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Historical rankings of presidents of the United States


Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_presidents_of_the_United_States
Updated: 2017-08-31T16:56Z
In the 1920s, sculptor Gutzon Borglum and President Calvin Coolidge selected George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to appear on Mount Rushmore. It has become an iconic symbol of presidential greatness.

In political studies, historical rankings of presidents of the United States are surveys conducted in order to construct rankings of the success of individuals who have served as President of the United States. Ranking systems are usually based on surveys of academic historians and political scientists or popular opinion. The rankings focus on the presidential achievements, leadership qualities, failures, and faults.[1][2][3]

General findings

Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George Washington are most often the three highest rated presidents among historians. The remaining places in the top 10 are often rounded out by Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Andrew Jackson, and John F. Kennedy. More recent presidents such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are often rated among the greatest in world opinion polls, but do not always rank as highly among presidential scholars and historians. The bottom 10 often include James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Ulysses S. Grant, Zachary Taylor, and George W. Bush. Because William Henry Harrison (30 days) and James A. Garfield (200 days, incapacitated after 119 days) both died shortly after taking office, they are sometimes omitted from presidential rankings. Zachary Taylor also died after serving as president for only 16 months, but he is usually included. In the case of these three, it is not clear if they received low rankings due to their actions as president, or because each was president for such a limited time that it is not possible to assess them more thoroughly.

Political scientist Walter Dean Burnham noted the "dichotomous or schizoid profiles" of presidents, which can make some hard to classify. Historian Alan Brinkley stated that "there are presidents who could be considered both failures and great or near great (for example, Nixon)". Historian and political scientist James MacGregor Burns observed of Nixon, "How can one evaluate such an idiosyncratic president, so brilliant and so morally lacking?"[4]

David H. Donald, noted biographer of Abraham Lincoln, relates that when he met John F. Kennedy in 1961, Kennedy voiced his deep dissatisfaction and resentment with historians who had rated some of his predecessors. Kennedy said that "No one has a right to grade a President—even poor James Buchanan—who has not sat in his chair, examined the mail and information that came across his desk, and learned why he made his decisions."[5]

Historian and political scientist Julian E. Zelizer argues that traditional presidential rankings explain little concerning actual presidential history, and that they are "weak mechanisms for evaluating what has taken place in the White House".[6] Libertarian political commentator Ivan Eland wrote a book titled Recarving Rushmore (2008; updated 2014), in which he wrote that historians' criteria are poor in their capacity to reflect presidents' actual services to the country. In the book, Eland chose to rate 40 U.S. presidents on the basis of whether their policies promoted prosperity, liberty, and non-interventionism, as well as modest executive roles for themselves; his final rankings varied significantly from those of most scholars.

Notable scholar surveys

Abraham Lincoln is often considered the greatest president for his leadership during the American Civil War and his eloquence in speeches such as the Gettysburg Address.
James Buchanan is often considered the worst president for his inept leadership during the years leading up to the American Civil War.

The 1948 poll was conducted by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. of Harvard University.[1] The 1962 survey was also conducted by Schlesinger, who surveyed 75 historians.[7] Schlesinger's son Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., conducted another poll in 1996.[8]

The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents also gives the results of the 1982 survey, a poll of 49 historians conducted by the Chicago Tribune. A notable difference from the 1962 Schlesinger poll was the ranking of Dwight D. Eisenhower, which rose from 22nd in 1962 to 9th in 1982.

The Siena Research Institute of Siena College conducted surveys in 1982, 1990, 1994, 2002, and 2010. The 1994 survey placed only two presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, above 80 points and two presidents, Andrew Johnson and Warren G. Harding, below 50 points.[9][10] The 2010 Siena survey had George W. Bush plummet from the initial 2002 ranking of 23rd down to 39th.

The 1996 column shows the results from a poll conducted from 1988 to 1996 by William J. Ridings Jr. and Stuart B. McIver and published in Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent.[11] More than 719 people took part in the poll, primarily academic historians and political scientists, although some politicians and celebrities also took part. Participants from every state were included, and emphasis was placed upon getting input from female historians and "specialists in African-American studies", as well as a few non-American historians. Poll respondents rated the presidents in five categories (leadership qualities, accomplishments and crisis management, political skill, appointments, and character and integrity), and the results were tabulated to create the overall ranking.

A 2000 survey by The Wall Street Journal consisted of an "ideologically balanced group of 132 prominent professors of history, law, and political science". This poll sought to include an equal number of liberals and conservatives in the survey, as the editors argued that previous polls were dominated by either one group or the other. According to the editors, this poll included responses from more women, minorities, and young professors than the 1996 Schlesinger poll. The editors noted that the results of their poll were "remarkably similar" to the 1996 Schlesinger poll, with the main difference in the 2000 poll being the lower rankings for the 1960s presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy, and higher ranking of President Ronald Reagan at 8th. Franklin D. Roosevelt still ranked in the top three.

Another presidential poll was conducted by The Wall Street Journal in 2005, with James Lindgren of Northwestern University Law School for the Federalist Society.[12] As in the 2000 survey, the editors sought to balance the opinions of liberals and conservatives, adjusting the results "to give Democratic- and Republican-leaning scholars equal weight". Franklin D. Roosevelt still ranked in the top three, but editor James Taranto noted that Democratic-leaning scholars rated George W. Bush the sixth-worst president of all time, while Republican scholars rated him the sixth-best, giving him a split-decision rating of "average".

