It must be the artwork. Or the grandchildren. Or the fact that he’s not President anymore. But at the moment, George W. Bush is enjoying greater popularity among Americans than President Obama.
A CNN/ORC poll out this morning shows that a majority of Americans have a positive view of former president George W. Bush. It’s the first time the nation’s 43rd president has had a higher favorable rating than unfavorable since early in his second term. Fifty-two percent of respondents had a favorable view of Bush compared with 43% who held an unfavorable opinion.
Contrast that with Bush’s numbers shortly before he left office in January 2009, when only 35% of Americans viewed him favorably.
Bush’s ratings now are better than the current occupant of the Oval Office. President Obama’s favorable ratings have dipped to 49%, a far cry from the stratospheric numbers (78% in January 2009) he enjoyed shortly before entering the White House.
The phenomenon is, of course, nothing new. Hillary Clinton’s popularity is thanks in large part to nostalgia for her husband’s tenure, when Democrats were moderates, Republicans were moderates, the Internet hadn’t been invented yet and elementary schoolers were still blissfully unaware of blue dresses and cigars. Bill Clinton is far more popular as an ex-President than he ever was as President, partly because we forget that other people were involved in government at the same time he was. Jimmy Carter was a terrible President but turned around and built houses for homeless people. Even conservative icon Ronald Reagan, as a politician, wouldn’t survive a Tea Party assessment of today, but a carefully-controlled hologram of him certainly would.
Barack Obama also has a higher favorability rating now than Bush had at the same time in his Presidency. Though, in fairness, Bush was executing a by-then unpopular war and Barack Obama isn’t really doing much of anything.
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