CNN Poll: How will history remember George W. Bush?
April 24th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
2 years 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. BobbyGee

    He was dead on when indicating Iran North Korea and Syria we're the axis of evil. We're barely a decade later and Syria is going through a brutal civil war because its people are fed up with the regime, North Korea is flaunting with Nuclear war on a daily basis and Iran is arming all radicals in the middle-east who fall in line with its obvious goal of destroying Israel. Its laughable when Obama sheep try to expose Bush as a failure in his foreign policy when all Obama does its follow in Bush's footsteps in terms of military intervention in the middle-east. I see Bush as a great success at a foreign policy level and a much better president than Obama.

    April 24, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. Dave

    From Canada. What some of you seems to forgot is the housing bubble and the stock market crash of 2008 was caused by the Bush Administration not by Obama. Obama is just trying to keep the country afloat because of Bush. Don't forget who saved the automobile industry! So what good things did Bush done ? give me 2 things please.

    April 24, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. DirtyHeat

    I can't stand the people that blame him alone for "starting two wars". If terrorists don't attack us on our home soil we most likely never go, but what was he supposed to do? If you do nothing you are seen as a doormat and you tell other terrorist groups that there will be no reprecussions for attacking the US. His only choice was to go to war to protect America.

    April 24, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  4. Name

    Why do we really care? This is news? Come on!

    April 24, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. texasnotea

    Yeah, when no one in the republican party even acknowledges dub'ya exist's, then we already know what his rating is.

    April 24, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. pat carr

    Breaking news? more like breaking wind, CNN. Bush was a failed presidency and so Obama's is also it seems. Americans have the memory span of a 3 year old if they are suddenly liking bush

    April 24, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. joe american

    Compared to Barock HUESSEIN Obuma, aka Barry Sotero, Bush was a genious!

    April 24, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  8. amnesia

    and SUV sales go up when gas prices go down

    a lot of people are incapable of basic memory

    April 24, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. alpg49

    Maybe they're confusing him with his Dad. I can't think of another explanation.

    April 24, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. jas

    Agreeing with most of the negative comments about the Bush Presidency, I have to remind myself that he was re-elected. And considering the alternative at the time, we could have done worse that John Kerry.

    April 24, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  11. freedom

    President Bush's leadership kept the homeland safe for 7 years after 9/11, and also lead to the location of Osama bin Laden. That's a success in my books.

    April 24, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  12. your Mom

    The man responsible for the deaths in vain of 4500+ of our men and women in Iraq is rising in popularity? How shameful.

    April 24, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  13. comanche

    Let's not forget the damage Cheney and Bush did to this country!!! We're still paying for it. I think Bush was on vacation most of his terms and Cheney ran the country. Let's also not forget that he couldn't be bothered with New Orleans after Katrina. He flew over ... after his ribbon cutting self promotions.

    April 24, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  14. JC

    failed in everyway. iraq war, katrina, recession that destroyed families and small businesses. effected all across america. america is better off now that it was when GB is in office and thats hardly arguable. obamas not perfect but hes doing what needs to be done to work on america. america hates gun violence so hes trying to pass no brainer laws to do so. stock markets up, people have more jobs now then when GB was in office. i think immigration needs to be looked at more though thats one thing i never really cared for its to loose. other countries wouldnt allow such a loose policy. he handles things well. and on top of everything killed osama bin laden.

    April 24, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  15. Mike

    I'll stick with the historians' viewpoint.

    April 24, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  16. MDink

    Please get the 42% (+/- 3%) glasses, hearing aids, mental health treatment or a conscience.

    April 24, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. AngryJohnny

    Guess Obama is doing pretty bad if CNN is trying to make Bush Jr. into news.

    April 24, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. Jdubba

    If 42% of americans think Bush's presidency was a success then I'll show you 42% of our country who are stone cold idiots who vote with their politically indoctrinated right wing beliefs rather than with a free thinking, progressive minds. George Bush set this country back 3 decades in diplomacy, clean energy, stature in the world, and human rights while wrecking our economy with his ridiculous policies. If even 5% of this country thought he was a good president, that's too much. It's polls like this that give me grave doubts about america....I love this country but the people sure are an embarrassment.

    April 24, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  19. RichG

    Poll was taken in Alabama

    April 24, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  20. Truth

    I wonder just how much lower obama's approval ratings will be when we finally get rid of him.

    April 24, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. Facepalm28

    It truly astounds me how short people's memories can be. Let's review: during his time in office, GWB:

    – dragged us into a long, costly, and unneccesary war based on completely false pretenses (just talking about Iraq, not Afghanistan)
    – implemented policies that directly led (or failed to prevent) the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression
    – partly through the above, mismanaged the national budget such that we went from record surpluses to record deficits

    That's foreign, financial, and economic policy, all complete failures. These were all conscious policy decisions that should be considered horrendous mismanagement of the nation's governance regardless of individual political views. No new historical viewpoint can change the facts of these three blunders, which collectively place GWB in the lowest tier of all U.S. presidents, alongside the likes of Nixon, Buchanan, and Hoover.

    April 24, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. Neil

    He was horrible. He got us into a war we should not have been in, which is one of the biggest reasons our economy hit the skids.

    April 24, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  23. Joe P

    Fine, let those who think favorably of that ass bite to pay for his two unfunded wars and tax breaks for the wealthiest. How quickly they forget what got us into such a mess, unbelievable.

    April 24, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. Derrick, Atlanta

    Given the kinds of conspiracy theories that some Americans believe, this checks out.

    April 24, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  25. Mo

    A presidency, or any leadership position for that matter, should not be predicated on 'approval', rather it should focus on 'doing the right thing'. At times, doing the right thing may not be the 'popular' thing; but a true leader will remain principled and stay the course, despite any nay-saying he may encounter.
    When we have leaders concerned with celebrity, with being liked, with being 'praised and admired', we have leaders who will the nation down the drain.
    We need to do away with these approval ratings for presidents, governors and congressmen. Instead, we need to assess them on results, we need to compile a balanced score card (as used in corporate america) that will help us unbiasely determine the success or failure of a president.

    April 24, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
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