June 11th, 2013
04:56 PM ET
10 years ago

Poll: You're starting to remember Bush fondly

(CNN) - For the first time since 2005, more Americans have a favorable view of former President George W. Bush than an unfavorable view.

According to a new Gallup poll released Tuesday, 49% have a positive opinion of the two-term Republican president, while 46% feel the opposite.

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The survey was conducted entirely before reports emerged last week of U.S. government surveillance programs, some of which began under the Bush administration.

As time goes by, presidents generally see their numbers improve the longer they are out of office. Gallup numbers show presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton all had favorable ratings over 60% when last measured.

Read more: Most former presidents look better through history's eyes

Bush has largely stayed out of the limelight since leaving the White House, but he gained a more public profile in April and May with the opening of his presidential library in Dallas.

The new Gallup poll results mark a stark contrast from January 2009, when the 43rd president left office with a favorable rating of 40% and an unfavorable rating of 59%. Two months later, the gap widened to 35% favorable and 63% unfavorable.

Since mid-2010, his favorable ratings have hovered around the mid-40s, while his unfavorable rating gradually decreased to 46% from 53%.

Read more: Bush 43: 'History will ultimately judge ... I'm a content man'

Breaking it down further, Bush has seen improvement among independents and both political parties. Twenty-four percent of Democrats view him in a positive light, according to the new survey, compared to 10% in January 2009. Republicans saw a 14 percentage point jump, with 84% now having a positive opinion of Bush.

The biggest increase came among independents. While 29% gave him a favorable rating in 2009, that number now stands at 46%.

The Gallup results fall in line with a CNN/ORC International Poll released in late April, shortly before Bush's library dedication ceremony. Those results indicated the number of people who believed Bush's presidency was a failure had significantly dropped (by 13 percentage points) since he left office.

Gallup surveyed 1,529 adults by telephone from June 1 to June 4. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Filed under: George W. Bush • Polls
soundoff (1,768 Responses)
  1. frank

    of course! he was a great president with principles...not a charlatan. He is saying today...the same thing he said back them. You can't say that about BHO. He kept america safe on his watch and put in place the means to get terrorists including OBL. He aggressively addressed the economic downturn (caused by dem policies of easy mortgages) at the end of his term and that is why we did not go into depression. He is a GOOD MAN and KIND that supports vets with more than words.

    June 12, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  2. fedupwithpolitics

    It seems like half the country possesses no memory nor intelligence and this is at any given time. I have unfavorable Memories of Bush(Crashing the U.S. economy with his wilding wall street buddies) and Unfavorable memories of Obama(pretending to be anti-war and liberal while being a corporate hawk the whole time).

    June 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Rick Reid

    Well, that's nice. These poll people that said Mitt Romney was ahead in the polls. What does that tell. I am no fonder of Bush than I was before. This country was on the brink of financial collapse, let alone in a war we should never have been in. On top of that never captured or kille Osama Bin Laden which Obama was able to do. It repulses me that people in this country have either short memories or are just plain idiots. I frankly don't care about polls anymore, since they have been way off base for a long time. Bush laid no framework for Obama and his partners in congress have been absolutely no help.

    June 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. Sniffit

    This shows that most people are smarter that previously thought. Only the far left dopes wrongly attribute the crash in the housing and lending market to him and his presidency. I don't think Bush was fiscally responsible, but when you compare him to the guy in office now, he looks better and better.

    June 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. Patrish

    Bush is probably OK as a person, but I didn't think he will go down as being a 'great president'. Obama will be remember fondly, despite what the whiners say about him. 1st black president, plus he got universal health care passed Numerous presidents have tried including 2 Republicans (Eisenhower and Nixon) . Will we elect a democrat again, or a republican?

    June 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. gay soecking

    Bush was the worst president with two failed ten year wars, the worst economic situation since the great depression, and all the phone tapping and snooping started with him. People have short memories.

    June 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. larry mullins

    Goes to show what incredibly short memories Americans can have. If he had done nothing else wrong, the Iraq war should be enough. And the list goes on and on. Remember the Patriot Act. Things we are pissing and moaning about, today. But, no matter. Those who don't remember, would never understand anyway. Obama isn't perfect, no one is. But thank got George Bush, and his brain Karl Rove, Rumsfeld, and Cheney are not in the White House anymore

    June 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. Jay

    It goes on to show how bad a president Obama is......You are compared to the person whose office you occupied....And Obama by far has been worse which is why Bush looks better all of a sudden.

    June 12, 2013 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. Jamison

    I'll apologize in advance to anyone the following comment might irritate. I didn't even read this. The title alone is what brought me here to comment. I will acknowledge that lately those of us who may be paying attention to national and international events may be beginning to realize that there is not as much difference between the Obama Administration and the Bush Administration as we may have once thought. HOWEVER, to even suggest that I might be starting to remember Bush fondly...I can't help but find offensive. What I remember is how generally embarrassed I was that he was the president of my country. I remember the unabashed arrogance during his press conferences. I remember the total and complete lack of understanding (and the failure to care) about so many issues from anything other than an American -Right-wing perspective. I will confess that I did not vote of President Obama for his second term, but I certainly don't remember the Cowboy-in-Chief that was Bush fondly, and I never will. I suppose now I'll go skim through this article and see if I'm right.

