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Americans Still Blame Bush More Than Obama For State Of The Economy

It’s no surprise that Democrats continue to attempt to tie Mitt Romney and other Republicans to the George W. Bush Administration when you see poll numbers like this:

PRINCETON, NJ — Americans continue to place more blame for the nation’s economic problems on George W. Bush than on Barack Obama, even though Bush left office more than three years ago. The relative economic blame given to Bush versus Obama today is virtually the same as it was last September.

Gallup first asked this “blame assessment” question in July 2009, six months after Obama became president. At that point, 80% of Americans gave Bush a great deal or a moderate amount of blame, compared with 32% who ascribed the same level of blame for the bad economy to Obama. The percentage blaming Bush dropped to about 70% in August 2010, and has stayed roughly in that range since. Meanwhile, about half of Americans have blamed Obama since March 2010, with little substantive change from then to the present.

Americans continue to name the economy as the most important problem facing the country, and in an election that likely will be defined by a struggling economy, the question of who is responsible for it will weigh heavily in voters’ minds. Both Obama and presumed Republican nominee Mitt Romney as a result have focused heavily on the economy in their campaigns, the most recent example of which is the major economic speech Obama will deliver Thursday in the key swing state of Ohio. Romney has attempted to place blame for the country’s continuing economic struggles squarely on Obama’s shoulders. At the same time, the Obama campaign is trying to deflect blame away from the president, in part by assigning blame to his predecessor.

The relative amount of blame Americans give to Obama and to Bush has largely stabilized over the last two years. It remains to be seen whether Americans are open to further discussion of those issues in the months remaining before the Nov. 6 election, or whether their minds are made up.

The chart tells the story:

More interestingly, half of Republicans and two-thirds of Independents place more blame for the state of the economy on President Obama’s predecessor than on the President himself:

This, no doubt, would also be why President Bush has the lowest favorability rating of any living ex-President. I’d also suggest it explains why you won’t hear the name “George Bush” coming out of the mouth of Mitt Romney or any other prominent national Republican unless they’re referring to George H.W. Bush, who seems to be enjoying another renaissance in popularity around his 88th birthday.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Bush Derangement Syndrome bears some similarities to post concussion syndrome, in that obviously with the former there too are long-term residual effects.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 31

  2. Tsar,

    No, realism. Bush was a crappy President and we’re still dealing with the problems his policies set in motion, not to mention the bad foreign policy choices he made. In fact, some of Obama’s worst decisions have been the ones that have essentially mirrored the ones that Bush made, especially in foreign policy.

    Why conservatives cannot help but defend his bad record I do not understand.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  3. Herb says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: You can’t blame BDS for this:

    The percentage blaming Bush dropped to about 70% in August 2010, and has stayed roughly in that range since.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  4. @Doug Mataconis:

    Bush was a crappy President and we’re still dealing with the problems his policies set in motion, not to mention the bad foreign policy choices he made. In fact, some of Obama’s worst decisions have been the ones that have essentially mirrored the ones that Bush made, especially in foreign policy.

    Amen, amen, amen, amen!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 2

  5. Kylopod says:

    Republican politicians will rarely mention Bush by name, but they will generally defend most aspects of his legacy, particularly on foreign policy and taxes, only departing from it when it is deemed too “liberal,” as in his Medicare expansion and immigration policy. The GOP is still the Party of Bush, only more so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  6. al-Ameda says:

    I realize that these times are very different from the 1930’s, however, at no time during FDR’s terms during the Great Depression did Americans cease to blame Hoover for the crash and onset of the Great Depression.

    A recent article here on OTB referenced a federal reserve study showing that the 2008 crash caused the average American family to lose 40% of its wealth. The onset of the 2008 collapse cause the loss of approximately $14 trillion in wealth, income and equity. The fact that, 3 years later, we have an anemic recovery is no surprise.

    It is customary for a president to get the credit or blame for what happens during his time – sometimes that’s fair, sometimes not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  7. Moosebreath says:

    Kylopod has it right. The reason Obama wants to tie Romney to Bush’s policies is because they are the same policies, and will likely have the same effects.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  8. bandit says:

    In fact, some of Obama’s worst decisions have been the ones that have essentially mirrored the ones that Bush made

    Give Obama some credit, his worst decisions are his own.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 7

  9. I think the partisans, both Democrats and Republicans, come off badly in this survey. Holding your guy essentially blameless (10/16) while putting it all on the other guy (86/90) is not reasonable. It’s tribal.

    The Independent numbers look a bit better, with (32/47) and (51/67).

    Given that this was a global imbalance and crash, both presidents were limited in their actions. I do blame the Bush/Greenspan team, but for playing the global dynamic badly, post dot-com, and … reheating a sick economy. Greenspan’s interest rates very definitely contributed to both the mortgage boom and a flight to shoddy AAA instruments. Bush/Cox’s lack of oversight made those days that much more free-wheeling. Etc.

