July 16, 2014

Obama viewed as more caring than Bush, but no more effective

Obama vs. Bush Approval RatingsA new Pew Research Center survey finds that President Barack Obama’s overall approval rating has held steady at 44%, even as he receives low marks for his handling of the surge of undocumented child immigrants at the U.S. border.

While Obama’s job rating has been below 50% for the past year, it stands eight points higher than that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, at a comparable point eight years ago. In July 2006, 36% approved of Bush’s job performance.

Obama, Bush Presidential QualitiesObama gets much higher marks than his predecessor for empathy and honesty. But his ratings on leadership and his ability to get things done are about the same as Bush’s at about this point in his second term.

In the current survey, 54% say Obama “cares about people like me” and 51% consider him “trustworthy.” By comparison, in the summer of 2006 – a year after Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast – fewer said Bush cared about people like them (41%) and was trustworthy (41%).

In August 2006, 42% said Bush was “able to get things done,” while 51% said he was not able to get things done. Perceptions of Obama are nearly identical (44% can get things done, 53% cannot).

Similarly, 43% called Bush a strong leader in the summer of 2006, little different from the 47% who say this about Obama today. 

How Independents View Obama and BushIndependents are much more likely to view Obama as empathetic than they were to view Bush this way in 2006 (50% vs. 34%); and somewhat more view Obama as trustworthy (43% vs. 35%). On these two traits, the positions of Republicans and Democrats today are nearly the mirror image of 2006.

However, Democrats are less likely to describe Obama as a strong leader and able to get things done than Republicans were to ascribe these traits to Bush eight years ago.

In 2006, 81% of Republicans said Bush was a strong leader and 76% said he was able to get things done.

Today, somewhat fewer Democrats call Obama a strong leader (72%) and say he is able to get things done (66%).

Topics: Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Presidential Approval

  1. Photo of Alec Tyson

    is a senior researcher focusing on U.S. politics and policy at Pew Research Center.


  1. naksuthin3 years ago

    More than approval ratings we need to look at where we are now compared to where we were when Bush left office.

    6 years ago….As Bush was preparing to leave office in early 2009….

    1. the DOW had fallen to 8000 and
    2. the NASDAQ had plunged to 1500.
    3. The average American with a 401K lost about half of their retirement savings.
    4. Banks that had survived the Great Depression were going out of business,
    5. Housing prices were falling like a rock as the bubble burst,
    6. The unemployment rate was 7.8%…and heading up. In the same month that Bush handed over the economy to Obama, 818,000 workers lost their jobs. In December 2008 initial weekly claims for unemployment topped 500,000.
    7. The US auto industry on life support. When Bush took office in 2001 annual sales of autombiles topped 17 million units a year. When he left office U.S. auto sales plunged 36 percent in December 2008, dragging the industry’s volume in 2008 to a 16-year low. General Motors Corp.’s annual total was the smallest in its home market since 1959. In January 2009 Japanese automaker Toyota overtook GM as the nation’s best selling brand
    8. The Bush administration had to borrow 700 billion dollars from the taxpayers to bail out the banks.
    9. In the 4th quarter of 2008…3 weeks before the flickering torch was
    passed from Republican to Democrat the US economy contracted a whopping 8.9%…the worst in postwar history.
    10. Daily consumer spending dropped to $65 on the day the torch was passed from Bush to Obama
    11. When bush left office, seasonally adjust annual rate of new home construction had plunged to 500,000 units. New homes went unsold and huge discounts had to be offered to attract the few buyers…further dragging down housing values.

    The country was in economic free fall.
    Newscaster started using the ominous words “2nd Great Depression”.

    And where are we NOW…6 years later?

    1. The worst recession in US history is over.
    2. People are going back to work. Just 12 months after Bush handed over the worst economy since the Great Depresssion to Obama, the US began adding jobs instead of losing them.

    Fox Business news reported in August “A significant decline in layoffs, which has pushed claims down to their pre-recession levels, has been the major driver of an improving job market. But hiring is also gaining traction. A report showed hiring rose in June to its highest level since February 2008. The number of job openings that month was the highest since February 2001.”