A 2006 Siena College poll of 744 professors reported the following results:[13]

  • "George W. Bush has just finished five years as President. If today were the last day of his presidency, how would you rank him? The responses were: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%."
  • "In your judgment, do you think he has a realistic chance of improving his rating?" Two-thirds (67%) responded no; less than a quarter (23%) responded yes; and 10% chose "no opinion or not applicable".

Thomas Kelly, professor emeritus of American studies at Siena College, said: "President Bush would seem to have small hope for high marks from the current generation of practicing historians and political scientists. In this case, current public opinion polls actually seem to cut the President more slack than the experts do." Douglas Lonnstrom, Siena College professor of statistics and director of the Siena Research Institute, stated: "In our 2002 presidential rating, with a group of experts comparable to this current poll, President Bush ranked 23rd of 42 presidents. That was shortly after 9/11. Clearly, the professors do not think things have gone well for him in the past few years. These are the experts that teach college students today and will write the history of this era tomorrow."[13]

A 2010 Siena poll of 238 presidential scholars found that former President George W. Bush was ranked 39th out of 43, with poor ratings in handling of the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments, and intelligence. Meanwhile, the then-current president, Barack Obama, was ranked 15th out of 43, with high ratings for imagination, communication ability and intelligence and a low rating for background (family, education and experience).[14][15]

The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership consists of rankings from a group of presidential historians and biographers. The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership has taken place three times: in 2000, 2009, and 2017.[16][17][18] The most recent survey was of 91 presidential historians, surveyed by C-SPAN's Academic Advisor Team, made up of Douglas G. Brinkley, Edna Greene Medford, and Richard Norton Smith. In the survey, each historian rates each president on a scale of one ("not effective") to 10 ("very effective") on presidential leadership in ten categories: "Public Persuasion", "Crisis Leadership", "Economic Management", "Moral Authority", "International Relations", "Administrative Skills", "Relations with Congress", "Vision/Setting An Agenda", "Pursued Equal Justice for All", and "Performance Within the Context of His Times"; each category is equally weighed.[19] The results of all three C-SPAN surveys have been fairly consistent. Abraham Lincoln has taken the highest ranking in each survey, and George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt have always ranked in the top five, while James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, and Franklin Pierce have been ranked at the bottom of all three surveys.[18]

In 2008, The Times daily newspaper of London asked eight of its own "top international and political commentators" to rank all 42 U.S. presidents "in order of greatness".[20]

In 2011, through the agency of its United States Presidency Centre (USPC), the Institute for the Study of the Americas (located in the University of London's School of Advanced Study) released the first ever U.K. academic survey to rate U.S. presidents. This polled the opinion of British specialists in American history and politics to assess presidential performance. They also gave an interim assessment of Barack Obama, but his unfinished presidency was not included in the survey (had he been included, he would have attained eighth place overall).[21]

In 2012, Newsweek magazine asked a panel of historians to rank the ten best presidents since 1900. The results showed that historians had ranked Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama as the best since that year.[22]

A 2013 History News Network poll of 203 American historians, when asked to rate Obama's presidency on an A–F scale, gave him a B- grade. Obama, whom historians graded using 15 separate measures plus an overall grade, was rated most highly in the categories of communication ability, integrity, and crisis management, and most poorly for his relationship with Congress, transparency, and accountability.[23]

A 2015 poll administered by the American Political Science Association (APSA) among political scientists specializing in the American presidency had Abraham Lincoln in the top spot, with George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, Andrew Jackson, and Woodrow Wilson making the top 10. The results of this poll are reflected in the table below.[24]

Incumbent President Donald Trump is not included in any survey, as none have been conducted since his inauguration on January 20, 2017.

Scholar survey results

Within each column:

  • Blue backgrounds indicate first quartile.[25]
  • Green backgrounds indicate second quartile.
  • Orange backgrounds indicate third quartile.
  • Red backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.

Note: Click the "sort" icon at the head of each column to view the rankings for each survey in numerical order.

