Historical Rankings of Presidents of the United States
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Historical Rankings of Presidents of the United States

In political studies, surveys have been conducted in order to construct historical rankings of the success of individuals who have served as the 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]

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 later became an iconic symbol of presidential greatness.

General findings

Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George Washington are most often listed as the three highest-rated presidents among historians. The remaining places within 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 public 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, George W. Bush, and/or Donald Trump. Because William Henry Harrison (30 days) and James A. Garfield (200 days, incapacitated after 119 days) both died shortly after taking office, they are usually omitted from presidential rankings. Furthermore, Zachary Taylor 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 in office 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]

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 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.[5] Schlesinger's son, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., conducted another poll in 1996.[6]

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 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.[7] 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.[8] 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".

The Siena College Research Institute of Siena College has conducted surveys in 1982, 1990, 1994, 2002, 2010, and 2018--during the second year of the first term of each president since Ronald Reagan.[9] These surveys collect presidential rankings from historians, political scientists, and presidential scholars in a range of attributes, abilities, and accomplishments.[10] 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.[11][12]

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]

The 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 2018 Siena poll of 157 presidential scholars reported George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Jefferson as the top five US presidents, with SCRI director Don Levy stating, "The top five, Mount Rushmore plus FDR, is carved in granite with presidential historians...."[16] Donald J. Trump--entering the SCRI survey for the first time--joined Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, and Franklin Pierce among the bottom five US presidents. George W. Bush, who presidential scholars had rated among the bottom five in the previous 2010 survey, improved to a position in the third quartile.

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.[17][18][19] 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.[20] 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.[19]

In 2008, The Times daily newspaper of London asked eight of its own "top international and political commentators" to rank all 42 presidents "in order of greatness".[21]

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 United Kingdom academic survey to rate 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).[22]

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 B. Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama as the best since that year.[23]

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.[24]

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.[25] APSA conducted a repeat of this poll in 2018, with Donald Trump appearing for the first time, in last position.[26]

Scholar survey results

Within each column:[note 1]

