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Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomePollsWhy CNN Poll Finds George W. Bush More Liked Than Obama, Above Water

Why CNN Poll Finds George W. Bush More Liked Than Obama, Above Water


From left to right: Former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. (Photo: Reuters)

Democrats are flipping out over a new CNN/Opinion Research poll that found a majority of Americans now view George W. Bush favorably. By a 52 to 43 percent margin, Americans for the first time since the 43rd President left office (in the CNN Poll) have a favorable impression of him.

In fact, Americans now like W. more than the current — President Barack Obama — who is less like than, well, any of the living presidents.

There is little doubt that this represents a marked shift and is bitterly ironic considering much of Obama’s political success can be attributed to his successful scapegoating (fairly or not) of President Bush. But, from an analyst’s point of view, there is both reason for the Democrats to flip out and for Republicans to proceed with extreme caution.

First, historically speaking, Americans’ views have always grown more favorably toward U.S. president’s as their time from the Oval Office grows distant, including former President Richard Nixon. There are a few reasons for this, the first of which simply being that they are no longer in the day-to-day dirty game of politics.

In that respect, Democrats can take a bit of solace.

That being said, there is another component to this that they cannot take solace in, and actually became pretty clear long before the release of the CNN/Opinion Research poll. In 2013, Gallup tracking found Bush’s favorability ratings hovering just under a 50-percent majority during the April opening of his presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. However, not only was he above water (49 – 46 percent), but he was bouncing back faster than unpopular presidents historically have done in modern American politics.

Bush favorability rating

Worth noting, the voters of Ohio began to wish they had Bush back as early as 2010, according to a survey conducted in the weeks leading up to the 2010 Tea Party landslide.


I wouldn’t attribute the marked shift to one factor per se, but rather it is more accurate to view Bush’s image among Americans through a “then and now” perspective. Because he left office with such abysmal approval and favorability ratings — only 50 percent of self-described conservatives holding a favorability opinion of him — we more often than not forget that he was once held in the highest regard, more so than any other president.

It’s true.

Before the house of cards fell down, Americans viewed Bush more favorably than unfavorably, including an astonishing and record 87 percent who held a favorable view of the commander-in-chief in a November 2001 survey. It the days and months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the nation rallied behind him. His favorability rating was just one percentage point below the all-time high Gallup has ever measured for any public figure, and shared by only Colin Powell in 2002 and the golf star Tiger Woods in 2000, before he was scrutinized in the public for indiscretions.

And then there is the now.

The polls unequivocally demonstrate that Americans do not feel safe under President Obama, have the highest level of anxiety regarding radical Islam than ever before, and simply do not trust the 44th President to calm their fears. This is an across-the-board problem for Obama, and it’s one that has benefited Bush among nearly every segment of the American people.

In the CNN Poll, which is less favorable to Bush than other surveys, the former president has gained 21 points among non-whites since leaving office; 22 percent among liberals; 15 percent among Democrats and 10 points among voters under 35 years old.

Lastly, the blame Bush mantra is no longer working for President Obama, who Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of on general matters of foreign policy. For the first time, when asked whose policies were more at fault for the current problems the U.S. faces in Iraq, slightly more blamed Obama than Bush.

Sometimes, seeing really is believing.

Written by

Rich, the People's Pundit, is the Data Journalism Editor at PPD and Director of the PPD Election Projection Model. He is also the Director of Big Data Poll, and author of "Our Virtuous Republic: The Forgotten Clause in the American Social Contract."

Latest comments

  • For the first time, again, when asked whose policies were more at fault for the current problems the U.S. faces in Iraq, slightly more blamed Obama than Bush.”

    1. Saddam: What We Now Know (link) by Jim Lacey* draws from the Iraq Survey Group (re WMD) and Iraqi Perspectives Project (re terrorism). * Dr. Lacey was a researcher and author for the Iraqi Perspectives Project (link).
    2. Explanation (link) of the law and policy, fact basis for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
    3. UN Recognizes ‘Major Changes’ In Iraq (link) by VP Joe Biden on behalf of the UN Security Council.
    4. Withdrawal Symptoms: The Bungling of the Iraq Exit (link) by OIF senior advisor Rick Brennan.
    5. How Obama Abandoned Democracy in Iraq (link) by OIF official and senior advisor Emma Sky.

    • “again” meaning a reiteration of the point in the previous sentence. But I can definitely see how it was confusing.

      • I wasn’t confused by “again”, but editing it does improve the flow. I’m working off your “when” clause, which I bold-faced to make my point clearer.

  • Be careful about anyone who tells that he is better than the other one. Also never elect anyone with a “victim & revengeful,” mentality. Such people are sure to fail. If the spirit of anger and vengeance taken away from the African Americans, they will thrive better than most of the new immigrants that thrive in the US. Obama & Holder…two angry.. men in power could not see the state of affairs properly.

  • For those with short memories, go to Youtube and look for Letterman’s “Greatest American Speeches” and watch this popular president look like absolutely no one is at home!

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