man in the Hague, with Cheney.

    April 24, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Bob

    Bush doesn't remember anything from his history classes so history should return the favor.

    April 24, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. Melissa

    One could say that Bush had a failed presidency. In that vein, one could also say that Obama has brought us the "hope and change" that the American people asked for....Obama is a savior of sorts. Consider the facts (liberals, stop reading here, because facts never matter to you). Since Obama took office:

    1) There are 88 million working age Americans that are not employed, over half of whom are not looking for employment either. That is an all-time record high.

    2) Real median household income is down $4,300 per year.

    3) 30% of unemployed workers have been out of a job for more than a year (this number was 15% when he took office; 5 years of hope and change didn't solve it apparently).

    4) The country has had the longest streak of unemployment over 8% since the Depression (39 months and counting).

    5) Workers' health insurance costs have increased more than 23%, in spite of Obamacare passing in his first year in office.

    6) Nearly 48 million Americans are on food stamps. That's up from 32 million when he took office, a 50% increase.

    7) 50% of new college graduates are underemployed or unemployed.

    8) U.S. home ownership is at a decade long low. So is the number of Americans who say their home is worth more than they paid for it. Home prices are the lowest they've been since 2002 (after having declined nearly 15% since he took office).

    9) The national average price of gas has increased 98% (it was $1.79 per gallon when he took office and today it is $3.54 per gallon).

    10) The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by more than 6 million people.

    11) The national debt of the U.S. has increased by 58% since Obama took office (it's $16.8 trillion now and was $10.6 trillion when he took office). For comparison, with 2 wars and 8 years in office, it increased by $4.9 trillion under Bush – that's about 5 trillion in EIGHT years. Obama has increased it by over 6 trillion in FOUR years.

    12) America lost its AAA credit rating (which it had held since credit ratings were first issued in 1917) on Obama's watch despite the fact that Tim Geithner publicly said there was "no risk" of that happening. The way that a nation gets its credit rating downgraded is by spending far more than it takes in (which it does by handing out "free" money to anyone and everyone who asks for it). The downgrading of our national credit rating also results in it costing more for us to service our national debt, which sinks us deeper in debt even faster, which further pushes us towards yet another downgrade.

    All of the "hope and change" certainly hasn't done much for our nation, so it is laughable how people deride Bush while completely ignoring these verifiable facts (that is, if you: a. aren't a liberal who is unconcerned with facts and b. know how to use Google).

    Or maybe Americans in general just like Obama's million dollar smile, so he can do literally whatever he wants and no one cares about the facts in the least, no matter how damaging they are. But Bush was a "failure." HAHAHAHA!!!

    April 24, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  6. The Elephant in the Room

    George Bush was not invited to the Republican Presidential Candidate nominating convention in 2008, 2012 and won`t be invited in 2016.

    The prosecution rests.

    April 24, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  7. Sean

    Funny how the morons defending Shrub in these comments can't name a single good thing that idiotic war criminal did. All they can do is attack Obama. That says it all.

    April 24, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  8. Daniel

    I think some of you have drinking problems and are delusional. Bush was the worst president. I have a pair of shoes smarter than him.

    April 24, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  9. Clint Overstreet

    Iraq will always be Bush's "legacy". Countless innocent lives were lost and many more were permanently wounded for WMD's that didn't exist. He failed to deal with those that struck us on 911 because of his obsession with Sadam. His popularity rises with republicans that hate Obama, but democrats and independents won't forget his actions in their lifetimes. I believe in time most historians will see him as the dangerous fool he was.

    April 24, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  10. Daniel

    And 47%? That is still a failure.

    April 24, 2013 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  11. Stanitan

    GWB was way over his head. A total failure. 911 on his watch, unplanned wars, terrifying "reforms". Abysmal POTUS

    April 24, 2013 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. Independent

    Why wouldn't he look good compared to the idiot we have in office now!

    April 24, 2013 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Holly

    I get sick to my stomach when I read something like "Bush was a success." A success at what Pray tell. He bankrupted our nation, get us into two useless wars. Fed Cheney's Company, Halliburtion's, bottom line and how man precious lives did we lose and still losing. How many are horribly wounded? I can't think of one thing this man did for us or this country that was positive. Where were you people those 8 long years?

    April 24, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. all hope is lost.....

    dumb people have short memories

    April 24, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  15. us_1776

    .
    The Bush Lie Bury

    .

    April 24, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. BobbyRay

    What don't the rightys like about the Obama admin? Is it the economic recovery, the end of the 2 longest wars in US history, or just that there is a black man in the White House making laws instead of beds?

    April 24, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  17. Alina77

    We didn't see Bush since what ? 2008? The crisis is gone , the economy is recovering, we didn't loose in terrorist attacks 3000 people , after 4000 dead solders and 11000 wounded we out of Iraq... Yea, people now think looking back "It wasn't that bad".... Its like giving birth to the child, first it hurts like hell, but then you don't remember the pain.

    April 24, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  18. Angelina Littrell

    Bush is a dismal failure. Had he kept his efforts on capturing Osama Bin Laden rather than finishing his daddy's war and getting Saddam, our whole economy would be different. He obviously knows he was unsuccessful since he stays out of the public eye as much as possible. Republicans have asked him to stay away so they might win another election someday. And this poll...700 land line users... who are primarily land line families? Older people that are "his" demographic. Ask the younger crowd and we will tell you that GW and Cheney should be tried for war crimes.

    April 24, 2013 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  19. Namemars

    Bush,Cheney, Rice,Rumsfeld should all be in prison for all the deaths of our soldiers who went to war based on their lies to the American people.Shame on them.Worst president ever.

    April 24, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  20. Chilcat

    The electorates memory is ridiculously short.

    April 24, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  21. Brhino

    I had a much easier time making a living during Bush era than now. This economy SUCKS! Our current president; 5 years in, is still trying to blame the "other guys". Stop playing golf and get back to work.

    April 24, 2013 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  22. Jim Hahn

    Mr. Bush's presidency is not only an abject failure, but a national disgrace of historical proportions. It will take many presidents and multiples of years to repair the damage inflicted by him on the United States' image, reputation and integrity.

    April 24, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  23. Kimber

    All these percentages are meaningless unless we know what the measure is. Success or failure based on what criteria? The CNN/ORC International survey listed in the article asked only for what was essentially a thumbs up or thumbs down opinion from those surveyed via telephone. And I wonder what the survey results would be if, during the same call, respondents were asked the same question of the Obama presidency. Actually, I suspect the percentages would be pretty much reversed simply based on political party or liberal vs. conservative.

    April 24, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  24. Gary

    Bush success is an oxymoron.

    April 24, 2013 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  25. Randall Bennett

    Worst. President. Ever!

    April 24, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
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