A 59%-majority of Americans believe that, in the long run, the failures of the Bush administration will outweigh the accomplishments, up from 53% a year ago; half as many (28%) say Bush’s accomplishments will outweigh his failures. By comparison, in January 2004 – at the outset of Bush’s re-election campaign – 36% saw the administration’s accomplishments carrying more weight (49%) than its failures. At the same point in Bill Clinton’s presidency, in January of 2000, 51% felt the Clinton administration’s main legacy would be its accomplishments, while just 37% said the failures would stand out. At the time, a quarter of Republicans felt that Clinton’s legacy would be positive, compared with just 9% of Democrats who say the same about Bush today. And fewer Republicans today (62%) see Bush’s accomplishments standing out compared with Democrats in 2000 (75%). Yet the most striking difference in views of the two presidents’ legacies is among independents. In January 2000, a majority of independents (53%) said that Clinton’s legacy would be marked by accomplishments; today, by a 64%-to-23% margin, most independents say Bush’s legacy will be marked by failures. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.