  • Blue backgrounds indicate first quartile.
  • 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
1 George Washington Independent 02 02 03 02 04 04 04 03 02 (tie) 03 01 04 01 02 04 03 02 02 02 01 1
2 John Adams Federalist 09 10 09 15 10 14 12 14 11 16 13 12 13 17 17 12 15 19 14 14 2
3 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 05 05 04 05 02 03 05 04 04 07 04 05 04 07 05 04 05 07 05 05 1
4 James Madison Democratic-Republican 14 12 14 17 09 08 09 10 17 18 15 09 17 20 06 14 13 17 12 07 2
5 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 12 18 15 16 15 11 15 13 15 14 16 08 16 14 07 13 16 13 18 08 2
6 John Quincy Adams Democratic-Republican 11 13 16 19 17 16 17 18 18 19 20 17 25 19 19 20 22 21 23 18 2
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 06 06 07 07 13 09 11 08 05 13 06 13 10 13 14 09 09 18 15 19 1
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 15 17 20 18 21 21 22 21 21 30 23 24 27 31 23 27 25 34 27 25 3
9 William Henry Harrison Whig - - - - 26 35 28 35 - 37 - 36 - 39 35 - 39 38 42 39 4
10 John Tyler Independent[30] 22 25 28 28 34 33 34 34 32 36 34 37 35 35 37 37 36 39 37 37 4
11 James K. Polk Democratic 10 08 (tie) 12 10 12 13 14 11 09 12 10 11 09 12 12 16 19 14 20 12 2
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 25 24 27 26 29 34 33 29 29 28 31 34 33 29 33 33 33 31 35 30 3
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 24 26 29 31 32 32 35 36 31 35 35 38 36 37 38 35 37 37 38 38 4
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 27 28 31 33 35 36 37 37 33 (tie) 39 37 (tie) 39 38 40 40 39 40 41 41 40 4
15 James Buchanan Democratic 26 29 33 34 37 38 39 40 38 41 39 41 40 42 42 40 43 43 43 43 4
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 01 01 01 01 03 02 02 01 01 01 02 02 02 01 03 02 01 01 01 03 1
17 Andrew Johnson Democratic[31] 19 23 32 30 38 39 40 39 37 40 36 42 37 41 43 36 41 42 40 44 4
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 28 30 35 32 36 37 38 38 33 (tie) 33 32 35 29 23 26 29 28 22 21 24 4
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 13 14 22 22 22 23 24 25 23 26 22 27 24 33 31 30 30 32 29 32 3
20 James A. Garfield Republican - - - - 25 30 26 30 - 29 - 33 - 28 27 - 31 29 34 28 3
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 17 21 (tie) 23 24 24 26 27 28 26 32 26 30 26 32 25 32 32 35 31 34 3
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 08 11 17 13 18 17 19 16 13 17 12 20 12 21 20 21 23 23 24 23 2
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 21 20 26 25 31 29 30 31 19 31 27 32 30 30 34 34 29 30 32 35 3
25 William McKinley Republican 18 15 18 11 19 19 18 17 16 15 14 19 14 16 21 17 21 16 19 20 2
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 07 07 05 04 05 05 03 05 06 04 05 03 05 04 02 05 04 04 04 04 1
27 William Howard Taft Republican 16 16 19 20 20 20 21 20 22 24 19 21 20 24 24 25 20 24 22 22 2
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 04 04 06 06 06 06 06 06 07 06 11 06 11 09 08 06 10 11 11 11 1
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 29 31 36 36 39 40 41 41 39 38 37 (tie) 40 39 38 41 38 42 40 39 41 4
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 23 27 30 29 30 31 36 33 30 27 25 29 23 26 29 28 27 27 28 31 3
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 20 19 21 21 27 28 29 24 33 (tie) 34 29 31 31 34 36 26 38 36 36 36 3
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 03 03 02 03 01 01 01 02 02 (tie) 02 03 01 03 03 01 01 03 03 03 02 1
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic - 08 (tie) 08 08 07 07 07 07 08 05 07 07 07 05 09 07 06 06 06 09 1
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican - 21 (tie) 11 09 11 12 08 09 10 09 09 10 08 08 10 10 07 05 07 06 1
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic - - 13 14 08 10 10 15 12 08 18 14 15 06 11 15 14 08 16 10 2
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic - - 10 12 14 15 13 12 14 10 17 15 18 11 16 11 12 10 10 16 2
37 Richard Nixon Republican - - 34 35 28 25 23 32 36 25 33 26 32 27 30 23 34 28 33 29 3
38 Gerald Ford Republican - - 24 23 23 27 32 27 28 23 28 28 28 22 28 24 24 25 25 27 3
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic - - 25 27 33 24 25 19 27 22 30 25 34 25 32 18 26 26 26 26 3
40 Ronald Reagan Republican - - - - 16 * 22 20 26 25 11 08 16 06 10 18 08 11 09 09 13 1
41 George H. W. Bush Republican - - - - - 18 * 31 22 24 20 21 22 21 18 22 22 17 20 17 21 2
42 Bill Clinton Democratic - - - - - - 16 * 23 * 20 * 21 * 24 * 18 22 15 13 19 08 15 13 15 2
43 George W. Bush Republican - - - - - - - - - - - 23 * 19 * 36 39 31 35 33 30 33 3
44 Barack Obama Democratic - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 15 * - 18 * 12 08 17 2
45 Donald Trump Republican - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 44 * 42 * 4 *
Total in survey 29 31 36 36 39 40 41 41 39 41 39 42 40 42 43 40 43 43 44 44 4
* 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.

William Henry Harrison and James Garfield are sometimes omitted from rankings of the presidents because of the short duration of their terms in office.

Murray-Blessing 1982 survey

The Murray-Blessing 1982 survey asked historians whether they were liberal or conservative on domestic, social and economic issues.[32] 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)
1 Abraham Lincoln Abraham 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

Public opinion polls

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.[33]

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 1,015 adults in the United States the following question: "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 S. 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 (<0.5%)
  16. Lyndon B. Johnson (<0.5%)
  17. Richard Nixon (<0.5%)

In addition, "Other" received 1%, "None" received 1% and "No opinion" received 5%.

Public opinion polls on recent presidents

These polls evaluate recent presidents only.

