Former president George W. Bush’s approval rating has improved, with 49% of Americans now viewing him favorably and 46% unfavorably. That is the first time since 2005 that opinions of him have been more positive than negative.
Bush has maintained a very low profile in the four years since he left office, refusing to fire back at a successor who repeatedly blames him for everything. However, he returned to the public eye this year with the April opening of his presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
At the time, President Bush’s approval ratings had made news as rebounding numbers exceeded historical norms. Of course, the library opened shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing, which underscored how Americans felt much safer under President Bush than they do under President Obama.
Bush left office with 40% viewing him favorably and 59% unfavorably in January 2009, according to Gallup, which was higher than other pollsters who had rated his approval significantly lower. That worsened to 35% favorable and 63% unfavorable in March 2009, but his favorable rating recovered to the mid-40% range by 2010. His job approval ratings were the most polarized for a president, that is until the even more polarizing President Barack Obama.
The Gallup poll conducted from June 1-4 found further improvement in Americans’ approval ratings of Bush, which had not seen more positive than negative numbers since April of 2005. Prior to then, Americans had always viewed Bush more favorably than unfavorably, including an astonishing 87% who held a favorable view in November of 2001, just after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
That is just one percentage point below the all-time high Gallup has measured for any public figure, ironically shared by Colin Powell in 2002 and the golf star Tiger Woods in 2000, before he was scrutinized in the public for indiscretions..
Bush’s lowest Gallup favorable rating was measured at 32% in April of 2008, as the economy was in recession and gas prices were headed toward record highs in the U.S (at the time the prices were high, and of course, President Obama does not have the negative media spotlight). Also at the time, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were engaged in a spirited campaign to become the Democratic nominee who would run for president to succeed Bush, and they consistently ran against him before turning on each other resulting in the notorious hate relationship between the Clinton’s and the Obama’s that lasts until this day.