With the dedication ceremony of his presidential library in Dallas less than two days away, George W. Bush just got another reason to feel pleased: He's slightly less unpopular than he used to be. For that, he can thank Democrats.
Since World War II, only one president has left office with lower approval ratings than Bush. (That president, Richard Nixon, left via helicopter rather abruptly.) So in the Washington Post's presentation of a new poll showing the former president with 47 percent approval and 50 percent disapproval, this paragraph counts as a compliment.
In the new Post-ABC poll, 34 percent say they “strongly” disapprove of the job he did while in office; that’s the lowest strong disapprove number for Bush since January 2005.
Bush's approval still represents a strongly partisan split. (To get its overall approve/disapprove figure, the Post combines both responses, "strong" and "somewhat.") Fifty-two percent of Republicans strongly approve of Bush's performance. Fifty-six percent of Democrats strongly disapprove.
That split has been present basically since October 2001. Gallup tracked Bush's approval regularly over his two terms. The last time Bush had a majority of approval of Democrats was in April 2003.
While comparing two polls is a bit of apples-to-oranges, the Post poll suggests that its among Democrats that Bush has gained the most ground — perhaps in part because he had the most ground to gain.