Gallup: Americans still far more likely to blame economic woes on Bush than on Obama


THIS poll is a month old, but it’s consistent with surveys over the past three years:

Americans are still more likely to blame former President George W. Bush “a great deal” or “a moderate amount” than President Barack Obama for the country’s current economic problems. More Americans blamed Bush during Obama’s first year as president in 2009; however, since mid-2010, views have been steady at levels similar to today’s.

About a third of Americans, 35%, assign a high degree of blame to Bush alone for current economic problems, about double the percentage blaming solely Obama (19%). Another 34% blame both, while 11% say neither is highly to blame.

While Bush has been out of office for four and a half years, the near fiscal collapse that occurred on Wall Street at the tail end of his presidency precipitated sharp declines in consumer attitudes about the economy that only recently recovered to levels approaching what they were previously. Underscoring this, just prior to Obama taking office in December 2008, 60% of Americans described the situation as “the biggest economic crisis the U.S. has faced” in their lifetimes.

The finding that most Americans continue to lay heavy blame on Bush for today’s economic problems may help explain why Obama’s overall job approval rating has consistently exceeded his approval rating on the economy throughout his presidency, even while the economy has consistently ranked as the nation’s top problem. Most recently, 48% in the June 20-24 Gallup survey approved of the overall job Obama is doing as president, similar to the 46% who, in the same poll, said he bears little to no blame for current economic conditions, but higher than the 42% who, in early June, said they approve of Obama’s job performance on the economy.

Americans’ tendency to blame Bush more than Obama for the economy may also shed light on Obama’s historically high job approval premium vs. U.S. satisfaction.