The Washington Post

The public still blames Bush. And it celebrates the Clintons.

Being a Clinton sure beats being a Bush these days. At least according to the polls.

(Ron Edmonds/Associated Press)
(Ron Edmonds/Associated Press)

Nearly five years after George W. Bush left office, half the public still blames the former president for the nation's economic woes, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released this week. The survey comes as Republicans have continued to keep the 43rd president at arm's length.

Democrats, meanwhile, have warmly embraced the family that occupied the White House prior to Bush; polling data show the Clintons are riding high.

Fifty percent of Americans say Bush is more responsible for the country's current economic problems than President Obama, the Post-ABC poll shows. Just 38 percent hold Obama more responsible. Seven percent assign equal blame.

In nearly two years of of Post-ABC surveys, opinions have barely budged. Roughly half the public has consistently held Bush more responsible for economic problems since the beginning of 2012.

Since leaving the White House in 2009 on the heels of an erupting economic crisis and with scant support from the public, Bush has largely remained out of the public eye. He's stayed away from the campaign trail and Republicans have stayed clear of him and run away from his legacy. Meantime, Democrats have continued to cast blame upon Bush.

The new numbers show why. They also speak to the difficulty former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) may encounter if he decides to run for president in 2016. Opponents will be eager to link him to his brother's lingering unpopularity on the economy.

Bush's personal popularity has looked better than his numbers on the economy. Forty-nine percent of voters viewed him favorably in a Fox News poll from the spring. The same poll showed a whopping 71 percent viewed Bill Clinton favorably, months after he emerged as Obama's most valuable surrogate in the 2012 election. 

Former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton left Foggy Bottom with sterling numbers earlier this year. Fully 67 percent of Americans in a Post-ABC poll taken near the end of her tenure expressed favorable views of her. She now sits atop her party as the clear front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination should she decide to run.

The implications are pretty clear. Don't expect GOP candidates in 2014 cycle to be waxing nostalgic for the Bush administration. As for the Clintons, both Bill and Hillary can expected to be in high demand on the campaign trail -- especially with Obama's diminished standing.

For the two families that have been at the forefront of the American political conversation for nearly a quarter century, the picture could hardly be more different right now.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Americans blame both Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush for the country's economic problems. (Casey Capachi/The Washington Post)


The Senate passed the bipartisan budget deal.

Republican Mark Obenshain conceded the Virginia attorney general's race to Democrat Mark Herring.

Former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer (D) went after Hillary Clinton on the Iraq war.

Liz Cheney's husband has been registered to vote in Virginia and Wyoming at the same time.

Rhode Island Treasurer Gina Raimondo (D) launched her bid for governor.

John Podesta apologized for casting Republicans as a "a cult worthy of Jonestown."

The FCC moved to end sports blackouts.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) offered a retort to "Pajama Boy."


"In probe of Va. Gov. McDonnell, prosecutors agreed to delay decision on charges" -- Rosalind S. Helderman, Carol D. Leonnig and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post

"With His BFF Leaving, Is Boehner Eyeing the Exit, Too?" -- David Hawkings, Roll Call

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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Juliet Eilperin · December 18, 2013

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