Polling numbers show President Obama now as unpopular as Bush

Posted at 8:04 AM, Jun 13, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-13 08:04:25-04

(CNN) — My, how the times have changed.

In January 2009, as President George W. Bush was days away from leaving the White House, the unpopular President’s favorable rating stood at 35% in a CNN/ORC International survey. The man who was succeeding him, Barack Obama, was fresh from his historic 2008 presidential election victory and had a 78% favorable rating among Americans.

But a new CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday indicates a milestone of sorts: Obama is now as unpopular as Bush. Fifty-one percent have an unfavorable view of Bush; 51% feel the same way about Obama. Obama’s favorable rating is now at 47% — a new low for him, and virtually identical to Bush’s 46% favorable rating, a significant improvement over his 2009 numbers.

Obama started out strong, but as many predicted, the public’s love affair with Obama faded as reality set in. Obama dealt with the severe recession plaguing the nation and pushed for controversial proposals such as the federal stimulus and health care reform. By 2010, the President’s favorable rating had dropped by double digits, although his numbers generally remained in the mid-50s throughout the 2012 presidential campaign.

“This marks the first time in a CNN poll that a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Obama,” said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “And, at 51%, his unfavorable his higher than his favorables for the first time as well.”

As for Bush, his numbers have gradually edged up over the years since he left the White House, and is now on par with Obama.

Both Bush and Obama have much lower favorable ratings than the two men that preceded them in the White House. Sixty-eight percent of the public has a positive view of former President Bill Clinton and 58% say they have favorable opinion of former President George H.W. Bush.

Hillary Clinton’s numbers drop

Hillary Clinton’s favorable ratings have steadily dropped since she left the State Department, from 67% in March of 2013 to 59% last fall, 57% in March of this year, and now 55%.

The drop was expected, as Clinton transitioned from America’s top diplomat to potential Democratic presidential candidate.

“Secretary of State is often seen as a non-political, non-partisan kind of job, and that showed in Clinton’s favorable ratings while she ran the State Department,” Holland said. “In 2011, her favorable rating was as high as 47% among Republicans. Now that she seems to be running for office again, her favorables among Republicans have plummeted to 18%.”

The former President isn’t the only Clinton who has a higher favorable rating than his wife. Daughter Chelsea Clinton’s favorable rating stands at 59%, four percentage points higher than her mother.

As for other first ladies, both past and present: Barbara Bush stands at 71%, Laura Bush comes in at 68% and Michelle Obama has a 61% favorable rating.

The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from May 29-June 1, with 1,003 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.