George W. Bush's favorable rating has grown from 33% to 61% since he left office
Bush holds a majority favorable rating among every demographic group but liberals
He spoke out against Trump about bigotry and white supremacy in 2017
George W. Bush has turned his unpopularity upside down.
Six in 10 Americans, 61%, say they now have a favorable view of the 43rd President of the United States in the latest CNN poll conducted by SSRS, nearly double the 33% who gave him a favorable mark when he left the White House in January 2009.
His mark is lower than Barack Obama’s 66% favorable rating in the same poll, but significantly higher than the 40% favorable rating for President Donald Trump.
Most of Bush’s climb back to popularity came from Democrats and independents. His favorability mark among Democrats has soared from only 11% in February 2009 to a majority 54% now.
In fact, Bush holds a majority favorable rating among every demographic group but liberals – including strong Democratic groups like nonwhites and people under 35 years old.
When it comes to Republicans, his marks are virtually the same as they were immediately after he left office. His favorability climbed from 76% among Republicans a month after he left office to 88% in a 2015 poll from CNN/ORC – but it’s fallen back down to 76% in the Trump era.
Despite the climb overall, Republican disapproval of the former president has tripled from 7% to 21% since 2015.
It’s not uncommon for a president’s favorability numbers to improve after leaving office. Bill Clinton’s favorability climbed from 51% when he left office to 64% in a 2015 poll, though his favorable sank lower – to 47% – in October 2016 when his wife, Hillary Clinton, was pursuing her own White House bid. Obama’s favorability has climbed from 59% shortly after Election Day to 66% now.
Bush has spoken out against the sitting GOP President a few times over the course of Trump’s presidency so far.
“Our identity as a nation, unlike other nations, is not determined by geography or ethnicity, by soil or blood. … This means that people from every race, religion, ethnicity can be full and equally American,” Bush said at an October event. “It means that bigotry and white supremacy, in any form, is blasphemy against the American creed,” he continued, adding that “bigotry seems emboldened.”
Bush also put out a joint statement with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, in the wake of white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying “America must always reject racial bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred in all forms,” after Trump said there was blame on “both sides” for the violence in August.
The CNN Poll was conducted by SSRS January 14-18 among a random national sample of 1,005 adults reached on landlines or cellphones by a live interviewer. No interviewing was completed on January 16 due to weather conditions at call center locations. Results for the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points; it is larger for subgroups.