No. President Political party Schl. 1948 [1] Schl. 1962 [7] M-B 1982 CT 1982 Siena 1982 Siena 1990 Siena 1994 R-McI 1996 [11] Schl. 1996 [8] C-SPAN 1999 WSJ 2000 Siena 2002 WSJ 2005 [12] C-SPAN 2009 [26] Siena 2010 [14][27] USPC 2011 [28] APSA 2015 [24] C-SPAN 2017 [29] Aggr. [30]
1 George Washington Independent 02 02 03 03 04 04 04 03 02 03 01 04 01 02 04 03 02 02 03
2 John Adams Federalist 09 10 09 14 (tie) 10 14 12 14 11 16 13 12 13 17 17 12 15 19 14
3 Thomas JeffersonDem-Repub 05 05 04 05 02 03 05 04 04 07 04 05 04 07 05 04 05 07 05
4 James Madison Dem-Repub 13 12 14 17 09 08 09 10 17 18 15 08 17 20 06 14 13 17 13
5 James Monroe Dem-Repub 12 18 15 16 15 11 15 13 15 14 16 09 16 14 07 13 16 13 16
6 John Quincy Adams Dem-Repub 11 13 16 19 17 16 17 18 18 19 20 17 25 19 19 20 22 21 21
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 06 06 07 06 13 09 11 08 05 13 06 13 10 13 14 09 09 18 09
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 15 17 20 18 21 21 22 21 21 30 23 24 27 31 23 27 25 34 24
9 William Henry Harrison Whig 99  – 99  – 99  – 38 26 35 28 35 99  – 37 99  – 36 99  – 39 35 99  – 39 38 38
10 John Tyler Whig 22 25 28 29 34 33 34 34 32 36 34 37 35 35 37 37 36 39 37
11 James K. Polk Democratic 10 08 12 11 12 13 14 11 09 12 10 11 09 12 12 16 19 14 15
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 25 24 27 28 29 34 33 29 29 28 31 34 33 29 33 33 33 31 35
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 24 26 29 31 32 32 35 36 31 35 35 38 36 37 38 35 37 37 39
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 27 28 31 35 35 36 37 37 33 39 37 (tie) 39 38 40 40 39 40 41 40
15 James Buchanan Democratic 26 29 33 36 37 38 39 40 38 41 39 41 40 42 42 40 43 43 43
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 01 01 01 01 03 02 02 01 01 01 02 02 02 01 03 02 01 01 01
17 Andrew Johnson Democratic 19 23 32 32 38 39 40 39 37 40 36 42 37 41 43 36 41 42 41
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 28 30 35 30 36 37 38 38 34 33 32 35 29 23 26 29 28 22 33
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 14 14 22 22 23 23 24 25 23 26 22 27 24 33 31 30 30 32 25
20 James A. Garfield Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 33 25 30 26 30 99  – 29 99  – 33 99  – 28 27 99  – 31 29 29
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 17 21 26 24 24 26 27 28 26 32 26 30 26 32 25 32 32 35 28
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 08 11 17 13 18 17 19 16 13 17 12 20 12 21 20 21 23 23 20
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 21 20 23 25 31 29 30 31 19 31 27 32 30 30 34 34 29 30 30
25 William McKinley Republican 18 15 18 10 19 19 18 17 16 15 14 19 14 16 21 17 21 16 19
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 07 07 05 04 05 05 03 05 06 04 05 03 05 04 02 05 04 04 04
27 William Howard Taft Republican 16 16 19 20 20 20 21 20 22 24 19 21 20 24 24 25 20 24 23
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 04 04 06 07 06 06 06 06 07 06 11 06 11 09 08 06 10 11 07
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 29 31 36 37 39 40 41 41 39 38 37 (tie) 40 39 38 41 38 42 40 42
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 23 27 30 27 30 31 36 33 30 27 25 29 23 26 29 28 27 27 31
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 20 19 21 21 27 28 29 24 35 34 29 31 31 34 36 26 38 36 34
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 03 03 02 02 01 01 01 02 03 02 03 01 03 03 01 01 03 03 02
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 99  – 09 08 08 07 07 07 07 08 05 07 07 07 05 09 07 06 06 06
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 99  – 22 11 09 11 12 08 09 10 09 09 10 08 08 10 10 07 05 08
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 99  – 99  – 13 14 (tie) 08 10 10 15 12 08 18 14 15 06 11 15 14 08 10
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 99  – 99  – 10 12 14 15 13 12 14 10 17 15 18 11 16 11 12 10 12
37 Richard M. Nixon Republican 99  – 99  – 34 34 28 25 23 32 36 25 33 26 32 27 30 23 34 28 32
38 Gerald R. Ford Republican 99  – 99  – 24 23 22 27 32 27 28 23 28 28 28 22 28 24 24 25 26
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 99  – 99  – 25 26 33 24 25 19 27 22 30 25 34 25 32 18 26 26 27
40 Ronald Reagan Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 16 * 22 20 26 25 11 08 16 06 10 18 08 11 09 11
41 George H. W. Bush Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 18 * 31 22 24 20 21 22 21 18 22 22 17 20 22
42 Bill Clinton Democratic 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 16 * 23 * 20 * 21 * 24 * 18 22 15 13 19 08 15 18
43 George W. Bush Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 23 * 19 * 36 39 31 35 33 36
44 Barack Obama Democratic 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 15 * 99  – 18 * 12 17
45 Donald Trump Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  –
Total in survey 29 31 36 38 39 40 41 41 39 41 39 42 40 42 43 40 4343 43
* Ranking calculated before president had completed his term in office.

Note: Grover Cleveland was elected to two non-consecutive terms, serving as both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States; to date he is the only person to have achieved this distinction. Because of it, the total number of people who have served as president is one fewer than the number of presidents in order of succession.

Liberal and conservative raters

The Murray-Blessing 1982 survey asked historians whether they were liberal or conservative on domestic, social and economic issues.[31] The table below shows that the two groups had only small differences in ranking the best and worst presidents. Both groups agreed on the composition of nine of the top ten Presidents (and were split over the inclusion of either Lyndon B. Johnson or Dwight D. Eisenhower), and six of the worst seven (split over Jimmy Carter or Calvin Coolidge).

