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. Name paul

    Of course its gone up. After all, he's done so much to help the country that even after he left, he still worked really hard to make this a better, free market, capitalist society in which all Americans can enjoy. For those of you who missed it, its called sarcasm. I don't see how it can logically go up.

    April 24, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  2. Clint S

    Joe S has it right. Cheney/Bush put this country put this country in arrears for a generation to come. The facts speak for themselves. Bush was duped by his beholding to conservative radicals who believe they are acting with a higher authority.

    April 24, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  3. holam

    I will never understand why he got us into the conflict in Iraq, if he had stayed the course after 9/11 and went after the ones we knew had masterminded those attacks I believe the people would have stood behind him. After those attacks I believe he had 80% of the US behind him, but he, for some reason, went off into Iraq and got us into this mire that we can't seem to get out of. I was as glad as the next person when he was out of office. But, I don't think we are on the right course yet.

    April 24, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. troy

    Well, we know how accurate CNN polls are. They had Romney leading Obama up until election night.

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

    Of the forty-two percent who now say Bush's presidency was a success, fifty-one percent said the lobotomy with a dull hoe was not as painful as they expected it to be and forty percent asked the pollster to help make all of the voices in their head go away. The remainder yelled at the pollster to "get off my lawn".

    April 24, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  6. Dwayne

    What a load of BS ... “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    April 24, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  7. jas

    Compared to Bush, President Obama will go down in history as one of the greatest Presidents in our time.

    April 24, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  8. BO

    America is awakening to the fraud known as the Obama administration.

    April 24, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  9. Colbee

    Must be a very slow day in the news department. This isn't breaking news!

    April 24, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  10. Green Oak

    After the obviously slanted poll results during the gun control fiasco it's hard to believe any poll numbers.

    April 24, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Compared to Obama, he was a success. The Dems know we were all better off then

    April 24, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. Chriss B.

    I like Obama.. I don't care how people have put it all in his court.... Didn't care for Bush!!!!!

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

    Bush made many mistakes. I can forgive him for alll but one. I will never forgive him for invading Iraq under false pretenses. And, don't give me the standard "Congress went along with it" response. His administration manipulated intelligence to create a false pretense for war. Now, with thousands of American troops killed or injured, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed or injured, and a trillion dollars spent, what have we accomplished? I supported the invasion of Afghanistan by the way, because the Taliban harbored and supported the folks who actually attacked us on 9/11. Iraq had NOTHING to do with 9/11. Saddam was certainly an evil tyrant, however had Bush advocated invading Iraq solely to oust him very few Americans would have supported the effort.

    April 24, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. buongiorno

    What amazes me is YOU people will believe anything

    April 24, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. hooah

    Must not be much to write about today.

    April 24, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  16. edpeters101

    Washington (CNN) – Was George W. Bush's presidency a success or failure? With Rove's brain and Cheney's integrity, there is only one way to rate him: Total failure!

    April 24, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. Deez

    9/11, no WMDs found in Iraq, unpaid for wars, doubling the debt, tax breaks for the wealthy, and a world economic collapse. Success? No. Not even close.

    April 24, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. Javadude54

    This is breaking news? Seriously?

    April 24, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  19. Mark P

    Compare Bush at 52 months to Obama today. Bush wins. Compare Bush approval average for all 8 years to Obama average to date. Bush wins. 49.9% Bush 49% Obama. Look it up!!

    April 24, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  20. jack

    how quickly people forget.

    April 24, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  21. marmie75

    An absolute failure!

    April 24, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. Chuck U. Farley

    Vote for world peace.

    April 24, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. Willard Mayfield

    Looking or reading a CNN pole about ANY Republican....Is like asking PETA if they like eating spotted owl...Fricken funny...

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

    Yeah, when nobody in the republican party will have anything to do with him, that right there tells you what his rating is.

    April 24, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  25. It's Sergeant to you!

    Without Bush we could have had President McCain and VP Palin, let's be grateful for that.

    April 24, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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