    In July the US economy added 206,000 new jobs. That’s the 6th straight month in a row that the US economy has added at least 200,000 jobs …a record that hasn’t happened since Clinton was president in 1997.
    3. Banks are healthy and profitable again.
    4. The US auto industry is the pride of the nation. Industry-wide auto sales rose 1.2% to 1.4 million in June 2014, pushing the annualized selling rate to 16.98 million, its highest pace since July 2006
    5. Housing prices are on the rise again.
    6. Home building is up again.
    7. The average rate of inflation for the 6 Obama years has averaged a
    low1.6 percent vs 2.8 percent for 8 years of Bush. Good news for
    shoppers and savers.
    8.Interest rates are low.
    9. Consumer confidence is soaring. In July 2014 consumer confidence hit a seven-year high
    10. The U.S. budget deficit is falling sharply this year amid higher tax revenues and an improving economy.The federal deficit has been continually shrinking due to a combination improving economy, higher taxes and government spending cuts .and is expected to continue to shrink, In April, the Congressional Budget Office forecast a $492 billion deficit at the end of the fiscal year which would mark the smallest deficit since 2007.

    11.The Bush war in Iraq is over. No more US death statistics to read each month
    12. Osama is Dead.
    13.Terrorist are being droned to death.
    And the stock market?
    14. The DOW is higher than it has ever been in it’s history. It’s breaking records.
    15. The NASDAQ has tripled since the closing days of the Bush administration.
    16. Daily Consumer spending now averages $90+ (up 40% since end of 2008)
    17. In June of 2014 home builders began work on 893,000 units
    18. In June auto sales rose to an 8 year high of

    1,421,963 units
    19. In the second quarter of 2014 the US GDP surged to 4% beating Wall Street expectation thanks to increased consumer and business spending

    6 years ago, with the country in economic chaos, None of us could not have ever dreamed that our country would be where it is today. It was unthinkable. Unimaginable.

    Yet here we all are today….in a country that rose from the ashes of economic disaster called the GREAT AMERICAN RECESSION that began in 2007….to become a vibrant growing healthy economy.

    In 2009 the Bush administration handed Obama a stinking rotten lemon…and in 6 years the Obama administration has turned it into sparkling premium Champagne.

    I tip my hat to Obama. He has guided our country through the worst of times

  2. Kevin Bergland3 years ago

    Spending massive amounts of our tax dollars to gain more votes is hardly considered more caring. Actually it is less caring to the future tax payers who will be accepting lower wages and higher taxes to pay it down. I know that we are assumed to be ignorant by politicians and media. Nice try though.

  3. Richard Tebaldi3 years ago

    Sorry, I’m not buying that Obama is “more caring” than Bush! That is a coverup for his not knowing what to do. Neither Bush nor Obama could figure out what to do during their administration, both get an “F” from me. That said, our Constitution CLEARLY states, our Federal Government MUST protect our States. I said that when Bush was in office, I have the right to say it now that Obama has had 6 years to fix the problem. Both parties make excuses and don’t do what they were elected to do. They are ignorant or scofflaws and should be dealt with in that manner. I believe America has to take back it’s country by changing the rules of elections, by hook or by crook, fighting for our rights in the same manner they were taken away from us. We need to have taxpayer funded elections, we need to treat corporate donation towards any elected office as a crime. We need to limit the amount of time one can get to run for public office. We need to vote for people who will do the bidding of the American taxpayer. We need to fix ourselves before we have the right to fix any other country in the world. We need to stop stupid waste of taxpayer moneys. We need to have an “OPEN” Government that Obama promised
    and didn’t deliver. I am sick and tired of excuses and failure lies and threats. That’s all the American taxpayer has gotten in the last 6 years.

  4. Bob Watkins3 years ago

    Among the least trustworthy mechanisms in American life today: POLLS.
    Regarding Mr. Obama’s approval ratings and those of Mr. Bush, I have these questions:
    When, where, how, and by whom, and what time of day were poll questions designed, reviewed, edited and asked?
    To whom were questions asked? Middle income? Upper class? Career people? Soup Kitchen dwellers? Who?
    Were there political parameters? Folks polled, asked if they are Dems, GOPers, Independents? What?
    Polls are a slice of America. But, which slice? Whatever, seems to me a poor slice.

  5. lenutaa_mirceaa3 years ago


    1. Bob Watkins3 years ago

      I suggest media coverage is poor and way too partisan and Americans generally, as usual, are not paying attention.
      To his credit, Mr. Obama has not given way to John McCain-like public bombast, but has been more thoughtful and slow to make decisions that require thoughtfulness.
      As for what he’s accomplished, I suggest media, analysts have not paid enough attention to Congressional determination to NOT cooperate with the black guy in the Oval Office, ignoring that he is a twice elected representative of the People and they are elected to DO the People’s work.
      And still, with immense legislative and political roadblocks, Mr. Obama has presided fairly well. Employment figures are up, banks and auto companies have or are paying back large loans with interest. One war has been turned back to the citizens (who have largely squandered their chance); another war is winding down.