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. QS

    Who here still needs more proof of just how lost and insane conservatives have become?

    April 24, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Pat

    Reagan became an almost god like figure by a group that formed to put his name in every state, they are still going. Maybe there should be a truth group to expose GWB.

    April 24, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  3. rs

    No doubt, few Presidents faced the disaster of the size of the 9/11 attacks (except of course FDR). However Bush will be remembered for failing to take any steps to stop 9/11; responding with a semi-appropriate war that the nation was ill-equipped to fight, and ; dropping the ball entirely to attack the WRONG country (creating God knows how many jihadists in the process). The Bush Administration will be remembered for trippling the debt.; engaging in huge nation-building and democracy initiatives abroad, while working completely against similar initiatives here. Under Bush, the Constitution, and citizens rights took a beating with the PATRIOT Act. Regulations were trashed leading to America's most polluted decade since the establishment of "Earth Day", the banks crashed and millions of jobes were off-shored.Foreign Policy under Bush was at best bad. So many from his administration cannot travel abroad for fear of arrest for war crimes or crimes against humanity.

    There were a few highlights: expansion of Medicare; AIDS relief;Ms. Bush's support of libraries (sans cash, naturally...)
    He may not go down as America's worst, but he won't fair well. The fact theat even today's GOP won't talk about him speaks volumes.

    April 24, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  4. Jewels

    The financial collapse occurred, Bush Taxes had been signed-off for the rich, we had a war in Iraq that cost Billions - and there are people criticizing Obama? With what he really had to clean up, it's a shame people insult the job he's done. As for Bush, I'm indifferent with him - although, don't think he was the best Pres. by any stretch.

    April 24, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  5. Patrick in Wisconsin

    You mean Vice President Bush? The de facto President was Dick Cheney...

    April 24, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  6. Lynn

    Hmmm....maybe he was not as bad as everyone though compared to what we have now.......

    April 24, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  7. Jack

    MHS it's "must've or must have" not "must of" which doesn't make sense. Another example of red state education. On the other hand if you'd receive a real education in a liberal state (the ones that have Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, CalTech and many more not including Oral Roberts University) you'd be intelligent. Bush was a failure and Chenney is a draft dodging, fat coward. Unlike him I served and did so in combat arms.

    April 24, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  8. Ian Monam

    I think he committed treason by taking the country to war in Iraq. He is a war criminal plain and simple and he deserves to be punished for it.

    April 24, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  9. amir

    I am Iranian. I think Bush was the best president of US for my country since it makes Iran the most powerful country in ME by removing our enemies (Saddam and Taliban) with your money (over 1 billion ) and installed our guys in Iraq.
    Thank you Bush

    April 24, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. rs

    Compared to Obama, he was a sucess. The Dems know we were all better off then.
    _______________________________________
    Sure, things were just peachy- then he crashed the ambulance.

    April 24, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  11. bombastus

    He was an embarrassment. Check out his press conferences: ill-prepared, fumbling for words. You had to hold your breathe hoping he wouldn't stick his foot in his mouth. And no this isn't a liberal vs. conservative thing. Bush 1 and Reagan represented us well and were not embarrassments and Eisenhower ranks as one of the great ones. Bush's main legacy will be about 4,000 Americans dead, tens of thousands wounded, and well over 100,000 Iraqs dead. For what? Hussein was not a threat to us. On top of this he lowered taxes and tried to run two wars without paying for it which started the beginning of huge deficits. I don't blame him for the economic crash but his war spending and tax cutting made this much worse. The worst President since at least the beginning of the last century.

    April 24, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  12. Whitewood

    This guy set into motion the dire state we're in right now, I don't agree with the way Bush or Obama has run things, but I'd say Obama has done a better job. Republicans just want to justify his presidency by saying it was a success so they can say that the Democrats are responsible. Fact is we as a country has deserved better for the past 12 years and we've failed to get it.

    April 24, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Ancient Texan

    History will look much more favorably on George Bush than Barack Obama. When the left began to bash Bush it was in retaliation for the Clinton investigations and impeachment. He never lost his dignity and argued with the dissenters. Obama has gone out of his way to purposely divide this nation and wants to deliberately strike back at the least criticism.

