News & Politics

George W. Bush's Poll Numbers Rebound, Nearly Tied with Obama

President George W. Bush delivers an address regarding the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States to a joint session of Congress Thursday, Sept. 20, 2001, at the U.S. Capitol. Photo by Eric Draper, Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library

President George W. Bush’s poll numbers have rebounded, according to a January 2017 CNN/SSRS poll:

The poll surveyed 1005 “adults” (33 percent Republicans, 44 percent Democrats) and found that 61 percent of respondents have a favorable opinion of the former president, while 33 percent view him unfavorably. In the same poll, President Obama’s favorables were at 66 percent (32 percent unfavorable). Bush’s numbers have rebounded to the point where he’s in a virtual tie with Obama, who left office with a 63 percent approval rating to Bush’s 35 percent. Trump’s favorables, on the other hand, stand at 40 percent.

Compare Bush’s poll numbers today to those of 2008:

A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Thursday indicates that 71 percent of the American public disapprove of how Bush is handling his job as president.

“No president has ever had a higher disapproval rating in any CNN or Gallup Poll; in fact, this is the first time that any president’s disapproval rating has cracked the 70 percent mark,” said Keating Holland, CNN’s polling director.

Bush‘s approval rating, which stands at 28 percent in our new poll, remains better than the all-time lows set by Harry Truman and Richard Nixon [22 percent and 24 percent, respectively], but even those two presidents never got a disapproval rating in the 70s,” Holland said. “The previous all-time record in CNN or Gallup polling was set by Truman, 67 percent disapproval in January 1952.”

When Bush left office in 2009, he had a pitiful 35 percent approval rating (60 percent disapproval), after squandering months of 80+ percent favorable ratings after the 9/11 attacks.

It’s not unusual for presidents to become more popular after they’ve left office — the MSM always finds new scapegoats at which to direct their liberal angst, and the fickle public adjusts accordingly. But I suspect much of Bush’s popularity has to do with the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks. I watched a couple documentaries about Bush and 9/11 on the Smithsonian Channel this weekend and was, as always, struck by Bush’s response. At a moment of great national crisis, our president was clearheaded and decisive. His acute sense of responsibility was evident with every decision. Yes, the so-called War on Terror went off the rails, as did some of his domestic policies, but no one can really argue that he wasn’t a courageous, effective leader in the days immediately following 9/11.

This moment, in particular, will always be indelibly stamped in my mind:

The stagecraft was, of course, brilliant. It demonstrated to the world and to our enemies that America had not been defeated and that our president was willing to put his life on the line to make that bold statement. I can’t think of a more inspiring political moment in my lifetime. Americans tend to remember grand historical moments and gloss over ugly bits of history (the conflict in Vietnam being a notable exception). I suspect that 100 years from now Bush will be remembered not for the events in the years that followed the 9/11 attacks — and certainly not for his second term — but for his response to the greatest attack ever on American soil.

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