January 7th, 2009
07:56 AM ET
11 years ago

Time kind to former presidents, CNN poll finds

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/07/polls.former.presidents/art.presidents.afp.gi.jpg caption="Former Presidents George H.W. Bush, left, and Jimmy Carter can smile now about their performance in polls."] (CNN) - A new national poll appears to validate the adage that time heals all wounds, at least when it comes to two former presidents of the United States.

Sixty percent of Americans questioned in a CNN-Opinion Research Corp. survey released Wednesday morning say they approve of how George H.W. Bush handled his job as president, and 64 percent give a thumbs up to former President Carter.

Watch what time does to presidents in office

Those numbers are about double the approval ratings each had when he was voted out of office after one term.

"Time has been kind to the former presidents," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director. "Carter's approval rating was just 31 percent on the eve of the 1980 election, and was at 34 percent in late December of that year, the last measure taken during his presidency. But now 64 percent approve of how Carter handled his job as president."

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Filed under: CNN poll
soundoff (127 Responses)


    January 7, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Brian From Fort Mill, SC

    Another thing:
    The economy was lousy during the Carter administration, but at least he didn't have to revert to Socialism, like W did!

    January 7, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Jason

    GDP was at 4.7 percent 4th quarter of 1992. Economy was rising at the end of George HW Bush's term. His stimulus plan and tax hikes helped the economy.

    He is remembered for being president during a recession but what isn't remembered is the economy was on the rise before he left office and he left it in a good place for Clinton. I always thought George HW Bush got a bad rap on his presidency.

    January 7, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  4. i voted for mondale

    i love Jimmy Carter!

    January 7, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  5. FreeNLovIt

    Yep, Carter was 80% Christian and 10% politicians..

    January 7, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Matt in CT

    How many of the 64% who approve of Carter's bungling were actually alive or can remember his presidency.

    January 7, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. vincent - phoenix

    I am flabberghasted at the attempt to paint Carter in a worst light than W.

    It isnt even close. Even with Carters domestic problems, you can still point to monumental successes. There is a REASON he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the Middle East. And for all of the moaning about the hostage crises... THEY ALL CAME HOME ALIVE without shredding the consitution or starting a war.

    Shame on all of you enablers and apologizers of W. Shame on all of you history revisionist propaganda pawns. Shame on you.

    Not that this post will ever see the light of day... I have been banned from posting at cnn, while Mike in Syracuse and others of his ilk are free to spread propaganda and divisive hate. And with that... Shame on you, too, CNN.

    January 7, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. Mari


    We had just ended ANOTHER illegal war VIETNAM, spending billions there as well!

    HOW EASY it is to blame Carter, when in FACT, Nixon & Ford were the REAL DISASTERS!



    January 7, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  9. richard rohde

    Steve in Arizona@-The republicans did not control congress during the Carter administration. The democratically controlled congress of that era, got itself screwed up in a lot of problems that had nothing to do with the republicans.

    January 7, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Mari

    @ DAN........SEPTEMBER 11TH HAPPENED ON BUSH'S WATCH...... HE.......DID.............NOT............KEEP.........US...........SAFE!

    January 7, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  11. FreeNLovIt

    To Mari

    This is the reason why I'm so proud of both parties. The Republicans always create a Katrina deficit mess and the DONKEYS, always end up CLEANING up after THEM. The ELEPHANTS are fierced fighters, but battery-operated by the DONKEYS. An elephant is needed for its fierce and STRONG nature and a donkey, for hard-times to carry loads through TREACHEROUS mountains of unknown entities. America, be brave!! God, guts and guns, will save us.

    Yes, Carter had to put America through 21% interest rate.

    January 7, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. FreeNLovIt

    I'm a Christian and W is a Christian (10% Christian and 90% politician), but let me tell yeah, he's as close as we can get to a dictator. Thank God for the Consitution and Thank God for the Bible or we'll see Hitlers, lining up for Prez spots.

    January 7, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. FreeNLovIt

    Okay, to top the list of the worst Prez, please answer this question: Which Prez, left us 5 trillion worth of debt?

    January 7, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  14. Mary

    Speaking of remembering: remember 9/12 and what was the president going to do about the 9/11 attacks? Had he done nothing – how would you feel now?

