Poll: George W. Bush's approval rating matches Obama's

ARLINGTON, VA - MARCH 19: US President George W. Bush pauses while speaking at the Pentagon March 19, 2008 in Arlington, Virginia. President Bush visited the pentagon to speak about the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)
Brendan Smialowski

More than four years after he left office, former President George W. Bush's approval rating now equal President Obama's, according to a new Washington Post/ ABC poll.

Forty-seven percent of Americans say they now approve of the former president, while 53 percent disapprove, according to the poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults from April 17-21. Mr. Obama's approval rating also stands at 47 percent.

Mr. Bush left office under a cloud of controversy, taking blame from the public for the 2008 financial crash, the Iraq war and his handling of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In an Oct. 2008 Washington Post poll, his approval rating was as low as 23 percent. By January 2009, when he left office, just 33 percent approved while 66 percent disapproved.

The former president's improved public image demonstrates how time out of office, and out of the public eye, can help bolster a politician's popularity. Mr. Bush may also get to refurbish his image with the opening of his presidential library this week on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

While his approval rating has increased in recent years, a majority of Americans (53 percent) still disapprove of his handling of the economy, and 57 percent disapprove of his decision to invade Iraq in 2003.