2010 Gallup poll

A Gallup poll taken on November 19-21, 2010, asked 1,037 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.[34]

  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 then-most recent former presidents, whether they hold favorable or unfavorable views of how each handled his job in office.[35]

  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 Public Opinion poll taken on February 18-19, 2011, asked 1,010 respondents about 11 former presidents plus the current president and whether each was a good or bad president.[36]

  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 (33% 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 1,039 adults in the United States the following question: "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?".[37]

Gallup poll 2013
President Outstanding Above average Average Below average Poor No opinion Weighted average[38]
Dwight D. Eisenhower 10% 39% 36% 2% 1% 12% 3.63
John F. Kennedy 18% 56% 19% 2% 1% 4% 3.92
Lyndon B. Johnson 4% 16% 46% 14% 8% 12% 2.93
Richard Nixon 2% 13% 27% 29% 23% 6% 2.38
Gerald Ford 2% 14% 56% 15% 5% 8% 2.92
Jimmy Carter 4% 19% 37% 20% 15% 6% 2.76
Ronald Reagan 19% 42% 27% 6% 4% 2% 3.67
George H. W. Bush 3% 24% 48% 12% 10% 2% 2.98
Bill Clinton 11% 44% 29% 9% 6% 1% 3.45
George W. Bush 3% 18% 36% 20% 23% 1% 2.58
Barack Obama 6% 22% 31% 18% 22% 1% 2.72

2014 Quinnipiac poll

A Quinnipiac University poll taken June 24-30, 2014, asked 1,446 registered voters in the United States who they thought were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[39]

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 1,190 voters in the United States who they thought were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[40]

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 S. Truman (tie) (2%)
  8. Lyndon B. Johnson (tie) (2%)
  9. Jimmy Carter (tie) (2%)
  10. George H. W. Bush (tie) (2%)
  11. Richard Nixon (tie) (<1%)
  12. Gerald R. Ford (tie) (<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%)

2017 Morning Consult poll

Including for the first time President Donald Trump, a Morning Consult poll taken February 9-10, 2017, asked 1,791 registered voters in the United States, who they thought were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[41][42]

Best President since World War II:

  1. Ronald Reagan (26%)
  2. Barack Obama (20%)
  3. John F. Kennedy (17%)
  4. Bill Clinton (9%)
  5. Donald Trump (6%)
  6. George W. Bush (tie) (2%)
  7. Harry S. Truman (tie) (2%)
  8. Jimmy Carter (tie) (2%)
  9. George H. W. Bush (tie) (2%)
  10. Richard Nixon (tie) (1%)
  11. Lyndon B. Johnson (tie) (1%)
  12. Gerald R. Ford (<1%)

Worst President since World War II:

  1. Donald Trump (26%)
  2. Barack Obama (25%)
  3. Richard Nixon (13%)
  4. George W. Bush (7%)
  5. Bill Clinton (6%)
  6. Jimmy Carter (5%)
  7. George H. W. Bush (3%)
  8. Lyndon B. Johnson (2%)
  9. Ronald Reagan (tie) (1%)
  10. Gerald R. Ford (tie) (1%)
  11. Dwight D. Eisenhower (tie) (1%)
  12. Harry S. Truman (tie) (1%)
  13. John F. Kennedy (<1%)

2018 Quinnipiac poll

A Quinnipiac University poll taken March 3-5, 2018, asked 1,122 voters in the United States who they thought were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[43]

Best President since World War II:

  1. Ronald Reagan (28%)
  2. Barack Obama (24%)
  3. John F. Kennedy (tie) (10%)
  4. Bill Clinton (tie) (10%)
  5. Donald Trump (7%)
  6. Dwight Eisenhower (4%)
  7. Harry S. Truman (tie) (3%)
  8. Jimmy Carter (tie) (3%)
  9. Lyndon B. Johnson (2%)
  10. George H. W. Bush (tie) (1%)
  11. Richard Nixon (tie) (1%)
  12. George W. Bush (tie) (1%)
  13. Gerald R. Ford (<1%)

Worst President since World War II:

  1. Donald Trump (41%)
  2. Barack Obama (21%)
  3. Richard Nixon (10%)
  4. Jimmy Carter (8%)
  5. George W. Bush (6%)
  6. Bill Clinton (4%)
  7. Lyndon B. Johnson (tie) (2%)
  8. Ronald Reagan (tie) (2%)
  9. Gerald R. Ford (1%)
  10. Harry S. Truman (tie) (<1%)
  11. Dwight Eisenhower (tie) (<1%)
  12. John F. Kennedy (tie) (<1%)
  13. George H. W. Bush (tie) (<1%)

Siena College Research Institute, Presidential Expert Poll of 2010

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.

