The two lines the President hopes never meet:

With all the bipartisan hooplah over the opening of President George W. Bush’s library, there are two lines President Obama hopes NEVER cross: his and President Bush’s respective images.

The latest NBC News/Wall St. Journal polling shows President Bush’s rehabilitation has a ways to go before it renders obsolete the “mess I inherited” language that has been a mainstay in Obamaland since Day-One.

The April data shows President Obama’s image at 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} positive-42{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} negative. In contrast, President Bush remains upside-down at 34{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}-44{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} on the same survey. This net-15 point gap is what’s standing between more Obama blame-game and the President having to come up with a whole lot new to say.


 Bush Approval Chart 1

How important is Bushblame in Obamaworld? The 2012 national exit polls showed more Americans blamed President Bush over President Obama for America’s economic problems by a 53{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}-38{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} margin. And, those who blamed President Bush voted for Obama over Romney by a 94{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}-5{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} margin. On the flip-side, if you were part of the minority who blamed Obama, you voted for Romney 85{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}-12{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}.

 Bush Approval Chart 2

It doesn’t get any more predictive than that.

While President Bush’s image is not fully rehabilitated, it has bounced back a bunch since ‘08. He was at 29{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222}-60{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} in October prior to President Obama’s election. The April ABC News/Washington Post national survey shows similar positive movement, but President Bush is still upside-down: 47{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} approve – 50{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} disapprove. The former president’s current job approval is 14 points higher than the 33{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} – 66{09f965da52dc6ab4c1643a77bd40d1f729d807040cd8db540234bb981a782222} measured when President Obama took office. Different question wording, stronger positive movement, but still wrong-side up.

While there were plenty of smiles for the cameras at SMU, President Obama won’t be cutting President Bush any slack any time soon. Nor will he pass up the opportunity to keep President Bush front-and-center in the minds of the voters.

Public Opinion Strategies