    It’s harder to pin much on Obama. There is the counter-economic argument that stimulus somehow made things worse, but that’s deeply irrational. There’s no documented economic mechanism to make it true.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  10. reid says:

    So, given enough time, the economic crash didn’t happen under Bush? What the hell? The slimy Roves and Luntzes of the world can only spin facts so much!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  11. Related: Fiscal Cliff, Three Ways

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Gustopher says:

    The crash happened under Bush, but the deregulation of the financial industry that led to the crash has been a steady march since Reagan.

    When corporations become Too Big To Fail, that means that they are effectively being insured by the rest of us, to the tune of TARP, quantitative easing, and a whole bunch of direct loans from the fed.

    I blame Bush more than Obama, because Bush and the Republicans have been marching the drumbeat of deregulation far more than Obama or the Democrats.

    In fact, when the major structural problems were introduced that made the crash inevitable, Obama was just some community organizer somewhere.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  13. @Gustopher:

    In fact, when the major structural problems were introduced that made the crash inevitable, Obama was just some community organizer somewhere.

    Good line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  14. Tlaloc says:

    Why conservatives cannot help but defend his bad record I do not understand.

    Conservatism is not an philosophy anymore, it’s not even an ideology. It’s a clique. If you;re in the clique then automatically what you do is right, and must be defended from the godless hordes of the Other. What I find interesting is how Bush, despite serious breaches with the proclaimed tenets of conservatism, sufficient to get anyone else expelled from the club (and the rabid right is especially eager to throw people out!) has managed to keep the protection of the name conservative. I can only assume it was because Bush was president and thus the effective head of the right (which still highly identified with the GOP). It’ll be interesting to see if a president romney manages to inherit the mantle of conservatism in the same way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  15. Tlaloc says:

    I blame Bush more than Obama, because Bush and the Republicans have been marching the drumbeat of deregulation far more than Obama or the Democrats.

    Yes but it would be nice if Obama were perhaps at least slightly interested in re-regulating those industries. But he’s not so we’ll continue marching to the suicidal drumbeat of the right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. anjin-san says:

    a federal reserve study showing that the 2008 crash caused the average American family to lose 40% of its wealth.

    Yes, but if you exist in the Foxverse, it was:

    Obama caused the average American family to lose 40% of its wealth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  17. Neo says:

    CALLER: It just came to my mind that Mr. Bush has got to be an absolutely incredible individual if, three years after Mr. Obama was immaculated, he still has not been able to undo all the good works that Mr. Bush did.
    HOST: It is amazing, isn’t it? After three-and-a-half years, everything that’s happened the last three-and-a-half years, if it’s all been Bush’s fault, don’t we have evidence enough now to know that Obama can’t deal with it. Obama doesn’t know what to do with it. We need to elect somebody who can stand up to Bush.
    CALLER: Absolutely.
    HOST: This guy can’t even rescind tax cuts. This guy can’t fix anything that Bush did. If we reelect Obama, won’t it just be four more years of disaster caused by Bush? Obama’s admitting he can’t fix what Bush did. Why reelect him? If Bush screwed it up so bad we need somebody in there that can fix it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  18. george says:

    I wonder if blaming Bush rests on the war against Iraq, which began this round of huge deficits? This may or may not be the ultimate cause of the economy’s problems, but its perceived to be the cause by many people.

    Its hard not to wonder how the economy would be without all the money wasted in Iraq …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    I can’t imagine what a paradise we’d all be living in if we were in the last year of the Kerry/Edwards administration…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. superdestroyer says:

    Everyone should already realize that in January 2017, all of the wonk and pundits will be writing that President Obama had hurt by the Bush Economy for the entire eight years of the Obama Administration.

    It is amazing that people blame President Bush for the mild recession in 2001 but that President Obama will be blameless for the state of the economy for the eight years of his administration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @superdestroyer: You might wanna revisit that first paragraph. I can’t make head or tails of what you’re trying to say. “Had hurt by?” Huh?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. superdestroyer says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Historians will probably write that President Obama and his administration was hamstrung by the “Bush Economy” for the entire eight years of the administration. Being able to blame Bush for the state of the economy means that the Obama Administration can focus on other issues (homosexual rights, pay equity, more government set asides) rather than focus on the economy and creating long term conditions for private sector growth.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  23. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @superdestroyer: OK, clearer. Not going to go along with it, but clearer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  24. Joel Hackbart says:

    Your complaints about Obama Are legit. but a true progressive is not running. Reality check-It’s Obama VS Romney and Romney is Bush on steroids. Whatever misgivings we have about Obama; Romney is much, much, worse.
    . @Neo:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  25. CHOPPERGIRL says:

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. CHOPPERGIRL says:

    5 reasons Americans are right to blame Bush for the Economy:
    http://digg.com/newsbar/topnews/5_reasons_americans_are_right_to_blame_bush_for_the_economy

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1