Rankings by Liberals and Conservatives
Rank Liberals (n = 190) Conservatives (n = 50)
1Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln
2 Franklin D. Roosevelt George Washington
3 George Washington Franklin D. Roosevelt
4 Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson
5 Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt
6 Woodrow Wilson Andrew Jackson
7 Andrew Jackson Harry S. Truman
8 Harry S. Truman Woodrow Wilson
9 Lyndon B. Johnson Dwight D. Eisenhower
10 John Adams John Adams
...
30 Calvin Coolidge Jimmy Carter
31 Franklin Pierce Richard Nixon
32 James Buchanan Franklin Pierce
33 Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson
34 Ulysses S. Grant James Buchanan
35 Richard Nixon Ulysses S. Grant
36 Warren G. Harding Warren G. Harding

Statistical analysis

Scholars have explored whether historians' rankings of a president are correlated with quantifiable measures. Economist David R. Henderson and Zachary Gochenour applied a linear regression model to explain the C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership rankings.[32] They found the following correlations to be statistically significant:

Variablecoefficientp-value
Real Per-Capita GDP Growth7.75<.05
Years In Office22.67<.01
Intellectual Brilliance57.79<.01
War Hero147.86<.01
Assassination195.97<.001
Military Deaths Per-Capita Rank −8.73<.001

They concluded that "the results indicate that military deaths as a percentage of population is a major determinant of greatness in the eyes of historians."

Excluded groups ranking approach

In 2002, Ronald Walters, former director of the University of Maryland's African American Leadership Institute, stated that presidents ranked by how each one balanced the interests of majority interests and the interests of excluded groups was practical in respect to American debate on racial politics. Presidents have traditionally been ranked on personal qualities and their leadership ability to solve problems that move the nation in a positive direction. Walters stated there was a qualitative difference between white and African-American intellectuals in evaluating presidents. In the 1996 New York Times poll by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., 31 white historians and one black historian ranked presidents on differing categories of greatness. In a survey done by professors Hanes Walton Jr. and Robert Smith, in their text book American Politics And The African American Quest For Universal Freedom, 44 African-American political scientists and historians ranked presidents in terms of racial attitudes and racial legislation proposed.[33] Individual presidents' attitudes, policies, and perspectives were historically ranked in five categories: White Supremacist; Racist; Racially Neutral; Racially Ambivalent; Antiracist.[34]

Popular opinion

Rasmussen poll

According to a Rasmussen poll conducted in 2007, six presidents—George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy—were rated favorably by at least 80% of Americans.[35]

President Favorable Unfavorable Net favorable
George Washington 94 2 92
Abraham Lincoln 92 4 88
Thomas Jefferson 89 4 85
Theodore Roosevelt 84 8 76
Franklin D. Roosevelt 81 12 69
John F. Kennedy 80 13 67
John Adams 74 9 65
James Madison 73 8 65
Ronald Reagan 72 22 50
Dwight D. Eisenhower 72 15 57
Harry S. Truman 70 14 56
Andrew Jackson 69 14 55
Gerald Ford 62 26 36
John Quincy Adams 59 7 52
Ulysses S. Grant 58 24 34
George H. W. Bush 57 41 16
Jimmy Carter 57 34 23
William Howard Taft 57 15 42
Woodrow Wilson 56 19 37
Bill Clinton 55 41 14
James Monroe 49 10 39
Herbert Hoover 48 34 14
Lyndon B. Johnson 45 42 3
Andrew Johnson 45 26 19
Chester A. Arthur 43 17 26
James A. Garfield 42 16 26
William McKinley 42 24 18
George W. Bush 41 59 −18
Grover Cleveland 40 26 14
Calvin Coolidge 38 31 7
Rutherford B. Hayes 38 19 19
Richard Nixon 32 60 −28
Benjamin Harrison 30 35 −5
Warren G. Harding 29 33 −4
James Buchanan 28 32 −4
James K. Polk 27 21 6
Zachary Taylor 26 18 8
Martin Van Buren 23 19 4
William Henry Harrison 21 16 5
Franklin Pierce 17 25 −8
Millard Fillmore 17 25 −8
John Tyler 9 15 −6

Gallup poll

A Gallup poll about presidential greatness taken February 2–5, 2011, asked 1015 adults in the U.S. "Who do you regard as the greatest United States president?"[3]

  1. Ronald Reagan (19%)
  2. Abraham Lincoln (14%)
  3. Bill Clinton (13%)
  4. John F. Kennedy (11%)
  5. George Washington (10%)
  6. Franklin Roosevelt (8%)
  7. Barack Obama (5%)
  8. Theodore Roosevelt (3%)
  9. Harry Truman (3%)
  10. George W. Bush (2%)
  11. Thomas Jefferson (2%)
  12. Jimmy Carter (1%)
  13. Dwight Eisenhower (1%)
  14. George H. W. Bush (1%)
  15. Andrew Jackson (<1%)
  16. Lyndon B. Johnson (<1%)
  17. Richard Nixon (<1%)

Popular opinion polls on recent presidents

These polls evaluate recent presidents only.

