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. Same For Carter

    Without a doubt and by the same token the Jimmy Carter Presidency can thus now be seen as an overwhelming Huge Success!!

    April 24, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  2. Roy

    GW a FAILURE..................

    April 24, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  3. J. Alexander

    under bush the FBI had intel that there will be an people trying to blow up planes don't here any comments about that you can sit back and be a critic, we live in a country for the first time elected a black president, that shows what the founders fathers stood for the melting pot, we have a country broken by political parties blind are those who will not see. This is one America some allow others to guide our views

    April 24, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  4. Doug Harrod

    It amazes me that so many of the Obama Haters are unwilling to post their real names with their negative comments. Bush was no where near his father who I respected but did not agree with often. Bush two started TWO UNFUNDED AND UNBUDGETED WARS and his policies resulted in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. Then the haters from the day of President Obama's election made it their goal to do one thing - be sure that Obama was a one term President instead of trying to work in a bipartisan manner to solve our problems. The Haters failed in that goal. Keep whining instead of working for "the greater good".

    April 24, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  5. How It Is

    To say his presidency could now be called successful is to be going Nuk-cler!!

    April 24, 2013 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  6. art

    Bush record always improve during heightened FEAR of Terrorism, wonder why? BUSH WAS AND IS A FAILURE...I served in his pathetic wars!

    April 24, 2013 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  7. oneWayfarer

    If you are an American who traveled outside of the USA during the Bush Years you know that most of the World was convinced that the United States was Possessed by Demons. We kidnapped and tortured and indiscriminately bombed and invades countries killing hundreds of thousands for no discernible reason.

    April 24, 2013 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  8. Sue Scroggins

    I think Bush was a success. Inspite of what he had to work with and work against.

    April 24, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  9. Deb in MT

    I don't care about history's memories of him, but I'll remember GWBush's Presidency as an entireley avoidable disaster foisted on us by the Conservative activist judges in the Supreme Court.

    I'll remember an amiable idiot who vacationed when warnings about Osama bin Laden attacking us on U.S. soil went unheeded.

    I'll remember Bush reading the 'Hungry Caterpillar' to school kids while the planes crashed into the WTC towers and the Pentagon.

    I'll remember Bush lying us into a war with Iraq (while the real perpetrator escaped from Tora Bora).

    I'll remember one of our great American cities drowning while Bush partied.

    I'll remember economic deregulation, and hedge fund operators and Wall Street speculators gone wild while my 401K melted.

    And, I'll remember Dick Cheney's maniacal grin and George W. Bush's ridiculous swagger through 8 of the worst years I've ever seen.

    God, but I wish I could forget George W. Bush.

    April 24, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  10. mountainman

    Obamy-You got that wrong. Obama is a great success. Bush was a failure. Heck, his failure started at the beginning of his first inauguration(which you misspelled) speech.

    April 24, 2013 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  11. Judy Wood

    I do not see how this is so. It will take us decades to recover from Bush. Longer if we do not get these obstructionists out of the House and Senate. It was purely his policies that have gotten us into the mess we are in. i will not forget it.

    April 24, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  12. J. Lugo

    He robbed the middle class and ran the country in to the ground that's why the U.S. IS BANKRUPT !!!

    April 24, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  13. Justine

    I don't believe that any president could have repaired the catastrophic damage done to the USA by GWB administration!! The worst president in my lifetime, since Truman.

    April 24, 2013 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  14. thukido

    Bush was an overwhelming success, it is CNN that is the failure, the only bigger failure is MSNBC. This isn't my opinion, this is backed up by the ratings. I doubt CNN would have any viewers if they didn't count airports terminals and hotels lobbies.

    April 24, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. Cindy

    I sure wish he was still in office..I believe he was a success..

    April 24, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  16. RobinMO

    Bush did one of the worst things a president can do: started an unnecessary war. The result: thousands of American soldiers dead and tens of thousands maimed for life; hundreds of thousands of Iraqis dead and millions became refugees; hundreds of billions of dollars wasted; Iran strengthened; Americans hated throughout the Arab world. In addition under his "leadership" the economy was devastated, producing the worst recession in 80 years. Income inequality greatly increased due to tax policies that favored the rich. The environment degraded at record rate, etc, etc. Probably the worst president in history. While far from perfect Obama is a saint in comparison.

    April 24, 2013 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  17. iconoclast1

    Mind-boggling. Bush turned peace, prosperity and surpluses into the opposite in short order and 80% of Republicans think his presidency was a success? Incomprehensible. We live in a nation filled with right-wing idiots,

    April 24, 2013 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  18. Lead

    Fail, and so very proud of himself. Bush just helped himself, and will be forever on our payroll. He should be remembered as the worst President ever. Crooked son of his father, with a bought election. If it wasn't for Pelousi nothing would have been passed. Now, crying Boehner is making sure nothing is passed, and we still don't have a budget. Lets all stop paying these idiots in the senate and congress, better yet lets just pay them minimum wage. It's all garbage in the senate and in congress. All well fed, overpaid and underequipped to run the country.

    April 24, 2013 11:46 pm at 11:46 pm |
  19. Haya456

    He will always be the worst president ever! He invaded Iraq and killed thousands of people on both sides for only personal reasons!

    April 24, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  20. doug

    I'm laughing so hard I can't stand up. Really? People actually think the mishandling of two wars, an economic collapse of historic proportions, a massive terror attack on his watch, and the enmity of almost the entire world, represents the accomplishments of a successful president? Really? Wow.

    April 24, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  21. Rafa

    The worst president ever,almost make this country destroyed!!!!!. What poll? Omg what quickly we forget!!!!

    April 24, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  22. Smills

    Bush was a success,while Obama was campaigning he stated I will stop the war. As soon as he was elected, he saw the truth why the war was needed. The terrorist nations feared Bush out of respect. Obama is a hollywood president' What ever is popular he likes . He is a chameleon, you never know what he is up too.

    April 24, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  23. Pete

    Some posters took the words right out of my mouth and I as a patriotic American won't be satisfied till justice is served and Bush,Cheney go to the Hague Netherlands to get what many of us want ,do process..They are considered as murderers by over 150 countries but held in high esteem by ignorent,radicalized republicans here and it goes to show that republicans aren't the patriots they were supposed to be in sending innocents to their deaths by contrived lies ..Let them be treated as Hitlers storm trooper SS murderers were treated after WWII and after trial let them hang as others of their kind have gone before them,nothing is too good for them and if content in their decisions of the past events that killed tens of thousands of innocents than ours is to rid this world of disease as they!!

    April 24, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  24. John Jacobson

    Bush turned a budget surplus into a budget deficit, took the Dow Jones from 10,500 down to 8500, and turned everyones 401K into a 201K.

    Whats not to like?

    April 24, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  25. retphxfire

    Who did they ask, NRA members and FOXNews watchers?

    April 24, 2013 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
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