Source:[44]

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 Democratic-Republican 1 4 6 4 6 16 6 11 8 5 5 3 6 14 5 7 6 1 6 5 5
4 James Madison Democratic-Republican 3 10 11 9 7 12 17 7 15 9 6 8 12 5 14 20 17 2 10 8 6
5 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 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 Democratic-Republican 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[30] 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 Democratic[31] 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 23 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

2017 C-SPAN Presidential Historian Survey

Abbreviations

  • PP = Public persuasion
  • CL = Crisis leadership
  • EM = Economic management
  • MA = Moral authority
  • IR = International relations
  • AS = Administrative skills
  • RC = Relations with Congress
  • VSA = Vision/Setting an agenda
  • PEJ = Pursued equal justice for all
  • PCT = Performance within context of times
  • O = Overall
  • Blue backgrounds indicate first quartile.
  • Green backgrounds indicate second quartile.
  • Orange backgrounds indicate third quartile.
  • Red backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.

Source:[45]

Seq. President Political party PP CL EM MA IR AS RC VSA PEJ PCT O
 
1 George Washington Independent 4 2 1 1 2 2 2 2 13 1 2
2 John Adams Federalist 22 17 15 11 13 21 24 20 15 19 19
3 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 8 13 13 6 11 7 5 5 17 6 7
4 James Madison Democratic-Republican 18 19 19 9 22 17 13 18 18 16 17
5 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 17 14 18 16 7 11 9 14 25 11 13
6 John Quincy Adams Democratic-Republican 33 23 17 12 15 18 32 15 9 22 21
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 7 10 26 20 20 23 21 10 38 13 18
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 30 35 40 33 26 26 28 33 30 33 34
9 William Henry Harrison Whig 28 38 38 31 42 40 38 36 37 38 38
10 John Tyler Independent[30] 39 36 39 37 28 38 41 37 41 36 39
11 James K. Polk Democratic 13 9 14 27 16 9 11 11 36 12 14
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 27 28 28 28 30 35 35 30 34 30 31
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 40 34 34 36 34 36 36 39 39 37 37
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 41 41 41 39 40 39 40 41 42 41 41
15 James Buchanan Democratic 43 43 42 43 43 41 42 43 43 43 43
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 3 1 2 2 3 1 4 1 1 2 1
17 Andrew Johnson Democratic[31] 42 42 37 41 39 43 43 42 40 42 42
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 19 21 27 19 19 37 20 23 10 21 22
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 29 30 25 32 33 29 30 32 32 28 32
20 James A. Garfield Republican 21 31 29 22 36 32 27 25 20 27 29
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 37 32 31 35 35 28 29 34 27 32 35
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 20 22 24 26 23 22 22 21 31 23 23
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 32 33 32 30 27 30 26 31 24 31 30
25 William McKinley Republican 16 16 11 18 17 13 10 17 26 18 16
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 2 5 4 5 4 4 7 4 11 4 4
27 William Howard Taft Republican 31 26 20 25 21 12 23 28 22 24 24
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 11 11 9 8 12 8 16 7 35 10 11
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 36 39 35 40 37 42 34 40 33 40 40
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 24 29 22 21 29 25 18 29 29 26 27
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 38 40 43 29 31 14 31 38 28 39 36
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 1 3 5 3 1 3 3 3 8 3 3
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 14 4 10 10 5 10 14 13 4 5 6
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 12 6 6 4 6 5 6 16 12 7 5
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 6 7 7 15 14 16 12 9 7 9 8
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 15 20 12 24 38 6 1 8 2 14 10
37 Richard Nixon Republican 26 27 23 42 10 24 37 24 21 34 28
38 Gerald Ford Republican 34 24 30 23 25 27 19 35 14 25 25
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 35 37 33 14 32 31 33 22 5 29 26
40 Ronald Reagan Republican 5 8 16 13 9 33 8 6 23 8 9
41 George H. W. Bush Republican 23 12 21 17 8 16 15 27 16 20 20
42 Bill Clinton Democratic 9 18 3 38 18 20 17 19 6 17 15
43 George W. Bush Republican 25 25 36 34 41 34 25 26 19 35 33
44 Barack Obama Democratic 10 15 8 7 24 19 39 12 3 15 12
Seq. President Political party PP CL EM MA IR AS RC VSA PEJ PCT O

