Poll: Gulf Oil Spill Hurts Obama’s Image

Bush still considered the worst disaster manager, but Obama’s second in our Whispers poll.

By + More

When it comes to presidents with the worst reputation as masters of disasters, it's hard to beat former President George W. Bush and his handling of Hurricane Katrina. But in our latest Washington Whispers poll, President Obama ranks second on the worst list, soiled by the Gulf oil crisis. [See photos of the Gulf oil spill.]

According to our new poll, more than half—53 percent—said that Bush was the worst recent president at handling disasters, proof that the fallout from Katrina continues to sink his reputation. But 33 percent chose Obama second. That shouldn't be too surprising since other polls have shown holes in Obama's armor on the oil spill issue. A Rasmussen poll of Louisiana voters even found that 58 percent disapprove of the president.

And the president many pundits are comparing Obama to, former President Jimmy Carter, was third, though way down at just 8 percent. By comparison, his was a disaster-filled presidency that included soaring interest rates, gas lines and the Iran-hostage crisis. Here are the results:

President Obama has been criticized for his Gulf oil crisis reaction, as George W. Bush was with Hurricane Katrina. Some, like Ronald Reagan and his handling of the Challenger explosion, have won praise. Who was the worst at handling disasters?

George W. Bush 53%

Barack Obama 33%

Jimmy Carter 8%

Bill Clinton 5%

Ronald Reagan 1%

Source: The Synovate eNation Internet poll was conducted June 21-23 among 1,000 nationally representative households by global market research firm Synovate.

  • Check out a roundup of editorial cartoons on the Gulf oil spill.
  • See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.
  • See a slide show of the 10 keys to an Obama comeback.