The favorability rating of George W. Bush has skyrocketed, with 49 percent of Americans expressing positive feelings toward the former US president and only 46 percent expressing dislike.
A Gallup poll found that for the first time since April 2005, Bush’s favorability rating is higher than his unfavorability rating. And Americans across all party lines have a more positive opinion of the former president.
Gallup notes that an increase in approval ratings is common after presidents leave the White House, but the numbers may still come as a surprise. Since March 2009, Bush’s favorability rating increased by 14 percentage points among Democrats, 17 percent among Independents and 12 percent among Republicans.
The numbers starkly contrast to the ratings he had shortly after leaving the White House. In January 2009, only 40 percent of poll respondents viewed him favorably. And at his lowest point in April 2008, only 32 percent of Americans expressed a positive opinion of him.
The 32 percent approval rating occurred at a time when the economy was suffering and gas prices were high. Dislike for the president had been higher than favorability for 38 months in a row, which ABC News said was “a record unmatched since Harry Truman.”
“We have a president who is out of public support, out of ideas and out of gas,” Washington Post Associate Editor Robert G. Kaiser wrote when the 32 percent approval rating was released. “It is fascinating to me how difficult it is for politicians (and journalists too, to be far) to say publicly what so many of them readily say among themselves know: this is a failed presidency, one of the most unsuccessful in American history probably.”
But it appears that the harsh feelings for Bush have become largely forgotten, as negative opinions shift to President Barack Obama and his administration. During last Thursday’s edition of CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight”, the liberal television host even went so far as to describe Obama’s actions as “worse than anything George W. Bush did,” referencing the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the administration’s pursuit of AP and FOX journalists.
And while Obama is now taking the heat for the clandestine NSA surveillance program revealed by whistleblowers, Bush just recently launched the George W. Bush Presidential Center to commemorate his time in office and shed a new light on his policies. It is unclear if the launch of the former president’s library and museum, which opened their doors on April 25, contributed to the latest favorability ratings. But with harsh feelings aimed at the Obama administration, lingering resentment for Bush may have been pushed onto the back burner.