Asked to compare Barack Obama with George W. Bush, Americans are more inclined to say Obama has been a better (43%) rather than a worse (34%) president, with 22% seeing no difference between the two. Obama compares much less favorably to Bill Clinton, with half saying Obama has been worse than Clinton and 12% saying better.
These results are based on a Sept. 15-18 USA Today/Gallup poll. Obama succeeded Bush as president during a down economy that is still struggling to recover. Thus, a key comparison voters will make is whether Obama is doing better than his predecessor, which would enhance his chances of re-election, or worse than Bush, which makes it less likely Americans would reward him with a second term.
It could be argued that saying Obama has been about the same as Bush is also a negative evaluation, given that Bush left office with low approval ratings and Americans generally did not judge his presidency to be very successful.
Indeed, those who say Obama has been about the same as Bush generally view Obama negatively, with 27% approving and 62% disapproving of the way Obama is handling his job as president.
Thus, in order to win re-election, Obama likely needs to convince voters he is doing a better job than his predecessor did.
After the debate last night in Florida, unless another candidate enters the field, it looks like Mitt Romney will be the candidate that will limit President Obama to one term and one term only. With economic conditions the way they are nobody will buy the argument that Obama has been doing a better job than Bush.