George W. Bush's life, legacy
June 11th, 2013
04:56 PM ET
10 months ago

Poll: You're starting to remember Bush fondly

(CNN) - For the first time since 2005, more Americans have a favorable view of former President George W. Bush than an unfavorable view.

According to a new Gallup poll released Tuesday, 49% have a positive opinion of the two-term Republican president, while 46% feel the opposite.

The survey was conducted entirely before reports emerged last week of U.S. government surveillance programs, some of which began under the Bush administration.

As time goes by, presidents generally see their numbers improve the longer they are out of office. Gallup numbers show presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton all had favorable ratings over 60% when last measured.

Read more: Most former presidents look better through history's eyes

Bush has largely stayed out of the limelight since leaving the White House, but he gained a more public profile in April and May with the opening of his presidential library in Dallas.

The new Gallup poll results mark a stark contrast from January 2009, when the 43rd president left office with a favorable rating of 40% and an unfavorable rating of 59%. Two months later, the gap widened to 35% favorable and 63% unfavorable.

Since mid-2010, his favorable ratings have hovered around the mid-40s, while his unfavorable rating gradually decreased to 46% from 53%.

Read more: Bush 43: 'History will ultimately judge ... I'm a content man'

Breaking it down further, Bush has seen improvement among independents and both political parties. Twenty-four percent of Democrats view him in a positive light, according to the new survey, compared to 10% in January 2009. Republicans saw a 14 percentage point jump, with 84% now having a positive opinion of Bush.

The biggest increase came among independents. While 29% gave him a favorable rating in 2009, that number now stands at 46%.

The Gallup results fall in line with a CNN/ORC International Poll released in late April, shortly before Bush's library dedication ceremony. Those results indicated the number of people who believed Bush's presidency was a failure had significantly dropped (by 13 percentage points) since he left office.

Gallup surveyed 1,529 adults by telephone from June 1 to June 4. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.


Filed under: George W. Bush • Polls
soundoff (1,768 Responses)
  1. Core republican Values

    Besides starting two worthless wars that killed hundreds of thousands and cost several trillion $ (includes estimated lifetime cost of veterans benefits), Bush II was just delightful.

    June 12, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  2. Peach

    Well, better than what we currently have-Obama.

    June 12, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  3. Doug from Seattle

    Bush and Co. nearly spent us into oblivion, started an unprovocated war, and did not protect us from 9/11. One thing he did accomplish though, was proving unequivocally that supply side economics does not work!!!!

    June 12, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  4. American Boy

    After seeing the gross incompetence of Obama, it is not hard to respect Bush. Let's see how hard it is for Obama to keep his ideological nose out of politics when he finally leaves the Whitehouse....

    June 12, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  5. DP

    Now I'm going to give those guys who say there's something in the drinking was that makes us compliant one more listen.

    June 12, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  6. Wake up People!

    How soon people forget. I guess none of those asked lost any jobs or family members to Bush's wars.

    Bush will always be the worst POTUS of my lifetime. I lost a really good job thanks to him. While I'm grateful for the job I have now, it's nowhere near as good. Less money, longer commute and twice the work. Thanks Dubya.

    You have to give the GOP their props, they are masters of manipulation. They have done so much to wreck our economy and to make President Obama fail that people are now missing Bush.....
    Criminal minded geniuses.

    June 12, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  7. FlawidaJack

    Hey Will, how's that non-accomplishment O'bama stack up to the man you disparage? Obama, No background for executive power, no ability to vote more than "present" in his state and Senate positiions purchased for him, no private enterprise? Quit kidding yourself.

    June 12, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. Michael

    This is not a reflection on W, nor was it on any of the other presidents alluded to. Human beings have a strong tendency to recast the past in a positive light, minimize the bad and focus on the good with longing. All you have to do is look at the 60+% favorable ratings for the other 4 presidents mentioned to see that. These were dramatically different presidencies with dramatically different attitudes and favorability ratings for each president while he was in office yet each one of them now has a similarly high approval rating. I suspect this is something that all presidents are keenly aware of and one that keeps them from wasting too much time worrying about their legacy while they're still in office. That's probably a good thing in most cases, though it's annoying in cases where presidents actually did bad jobs, were incompetent or in some cases even criminal. Bush and Obama will likely both have favorability ratings above 60% someday too when there's another president being hated on the majority.

    June 12, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  9. Anonymous

    How many people declaring Bush one of the worst, if not the worst, president in history can tell me anything about these presidents:

    Warren G. Harding
    Andrew Johnson
    Millard Fillmore
    Franklin Pierce
    James Buchanan

    What do they have in common?
    They're consistently ranked the five "Failed" presidents by professional historians. I'm not saying Bush was a "Great", or even a "Near Great" president. I can just name presidents who were undoubtedly worse.