    April 24, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Roger

    Obviously a lot of the voting public suffers from short-term memory loss. 9/11 happened on Bush's watch – right under his nose. He lied to the world about Iraq and started a war based upon his deception. He didn't budget for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, thus leaving the costs to Obama to absorb blame for (it's astonishing how some believe these war costs are Obama's spending problem). He authorized, approved and allowed our military to engage in the torture of prisoners of war, thus damaging forever how the world views the USA and calling into question our country's adherence to the Geneva Convention. He authorized, approved and allowed government agencies to wiretap US citizens' communications without the bother of going to a judge for a warrant. He authorized, approved and allowed Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez to visit John Ashcroft in the hospital (while he was doped up on post-surgery meds) to try and bully him into signing a document removing consitutional protections for US citizens.

    Overall, Bush was a horrible President. I hope history never forgets just how much he damaged our country. I only hope the USA may eventually recover from the mess George Bush Jr. left it in.

    April 24, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Charley

    navyairvet. 7 million jobs lost under bush. 55,000 manufacturing facilities closed and/or outsourced. Now: 40 straight months of job creation. you are just a silly or foolish man criticizing the Bush sucessor

    April 24, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  16. Boo

    Sorry. I still think he's the worst president in American history. Incompetent and not very bright.

    April 24, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. Jewels

    And, I would like to add - with the financial "collapse" everyone's 401k and retirement plans tanked. Many lost their jobs, used their savings - and this trickle down was a result of horrid actions on the part of Wall street and Bush's Administration. This stuff isn't what should be "overlooked" by people as a means of showing loyalty to their party...

    April 24, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  18. DW

    Yeah, the Republicans can't stand that a black person is President, so their view of W is improving. But if the N-word were to applied to any president, it would be W.

    April 24, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  19. Jehan S

    I kinda liked his presidency, the only thing I disagreed with him on majorly was the fact that he thought torture was OK. I am 100% against torture in all circumstances. The fact that the GOP was willing to torture people unnecessarily while justifying it with the "ticking timebomb scenario" was despicable. I've wanted nothing to do with the once great Republican party after they started being cool with torturing people without a trial or even being sure of whether the person is guilty or innocent of a crime. As for the ticking time bomb scenario .. what if the person you were dealing with was willing to divulge the info ONLY if you would harm your own family members .. would you do it? So you see, there are limits upon which we should be willing to sell our souls to the devil. Torture is never justified. Most of the time people want to see someone tortured not for info but to work out their revenge or angst issues against the criminal or terrorist.

    April 24, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  20. A Kickin` Donkey

    History will remember him based on facts which are:

    1.) He was "elected" President under a cloud where ballots in the deciding state [Florida] went uncounted. The Supreme Court select him by way of a ruling that THEY THEMSELVES said was flawed and should NEVER be applied again.

    2.) He had been President almost a year when 3,000 Americans were killed by foreign terrorists. He failed to keep us safe despite warnings & intelligence recieved before the attack.

    3.) He started TWO wars, both unfunded, on the heels of American anger over the attack. His justification, Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, has been proven to have been fabricated. No WMDs were EVER found. More than 4,000 servicemen were killed in these wars which his succesor ended.

    4.) He inherited a three-year string of budget SURPLUSES from his predecessor and turned them into DEFICITS with his unfunded wars, his unfunded tax cuts for "job creators" and his unfunded Medicare Part D plan. All this despite being an MBA-holding Texas businessman.

    Those are the facts and no amount of Neo-con, Republican, Tea Party, Rightwing, Limbaugh, Hanity, Coulter, Beck. O`Reilly, Ingram, Palin, Cain selective spinning will change that.

    April 24, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  21. auditna

    How easily some people forget. Must be the sympathy vote or the 1%ers.

    April 24, 2013 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Charles

    Everyone in that administration involved in the manufacturing of the war in Iraq should be sitting in jail cells.

    April 24, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. Suemac in WA

    Bush was also in the unique position of holding the highest rating of any president in history. Time will tell, but years from now GW Bush will hols a much higher rating than Obama, who will be one of the most disliked.

    April 24, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  24. Dude

    worst president ever!

    April 24, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  25. Lynnduh

    Worst president ever. People are stupid to think otherwise.

    April 24, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
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