    June 12, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. Jay

    If Bush's rating is better now it just means that Obama is by far the worst president in US history

    June 12, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  11. geordie

    Bush wasn't a good choice , that is why I have never understood that Americans picked Obama , not once but twice.
    He was a community organizer with no executive experience , he had a dismal voting record in the senate and spent most of his time in front of a teleprompter and doing fundraisers.Hardly Presidential material.
    He is on a fast course to destroy what America always stood for , freedom and bravery.
    The rest of the world sees him as weak leader.

    June 12, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  12. strangerq

    Agree with most who find the premise of this article completely phony.

    The GOP made Bush persona non grata before the 2008 convention for a reason.

    That tells you what you need to know.

    Article is just a troll.

    June 12, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. JoJo

    The United States of AMNESIA.
    GW Bush (& Cheney):
    1. Stole an election (in 2000) when most American voters voted against him,
    2. Ignored warnings of a major terrorist attack on American soil (9/11),
    3. Started an entire, illegal, immoral, trillion tax dollar war (Iraq) based on lies, thus killing (murdering) 4,000+ Americans and 100,000+ Iraqis, while letting the person responsible for 9/11 (Bin Laden) get away in another country,
    4. Turned a federal surplus into enormous debt by giving tax breaks to the super-rich while simultaneously starting 2 unfunded wars,
    5. Didn’t foresee an economic collapse almost as bad as the Great Depression and then bailed out the criminals who caused it with tax-payer dollars,
    6. Outed a CIA agent (Valerie Plame) for political reasons (treason),
    7. Did little or nothing while a major American city was destroyed (New Orleans),
    8. Introduced torture and unnecessary warfare into the military while calling himself a “Christian” (“love your enemies”, “blessed are the peacemakers”, etc.),
    9. Threw away our last window to do something to avert or mitigate the effects of climate change,
    10. Dodged the draft during the Vietnam War and tried to smear the record of honest veterans (McCain in the 2000 primary, “swift-boated” John Kerry, Max Cleland, disgracing Collin Powell by tricking him into lying at the U.N.).

    When Obama does anything as bad as that, let me know and I’ll denounce him.

    June 12, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Doug

    The only thing I remember fondly is his last day in office. That was a pretty good day...

    June 12, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  15. Drager

    Glad he cannot run again!

    June 12, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. Scot

    Bush doesn't deserve any positive remark.

    June 12, 2013 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  17. heidi

    Only because of the fact that time heals all wounds, and unfortunately allows us to forget.

    June 12, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  18. bobby frank

    You know....he is a nice decent guy with a wonderful family. He was just a lousy president that was out of touch and trusted alot of bad people. Dick Chaney was the president and George was the vice president is how I see this and all the people under Chaney were criminal. Their actions are going to be felt by the American People for years and years. Out of sight ...out of mind.....s how this is playing out.

    June 12, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |

    not even close

    June 12, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  20. Odo

    Poll: You're starting to remember Bush fondly
    No, I am not. My memory is not that short.

    June 12, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  21. Awestruck

    If Bush WAS the worst president, Obama has upstaged him by being not only the worst president ever, but also a completely inexperienced, arrogant, failure to a magnitude not previously measured. Obama is a complete fraud and liar and will be remembered as such. Just goes to show that those that thought Bush was bad now have a new low by which to compare – B. Hussein Obama, and Obama makes Bush look great every day he is in office.. Also for the intellectually challenged liberals on this blog, Bill Clinton's policies of the late 90's lead to the financial meltdown of 2008 – not Bush. Then Speaker Pelousy and Maj leader Reid were the obstructionists that prevented any real reform.

    June 12, 2013 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  22. Jeb

    There's nothing to miss about the decider. I'm glad he decided to retire quietly. We don't need his babbling while we spend the next few decades crawling out of the hole he left us in.

    June 12, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  23. Bill Weiner

    As much as I hate tracking and what it may do to our environment, its better to have that than what our addiction/dependency on oil has done to other peoples. Bush Sr. half destroyed Iraq when he kicked Saddam
    out of Kuwait. For the 'New World Order'... Now Jr. overthrew the Iraq government with hundred(s) of thousands
    of civilian casualties.
    History should judge Jr. on what he did to Iraq, positive or negative, but should also teach us under what circumstances we
    have the right to invade other countries.

    June 12, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. The REAL Truth...

    @WillB – Obama would never have been elected once much less twice.
    51% of the country disagrees with you.. TWICE
    However, no doubt that Bush did more damage to this country than any other POTUS, both economically and socially. The Obstructionist Party has continued with that approach for the last 5 yrs, doing all in their power to bring down Obama. He's not perfect, but they simply cannot stand having a black man in the WHITE house. They have consistently put Party ahead of country and with all these manufactured scandals are playing out their standard MO with a second term Dem POTUS. The lemmings continue headlong into oblivion, all fervently believing the Obstructionists will "fix" the very things they broke ???

    June 12, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Everyone's overlooking the true significance of this, which is that every presidential administration looks better in hindsight. Eight years from now everyone will start remembering the Obama administration fondly.

    June 12, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
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