PRINCETON, NJ -- Former President Bill Clinton is currently more well-liked by Americans than both of his successors. Sixty-one percent view him favorably, compared with 52% for President Barack Obama and 45% for former President George W. Bush.
Democrats view Clinton and Obama similarly, but independents and Republicans have more positive views of Clinton than of Obama. Partisan impressions of Bush and Obama are mirror images. Independents, however, view Bush less favorably than Obama (37% vs. 50%).
This is the first time in Gallup polling that Clinton's favorable rating exceeds Obama's. Clinton's rating has increased considerably since the 2008 presidential election campaign (and before Hillary Clinton assumed the role of secretary of state), rising to 61% from 52% in August 2008.
Since 2008, Clinton's favorable rating is up 10 percentage points among Democrats (from 79% to 89%), 9 points among independents (from 51% to 60%), and 12 points among Republicans (from 18% to 30%).
At the same time, Obama's 52% favorable rating now ties his lowest since he entered the White House. Obama's favorable rating first fell to 52% in March, and has since stayed in that range.
Bush's current 45% favorable rating is 10 points higher than in March 2009, when Gallup last asked about him, and is his highest since January 2007. Bush has remained largely out of the news since leaving office in January 2009. However, as recently as March, he was still seen as more responsible than Obama for the nation's economic problems.
When Bush was president, his favorability sharply descended in 2005 amid mounting public dissatisfaction with the course of the Iraq war. It has since remained well below 50%.
As was evident during the Clinton and Bush presidencies, the challenges of public office can take a toll on the personal images of elected leaders. This is now the case for President Obama, whose job approval score and favorable rating from Americans have dropped from their post-inauguration heights.
All presidents generally hope history will judge them well and that their legacy ratings will improve over time. That process may be starting for Bush. Clinton's post-presidency favorability has been somewhat volatile, reflecting his various forays into public affairs over the years, but has certainly improved. Whether that is the result of his own actions of late, or reflects Americans' positive views of his equally visible wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is not clear.
Gallup will report on the favorability ratings of first ladies Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton on Thursday.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 8-11, 2010, with a random sample of 1,020 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones (for respondents with a landline telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell phone-only). Each sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone-only respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, education, region, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in continental U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.