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. JPX

    It's amazing how quickly people forget.

    April 24, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Jeff Barnes

    INDEPENDENT....split ticket, no cool aid guy...Bush is looking better.

    April 24, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  3. timelord7202

    Given Obama's terms have been, so far, going to Romney's advisers to make "obamacare" with (even FOX admitted that), continuing Bush policies like the patriot act, payroll tax cuts, etc, keeping Bernanke and Geithner (and Robert Gates), wanting to bring in Judd Gregg and Chuck Hagel and other republicans... anyone can web search "Obama is bush's third term" and find out lots. Obama also channeled Reagan with his 1986 amnesty bit...

    It's a lovely game of chess, yes?

    April 24, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  4. mrmars

    I'm surprised Bush has any reputation left. Obama will have to work hard on screwing up more if he wants to sink to Bush's level. I doubt that he could do it if he tried

    April 24, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  5. CS Madison

    Well thank goodness the views on Bush are changing. I'm really tired of all that shaved p0rn.

    April 24, 2013 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  6. Liz the First

    Proof positive how short the collective American memory is. this man did so much damage to this country, he should be tried as a domsetic terrorist! we are still recovering from the mess he and his cronies made. he was a usurper whose seizure of the White House turned us into a third-world banana republic. i don't know how he has the nerve to show his face in public.

    April 24, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  7. jamaal

    no one asked me. my view of bush will never change. you can't change 5,000 US troops dead in Iraq for nothing. 40,000 US troops wounded in Iraq for nothing.80,000-100,000 Iraq civilians dead for nothing. went to war on fabricated , cherry picked intelligence.the worst president ever and most likely the dumbest one. complete moron who can't string two sentences together.

    April 24, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  8. calvin

    Views on "W" are improving ?? Don't know how... this man almost took the country to complete ruin.

    April 24, 2013 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  9. Mark

    I remember him reading a children's book upside down during the height of 911

    April 24, 2013 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  10. barbraS

    Wow. Selective memory on the pro-George front. But intelligent people know how bad he was.

    April 24, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  11. MF Jones

    Keep in mind the Dems controlled the House and Senate the last 2 years of Bush's term

    April 24, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. kathleen archambault

    People have short memories and are often focused on their own interests. As the general state of the nation improves and the economy recovers, people are willing to be more generous in their assessment of George W. Bush. I believe the former president was well intentioned for the most part but lacked the intellect or work ethic to actually be the chief executive of this nation. He was a mediocre president at best and all of his possibly forward thinking ideas on issues like immigration and the like were based on his narrow view of the world. I am glad that he is no longer our president.

    April 24, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. ABC

    @pws if you want right wing extremism go to fox news

    April 24, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. Daniel

    George Bush's presidency was a huge failure. Many Republicans praise his "war" on terror yet choose to ignore the reasons that we as a nation got there in the first place. It is our policy overseas that makes us a huge problem to not just Islamic radicals but the world. Bush's legacy will be tainted by the Iraq war that was a total waste of time and American lives. Americans did not deserve to fight in that "war" nor die in it. It was a war created by false pretenses. It was a war that has been an embarrassment to this country. Can anyone tell me what we accomplished in Iraq? Don't worry I'll wait. This guy skipped out just as things got tough and yet people choose to praise him. I hope that the Presidential library dedicated to this man has a kid section in it because as far as I'm concerned the brain power of his is just around that level.

    April 24, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. Bob

    Anyone will poll good compared to Barry's term. Complete failure! Was never qualified to be President of the Unite States of America Period. Too many voting " Present" he has no core values or morals thus he continues to blow in the wind...

    April 24, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. ABC

    @obamy Bush a success! LMFAO! Funniest thing I heard my entire life.

    April 24, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. FL resident

    GW Bush pushed for a war that plunged this country into an economic nightmare. How can anyone say he was a successful president? We are now paying for the Bush tax cuts and the war debt. God forbid that JEB runs for any office. He ran FL into the ground. America, two times, pretty bad. Three times, absolutely stupid.

    April 24, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  18. ABC

    People on here must of forgot about the lie of those weapons of mass destruction which is why we went to Iraq in the first place. Oh by the way that war cost thousands of American and civilian lives.

    April 24, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  19. callmecrazy

    The Bush presidency was a failure and anyone who says it was successful is either related to him or has alzheimers.

    April 24, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  20. shawn l

    Bush was a joke of a president. He presided over the biggest disasters in US history. 9/11, bungling of hurricane katrina, iraq, afghanistan, mortage melt down, worst economy since the great depression, bankruptcy of the auto industry, airline industry... wallstreet.. biggest increase of the national debt and largest tax cuts for the wealthy. Hes the worst president we have ever had.

    April 24, 2013 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  21. phoenix86

    When history looks back at the Obama administration, even Jimmy Carter will look heroic.

    April 24, 2013 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  22. Ryan

    Even if 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina never happened, George W. Bush would still be a failed president. He expanded the size of government and spent us into a sinkhole, all while cutting revenues (tax cuts for the rich). In other words, he tanked the economy with no regard for the average American. He took us to war with Iraq to settle a personal score with Sadam Hussein and didn't think twice about the men and women who fought and died in his war. When that guy threw his shoes at Bush in 2008 and shouted "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, you dog" it was almost divine justice. Bush left office with America in the toilet, he will never have my respect. Bush and his whole failed administration are to blame for the housing collapse and the never-ending recession that followed. During his presidency manufacturing jobs went to China and Mexico, IT jobs went to India, and millions of Americans who voted for him and millions more who didn't became victims of the Bush economy or one of the Bush wars.

    April 24, 2013 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  23. Rhapsodie

    bush will go down as an intellectual light-weight who was installed by a bias supreme court decision. His abysmal introduction of America into a war of choice in Iraq is the greatest foreign policy blunder in the history of the republic. Simply put, without political nepotism, bush is your basic middle of the road failed businessman. His choice in VP (Richard Cheney) will forever haunt any positive on can take from his legacy.

    April 24, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  24. ann

    Congratulations President Bush and Laura. Our Country is better because of your service. Thank you

    April 24, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  25. Ironhouse

    In other new new poll shows CNN reader have extremely short memory.

    April 24, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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