Poll shows George W. Bush viewed more favorably than Mitt Romney

A recent Bloomberg survey (conducted September 21-24) suggests that Mitt Romney's approval rating trails that of former President George W. Bush.

More specifically, only 43 percent of survey respondents said they have a favorable a opinion of Romney versus 50 percent who view him unfavorably, while the corresponding figures for George W. Bush's are 46 and 49.

The Republican Party as a whole has a favorable-unfavorable rating of 41-46. Those polled gave the Democratic Party a net-positive rating, but just barely: 46-45 (really a statistical tie).

Vice President Joe Biden's figures are underwater at 42-45, comparable to Bush but with more undecided. President Obama, on the other hand, gets a decidedly if not overwhelmingly favorable 52-44.

The candidates wives do substantially better, with Ann Romney's favorability at 49-29 and Michelle Obama's at 63-29. But former President Bill Clinton equals and even slightly surpasses the First Lady with 64-29.

Favorability is distinct from job approval, the latter being relevant only to those actually serving in office. In the same Bloomberg survey 49 percent approve and 46 disapprove of President Obama's overall performance as president, but views on his handling of the economy are a strongly negative 41-53.

Finally, the respondents currently plan to vote for Obama by 49 to 43 percent, in line with other recent surveys. Asked who they think would do a better job on a list of issues, they pick Obama on almost all of them, from immigration, health care, and U.S. energy independence (if just barely), to the economic wellbeing of the middle class and being in touch with people's needs. Romney rates better (barely) at creating jobs and at dealing with gasoline prices. They're tied on who would deal better with the housing market.

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