Overview: Bush and Public Opinion

As George W. Bush prepares to leaving the White House, the United says is in plenty of ways dramatically various from once he take it the oath the office in 2001. His first few months as president were mainly unremarkable, despite the controversial 2000 election. Yet the horrific terror assaults of Sept. 11, 2001 greatly changed the course forward.

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The strikes transformed American windy opinion and fundamentally reshaped Bush’s image. His job approval rating reached 86% by late September. The general public expressed broad willingness to use military pressure to combat terrorism. But then controversies end the build-up to battle in Iraq and other shrub policies began to take your toll – in ~ home and abroad.

U.S. Forces conveniently ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003, however could not produce a lasting peace. Together the fighting dragged on, bush won re-election by a narrow margin. In his 2nd term, the failed in his bid to construct support for a partial privatization of society Security. American deaths ongoing in Iraq, the federal government bungled the an answer to the devastating Hurricane Katrina in so late 2005 and political scandal reached directly into the White House.


Soon, economic troubles started to mount, and also in 2008, the economic climate went into a dangerous free fall that led to controversial and expensive government intervention in jae won markets. The president’s approval ratings slid with time to historical lows. His approval critical hit 50% together he started his 2nd term. It stood at simply 24% in early December.

Not surprisingly, the public’s verdict on the shrub presidency is overwhelmingly negative. In a December 2008 Pew Research facility survey, just 11% said bush will be remembered as an excellent or above average chairman – by far the lowest optimistic end-of-term rating for any of the past four presidents. However Bush’s impact on windy opinion over the past eight year is seen in means that walk well past his an individual unpopularity.

He aided shape the post-9/11 climate the opinion the was extensively accepting of a muscular technique to U.S. National security. And also even after much of the public concerned oppose the battle in Iraq, there continued to be considerable support because that the bush doctrine of preemptive military action. Regardless of the public’s shock over images of abuse that detainees at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison, nearly fifty percent of Americans repeatedly said that the torture that terrorists come gain key information to be at the very least sometimes justified.

In the last year the his presidency, even as his approval rating steadily decreased to historic lows, many Americans ongoing to speak Bush’s anti-terror plans deserve at least a same amount of credit for preventing more terror attacks.

In his an initial term, shrub scored several beforehand legislative successes top top domestic worries – such together the No child Left Behind education and learning reform, 2 rounds of taxation cuts and the launch of a far-ranging Medicare drug plan.

But after those successes, the instances when bush was able come mobilize – and maintain – public assistance for his agenda were rare. Even in the kingdom of national security, the public increasingly rejected the idea the a huge military presence overseas would alleviate the hazard of terror at home.

Public backing because that what to be to have been Bush’s signature second-term success – reforming the Social

Security system – withered within months of his reelection. His immigrant reform proposal challenged opposition in ~ his own party, even though it to be an problem – favor Social protection – where Americans recognized major change to be needed.

What might have damaged Bush’s heritage most was his administration’s combined record of competent governance. In between Iraq, the government’s failure relief initiative in the consequences of Hurricane Katrina, and more minor missteps over the Dubai harbor issue and also other matters, the government “brand” deteriorated badly during the bush years. In late April 2008, just 37% to express a favorable see of the commonwealth government, about half of the portion of five years earlier (73%).

Final Judgments

In a Pew survey performed Dec. 3-7 among 1,489 adults, the American windy paints a harshly negative picture the Bush’s tenure. Practically two-thirds (64%) to speak his administration will it is in

remembered more for its failures than its accomplishments, and also a plurality (34%) says shrub will go down in history as a poor president. Fully 68% say they refuse of Bush’s performance and also most of those – 53% of the public – speak they reject strongly. The is the greatest rate of strong disapproval measured by Pew surveys in Bush’s eight years in office.

As his second term ends, only 13% say bush has made progression toward resolving the major issues dealing with the country; 37% say he has actually made those difficulties worse and also 34% say he has tried but failed in his efforts. One more 11% speak he has actually not handle the significant problems encountering the country.

More than three times as many world say shrub will go under in history as a poor president (34%) than stated the exact same of bill Clinton in ~ the finish of his presidency (11%). About a quarter (24%) say shrub will be checked out as listed below average and also close to three-in-ten (28%) to speak he will certainly be viewed as average. Simply 11% speak he will go under in background as over average or outstanding.

Not surprisingly, the most an important assessments come indigenous Democrats. An ext than half (53%) say shrub will go down in history as a poor president, while 25% say he will be mental as below average. An ext than four-in-ten republic (44%) to speak he will be remembered as an typical president; 21% say below average and also 6% say poor. Two-in-ten to speak he will certainly be psychic as over average, when 7% say outstanding.

Americans by a large margin (64% come 24%) additionally say the in the lengthy run the fail of the Bush management will outweigh that is accomplishments. The assessment of Clinton in 2001, despite controversy over how he had performed himself in office, was practically a winter image. Six-in-ten said the success would outweigh the failures, and 27% stated the failures would outweigh the accomplishments.

Just over fifty percent (52%) of republicans say the Bush administration will be ideal known because that its accomplishments. That number is substantially smaller for independents (20%) and Democrats (8%). When Clinton was leaving office, his very own party (77%) and also independents (60%) were much much more convinced he would certainly be remembered because that his accomplishments.

