CNN Poll: How will history remember George W. Bush?
April 24th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
10 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. Musajja'Akaawa

    As you rightly observed that it depends on who is answering but without being taken up prejudice&bias, President Bush was the best of all times for Africa on policies for Campaign against HIV/AIDS.

    April 25, 2013 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  2. vikingwoman

    The wonderful thing about history is that it belong to the World, not just the country of origin! Taking that into consideration, I'm afraid Bush will not be thought well of in 100 yrs or so! Sure, time tends to erase feelings, but not facts & they speak for themselves!!

    April 25, 2013 05:58 am at 5:58 am |
  3. BO

    The longer Obama is president – the more popular Bush gets.

    April 25, 2013 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  4. vikingwoman

    I can't believe that I'm the only person who remembers how Hans Blix & UN reps went through Iraq several times looking for WMD!? There were None! Still Bush took us to war there, because by then he'd declared himself "the Decider"! Let's face it, we were "to up from the flo up"! At least that's what I rememeber from his term!!

    April 25, 2013 06:29 am at 6:29 am |
  5. ddavid1

    It's not so much whether Bush was a failure, or Obama being a failure, but the American Voting Citizen is a failure. A failure because 80% don't know who they are voting for. Main street votes on sound bytes, whether he looks Presidential or not. None have any clue what makes a successful President. Corporation spend more time who'd be a good President than Main street does. Time to look in the mirror Main Street.

    April 25, 2013 06:44 am at 6:44 am |
  6. Enlightened

    Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld should be in prison.

    April 25, 2013 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  7. JayJ7

    In the book "The Price of Loyalty" written from interviews with Bushes Secretary of treasury, Paul O'Neil states "there was no policy apparatus", Meaning they never discussed what was good for the country because they did not care. They only cared about political power. Carl Roves genius was in getting ignorant people to vote against their own interests. You can see the same ignorance here praising Bush. After several speeches about tax reform O'Neil wrote a short paper on tax reform and they laughed at him. They told him that those were just speeches, and they could not care less about tax reform. Rumsfeld had charts on the wall two months after the election showing which oil companies where going to get which Iraqi oil fields. This is from a cabinet member and the ex CEO of Alcoa Aluminum. Bush was a moron led by the nose by traitors, voted in by the less intelligent half of the country who still can't admit what a mistake they made.

    April 25, 2013 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  8. debbie

    Bush got nailed every time he opened his mouth by the media. The media had a love affair with this president. The media has created the mess we are in now! Oh and by the way, tell the kurds in Iraq that there were no weapons of mass destruction. Oh wait you can't because they were all killed by chemical weapons. funny how people forget about that, when it was on the nightly news over and over during the clinton adminstration.

    April 25, 2013 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
  9. debbie

    Oh and the trashing of the economy started with clinton, hmmm the bail out of savings and loans then every one was spending and borrowing like they were rich! hmm not much difference now!

    April 25, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  10. BritHawk

    Of course his ratings are improving. Public opinion is shaped by the media. The anti-Bush bias of the determined the outcome of the polls. Now that the media has other targets it is no wonder that his rating has improved.

    April 25, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  11. bobby sands

    colossal failure

    April 25, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  12. Tony

    You righthaters of president Obama on this post are living in a dream world that you will never snap out of until you are way behind and realise that America has move forward at which time it will be too late for you.

    April 25, 2013 07:37 am at 7:37 am |
  13. joe c

    gw,cheney and the neojews should be waterboarded in gitmo and serve life terms....they are war criminals

    April 25, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  14. Joyce

    He was a liar and a thief. He stole from the poor and gave to the rich. He was not a President for all the people. No left behind hurt our children. Katrina, 911, jobs going overseas, sky rocket debt, need I say more. Now the Republicans want to get the debt under control. Why now? 2014 is coming watch out!

    April 25, 2013 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  15. Bryan

    Bush = beginning of the end....we will be picking up his mess for a generation

    April 25, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  16. Tom

    No attention given to warnings of attack handed to him by previous administration, no WMD, no legitimate accounting of outing of CIA operative, no Wall Street oversight, no help for Lehman-only his buddies at Goldman...I could go on and on. But remember, that smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud! From a "nucular" bomb...yeah, right. Presidential library? His whole administration belongs behind bars. If Obama can be knocked for anything, it's not holding those criminals accountable for their assault on this country and the world.

    April 25, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  17. Milton K. Wiah

    When it is said that many Americans do not even know the name of their vice president, this sounds true.
    How can a man who took America to wars on falsely, led to the death of almost 5 thousands, bankrupt the
    country just four years ago is now considered one way or the other even coming close to be considered a success.
    Bush's presidency is the one, even those of us who are not Americans, will remember forever as a failure.
    When he came to power America's employment rate was at 4.5%, housing was doing well, the financial market
    was good. But Americans elected him, mostly the rich when he promised to give tax cuts to them ignoring the
    fact that such a move would result into financial crisis.

    April 25, 2013 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  18. Greg

    At the end of the day Im just glad he is gone.

    April 25, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  19. Bushy

    Failure. Look at the exit polls. Who cares now; how can you improve on a job that's finished ?? People just tend to forget the bad.

    April 25, 2013 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  20. quinLee

    Let just start by saying the Obama is not perfect and has/will make mistakes. With that said, I realize that facts and logic don't matter to those screaming Bush was great and Obama sucks. BTW, that's why you remain so disappointed and shocked after last election. If it wasn't for the EPIC failures of Bush/Cheney there is absolutely no way Barack Hussein Obama would be elected president. So while you are crediting Bush for all his greatness be sure to also thank him for paving the way for Mr. Obama.

    April 25, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  21. James Foley

    The fact is, Bush IS a failure. It's a sad sad thing with so many of you living in denial about that. Iraq is doign better you say? Well, so are a lot of rape victims. That doesn't mean the rape wasn't a crime. But the Iraqis got a democracy out of it you say? Well, rape victims who became pregnant from their rape also have a beautiful child [for those who didnt' abort] out of it, that doesn't mean the rape that resulted in the child magically becdomes justified. We do not give rapists a pass because they get their victims pregnant and bless them with a child, and we do not give Bush a pass because the Iraqis happened to get a bouncing baby democracy out of it.

    And to all of you criticizing Obama, we all know you're doing so solely out of spite. You criticize Obama harshly because others criticized Bush harshly... um, ya... the difference being, George Bush Jr. EARNED and DESERVES the criticizims lobbed at him, and Obama doesn't.

    April 25, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  22. TGT

    Anyone who thinks Bush did anything successful while in office is either deranged, a fool, rich, white, or racist. Let's see: Iraq-failure, Economy-failure, Education-failure, Foreign Policy-failure, etc. He is the worst president ever! He ignored intelligence with regard to Iraq, 9/11, and Afghanistan. A complete putz! Bush took a surplus, threw it away on tax cuts and two wars, and passed the buck. Loser!

    April 25, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. LeRoy

    The issue with Iraq should have been solved by Bush's father in Desert Storm. Then Geo. W. further created problems by not doing it right the first time. I do believe in our invasion of Iraq, but for God's Sake do it right the first time. Over all I have to say Geo. W has a failed Presidency on his record.

    April 25, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
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