2010 Gallup poll

A Gallup poll, taken on November 19–21, 2010, asked Americans to say, based on what they know or remember about the nine most recent former presidents, whether they approve or disapprove of how each handled his job in office.[36]

  1. John F. Kennedy (85% approval/10% disapproval)
  2. Ronald Reagan (74% approval/24% disapproval)
  3. Bill Clinton (69% approval/30% disapproval)
  4. George H. W. Bush (64% approval/34% disapproval)
  5. Gerald Ford (61% approval/26% disapproval)
  6. Jimmy Carter (52% approval/42% disapproval)
  7. Lyndon B. Johnson (49% approval/36% disapproval)
  8. George W. Bush (47% approval/51% disapproval)
  9. Richard Nixon (29% approval/65% disapproval)

Public Policy Polling

A Public Policy Polling poll taken between September 8–11, 2011, asked 665 American voters, based on what they know or remember about the nine most recent former presidents, whether they hold favorable or unfavorable views of how each handled his job in office.[37]

  1. John F. Kennedy (74% favorability/15% unfavorability)
  2. Ronald Reagan (60% favorability/30% unfavorability)
  3. Bill Clinton (62% favorability/34% unfavorability)
  4. George H. W. Bush (53% favorability/35% unfavorability)
  5. Gerald Ford (45% favorability/26% unfavorability)
  6. Jimmy Carter (45% favorability/43% unfavorability)
  7. Lyndon B. Johnson (36% favorability/39% unfavorability)
  8. George W. Bush (41% favorability/51% unfavorability)
  9. Richard Nixon (19% favorability/62% unfavorability)

Vision Critical/Angus Reid poll

A Vision Critical/Angus Reid poll taken on February 18–19, 2011, asked respondents about 11 former presidents plus the current president and whether each was a good or bad president.[38]

  1. John F. Kennedy (80% approval/6% disapproval)
  2. Ronald Reagan (72% approval/16% disapproval)
  3. Bill Clinton (65% approval/24% disapproval)
  4. Dwight D. Eisenhower (61% approval/6% disapproval)
  5. Harry S. Truman (57% approval/7% disapproval)
  6. Jimmy Carter (47% approval/28% disapproval)
  7. George H. W. Bush (44% approval/38% disapproval)
  8. Barack Obama (41% approval/33% disapproval)
  9. Gerald Ford (37% approval/25% disapproval)
  10. Lyndon B. Johnson (15% approval/27% disapproval)
  11. George W. Bush (30% approval/55% disapproval)
  12. Richard Nixon (24% approval/54% disapproval)

2013 Gallup poll

A Gallup Poll taken November 7–10, 2013, asked 1039 adults in the U.S. "How do you think each of the following presidents will go down in history—as an outstanding president, above average, average, below average, or poor?"[39]

Gallup poll 2013
President Outstanding Above Average Average Below Average Poor No Opinion Weighted Average
Dwight D. Eisenhower10%39%36%2%1%12%2.38
John F. Kennedy18%56%19%2%1%4%2.08
Lyndon B. Johnson4%16%46%14%8%12%3.07
Richard Nixon2%13%27%29%23%6%3.62
Gerald Ford2%14%56%15%5%8%3.08
Jimmy Carter4%19%37%20%15%6%3.24
Ronald Reagan19%42%27%6%4%2%2.33
George H. W. Bush3%24%48%12%10%2%3.02
Bill Clinton11%44%29%9%6%1%2.55
George W. Bush3%18%36%20%23%1%3.42
Barack Obama6%22%31%18%22%1%3.28

2014 Quinnipiac poll

A Quinnipiac University poll taken June 24–30, 2014, asked 1446 registered voters in the U.S. who they thought were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[40]

Best president since World War II:

  1. Ronald Reagan (35%)
  2. Bill Clinton (18%)
  3. John F. Kennedy (15%)
  4. Barack Obama (8%)
  5. Dwight Eisenhower (5%)
  6. Harry S. Truman (4%)
  7. Lyndon B. Johnson (tie) (3%)
  8. George H. W. Bush (tie) (3%)
  9. Jimmy Carter (2%)
  10. Richard Nixon (tie) (1%)
  11. Gerald Ford (tie) (1%)
  12. George W. Bush (tie) (1%)

Worst president since World War II:

  1. Barack Obama (33%)
  2. George W. Bush (28%)
  3. Richard Nixon (13%)
  4. Jimmy Carter (8%)
  5. Lyndon B. Johnson (tie) (3%)
  6. Ronald Reagan (tie) (3%)
  7. Bill Clinton (tie) (3%)
  8. Gerald Ford (tie) (2%)
  9. George H. W. Bush (tie) (2%)
  10. Dwight Eisenhower (1%)
  11. Harry S. Truman (tie) (<1%)
  12. John F. Kennedy (tie) (<1%)

2017 Quinnipiac poll

Four years later, a Quinnipiac University poll taken January 20–25, 2017, asked 1190 voters in the U.S. who they thought were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[41]

Best president since World War II:

  1. Ronald Reagan (30%)
  2. Barack Obama (29%)
  3. John F. Kennedy (12%)
  4. Bill Clinton (9%)
  5. Dwight Eisenhower (tie) (3%)
  6. George W. Bush (tie) (3%)
  7. Harry Truman (tie) (2%)
  8. Lyndon B. Johnson (tie) (2%)
  9. Jimmy Carter (tie) (2%)
  10. George H.W. Bush (tie) (2%)
  11. Richard Nixon (<1%)
  12. Gerald R. Ford (<1%)

Worst president since World War II:

  1. Richard Nixon (24%)
  2. Barack Obama (23%)
  3. George W. Bush (22%)
  4. Jimmy Carter (10%)
  5. Ronald Reagan (5%)
  6. Bill Clinton (4%)
  7. Lyndon B. Johnson (3%)
  8. George H.W. Bush (2%)
  9. Gerald R. Ford (1%)
  10. Harry S. Truman (tie) (<1%)
  11. Dwight Eisenhower (tie) (<1%)
  12. John F. Kennedy (tie) (<1%)

