The Most Popular President Definitely Isn't The One in Office

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Former President Barack Obama shakes hands with former President George W. Bush during dedication of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., September 24, 2016. Joshua Roberts/Reuters

It's seemingly far easier to be a former president than it is to be a current president.

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have both seen their popularity surge after leaving the Oval Office, according to a Gallup survey this week. Fifty-nine percent of adults have a favorable view of Bush, which represents a steep climb from where he stood when left office. Dragged down by two unpopular wars and a struggling economy, Bush parted the White House sporting an approval rating of just 34 percent, and in March of 2009 only 35 percent of the country viewed him favorably, according to Gallup.

Obama left office with a much higher approval rating of 59 percent. But at about this time last year just 51 percent of the country viewed him favorably. That's now risen to 63 percent, according to Gallup.

Young folks still haven't embraced Bush, with just 42 percent of those aged 18 to 34 viewing him favorably. It's a different story for Obama. "Obama is viewed favorably by all major demographic groups, including men, women, whites, nonwhites and all age categories," Gallup wrote.

The Gallup survey interviewed 1,009 adults across the country over the telephone from June 7 through June 11. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has proven an incredibly unpopular leader. Gallup had his approval rating at just 37 percent Wednesday. A poll from CBS News this week found his approval had struck a new low of just 36 percent as support among Republicans, Trump's own party, began to wane.

The president has struggled to gain support amid the ongoing investigation into his potential ties with Russia, the country the intelligence community concluded interfered with the U.S. presidential election to get the GOP candidate elected. Just 28 percent of respondents in the CBS poll approved of the way Trump has handled the issue—he fired former FBI Director James Comey and seemingly suggested it was tied to the Russia probe—while 63 percent disapproved. One-third of the country said the Russia investigation and Trump's response to it had made them think less of the president.

Trump can take solace in the fact that his approval rating remains better than Bush's low point, when he hovered around the high 20s. Of course, Trump is mere months into his presidency while it took Bush nearly eight years, two unpopular wars and a struggling economy to sink so low.