CNN Poll: How will history remember George W. Bush?
April 24th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
1 year 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. bluebird

    lol, you guys have guts to say GWB is great. So you forgot that GWB has brought us a great depression we couldn't almost survive and I have never forgotten he was the who sent my daughter to Iraq under the banner of patriot and
    many of her friends could't return home alive.

    April 24, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  2. JASON

    lol thats like saying the toxicity of cyanide will decrease if people start taking it in large numbers

    April 24, 2013 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  3. AbrahamLincoln

    Both Papa Bush and Baby Bush Jr. were failures as president.
    But they made a lot of money at it.

    April 24, 2013 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I wonder if all the men and women who for a war for no reason think he is a great guy...

    April 24, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Bush's approval rating is going up? I guess Mencken was right!
    "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public".

    April 24, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Bush was not great, but each day he looks better than Obama.

    April 24, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  7. Minsmom

    Leave poor Bush alone.....Yes our economy was lost and he put us in not one..... but two wars.....Congress has to take some of the blame.....And yes....we do too....we keep voting the same people back into congress time after time. Money talks in our government....if you have none you are not heard...until you click on that button on voting Day.

    April 24, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  8. HNelson

    A lot of the stuff that happened wasn't really his fault. He inherited an economy with a bursting dot-com bubble, his tax policies put the federal budget back into deficit territory but helped avoid a deep recession from the dot-com bust. He entered office with Al Qaeda on the march, since Clinton sat on his hands (and Monica sat on his face) while we were attacked repeatedly prior to 9-11. He recognized the housing bubble and troubles with Fannie/Freddie as a looming crisis, but was unable to do anything about it. Again, his predecessor was the one who signed off on the repeal of Glass-Steagal. The invasion of Iraq was where he catch-22ed himself. The way Hillary Clinton put it, you rarely get credit for something bad that didn't happen.

    April 24, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. Liberty

    Bush was not a great president, but as each day passes he looks better than Obama.

    April 24, 2013 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  10. gladitsnight

    All the dead, maimed and psychologically tortured American soldiers are enough to make Bush not only a failed president, but a war criminal as well. How can anyone forget this? And what about the billions and billions of US money thrown down that rat hole, Iraq? That was the beginning of the financial mess!! Build the people of Iraq bridges, schools, etc. so they can just burn them down! He is a disgustingly ignorant and manipulated puppet of the neocons. Dumber than a box of rocks!

    April 24, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  11. Karloff Caine

    Bush did a fine job considering the start he faced (9/11). It was always going to be uphill after shoring up the country's security. Foreign leaders were afraid of Bush, unlike the current President. Tired of the failed economy being blamed on Bush. The meltdown started decades before as people continued to spend what they didn't have. We are all guilty of economic crash as are our parents.

    April 24, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  12. Chipster

    Bush's false claims about Iraq ties to Al Qaeda cannot be ignored. His war of obsession cost the U.S. trillions before Obama finally brought that war to a close. But the cost of unfunded mandates (No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D programs) continue to cost taxpayers a fortune. The cost is passed on to state and local taxpayers and is hurting senior citizens the most. The cost of Financial and Auto Bailouts in 2008 still haunt us today. Many people refuse to believe that most of the deficit for the past 4 years has been due to those ongoing expenditures from Bush's Administration but, if history is fact-based, it will not be kind to Bush & Co.

    April 24, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  13. realann726

    Bush will be rememberd all right – remembered for sending all those young military men overseas to be maimed or killed and for no good reason. Weapons of mass destruction?? Yeah, right!

    April 24, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  14. Bushwacked

    Bush is and always been a failure as a president, very simple. It requires a long list to put all the evidence. As a person he might be OK, but we need good presidents.

    April 24, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  15. downwithnazis

    The only people who can believe that Bush was a good president – are people as wicked and malleable and childish and privileged and blind as Mr. Bush himself.

    April 24, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  16. fish

    My feelings on this loser will never change. He is only second to Benedict Arnold as our greatest traitor. Any President who starts wars for no reason after lying to our nation is a traitor and should be jailed as such. Too many good soldiers died needlessly due to his arrogant selfishness. Both he and Cheney should be tried by the world court in the Hague for war crimes and or crimes against humanity.

    April 24, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. Jason Chan

    Under the dangerous world by then, President George W Bush led the country and the world against any threats with courage, concerns and strong will. He is a great man and a great President. He is very true.

    April 24, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. jeannie869

    Bush was a total failure, an idiot. Couldn't pronounce any word with more than three syllables, and surely didn't know what the word meant. Economy tanked under his watch – plus tax breaks for his millionaire friends. Glad he's back in TX – he should have never left.

    April 24, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  19. levelheaded

    I just call it crazy how Obama supporters haven't awaken from this nightmare and still want to blame W. There were several other countries that took the fight to Iraq and Afghanistan and it wasn't just because of the Bush wmd report. ALL economies go up and down in each decade, and just because Obama says it was the "worse recession" since the great depression doesn't make it true. How's that recovery going? This was a global recession!

    Question for you Obama supporters (Whom I volunteered for for 4 months during his first run for office) to please get me and my 2 children a job so they can move out of my house. My wife and I need quality time.

    April 24, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  20. bob

    We will never recover from the harm done under the leadership or lack there of, from George W. Bush.

    April 24, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  21. Bradsd

    He completely crashed the economy, how could he be considered anything but a huge failure. Not only that he lied to start a war and allowed us to be attacked and thousands died. He also murdered one million Iraq citizens, he should go down as a criminal.

    April 24, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  22. whitepine

    Not only will history show that Bush was a poor President, with all his money and fame, what is he doing to help America and Americans now? I thought he was a leader. What he leads for only 8 years and quits? So he was just a puppet for the GOPs? What he just wanted a fat government pension, health care and protection? At least Clinton, Gore and Carter are trying to help people and make this earth a better place to live.

    April 24, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  23. Arg

    "Eight in ten Republicans now say that Bush's eight years in office were a success"

    In what world have these people been living in?

    April 24, 2013 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  24. Robert

    Bush will continue to be seen more and more favorably as the years pass. History is objective, unlike all you Bush haters who simply drank the DNC koolaid. Obama, on the other hand, benefits from libs hanging on his every word like it was holy writ. History isn't hypnotized like you people, and Obama will be treated less favorably as time goes on. It won't be too far in the future until people will be saying "Why DID people like Obama so much, anyway? What did he even DO? Other than cause largely irreversible damage to the economy, the health care system, and the national culture."

    April 24, 2013 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  25. JPX

    How could anyone think that Bush did a good job? Obama is still cleaning up his profound mess.

    April 24, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
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