Siena College Research Institute, Presidential Expert Poll of 2010

Source:[42]

Abbreviations

  • Bg = Background
  • PL = Party leadership
  • CAb = Communication ability
  • RC = Relations with Congress
  • CAp = Court appointments
  • HE = Handling of economy
  • L = Luck
  • AC = Ability to compromise
  • WR = Willing to take risks
  • EAp = Executive appointments
  • OA = Overall ability
  • Im = Imagination
  • DA = Domestic accomplishments
  • Int = Integrity
  • EAb = Executive ability
  • FPA = Foreign policy accomplishments
  • LA = Leadership ability
  • IQ = Intelligence
  • AM = Avoid crucial mistakes
  • EV = Experts' view
  • O = Overall
  • Blue backgrounds indicate first quartile.
  • Green backgrounds indicate second quartile.
  • Orange backgrounds indicate third quartile.
  • Red backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.
Seq. President Political party Bg PL CAb RC CAp HE L AC WR EAp OA Im DA Int EAb FPA LA IQ AM EV O
 
1 George Washington Independent 7 18 12 3 3 4 1 3 4 1 4 9 4 2 2 3 1 12 1 3 4
2 John Adams Federalist 4 29 18 26 10 13 23 32 16 15 13 17 22 3 19 12 20 7 15 12 17
3 Thomas Jefferson Dem-Repub 1 4 6 4 6 16 6 11 8 5 5 3 6 14 5 7 6 1 6 5 5
4 James Madison Dem-Repub 3 10 11 9 7 12 17 7 15 9 6 8 12 5 14 20 17 2 10 8 6
5 James Monroe Dem-Repub 9 12 15 8 14 9 9 8 17 8 16 16 8 10 11 2 13 15 7 9 7
6 John Quincy Adams Dem-Repub 2 34 20 35 16 14 30 29 23 13 15 11 18 4 21 16 26 5 20 21 19
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 30 2 10 14 27 28 4 38 5 19 12 13 14 23 6 19 5 23 12 13 14
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 16 13 23 19 24 38 33 13 32 25 24 24 27 29 23 25 27 22 27 24 23
9 William Henry Harrison Whig 24 30 25 31 33 27 42 35 30 24 37 35 36 30 33 39 24 31 33 34 35
10 John Tyler Independent[43] 33 42 39 42 39 31 22 39 26 34 35 29 34 33 37 35 36 33 32 36 37
11 James K. Polk Democratic 17 9 13 12 21 15 7 23 7 16 17 14 11 24 9 8 10 20 9 11 12
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 37 35 28 37 37 24 36 34 28 28 34 27 37 21 31 34 25 37 25 33 33
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 40 41 40 38 35 33 25 25 37 35 38 36 35 36 38 33 39 39 30 35 38
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 38 37 37 41 40 34 35 36 38 38 39 39 39 38 40 40 40 38 35 40 40
15 James Buchanan Democratic 23 40 41 40 42 41 40 41 43 39 42 42 43 40 42 41 43 40 41 43 42
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 28 6 2 6 4 5 13 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 5 2 3 2 1 3
17 Andrew Johnson National Union 42 43 43 43 43 37 39 43 34 42 41 41 42 37 41 38 42 41 42 42 43
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 26 28 24 22 25 29 21 22 22 40 28 26 26 27 34 24 21 29 31 31 26
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 29 33 30 29 29 26 19 18 33 33 33 32 33 28 30 30 32 30 24 29 31
20 James A. Garfield Republican 20 22 22 24 32 23 41 27 31 29 25 28 25 25 26 31 23 26 22 27 27
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 41 31 32 27 28 19 14 21 27 26 30 25 20 32 27 26 28 32 17 26 25
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 19 16 17 15 17 22 20 19 24 18 20 22 17 19 17 21 19 25 14 19 20
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 39 32 34 28 30 35 29 30 39 36 36 34 32 31 35 28 34 35 23 32 34
25 William McKinley Republican 21 14 19 11 23 18 24 20 21 20 21 23 19 22 18 15 18 27 11 20 21
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 6 7 3 5 1 2 2 12 1 4 3 1 2 6 4 4 4 6 3 4 2
27 William Howard Taft Republican 14 36 29 30 18 20 32 24 36 22 23 30 21 18 25 23 31 18 28 23 24
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 8 8 9 16 8 8 15 37 9 10 8 5 9 11 10 10 12 4 29 10 8
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 43 38 36 34 36 39 37 26 40 43 43 43 40 42 43 37 41 43 39 41 41
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 25 24 38 21 26 30 12 28 41 30 32 37 31 17 28 32 33 28 19 28 29
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 10 26 31 33 19 43 43 40 42 32 26 38 41 13 29 36 37 14 40 38 36
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 5 1 1 2 2 1 5 2 3 3 2 4 3 16 3 1 3 10 4 2 1
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 35 15 14 20 15 6 11 15 6 7 7 15 7 8 8 6 9 17 8 6 9
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 12 17 21 10 9 11 8 5 20 17 11 20 13 9 7 9 7 19 5 7 10
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 13 19 4 13 12 7 27 6 10 6 14 7 15 35 13 17 11 11 16 14 11
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 15 3 16 1 5 10 28 9 12 12 9 12 5 34 12 43 15 21 37 16 16
37 Richard Nixon Republican 18 20 26 36 38 25 34 33 14 37 22 19 24 43 24 11 29 16 43 37 30
38 Gerald Ford Republican 27 25 35 17 22 36 31 17 35 23 31 33 30 15 32 27 30 34 26 25 28
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 31 39 27 39 20 40 38 31 25 21 29 21 29 7 36 29 35 13 36 30 32
40 Ronald Reagan Republican 34 5 5 7 31 21 3 14 11 31 19 18 23 26 20 13 8 36 13 17 18
41 George H. W. Bush Republican 11 27 33 23 34 32 26 16 29 27 27 31 28 20 22 14 22 24 18 22 22
42 Bill Clinton Democratic 22 11 8 25 11 3 10 4 18 11 10 10 10 41 15 18 14 9 34 15 13
43 George W. Bush Republican 36 39 42 32 41 42 18 42 19 41 40 40 38 39 39 42 38 42 38 39 39
44 Barack Obama Democratic 32 21 7 18 13 17 16 10 13 14 18 6 16 12 16 22 16 8 21 18 15
Seq. President Political party Bg PL CAb RC CAp HE L AC WR EAp OA Im DA Int EAb FPA LA IQ AM EV O

