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. zyph

    "Breaking News" really?
    CNN is now on Breaking News headlining probation with me.

    April 24, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  2. BO

    The longer Obama governs the better Bush looks.

    April 24, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. texasnotea

    As a Texan,there is only one thing that dub'ya and I have a common interest in and that is Baseball. The rest of it is just too embarrassing to talk about.

    April 24, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Casey

    This is breaking news? Great job CNN.

    April 24, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. Schmoogalicious

    Guess this explains why Americans perform so abysmally on tests of history knowledge: they forget historical abominations after only a few years.

    April 24, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Lawless4U

    So, it seems that because Obama was unable to reverse W's mess fast enough that people are starting to forget who caused the mess in the first place?

    He was far and away the worst president ever. He presided over the worst economic collapse sinc ethe Great Depression, he presided over 911, he was unable to get the man responsible for 911 and he managed to divide the country so far that we will never be purple again..........just red and blue.

    April 24, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  7. vbscript2

    "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."

    Wow, shocking. Areas with high concentrations of leftists view a Republican less favorably while areas with high concentrations of Republicans view a Republican more favorably.

    "the difference in the numbers from Repo's to Independents shows that he WAS a failure"

    I'm pretty sure Obama would have a similarly steep decline from Democrats to independents. I'm not saying your conclusion is incorrect, but I just thought I'd point that out. Also, it would be for the same reason: the sheep will back their own regardless of how bad they actually are.

    "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%"

    Well, looks like he's about to pass Obama... Obama's currently at 48% according to Gallup.

    April 24, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  8. Mark from Middle River

    This is how bad Obama is as a president... four years later and GW Bush's number are going up while his are heading down.

    April 24, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  9. tmc

    For who? For $5 gasoline, for collapse of the economy? For higher taxes on the poor, for killing jobs?
    If you like this failure, wait– there's more to come from the democrat too. Failure transcends party lines.. both are selling out poor & middle class EVERY DAY. Then you don't remember how good it was in the old days, until you're much, much further down the poor house hole...

    April 24, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. Bill

    Not that my opinion counts, especially since this is after the poll was taken. It was definitely a failure and for sure he will go down in history as being one of the absolute worst U.S Presidents ever.

    Bill

    April 24, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  11. JoJo

    "It's likely that time will only improve his standing in the public's eye."
    The United States of Amnesia.

    April 24, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. h2020000000000

    "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."

    This excludes cell phone only households. There is no national registry of cell phone numbers. Therefore, the stats are probably biased towards people with landlines, which are more likely to be older people.

    Not to mention, 1,012 people out of 450,000,000 people is an extremely small samples size.

    So basically, this poll is worthless.

    April 24, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. SparkelFarkel

    Bush was totally failed – he deliberatelty put us into a needless Iraq war with the lies of WMD. They fed Colin Powell lies to tell Congress. Bush trampled all over the US Constitution in the name of terrorism. War in Afghabnistan that has yielded nothing. Bush is a boob.

    April 24, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. AndrewA

    My biggest issue with the Bush administration is while we were involved in 2 unpaid for wars, we were told to support out troops by buying TV's and duck tape. Granted this is a gross oversimplification, but I can't tell you how angry the Iraq war makes me

    April 24, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Al

    He was horrible

    April 24, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. WR

    One thing about it the longer Obama is in office....the better Bush looked...that's a fact!

    April 24, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  17. Tom

    OK, liberals–think about how much you dislike Bush. That's how much most conservatives dislike Obama. Makes things all even.

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. Jon

    Breaking News: CNN has nothing to report, so here's a poll about Bush!

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. sma89

    I think CNN needs to understand the meaning of the word "breaking"...

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  20. Snyphilis

    Agreed with everyone asking why this is breaking news. Is this preparation for the inevitable when everyone finds out we are covering for a Saudi terrorist?

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  21. Fred in NJ

    This is not breaking news nor is it relevant at this point in time. He was extremely below average and that's common knowledge. He hasn't made an appearance anywhere of note and he has not supported any republicans seeking office, which should tell you something about his "legacy". It's been over four years since he left, so let's move on please.

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  22. psyspace

    Breaking news? Really? Expect to see this on Jon Stewart.

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. Kris

    Take a look at the condition of the free world when his presendency ended, enough said!

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. ba1450

    They forgot to ask me. Add 1 to the negative side.

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. cedaly1968

    A success at what?

    April 24, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
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