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Bush Still Takes Brunt of Blame for Economy vs. Obama

Bush Still Takes Brunt of Blame for Economy vs. Obama

PRINCETON, NJ -- Nearly two years into his presidency, 51% of Americans say President Barack Obama bears little to no blame for U.S. economic problems, while 48% assign him a great deal or moderate amount of blame. More Americans now blame Obama than did so a year ago, but a substantially higher percentage, 71%, blame former President George W. Bush.

Great Deal/Moderate Amount of Blame for U.S. Economic Problems -- George W. Bush and Barack Obama, 2009-2010 Trend

More specifically, the Aug. 27-30 USA Today/Gallup poll finds 24% of Americans blaming Obama a great deal for the current economic problems, 24% a moderate amount, 25% not much, and 26% not at all. By contrast, 37% blame Bush a great deal, compared with 10% assigning him no blame.

Bush fares poorly on this measure partly because a relatively high proportion of Republicans -- 48% -- blame him a great deal or moderate amount, as do most Democrats (89%) and independents (73%). By contrast, relatively few Democrats, 19%, blame Obama. These patterns are consistent with Gallup's findings on the same question in April.

Blame for U.S. Economic Problems for Obama and Bush, by Party ID

Bottom Line

Americans are far from charitable when it comes to their evaluations of Obama's performance on the economy. Recent Gallup polling found 38% approving of the job he is doing in this arena -- among his worst job scores on the nation's top issues. However, that still exceeds Bush's final approval rating on the economy of 27%, measured in February 2008. That was prior to the Wall Street financial crisis that rocked both the economy and consumer confidence later in the year, so Bush's rating likely fell even further by the time he left office.

Obama's overall job approval rating was 46% at the time of his latest economic rating, in early August, and continues to hover in the mid- to high 40s in Gallup Daily tracking. The gap between his approval on the economy and his overall approval may be partly explained by Americans' tendency to believe that the enduring economic problems are at least not of his own making.

Survey Methods

Results for this USA Today/Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Aug. 27-30, 2010, with a random sample of 1,021 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.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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