Memorability of the presidents

In November 2014, Henry L. Roediger III and K. Andrew DeSoto published a study in the journal Science asking research subjects to name as many presidents as possible.[44][45] They reported data from three generations, as well as from an online survey conducted in 2014. The percentage of participants in the online survey sample who could name each president was:

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Maranell, Gary M. (June 1970). "The Evaluation of Presidents: An Extension of the Schlesinger Polls". The Journal of American History. 57 (1): 104–13. JSTOR 1900552. 
  2. ^ William J. Ridings Jr. and Stuart B. McIver "Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent" (2000, ISBN 0806521511)Google Books Link
  3. ^ a b "Americans Say Reagan Is the Greatest U.S. President". Gallup.com. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  4. ^ Skidmore 2001
  5. ^ Donald, David H., Lincoln, 1995, p. 13
  6. ^ Zelizer (February 21, 2011), What's wrong with presidential rankings, CNN Opinion
  7. ^ a b Schlesinger, Arthur M. "Our Presidents: A Rating by 75 Historians". New York Times Magazine July 1962: pp. 12–13, 40–41, 43.
  8. ^ a b "Rating the Presidents: Washington to Clinton". Retrieved March 25, 2010. 
  9. ^ HISTORIANS GIVE GOOD GRADES TO CLINTON PRESIDENCY IN SIENA COLLEGE SURVEY. January 11, 1995. Archived June 28, 2006.
  10. ^ FDR America's Greatest President August 19, 2002. Archived February 10, 2007.
  11. ^ a b Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent (2000, ISBN 0806521511)
  12. ^ a b "Presidential Leadership; The Rankings". Wall Street Journal Online. September 12, 2005. Archived from the original on February 7, 2006. 
  13. ^ a b Experts: Bush Presidency Is A Failure; Little Chance To Improve Ranking, Siena Research Institute, May 1, 2006
  14. ^ a b Rushmore Plus One; FDR joins Mountainside Figures Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln as Top Presidents Archived July 7, 2015, at the Wayback Machine., Siena Research Institute, July 1, 2010
  15. ^ Thomas, G. Scott (July 1, 2010). "Clean sweep for the Roosevelts ". Business First of Buffalo. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
  16. ^ C-SPAN RELEASES SECOND HISTORIANS SURVEY OF PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP, C-SPAN (February 15, 2009).
  17. ^ Presidential Historians Survey 2017, C-SPAN (last accessed February 17, 2017).
  18. ^ a b [C-SPAN RELEASES THIRD HISTORIANS SURVEY OF PRESIDENTIAL LEADERSHIP], C-SPAN (February 17, 2017).
  19. ^ Methodology: Presidential Historians Survey 2017, C-SPAN (last accessed February 17, 2017).
  20. ^ Griffin, Jeremy; Nico Hines (October 28, 2008). "Who's the greatest? The Times US presidential rankings". The Times. London. Retrieved March 24, 2010. 
  21. ^ Iwan Morgan. "UK Survey of US Presidents: Results and Analysis". Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  22. ^ "From Franklin Delano Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy, Newsweek's 10 Best Presidents (Photos)". The Daily Beast. September 24, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  23. ^ HNN Staff (September 8, 2013). "Historians Give Barack Obama a B-". History News Network. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  24. ^ a b Brandon Rottinghaus (February 13, 2015). "Measuring Obama against the great presidents". The Brookings Institution. 
  25. ^ Quartiles were determined by splitting the data into an upper and lower half and then splitting these into the first two and last two quartiles, respectively. When splitting an odd number of values, the median was included in the upper half.
  26. ^ "Lincoln Wins: Honest Abe tops new presidential survey". CNN. February 16, 2009. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  27. ^ Thomas, G. Scott (July 1, 2010). "Clean sweep for the Roosevelts ". Business First of Buffalo. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
  28. ^ Iwan Morgan. "UK Survey of US Presidents: Results and Analysis". Retrieved 2013-10-10.
  29. ^ "Presidential Historians Survey 2017". C-SPAN. Retrieved February 17, 2017. 
  30. ^ Aggregate of all polls up to and including C-SPAN 2017 by ranking each president's ratio of favourable to total pairwise comparisons, excluding ties.
  31. ^ Murray and Blessing, p. 135.
  32. ^ Henderson, David R.; Gochenour, Zachary (2013). "War and Presidential Greatness" (PDF). The Independent Review. 17 (4): 505–516. ISSN 1086-1653. 
  33. ^ Walters (7-08-02),Presidency: How Do African-American Scholars Rank Presidents?, History News Network
  34. ^ Walton Jr., Hanes; Smith, Robert C. (2000). American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom. New York: Addison-Wesley Longman, Inc. pp. 201–02. 
  35. ^ "Washington, Lincoln Most Popular Presidents: Nixon, Bush Least Popular - Rasmussen Reports™". Rasmussenreports.com. July 4, 2007. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Kennedy Still Highest-Rated Modern President, Nixon Lowest". Gallup.com. Retrieved March 16, 2012. 
  37. ^ JFK, Reagan, Clinton most popular recent ex-presidents September 15, 2011
  38. ^ Kennedy and Reagan Lead List of Good Presidents for Americans | Angus Reid Public Opinion Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  39. ^ Gallup, Inc. "Americans Rate JFK as Top Modern President". Gallup.com. Archived from the original on August 1, 2016. 
  40. ^ Quinnipiac University. "National (US) Poll - July 2, 2014 - Obama Is First As Worst President Since WWII, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; More Voters Say Romney Would Have Been Better". QU Poll. 
  41. ^ "Trump Starts In The Hole As U.S. Voters Disapprove, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Reagan, Obama Are Best Presidents In 70 Years". QU Poll. 
  42. ^ "Rushmore Plus One; FDR joins Mountainside Figures Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln as Top Presidents". Siena College. July 1, 2010. Archived from the original on July 6, 2010. Retrieved May 19, 2017. 
  43. ^ Tyler was elected on the Whig ticket as Harrison's vice president, but Tyler became an independent after the Whigs expelled him from the party in 1841.
  44. ^ Roediger, Henry L.; DeSoto, K. Andrew (November 28, 2014), "Forgetting the Presidents", Science, 346 (6213): 1106–1109, PMID 25430768, doi:10.1126/science.1259627 
  45. ^ Carey, Benedict (November 27, 2014). "Study on Cultural Memory Confirms: Chester A. Arthur, We Hardly Knew Ye". The New York Times. Retrieved September 11, 2015. 