Second ax Approval Slide

Between the begin of his 2nd term and also December 2008, Bush’s approval rating dropped native 50% come 24%, a level the rivals the historical lows videotaped by Gallup because that Harry S Truman as he left office in 1952. Declines came throughout demographic and political groups, though far-reaching divides still exist amongst those with differing politics ideologies.

Approval amongst moderate and liberal republicans saw among the sharpest drops – indigenous 82% to 50%. Conservative Republican approval dropped from 94% come 66%. Live independence approval started at below fifty percent in 2005 – 47% – yet dropped come 18% by December 2008. The change among democratic groups, currently highly critical of Bush, proved much less dramatic. Approval amongst conservative and also moderate democrats dropped native 22% come 8%, if approval amongst liberal democrats dropped from 7% to 2%.

Bush’s approval reduce significantly among all education and learning levels. In terms of period groups, the largest decline came amongst the youngest voter – those period 18-29. Within that group, approval dropped indigenous 50% come 19%. The oldest group – age 65 and also up – competent a smaller decline, dropping indigenous 47% to 26%.

A legacy of War

When civilization are inquiry what castle think shrub will be many remembered because that after he leaves office, the most frequent responses volunteered space tied come the wars in Iraq and also Afghanistan and the fight versus terrorism. More than fifty percent (51%) the responses cite facets the the global War top top Terror, v close come three-in-ten (29%) specifically pointing out Iraq.

About 17% incorporate specific an adverse assessments that Bush and his performance. Small percentages within that group refer come his competence (2%), his an unfavorable impact ~ above the country (2%) or label him the “worst president” (2%). An additional 13% describe the influence of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, through 9% stating the strikes specifically and 3% note that shrub had preserved the country safe from major attack because that day. One more 12% mentions economic issues, consisting of 7% who refer to the economic situation specifically, 4% who mention the present crisis and 3% introduce to the recession. An additional 4% offer hopeful assessments the Bush’s power in office.

Meanwhile, concerns around Bush’s performance are also seen in the one-word answers people give to explain their impressions that the president. In mid-2005, confident one-word descriptions outnumbered an unfavorable ones, however in more recent lists, the responses have actually been much more negative. The most typically mentioned description in the latest survey to be “incompetent,” simply as it was in February 2007 and also March 2006. Plenty of of the terms readily available by respondents in the December 2008 survey room negative, despite the second most commonly mentioned description was honest. An excellent and honorable likewise make the list.

The an international Outlook

On the international stage, a solid majority of american say the nation is significantly less respected 보다 in the past – and also many of those civilization see that together a major problem. Numerous Americans room eager to turn inward to address this nation’s problems: completely 60% claimed in September 2008 that residential policy should be the primary focus of the new president. And a better percentage than before the Iraq war currently say the best way to alleviate the risk of terror is to alleviate America’s military presence overseas, not rise it.

Meanwhile, a 2008 inspection by the Pew an international Attitudes job showed that majorities in 19 that the 24 nations – including several strong U.S. Allies – had small confidence in shrub as he neared the finish of his presidency. A 2007 survey of 45 nations found anti-American sentiment extensive and also increasing disapproval for vital elements that U.S. International policy.

And the image of the U.S. In the Muslim human being remained abysmal. Iraq, the war on terrorism and American support for Israel ongoing to create animosity in the center East, Asia and also elsewhere. In countless nations considered main to the battle on terror, the general public deep distrusted the unified States. Also in countries like Kuwait that have long been considered fairly pro-American, the U.S. Image had actually declined.

Among the couple of bright clues for shrub in the worldwide Attitudes surveys to be the African nations that had actually benefited from management programs to rise economic growth and also reduce the spread out of AIDS. In 2008, majorities in Tanzania and Nigeria expressed confidence in the president.

Still, bush has had some success in ~ home building support for challenging tactics – including harsh interrogation policies for foreign detainees and also government surveillance of call calls or e-mails without warrants – come gather info about feasible terrorists and also stop potential attacks. ~ above balance, an ext Americans to speak they problem that anti-terror policies have actually not gone far enough in protecting the United states than say they feeling the anti-terror policies have “gone too far in restricting polite liberties.”

The political Legacy

When shrub took office, Republicans managed both Congress and the White House. However voter party preferences shifted significantly during Bush’s 2nd term as missteps, poor news and also scandals took their toll top top Bush and also GOP congressional leaders. In the 2006 midterm elections, more independents and also moderates to adjust themselves through the party out of power and Democrats took regulate of the House and the Senate.

In 2008, shrub was proper seen throughout the presidential campaign. Both Barack Obama and John McCain persistently criticize his administration, vowing to lug “change” come Washington. Obama’s far-reaching win and extr Democratic profit in conference signaled a continuing decline of the Republican Party under Bush.

In surveys conducted in the autumn of 2008, 51% of every voters claimed they believed of themselves together Democrats or leaned toward the autonomous Party. That was up 5 points from 46% during the same period in 2004. Meanwhile, the number identifying v or leaning towards the Republican Party fell from 45% to 41%.

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The best gains came among younger voters. Only among voters age 65 and also older go the portion identifying v the democratic Party to decrease – from 49% in 2004 to 47% in 2008. The portion of voters age 18 come 29 identifying through the autonomous Party raised from 48% in the autumn of 2004 to 61% in the autumn of 2008. Democrats currently outnumber republicans by a margin of nearly two-to-one (61% to 32%) in this age group, up from just a seven-point advantage in 2004.