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. FredScuttle1969

    GWB flushed this country down the toilet and was BY FAR the most unintelligent individual to ever hold the office of president and no "poll" changes this.

    April 24, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  2. Vickie

    Jack, apparently your liberal state college eductaion did not teach you how to spell the former vice president's name. It's Cheney, not Chenney.
    CNN, who cares about this? Still needing to Bush bash? This is breaking news?
    Time to move on.

    April 24, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  3. Sharon

    Why does this even matter and why does a poll need to be done - time and expense wasted? And HOW is this even news or pertinent to today? It is NOT!

    April 24, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  4. mfstout

    So 42% of America is just plain stupid. Sad. In spite of what Jeb Bush says, history will not be kind to W. Not at all.

    April 24, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Archangel

    CIA confirms Bushs, Cheney, Bush WH gang, Silverstein and Mossad buds planned 9/11. And all of Congress knew.
    See Veterans Today for reports. Still no arrests.

    And never forget – during Katrina, Junior did nothing for 6 days, Cheney was out fishing, and Condi went shoe shopping. They all should be in prison ... not bragging about their delusions of grandeur. Sick-os!

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. gliderbee

    Those 11% must have just come out from under their rock

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. Smitty

    THIS JUST IN: 42% of American are complete morons? Does everyone forget that he was the worst president in the history of our country? He lied to the people to justify starting a war to kill someone that his daddy couldn't get. A war that killed thousands of troops, and hundreds of thousands of civilians. He led this country into the worst economic downfall of the recent few decades. His lies led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, so if you ask me he is only slight better than Hitler was.

    I believe it was the wise Chris Rock that once said "A black C student can't even be manager at Burger King. Meanwhile a white C student just happens to be the President of the United States."

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. fltcher

    3rd worste president ever. Only behind Hoover, and Van buren

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  9. Edie

    You have got to be kidding: cut taxes and then overhaul the prescription drug program and start 2 wars...all unfunded. And he and Cheney lied to get us into the wars. Then the economy tanks under his watch. President Obama has brought us out of Bush's mess.

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  10. Durka Durka

    "A new national poll suggests it depends on who's answering the question."

    Oh man, this is some Grade-A, top level, Harvard class thinking right here. Better allocate tons of time and resources to studying this phenomenon.

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. KrjMc

    Only those that drink the contaminated GOP Kool-aid think he did well.

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  12. Pete

    Right off the start Bush screwed up handing out Pres.Clintons surplus ..And in his first term it was hard to say how he did anything because the moron was never there labeling him the phantom president with over 450 days off in his first two years alone..Comes on tv making rediculous statements making viewers as myself wondering how high the IQ was of the other party that put him there by obviously cheating using Jeb Bushs Florida to do it against Al Gore...They better go back and poll again because by my reasoning he leads the pack as the worse president in American history and Hoover,Nixon,Bush Sr and Reagan pick up the rear..Just check their stats they're disgusting as presidents and its evidently clear voters no matter how bad backed their conservative reps, a sorry lot at that!!

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  13. Name

    How is this breaking news?

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  14. guigsy

    So we are basically saying that 42% of this poll came from morons? How is this front page stuff?

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. Bill

    How could any one in their right mind have a favorable view of Bush? Worst president in my life time.

    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  16. RC

    I miss him
    As far as the most recent......

    Carter was the worst.
    Clinton was the best just had the morals of an ally cat.

    The current POTUS is just a pretty putz that will be forgotten when his 15 minutes is over.


    April 24, 2013 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. Jeff Cox

    George Bush was the Republican Jimmy Carter. Nice enough guy. Well intentioned. No business being President. Unfortunately, that stuff only comes out in hindsight.

    April 24, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  18. darshe

    I think perspective has a lot to do with it. People think someone is the worst thing to happen to America until the next guy comes along and does an even worse job.

    April 24, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Reality

    If his goal was to destroy the US, then yes, his presidency was a success.

    April 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Big_D

    I guess a selective memory is necessary as any other rationalization a republican uses to justify what their party has done to our great country. This debt wasn't created in Obama's administration but it was realized.

    April 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. evdncepls

    Yes, of course GWB ratings will go up over time as a segment of the population "forgets" exactly what occurred during his presidency. Probably a lot of overlap with the same group that will "forget" about their sins every Sunday.

    April 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. Chris from Chicago

    I wonder if all of the respondents were given a basic history test of what occurred during Bush's tenure, what the results would look like (i.e. what bills were passed, congress composition, etc)

    I'm willing to bet almost none of the respondents would get more than a third of the questions right.

    April 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  23. Name

    GWB likeablity story is not breaking news!

    April 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  24. kman821

    He was successful in fooling 42% of the poll's respondents.

    April 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  25. jnpa

    Polls are bull! Didn't most major polls have Romney winning the election until the very last moment? What does that tell you about polls?

    April 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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