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. jack 3

    Bush was horrible as Obama is now. They both put us in dire straits and both shoul've been impeached

    April 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  2. SeattleMM

    I didn't respect him when he allowed the Supreme Court to appoint him President in 2000, even less when he stole the election in 2004. He was a colossal failure, start to finish, by any reasonable standard.

    April 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  3. BocaBeach

    I agree.....he is responsible for invading a country and murder.

    April 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. ST

    The only poll which matters was the one taken immediately after handing over and he left the Office. This poll was just wastage of time and try may be to see whether people have long or short memories. By the way who is not aware that we all heal and forget as the time goes by.

    April 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  5. Tim

    I love this: Poll results "depend on who you ask." Brilliant deduction. lol

    April 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  6. Ancient Texan

    @Ian Monam- Then Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry and numerous other Democrats then qualify for "war criminal" status also. They made the same exact claims and Kerry even said to not vote for him if we didn't believe it. BTW Congress approved the war.

    April 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  7. Stan

    LOL. Obama is by far much worse than Bush. Look at the figures. We've been stuck in the mud since bush. We'll hopefully get a real president next term.. heck, i'm sure Hillary would have done a better job. Obama is almost laughable now when he talks.

    lame duck.

    April 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  8. bluedogboy

    I'm not a fan of GWB, but I would gladly take him for President again instead of someone like Rand Paul, Rick Santorum or the dummy governor from Texas.

    April 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  9. jb1963

    This is incredible. In his life time he destroy a baseball team, an oil company and a country and 42% approve?
    Shows just how dumb we really are.

    April 24, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  10. RinosRwinos

    His library is opening on Friday. I understand the largest section is fiction.

    April 24, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Unreal

    Anyone who really believes that his terms in office was a successful presidency needs to have their head examined. I mean people can't possible be this naive and stupid can they? Bush presided over an economic collapse not seen in decades, a jobless rate that nearly ruined the economy of the nation, let's not even bring up the cluster that was the Iraq war.

    I can't thing of a single thing this man did in office that has any redeemable quality...how anyone can think it was a success just shows why this country is in the states in in now. People walking around with blinders on not wanting to face facts or any sort of truth that disagrees with their world view....unbelievable.

    April 24, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Phattee

    "It's likely that time will only improve his standing in the public's eye"

    "...most senior citizens giving Bush's years in office positive reviews, but two-thirds of younger Americans say he was a failed president"

    How in the world is his standing supposed to improve over time if the people who approve of his presidency are dying off?

    April 24, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Engineer

    Yes, the same poll that said Mitt Romney stood a fighting chance to win the Presidency of the United States of America!! Uh, I believe that alright. Just believe everything you read.

    April 24, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. Giraffe Rider

    What's the big surprise? I'm surprised his rate wasn't lower than that.

    DUH!

    April 24, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. Trumiph, the dog

    "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"

    When the older folks are history... history won't depend on the older folks

    April 24, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. Jon

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

    Uh duh! Doesn't that apply to anything opinion based? That's why polls are pointless. Everyone has an opinion and none of those opinions are facts which means none of those opinion mean anything in reality.

    April 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Jean

    I think it is too soon to really tell what his legacy will be and how history will judge his presidency. The main problem for Bush is that Obama has screwed things up so royally it is hard to separate Bush's presidency. After Obama is out and time has passed then it wil be easier to judge both separately – right now they are too tied together especially since, even after 5 years, Obama insists on blaming Bush. Get over it already buddy – this is your economy, your terrorist world mess with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Israel and the Palestinains, etc. 5 years is a long time – seems things have just gone downhill in many, many ways. I know I'm not rich (below the $200,000 line Obama drew on what is "rich") and my taxes have gone up and my paycheck is smaller now than it was the day I started at the company, and that's with raises, so don't tell me he's doing a "great", "good" or even half-way decent job, he stinks.

    April 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. us_1776

    After Bush and Cheney go before the Hague for their war crimes then we'll see how history will judge them.

    .

    April 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. sasss31

    I have great respect and admiration for G.W. Let's not forget that he helped advance what we can consider progressive causes in his prescription drug plan for the elderly, "No Child Left Behind" for education, and PEPFAR relief in Africa which has saved over 5-MILLION lives in Africa to date (Africans love him). Additionally, he helped keep us safe after 9/11 and took the war to terror and fascism. While the Iraq war may have been controversial, there is no doubt that Saddam had to be removed. Only history can judge his legacy and I for one as a moderate Democrat have great respect and admiration for President George W. Bush. He kept us safe and understood the threats faced to America and human civilization at large.

    April 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  20. Tim

    I don't even know where to begin, but it's all too typical of so many Americans today. They have short attention spans, shorter memories and are unwilling to listen and learn. What was it they liked best? The largest terrorist attack in history on U.S. Soil? The two mismanaged wars? Doubling the deficit so we could give tax breaks to people who didn't need them? Or was it the crashed economy? I guess the reason older people voted positively is Medicare Part D. Oh yes, that was unfunded. Great job. He didn't do all this by himself but he was President!

    April 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  21. Durka Durka

    Seems about right. Almost 50-50. Over time, the Bush hate will subside and history will place Bush somewhere near the middle to bottom third. People had high hopes in 2009 with Obama coming into the office, but after seeing he's not much better than Bush, opinions have since changed.

    April 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  22. Mark P

    The article failed to mention that Bush's average approval rating after 54+ months in office was far higher than Obama's at the same 54 month average. Even comparing Bush's 8 year average of 49.4% approval, he outshines Obama's current average of 40% approval.. Bush was 5% higher than Carter and 4% higher than Truman. Source Wiki Presidential Approval Rating Page and Gallop.

    April 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  23. Rustybucket

    Oh. Wait. CNN would like to correct themselves in that they THOUGHT the survey results were final, but unfortunately the report was never actually issued, they just heard about it from a girl who passed out at 31 Flavors last night......

    April 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  24. jinx9to88

    45%!!!! Where did the take the poll Texas?

    April 24, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I smell a set-up..

    April 24, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
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