POSTED: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 4:07pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 - 4:19pm
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Was George W. Bush's presidency a success or failure?
A new national poll suggests it depends on who's answering the question.
A CNN/ORC International survey indicates wide partisan and generational divides when it comes to rating Bush's years in the White House. And according to the poll, released Wednesday on the eve of the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, views of his presidency among all Americans are starting to improve.
"It's likely that time will only improve his standing in the public's eye," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Although a majority of Americans still call him a failed president, the number who believe that 43rd president was a failure has dropped significantly since he left office."
Fifty-five percent of those questioned say Bush's presidency was a failure, down 13 percentage points since a CNN poll conducted in January, 2009, during his final days in office. Forty-two percent now say Bush's presidency was a success, up 11 points from when he left the White House.
When it comes to Bush, Democrats and Republicans still don't see eye to eye. Eight in ten Republicans now say that Bush's eight years in office were a success, but that number drops to 43% among independents. Only 13% of Democrats agree, with nearly nine in ten Democrats saying the Bush presidency was a failure.
"There is a big generation gap as well, with most senior citizens giving Bush's years in office positive reviews, but two-thirds of younger Americans say he was a failed president," adds Holland.
The survey also points to a geographical divide, with those living in urban areas giving Bush a thumbs down, and suburbanites and rural Americans divided.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center includes a library, museum, and a public policy center. America's 43rd president will be joined at the dedication ceremony by President Barack Obama, and former presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.
Bush's second term was one of the most unpopular in modern times. His approval rating stood at 31% in a CNN poll conducted at the time he left office and it was at 33% in an ABC News/Washington Post survey. The post-presidency uptick for Bush's numbers seen in the CNN poll is also registering in an ABC News/Washington Post survey on Bush's approval rating, which now stands at 47%.
The CNN poll was conducted by ORC International from April 5-7, with 1,012 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.