    June 12, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. TheBigT

    In reply to GOP,Witch hunters,witch doctors or both:

    Just wait till Obama gets pushed through Congress the S2010, SB1234, HB54337 bills which want to STEEL your 401k/IRA money to pay the national debt. Then put you on a Government run retirement plan. Then You'll think less of him. Their trying to push them through now.

    June 12, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  11. Goblin King

    As bad a W was, he is still way better than the current empty suit in the White House.

    June 12, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  12. Jeremy S.

    Bush pushed for the Patriot Act to help protect Americans from another terrorist attack by monitoring communications with foreign entities. Obama expanded those actions to spy on American citizens communicating with other American citizens.

    Bush responded (not overreacted as someone put it) to the death of thousands of American citizens and billions of dollars in damage by attempting to bring to justice those responsible and the countries that harbor them. Obama has drawn down the troop levels but has failed to carry through on many of his other promises such as closing Gitmo.

    Bush provided tax cuts for ALL Americans to try and stimulate the economy after the 9/11 attacks and the damage inflicted on our economy after the Clinton years. (It takes time for economic policies to take hold and impact the national economy. Clinton benefited from Reagan/Bush policies and Bush suffered from Clinton policies. Obama inherited a mess but has done nothing to improve it.) Obama has given tax increases to everyone by not doing more to stop the Sequester and giving us the laughable "Affordable Healthcare Act".

    Bush made partisan decisions, such as those related to the war on terror. Obama has taken partisanship to a whole new level.

    Bush is being seen in a more favorable light BECAUSE of the train-wreck that has been the Obama administration. (I am well aware of the difference between because and during.)

    June 12, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  13. Andrew

    He is certainly better at not being president than he is at being president.

    June 12, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  14. OffGOPClownCar

    Somehow, I doubt the accuracy of this article!

    June 12, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  15. FlawidaJack

    Actually, Obama was a complete failure before becoming an Illinois senator. And the failures, incompetence and lies continue to accrue.

    June 12, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  16. jeff

    Everything is by comparison.

    Now the liberals are thinking of "the good old days" after been blue balled by Obama.

    June 12, 2013 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  17. fbrookman

    Fondly? never. My memory hasn't failed me yet. I'll won't warm up to him or Reagan even when I'm cold.

    June 12, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  18. Andrew

    How many of you declaring either Bush or Obama one of the worst, or even the worst, president of all time can say anything about these men.

    Warren Harding
    Andrew Johnson
    Millard Fillmore
    Franklin Pierce
    James Buchanan

    What do they have in common?
    They're consistently ranked "Failed" presidents by professional historians.
    I'm not saying Bush was a spectacular president, just that I can think of presidents who were much worse.

    June 12, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  19. coreyjayb

    Only because he's not in office anymore to continue the damage. The majority of the American people in this poll have shown themselves to be unscrupulous.

    June 12, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  20. Mo

    I voted for Obama because I was mad the Republicans did nothing to stop his (Bush) bad policies (in my opinion). I thought there could never be a worse president than George W Bush. I was wrong. The democrats are doing the same dis-service by blindly following Mr. Obama. Barack has proven me to be wrong about GW being the worse president as he takes douchebag to new levels. (again, my opinion)

    June 12, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  21. smith

    Bill Clinton policies caused the 2008 economic woes NAFTA, the community reinvestment act, repealing the glass steagal act, etc...libs need to do some research

    June 12, 2013 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  22. Bill

    A large part of Bush's impression has been caused by Obama's continuous policy of blaming Bush for everything. That is beginning to wear thin and is harder to do, but Obama and CNN still try (The survey was conducted entirely before reports emerged last week of U.S. government surveillance programs, some of which began under the Bush administration.)

    On a similar note, the media have failed to do their job such as pointing out how hypocritical Obama has been. Programs that Obama criticized and that Bush may have started, Obama has continued and expanded. In the meantime, very little of this gets reported.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  23. kvining

    Gallup, the organization who predicted the glorious election of Mitt Romney.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  24. Goodlord

    Obama is plummeting in the polls, scandals everywhere under Obama and CNN PULLS THE BUSH CARD!!!!
    CNN have you no morals !! Obama and his fools have occupied and destroyed the Oval office. GW, Please run again and take control of this mess Obama has caused.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
  25. mindie in indie

    yea, I don't think so.

    June 12, 2013 09:06 am at 9:06 am |
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