Majority Rates Obama Not Better Than Bush

A majority of Americans believe President Barack Obama has been about the same as or worse than George W. Bush, according to a new Gallup poll.

Asked to compare the former Republican President Bush and Obama, 34 percent of American adults said Obama has been a worse president than Bush, while 22 percent said he was about the same, according to the results of the Sept. 15-18 USA Today/Gallup poll.

While 43 percent of respondents rated Obama a better president than Bush, that rating needs to be seen against the sum of respondents saying he was the same as or worse than his predecessor.

“Indeed, those who say Obama has been about the same as Bush generally view Obama negatively, with 27 percent approving and 62 percent disapproving of the way Obama is handling his job as president,” the Gallup poll said analyzing the figures.

Saying Obama has been about the same as Bush could also be seen as a negative evaluation because “Bush left office with low approval ratings and Americans generally did not judge his presidency to be very successful,” the Gallup report says.

The respondents were also asked to compare Obama and his most recent Democrat predecessor Bill Clinton. Even those figures were not encouraging for the incumbent president. Only 12 percent rated Obama better than Clinton, while 50 percent saw Obama as worse than Clinton. Only 35 percent saw the two Democrats as about the same.

The Gallup poll noted that chances of re-election of a president depend largely on performance evaluations. “If Americans are generally happy with the state of the nation, they are generally likely to re-elect the incumbent. If they are dissatisfied, the incumbent is at risk of defeat.”

But Americans are currently highly dissatisfied with the state of the nation, with just 11 percent satisfied and 88 percent dissatisfied. This “certainly is a threat to a second Obama term,” the poll added.

But that by itself may not doom Obama, the poll clarified. “Though Obama’s job approval rating is in the low 40s, he is currently competitive with both of his main Republican rivals in voters’ 2012 general election preferences.”

Moreover, Gallup analysts seem to think that voters may give Obama more leeway because of the poor state of the nation when he took office, “and as of now, they appear to be doing so, as Americans still blame Bush more than Obama for the country’s economic problems.”

The results of a separate Gallup poll released two days earlier show that Obama’s job approval crisis is only deteriorating. A slight majority of Americans for the first time blamed Obama either a great deal (24 percent) or a moderate amount (29 percent) for the nation’s economic problems.

To change perceptions, Obama will need to show improvement in the economy in a short time. With Obama’s $447 billion Jobs Act, which he plans to pay for with $1.5 trillion in permanent tax hikes, the task ahead for Obama to return to the White House will be challenging.

Results for the poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 15-18, 2011, with a random sample of 1,004 national adults, aged 18 and older.