Two Presidents And Terrorism: Most Say Neither Bush Nor Obama Made U.S. Safer

September 13, 2011, 1:00 PM GMT+0

Americans look at the current President and his immediate predecessor with mixed feelings — and not just when it comes to their management of the terrorist threat. In the latest Economist/YouGov poll, fewer than half view Barack Obama and George
W. Bush as likely to be remembered by history as even “average” Presidents. And on terrorism, only about a third say the policies on terrorism of each man’s Administration made the country more safe. Nearly a quarter believe the Obama Administration’s policies have made the country less safe; nearly a third say that about the policies of his predecessor. 

When Americans are asked directly whether they approve or disapprove of the way the current incumbent has handled the issue of terrorism, they give Barack Obama a positive rating. Last year, more disapproved than approved; this changed after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May, when approval; of the President’s handling of terrorism soared above 50%. That approval rating has slipped since then, but remains positive. 

However, Americans continue to rate President Obama negatively when it comes to his overall job performance. This week, only 39% approve of the way he is handling his job, only one point above the all-time low recorded just last week. 53% disapprove. The President’s ratings, low all this year, have slipped in recent weeks as fears about the economy have grown (and his economic approval rating remains below 30%). 

As for history, Americans don’t expect it will judge either Bush or Obama posi-tively. Less than a quarter say each man will be considered an “outstanding” or an “above average” President. About a quarter say each will be seen as “poor.” 

These assessments are heavily influenced by partisanship, but even those in each President’s party question his place in history. Only 44% of Republicans believe George W. Bush will be remembered as above average or better; just 45% of Democrats say this about Obama. 

Economist/YouGov poll archives can found here.

Photo source: Press Association

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