Bill Clinton More Popular Than George W. Bush

A new Rasmussen poll of the public’s attitude toward President Obama’s two most immediate successors shows much more fondness for the Clinton era than the Bush years:

Democrats see Bill Clinton as a key factor in embattled Senator Blanche Lincoln’s Arkansas primary win last week and a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 51% of voters have a favorable opinion of the former president. Forty-six percent (46%) regard him unfavorably.

Those numbers are a bit better than the comparable ratings for George W. Bush. Forty-five percent (45%) offer a favorable opinion of him while 53% say the opposite.

Twenty-two percent (22%) now say Clinton was one of America’s best presidents ever, while 15% now say he was one of the worst. Sixty-two percent (62%) put him somewhere in between the two.

This isn’t really all that surprising. After all, President Clinton’s time in office was one of relatively strong economic growth and Clinton himself left office with an approval rating above 60%.

Bush, on the other hand, presided over recessions at the beginning and end of his Presidency as well as two controversial wars so that, when he left office, he had a disapproval rating nearing 60%. To the extent that President, largely unfairly, get credit or blame for the economic climate they preside over, it’s pretty easy to see why people would have a nostalgia for the 1990s rather than the 200s.

There is some good news for Bush, though:

The latest numbers, for Bush, bleak as they are, mark a turnaround of sorts for the former president. Just before he left office in January 2009, Bush was rated one of the five worst presidents in U.S. history by 57% of Americans.

And at least he’s managed to redeem himself a little in the eyes of the public, unlike his Vice-President:

President Obama’s immediate predecessor in the White House is more popular than the man who served as his vice president for eight years. Thirty-four percent (34%) have a favorable view of Cheney but 61% view Cheney unfavorably. That latter figure is up eight points from a year ago.

Perhaps that’s because Bush has remained relatively quiet, while Cheney has chosen to take on an even more public role than he had when he was Vice-President.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:

    Yeah, I think I could have predicted this outcome without a national survey. It’ll be interesting to see how far Bush rebounds. He’s never going to crack Mount Rushmore but there’s a decent chance he won’t be in the Bottom 5 either.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    “He’s never going to crack Mount Rushmore but there’s a decent chance he won’t be in the Bottom 5 either.”

    Bottom 10 perhaps? Reach for the stars…

  3. jane says:

    Bush is a decent person. People will realize this when all the sleeze gets out of the white house

  4. Any poll response that puts any president in the worst five, the best five, or their T-Mobile favorite five should only matter if the responder can actually name those five presidents, ideally with at least one sentence explaining why. Considering how much better Truman and Eisenhower have fared as time marched on I wouldn’t put too much stock in this sort of thing anyway.

  5. Franklin says:

    I tend to agree now that Bush is a decent person, and not the worst president. But Clinton along with the Republican Congress seemed to be far more effective, regardless of Clinton’s questionable private behavior. I also think Obama is decent, but time will have to tell us how effective he is.

  6. Gerry W. says:

    I didn’t care much for Clinton, but the economy was decent. I learned a lot about the far right under Bush. And obviously, they have no idea in running the country. The far right is based on ideology and not economics. Like tax cuts and nothing else has to be done. And it keeps going on with (Palin)”free market principles.” And I suspect that is the only criteria that we need to follow. We can ignore the widening gap between the middle class and the rich. We can ignore that we lost jobs with free trade. We can ignore how much wars cost, not only in monetary means, but in the loss of men and no focus on other issues. And we can ignore our own infrastructure. After all, all we need is God and country and the country runs fine.

    Go to Youtube and type in Bush “America has no problems.”

  7. floyd says:

    Good press has helped many a scoundrel.

  8. wr says:

    Sure, Bush is a decent person. As long as you think someone who allowed and encouraged torture is decent. As long as you think someone who destroyed the entire regulatory system of the nation by staffing offices with industry hacks is decent. As long as you think that a president who fought to transfer a huge amount of the nation’s wealth to a tiny minority of the super-rich is decent.

    Oh, wait. Maybe you just meant he was decent because he wore a tie in the Oval Office and didn’t cheat on his wife.

    Got to love those Republican values. You can torture, steal, cheat, lie and cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. But as long as he’s on your team, he’s a great guy.

  9. floyd says:

    wr….. thanks for the insight, I can see you’re a person of principal. (sic)

  10. anjin-san says:

    Well, there was a decent amount of torture, domestic spying and military aggression under Bush, so that must mean he is decent…