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. Katya

    Are you kidding me? I can't believe the view of this criminal's presidency has risen in the polls. They must have polled his parents, or the residents of Crawford, Texas, where he cut all that brush on his faux ranch. Disgusting.

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

    No way!! You mean a poll done on CNN doesn't favor George Bush? Never would have seen that coming...

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

    A lot of comments on here sound just like what the right wing says about Obama. It's funny how politics works sometimes; it puts a smile on my face.

    April 24, 2013 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. woodlander2

    The only poll that will count is that of the historians who will look at the facts objectively and determine if his term in office was a success or a failure. The public polls taken after 7 years of Bush bashing by the DNC, the Whitehouse and the Democrates in congress have taken a toll on the public who can be influenced by propaganda, if even if its factless propaganda. Give it time, they will get it right.

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

    Obama makes Bush look great.

    April 24, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  6. hereintherealworld

    Wow, I'm shocked. A CNN poll said Bush was a failure. It's weird because they're so unbiased most of the time. (Smell that? That's sarcasm.) Bottom line is that he wasn't the best president ever, but the current Prez makes him look a lot more like Abraham Lincoln than Grover Cleveland!

    April 24, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. JC

    how come CNN never puts these polls up and allows users to sign in and vote once like other sites? i mean you say you have all these american people polls every other day and i never once seen any polls i could participate in? just curious

    April 24, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. Chris Donnelly

    The abundance of short term memory in Americans is astounding......

    .......does no one remember all of those cars abandoned on the side of the freeway because their owners couldn't afford the gas to get to their interviews for jobs they didn't get?

    April 24, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  9. Baalzabarber

    Dirty Heat, the terrorists attacked us on our own soil. But the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi's, and we attacked Iraq and Afghanistan. YES, he got us in two wars. The trigger was his to pull and his alone.

    April 24, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  10. greasemonkey

    The Rights last desperate hope was to blame Obama for the pain associated with the cleanup of W's disastrous tenure in office.........fortunately for our country.......they failed.

    Bush and his fellow CONservatives will rightly take the blame for the Great Recession, while Obama and the Progressives will be given the credit they deserve for bringing us back from the brink of collapse.

    April 24, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  11. Jason N

    The housing bubble was not created by Bush, it was created by Bill Clinton. Bush warned Congress in every State of the Union address he gave to fix Fannie and Freddie before it was too late and they refused.

    April 24, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. 7th Congressional District, Virginia

    Bush the Younger was a terrible president, but he's looking better and better every day in comparison to the current Apologist-In-Chief. At least Bush II was smart enough to understand when it was time to run a campaign and when the campaign was actually, you know, over.

    April 24, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. BO

    Give it another year of Obama and Bush will pull ahead.

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

    Of course, it was a success! It succeeded in destroying our country!

    April 24, 2013 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  15. Steve R

    We are a kind and very forgiving people. But we need to be suffering from a national amnesia to think Bush was anything but a failure. Personally, I don't think he ran the White House. But he was the Prez and there has never been a worse one.

    April 24, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. illuminated genius

    Bush was a failure, we suffered one of the worst attacks in American history as he failed to protect America. There were no weapons of mass destruction, he bankrupted the entire country, destroyed America's reputation overseas giving our leader a cowboy look, he made the rich richer and the poor even poorer destroying our middle class. The only people who one were the Oil corporations that made billions from oil contracts from the Iraq war. We ended up losing the war in Iraq just like we did in Vietnam as we suffered huge losses back homes. There were no winners in the Iraq war as there were only losers in this poorly administrated war.

    April 24, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  17. TomCom

    Bush did a horrible job. He should of depended on the UN before taking it upon himself to invade Iraq. He should of not cut taxes. We were on the road to recovery and had obtained a balanced budget.

    April 24, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  18. Patines

    Where was the survey conducted, in Texas? That man looks older than his father, his consciousness most be eating him out.

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

    It's going up because Obama is doing an awful job in office, that it makes Bush seem that much better.

    April 24, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Ricksta

    I can't imagine ho anybody can say W Bush was a success. The only thing he successfully did was destroy the world as we knew it.

    April 24, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  21. Norm

    You know what they say, "If you can remember the sixties, you weren't there." Same thing applies, if you believe the Bush presidency was a success, you have your head up your weapon of mass destruction!

    April 24, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  22. Intruth24

    Joe America is the typical id iot who let GWB come in and ruin our country. For him to have a rating above ZERO is riduculus! Hopefully we'll not see another George Bush in a million years......

    April 24, 2013 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  23. Big Al

    There are only 2 individuals that can lead our country. They are Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman. Lets hope that they are the ticket in 2016. Only then can we be cleansed from evil.

    April 24, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. Name willard

    Oh my God
    Presdient bush was succufusel caught against out of terroist
    By 2001

    April 24, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. Tony in St Louis

    Bush Jr. was indeed the worst President I've ever witnessed, ...or even read about. I had a little respect for cons, until he came along. History will not be kind to this man, ...and I use that word loosely. Just listen to the boo's whenever his name is brought up.

    April 24, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
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