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. 2tired2care

    The best thing Bush ever did was go away after his presidency was over.

    April 24, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  2. Rightster

    How does history look on any aggressor?

    April 24, 2013 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  3. S.B. Stein

    Bush couldn't answer the question of the difference between a war of necessity and of choice; would be Afghanistan & Iraq respectfully.

    It is frightning to see how many people call Obama a failure and praise Bush without noting anything that Bush did well. I'll name one that is minor in the grand scheme of things - support for the AIDS prevention program. The problems that Bush caused - rise of Iran because of the fall of Saddam (war of choice); unpaid expansion of Medicare; unpaid for tax cuts. The list goes on and on...

    April 24, 2013 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. David

    Who did they poll... dead people?

    April 24, 2013 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  5. Linden Atrocity

    George W. Bush was a joke not that Obama is any better, the article is about Bush. Bush was one of the worst Presidents within my lifetime. He paved the way for NDAA, created the Patriot Act which smashes everyone's freedom. Started an illegal war based on lies. I wish I could say the list stops there but this man was a tyrant and a liar.

    April 24, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Alan Fisher

    George Bush- after 911 the Bush Administration started 2 Wars. His administration allowed the Invasion of Iraq using the American Public and patriotisms to rally a war against a country not part of 911. Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with Bin Ladden or Al Quaeda or 911. His staff engaged in lies and deception to start a war with Dick Cheney at the helm instigating the rumor of WMD and Nuclear capabilities.
    By doing so we were unable to focus on the main target, Bin Ladden in Afghanistan and jeopardized our men and women that went to war in one country and wound up in 2 countries. We over stretched our resources and in doing so caused more American causalities.
    The collapse of our economy was due to overspending on 2 wars and a failure of economic oversight on Wall Street and Bank Practices. It took over 15 years to recover from the 1929 Crash which has now been repeated in 2008.

    April 24, 2013 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  7. MightyMoo

    Bush wasn't all that great and the only reason the GOP isn't in the Oval Office today is because they picked a loser for 2012. They could have gone smart with someone like Jon Huntsman but they blew it with Mitt big time.

    April 24, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  8. bushwacked

    As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, but let's face it people and polls are fickle.

    April 24, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  9. William House

    This is why humanity takes so long to move forward.

    April 24, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  10. William House

    Republicans are the Wall we must overcome to achieve our Prosperity.

    April 24, 2013 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  11. nomad2003

    sure is not breaking news nor important... it is a reflection of the stories the media has presented. It is not a true evaluation
    Obama and the press love to blame bush for economic mess... yet sub prime mortgages pushed by the GSEs through bills passed while Clinton was president that was the root cause. Bush tried 2 times for bills to rein in the GSEs but Dodd and Franks blocked them....

    April 24, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  12. William House

    The only jobs created during the Bush era were due to predatory lending mortgage fraud, we lost 3 million manufacturing jobs to China, doubled our debt, the wealthy got tax cuts while the rest of us got wage cuts.

    April 24, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  13. William House

    What is still holding us back are too many elected Republicans.

    April 24, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  14. Fuzzy Thinker

    Obama criticized Bush policies in many areas. Then, when he had to make presidential decisions- Obama became a 'Bush-man'. His flip-flops surprised Democrats many times.

    April 24, 2013 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  15. Hasselhoff013

    How is starting two wars and killing innocent Iraqi and Afghan's a success? Please explain?? And plus the economy went into the toilet. And no that's not Obama's fault. He inherited it , I lost my job in 2007 before Obama was even president due to layoffs. Anyone calling Bush a success has manure for brains.

    April 24, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Democrats may hate to hear it but Bush would win against Obama if an election was held now.

    April 24, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  17. Larry L


    CNN...interesting that you choose to write about Bush and two negative pieces on Rand Paul when the Benghazi report is released that exposes Hillary Clinton as a liar.
    The "report" was nothing more than more selective witch-hunting by a couple of Tea Baggers in the House. They discovered a system where a governmental agency uses a signature block of the agency head to make a report official. Even the DoD uses the same practice – and they know it. The "report" was just another attempt by Republicans to disrupt our government by obstructing the operational activities of those who are actually trying to help America. It's good stuff for mindless conspiracy freaks.

    April 24, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  18. PushingBack

    Not my opinion. He was the worst ever. If you even think Obama is a bad president after Bush you need to open your eyes!

    April 24, 2013 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  19. Brian from DC

    The GOP will never fully recover from the Bush brand. Never.

    April 24, 2013 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  20. Lee warren

    Bush has it all over the Ace of Spades in our opinion.

    April 24, 2013 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. morseeva

    G.W.Bush is a killer and a terrorist. Plain and simple.

    April 24, 2013 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  22. Larry L


    Bush is a great success, Obamy is a failure already, Heck, his failure started at the beginning of his first inaugaration speech
    A comment from a poster who uses a racially-motivated name. You know a lot about that person. During President Obama's inaugural speech Republicans were already plotting to obstruct all progress. President Obama has done magnificently in spite of their efforts. Bush falsely started two wars w/o an exit strategy – resulting in 4,500 dead Service-members and a trashed economy. He also cut taxes yet spent like a drunken sailor. He and "Uncle Dick" had a corrupt relationship with Halliburton and other oilfield contractors. Republicans are so ashamed of him he's been in hiding for five years. You're delusional.

    April 24, 2013 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  23. frankpendle

    i have no love lost for either Democrat or Republican, but calling the GWB presidencies anything but disastrous has to be either partisanship or myopia. by most objective – and subjective – measures, the United States is a lesser, weaker country because of those eight bad years.

    April 24, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  24. Larry L

    Bush and Cheney should be tried for war crimes and put in prison. The families of the 4,500 dead Service-members know one simple fact – their loved-one is dead and they died because these two used falsified intelligence data to start the war. They died for nothing but Halliburton's profits. Ironic that both Bush and Cheney were draft-dodgers who wouldn't serve themselves (forget about Bush's Air Guard experience – he should have been arrested for that scam as well).

    April 24, 2013 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  25. Georgie the Poorgie

    The Only reason his ratings are going up is because people are so disgusted with him that they quit voting in these Polls, and they now hang up the phone immediately without voting.

    April 24, 2013 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
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