Gallup offers an interesting dichotomy between their headline and lead paragraph in yesterday’s release about a survey comparison between Barack Obama and George W. Bush.  The lead emphasizes that a plurality sees Obama as a better President, while the headline trumpets the fact that 56% see him as no better and worse:

Majority Rates Obama Same or Worse Compared With Bush

Asked to compare Barack Obama with George W. Bush, Americans are more inclined to say Obama has been a better (43%) rather than a worse (34%) president, with 22% seeing no difference between the two. Obama compares much less favorably to Bill Clinton, with half saying Obama has been worse than Clinton and 12% saying better.

The really bad news for Obama is that a narrow plurality of independents now see Obama as a worse President than Bush, 38/33.  Combined with those who view them the same, that amounts to two-thirds of independents who aren’t feeling the hope and change.  That’s probably due to the increased blame Obama gets for the current economic conditions.

Gallup offers this telling bit of understatement:

At the same time, the fact that less than half of Americans say Obama has been a better president than Bush, given the low regard Americans have for the Bush presidency, poses a clear challenge for Obama.

Obama himself kept making that comparison the first two years in office.  Note, though, that Obama has begun to move away from the “inherited” excuse, although it still pops up from time to time.  He used Bush fatigue for the first half of his term to shield himself from taking responsibility for the failures of his own policies, but the midterms showed that the blameshifting strategy had already hit its expiration date.  And if Obama thinks he can run against George Bush again in 2012, this result demonstrates that it will be an even bigger loser than in 2010.