Saturday, January 17, 2009

Bush's Final Approval Rating: 22 Percent

(CBS) President Bush will leave office as one of the most unpopular departing presidents in history, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll showing Mr. Bush's final approval rating at 22 percent.

Seventy-three percent say they disapprove of the way Mr. Bush has handled his job as president over the last eight years.

Mr. Bush's final approval rating is the lowest final rating for an outgoing president since Gallup began asking about presidential approval more than 70 years ago.

The rating is far below the final ratings of recent two-term presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, who both ended their terms with a 68 percent approval rating, according to CBS News polling.

Recent one term presidents also had higher ratings than Mr. Bush. His father George H.W. Bush had an end-of-term rating of 54 percent, while Jimmy Carter's rating was 44 percent.

Harry Truman had previously had the lowest end-of-term approval at 32 percent, as measured by Gallup.

Views of Mr. Bush's popularity are highly partisan. Only 6 percent of Democrats approve of the job he has done as president, while 57 percent of Republicans approve. Eighteen percent of independents approve.

Interestingly, Mr. Bush also has the distinction of having the highest approval rating for a president, as well as the lowest.

In November 2008, just before the presidential election, only 20 percent approved of the job he was doing as president - the lowest of any president since Gallup began asking the question in 1938.

But Mr. Bush enjoyed a high approval rating of 90 percent -- the highest of any president -- following the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Mr. Bush edged out his father for that highest rating. George H.W. Bush received an 88 percent approval rating in 1991 amid the success of the first Gulf War.

Truman comes closest to Mr. Bush's record low approval rating of 20 percent. In February 1952, just 22 percent of Americans approved of the job Truman was doing as president.

Evaluations Of The President

Half of all Americans, when they look back on Mr. Bush's eight years in office, believe he has been a poor president. Thirty-three percent think he has been an average president. Twelve percent say he has been a good president, and only 5 percent say he has been a very good president.

This evaluation is more negative than the ones Americans gave both the current president’s predecessor, Mr. Clinton, and the president’s father.

The president has also fallen short of expectations: As Mr. Bush was preparing to enter the White House in January 2001, 43 percent thought he would be a very good or good president. Only 12 percent thought he would be a poor one.

As for the incoming president, the CBS News poll also asked about expectations of President-elect Barack Obama. Sixty-eight percent think Mr. Obama will be a good or very good president - 25 points higher than expectations for Mr. Bush.

Nine in 10 Democrats expect Mr. Obama to be a good president, including 48 percent who think he will be a "very good" one. Republicans are less hopeful, but 38 percent still say Mr. Obama will be a good president.

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