Further reading

  • Bailey, Thomas A. (1966). Presidential Greatness: The Image and the Man from George Washington to the Present. New York: Appleton-Century.  → A non-quantitative appraisal by leading historian.
  • Bose, Meena; Landis Mark (2003). The Uses and Abuses of Presidential Ratings. New York: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN 1590337948.  → A collection of essays by presidential scholars.
  • DeGregorio, William A. (1993). The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (4. ed., rev., expanded, and up-dated ed.). New York: Barricade Books. ISBN 0942637925.  → Contains the results of the 1962 and 1982 surveys.
  • Eland, Ivan (2009). Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty. Oakland, California: Independent Institute. ISBN 1598130226. 
  • Faber, Charles; Faber, Richard (2000). The American Presidents Ranked by Performance. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0786407654. 
  • Felzenberg, Alvin S. (1997). "There You Go Again: Liberal Historians and the New York Times Deny Ronald Reagan His Due". Policy Review. 82: 51–54. ISSN 0146-5945. 
  • Holli, Melvin G. (1999). The American Mayor: The Best & the Worst Big-City Leaders. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press. ISBN 0271018763. 
  • Merry, Robert W. Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians (2012) excerpt and text search
  • Miller, Nathan (1998). Star-Spangled Men America's Ten Worst Presidents. New York: Scribner. ISBN 0684836106. 
  • Murray, Robert K.; Blessing, Tim H. (1994). Greatness in the White House: Rating the Presidents, from Washington Through Ronald Reagan (2., updated ed.). University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press. ISBN 0271010894. 
  • Nichols, Curt (2012). "The Presidential Ranking Game: Critical Review and Some New Discoveries". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 42 (2): 275–299. ISSN 0360-4918. doi:10.1111/j.1741-5705.2012.03966.x. 
  • Pfiffner, James P. (2003). "Ranking the Presidents: Continuity and Volatility" (PDF). White House Studies. 3: 23. ISSN 1535-4768. 
  • Ridings, William J., Jr.; McIver, Stuart B. (1997). Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing. ISBN 0806517999. 
  • Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. (1997). "Ranking the Presidents: From Washington to Clinton". Political Science Quarterly. 112 (2): 179–190. doi:10.2307/2657937. 
  • Skidmore, Max J. (2004). Presidential Performance: A Comprehensive Review. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN 0786418206. 
  • Skidmore, Max J. (2001). "Ranking and Evaluating Presidents: The Case of Theodore Roosevelt". White House Studies. 1 (4): 495–505. ISSN 1535-4768. 
  • Taranto, James; Leo, Leonard (2004). Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and Worst in the White House. New York: Wall Street Journal Books. ISBN 0743254333.  → For Federalist Society surveys.
  • Vedder, Richard; Gallaway, Lowell (2001). "Rating Presidential Performance". In Denson, John V. (ed.). Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute. ISBN 0945466293. 

External links

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