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. jon

    George who???

    April 24, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  2. Aqua Grump

    How soon they forget. Remember the W has the blood of nearly 5,000 fallen heroes on his hands for the WMD lie. He waged a war of aggression (a war crime) against a sovereign nation.

    April 24, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  3. Jobu

    In other news today: neighbors of a Bush fanatic all walk their dogs through his front lawn...

    April 24, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  4. Green Oak

    Polls are meaningless. Especially after the phony numbers reported during the gun control fiasco.

    April 24, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  5. Observer

    No place to go but up for this bungler. Hopefully, history will remember all his failures. Possibly the worst president ever.

    April 24, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  6. brian

    data driven, unless im mistaken,Clinton signed the law relaxing standards on home buyers,not Bush

    April 24, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  7. Brian Wickremasinghe - Woodland Hills

    The failed Presidency of Bush helped the Democrats, but made the job that more difficult for the new incumbent.

    April 24, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  8. tony h

    Running up 10 trillion in debt; starting at least 1 un-needed war, presiding over the biggest financial collapse since 1929, leaving his predecessor a $1.4 trillion annual deficit, inability to get international backing for American wars. Any one of those would qualify for a poor grade as President. All of them together put him with Hoover and other bottom of the barrel Chief Executives.

    April 24, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  9. doug

    still polling outside 5 star hotels? It looks like it.

    That or his drinking friends are having a memory lapse.

    April 24, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  10. JustAO

    The seemingly ultimate denial that the Great Recession was caused during Bush's presidency due his and GOP policies of deregulate all banks/wallstreet gamblers; and bribe all enforcement agencies shows how dilusional the baby-boomer GOP have become.

    Glad we were able to change course and elect a Black man to show them that society has moved on from their self-serving, ignorant and indignant status quo beliefs.

    April 24, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. toonah

    This is "breaking news"? Shameful, CNN.

    April 24, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  12. toonah

    This is "breaking news"? Shame on you, CNN.

    April 24, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  13. coviking

    Really, CNN, this pool warrants a BREAKING NEWS banner on the home page?

    April 24, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  14. Dave

    Billy is the one who let the burger flippers have loans they couldnt afford...

    April 24, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  15. Jon

    Views on President Bush Improve. In other news, birds report being tarred and feathered is only "half bad".

    April 24, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  16. nina

    navyairvet- coming to say the same thing!! We are WORSE OFF NOW THAN EVER!!

    Compared to Obama, he was a sucess. The Dems know we were all better off then. What's in our future now more food stamps?

    April 24, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  17. me

    Useless poll to say the least. Let's focus on NOW!

    April 24, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  18. mike0404

    This man will never be considered a success in anything he does in his life, and there will never be another Bush in the White House.

    April 24, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  19. futureman1

    Bush 43 is not a bad guy. He simply surrounded himself with the wrong people and his biggest mistake was listening to them..

    April 24, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  20. MrVicciV

    There is something to be said about the difference in opinions falling hard on age groups. The young and naive choose the opposite of what the wise and elderly see as good for the country. The young cannot think anything more long term that what's happening this weekend. They also will fall easily for suave individuals that will tell them everything they want to hear – the exact way The Taliban recruits suicide bombers. I think in the long term Bush will be exonerated as doing well even though he did make some large mistakes.

    April 24, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  21. goblackhawks

    First this is a CNN poll ... I would believe the Onion before I believe anything from CNN .. the Clinton News Network .. or the Communist News Network ... I would like to see the same poll about 30 years from now when the crybaby's on the left are gone and not writing their drivel that is called "news" ...
    If the news where half as critical towards Obama as they were to Bush maybe we would get some accurate news for once

    April 24, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  22. Dave

    This is no surprise. Republicans are natural born liars. They've been revising Bush's history since he left office. That's the way these people operate.

    April 24, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    We need 42% of the population shipped to Iraq. Today. Let them share in the success.

    April 24, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  24. Brian

    Jimmy Carter would be better than Obama! I bet his numbers are up to!!! All of Washington is a disgraceful failure!

    April 24, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. Bill

    Data Driven may I suggest you review some of your points? Frank-Dodd and the democratic segment of the poltical arena insisted that everyone be allowed to purchase a home regardless of their ability to pay for it. Bush had nothing to do with it. Last time I checked the majority of republicans and democrats voted to go to Iraq based on the information that was provided. Thta was not and never would have been a one man decision. If you were to just say that he had a mediocre presidency I could agree with the comment. When you choose to site specifics that are questionable based on subjective thinking I cannot. Lastly, based on your comments you must think Obama has a failed presidency. We are still in the wars, nothing has changed at Gitmo, he spends money we don't have at an alarming rate. What say you?

    April 24, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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