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Obama Opens 15 Point Approval Lead over President George W. Bush

June 5, 2015

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. That's especially true with former American presidents, whose approval numbers invariably rise as their time away from the Oval Office increases. That's one reason why Politico and the right-wing commentariat trumpeting a new CNN/ORC poll showing that George W. Bush now enjoys a higher approval rating than President Obama are suffering from a severe bout of premature exultation. But the second reason is even more important: Barack Obama now enjoys a 15 point approval lead over Dubya at the same point in their presidencies.

Of course, you'd never know that from reading Politico ("George W. Bush outpolls Barack Obama") or The Hill ("George W. Bush tops Obama on Favorability in New Poll"). As the latter reported Wednesday:

A new survey finds that more Americans view former President George W. Bush favorably than President Obama.
The CNN/ORC poll reveals that 52 percent of Americans see Bush positively, while 43 percent do not.
In contrast, U.S. voters are split on their views of Obama.
The new poll finds that 49 percent view Obama favorably, while 49 percent do not.

But as Gallup's handy interactive Presidential Approval Center quickly reveals, Obama has opened up a large and growing lead over Bush at the same point in their presidencies. Letting you compare approval ratings for every POTUS going back to Harry Truman, Gallup shows (see chart at top) that 2317 days into their respective tenures, Obama leaves Dubya in the dust by a 47 to 32 percent job approval margin. By the time Bush walked out of the White House for good, surveys showed his favorability numbers dropped into the high-twenties.
So, Democrats looking at the CNN polling shouldn't be too upset and Republicans shouldn't be too happy. President George W. Bush isn't just getting outpolled at the same point as Obama in his second term. At 52 percent approval, Dubya also happens to be the least popular former President, well behind Bill Clinton and his Dad (64 percent) and Jimmy Carter (56 percent).


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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