    January 7, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  15. sammieb51

    Carter's presidency historically shines. The peace agreement he reached with Isreal and Egypt stands today. He inhereited a mess from failed Republican administrations again with war on their hands. All the Iranian hostages came home alive and as Carter himself said, for him to go in militarily (which he did try to do and the military failed their mission) would have ended the lives of the hostages and started a war with Iran WHICH WOULD HAVE SOLVED NOTHING

    January 7, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. MikeH

    All of them together, all their combined failures, do not add up to 1/2 of the disasters that George has visited upon this country.

    CNN is just participating in the Republican Facist cabal effort to rewrite history to say George wasn't that bad.

    George, IS....THE....WORST.....PRESIDENT....EVER...!

    Worse than Hoover, Grant, all othe others.

    January 7, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  17. Proud American

    My only comment will be, Georgie will be my favorite President of all time. No other President in the history of this country has been as stupid and clueless as him. Next to Carter Georgie looks like the village Idiot he is.

    January 7, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. john from sandiego

    Jimmy (america and israel hater) Carter, the worlds' worst president will always be remembered as the father of islamic terrorism for his support of all of the ayatollahs. the hostages were released because they feared reagan not jimmy (i fold) carter..

    January 7, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  19. Susan

    I am totally baffled! How can a person who is not even in the Presidential Office yet, be getting high marks for a President. For crying out loud, he did nothing while he was in Illinois and will probably do nothing again when he becomes President. These people who are giving him high ratings have lost their minds. How about you all wait and see what happens first and then judge him. The only good thing is that he is pulling in people from previous presidents.

    January 7, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Rob

    Mari -

    Buy a history book. Nixon did not start the Vietnam War; he stopped it. The war actually started during Kennedy's administration, and escalated under LBJ. Ford had absolutely nothing to do with it; it had been over for a year when he became president.

    September 11 happened after Bush was inaugurated, as a result of Clinton's spending more time with interns in the oval office than going over what was happening with intelligence advisor.

    The hostages came home from Iran after Reagan was inaugurated because Iran knew we finally had a leader with a backbone instead of a milquetoast who wore sweaters in the White House and gave canals away to dictatorships.

    I was there. You obviously were not.

    January 7, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Ali Baba

    Ok, time for a wake up call for all you dummies. George W. Bush will go down in the history books as a GREAT PRESIDENT. He will be on equal footing as Washington, Lincoln, FDR and Reagan. What he has done to our economy will make us strong and #1 again in the world. Invading Iraq will make democracies throughout the Middle East. A couple years from now, Iran will be one of our closest allies. Russia, China and India will submit to our economic power. We will be feared and respected.

    George W. Bush deserves to be on Mount Rushmore.

    Long Live George W. Bush.................THE BEST!

    January 7, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  22. CMG

    Somehow I think George W. may be the exception.

    January 7, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  23. A Canuck

    Ya gotta admit....Dubya was good for laughs !!!!

    January 7, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  24. Charlie in Maine

    There are two kinds of tests normative and criterion based.

    On a criterion based test one makes a list of observable traits and measures each subject against the target performance.

    Every ex-president has areas were they would do well and poorly with this type of test.

    We tend to use the normative method with our ex-presidents. That is where you judge each subject in relation to the others making what looks like a "bell curve" the worst on one end the best on the others and everyone else somewhere in the middle.

    Although each of the ex-presidents mentioned are somewhere in the middle they all got a jump towards greatness when George W Bush took this county, his party, and the budget surplus down the toilet.

    January 7, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  25. Jimmy Carter

    George Bush is absolutely the worst president in history, at least since me. I am really counting on everybody saying that he is even worse than me. I was a nice guy. Spineless and clueless, but nice. If the 76 election had been held a week later, I wouldn't have even been elected. The more people knew about me the more they knew I wasn't president material. I should have remained a peanut farmer and a sunday school teacher.

    George W's daddy is a friend of mine. He doesn't like W much more than I do. Jeb was his favorite. He told me. George and I are both members of an international secret society that is stronger than any political party. That's why we get along so well. Don"t tell anyone, but George voted for Obama, but the truth is, I think George W did too.

    I'm glad that people have forgotten what a rotten president I was. Of course, about half of them that voted for me have since died of old age. The guy I ran against has died. His VP has died. When a few more die, I may even be more popular. Thirty years from now, most of the people who hated W will be dead too. He will be more popular than I am.

    January 7, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
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