While that approval rating is an improvement on the historic lows the president reached this year – CBS News polling in 2008 saw the presidential approval rating hit the low 20s – the president is still leaving office as one of the most unpopular American leaders in recent memory.
Going back to the 1950s, only Richard Nixon and Harry Truman have had lower ratings when they left office; Jimmy Carter's approval rating was also 34 percent. Every other president's approval stood at 49 percent or better. (The most popular presidents when they left office were Bill Clinton, with a 66 percent approval rating, followed by Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. Presidents who died in office are not included.)
And, as Gallup notes, "[i]n one sense, Bush's final rating is worse than either Carter's or Truman's, because his disapproval score is significantly higher. Whereas Bush and Carter share identical 34% final job approval ratings, 61% of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing, compared with 55% who said they disapproved of Carter in December 1980."
Only Nixon, who resigned as a result of the Watergate scandal, was demonstrably less popular than Mr. Bush when he left office.
One thing Mr. Bush can take solace in: Three-quarters of Republicans approve of his performance. And in a demonstration of what Gallup calls the "lame-duck approval bounce," he is up nine points overall since the start of November.