Siena College Research Institute, Presidential Expert Poll of 2018

On February 13, 2019, Siena released its 6th presidential poll.[46]

The poll was initiated in 1982 and occurs one year into the term of each new president. It is currently a survey of 157 presidential scholars, across a range of leadership parameters.

The ranking gave the top five spots to George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt (FDR), Abraham Lincoln, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson. This top five, described as Mt. Rushmore plus FDR, was consistent with prior surveys. Washington had been ranked fourth in all previous surveys, and FDR first.

Abbreviations

  • Bg = Background
  • Im = Imagination
  • Int = Integrity
  • IQ = Intelligence
  • L = Luck
  • WR = Willing to take risks
  • AC = Ability to compromise
  • EAb = Executive ability
  • LA = Leadership ability
  • CAb = Communication ability
  • OA = Overall ability
  • PL = Party leadership
  • RC = Relations with Congress
  • CAp = Court appointments
  • HE = Handling of economy
  • EAp = Executive appointments
  • DA = Domestic accomplishments
  • FPA = Foreign policy accomplishments
  • 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 Im Int IQ L WR AC EAb LA CAb OA PL RC CAp HE EAp DA FPA AM EV O
 
1 George Washington Independent 7 7 1 10 1 6 2 2 1 11 2 18 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 2 1
2 John Adams Federalist 3 13 4 4 24 14 31 21 21 13 8 28 17 4 13 15 19 13 16 10 14
3 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 2 2 14 1 8 5 14 6 6 4 4 5 5 7 20 4 6 9 7 5 5
4 James Madison Democratic-Republican 4 6 7 3 16 15 6 13 17 10 6 9 10 6 14 7 11 19 11 8 7
5 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 9 14 11 18 6 16 7 10 12 15 17 12 8 11 9 9 10 5 6 9 8
6 John Quincy Adams Democratic-Republican 1 9 6 5 29 19 24 22 23 12 16 29 29 15 17 18 21 15 14 18 18
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 37 15 29 28 4 4 38 11 9 18 19 6 16 30 25 25 17 23 20 19 19
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 23 22 27 25 34 28 20 28 27 25 27 16 23 25 31 26 29 27 24 28 25
9 William Henry Harrison Whig 22 38 28 37 44 32 41 38 29 31 37 36 37 42 41 40 42 44 37 39 39
10 John Tyler Independent[30] 34 33 35 34 22 26 37 36 37 34 36 41 40 38 34 36 36 26 32 36 37
11 James K. Polk Democratic 19 10 23 23 9 7 18 7 11 16 12 10 11 22 15 16 12 8 8 13 12
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 30 26 22 32 37 24 26 26 25 32 32 35 32 37 27 33 27 30 26 30 30
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 40 37 36 38 35 38 32 37 39 40 39 40 39 39 37 37 37 37 33 37 38
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 38 39 38 40 39 38 39 39 40 41 40 39 38 41 40 39 41 39 38 40 40
15 James Buchanan Democratic 36 43 40 39 42 41 40 42 44 42 43 42 41 43 42 43 44 43 44 44 43
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 28 1 2 2 18 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 4 3 4 2 1 6 2 1 3
17 Andrew Johnson Democratic[31] 42 42 41 42 40 34 43 43 43 44 42 44 43 44 43 42 43 41 43 43 44
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 20 24 25 24 26 18 17 27 18 26 26 24 19 24 26 38 24 24 31 24 24
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 35 30 32 29 23 35 23 33 33 30 31 33 30 27 22 30 35 31 28 29 32
20 James A. Garfield Republican 22 25 21 20 41 30 25 25 24 23 24 27 26 34 29 27 34 34 27 25 28
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 41 31 37 36 17 33 22 30 34 36 35 34 33 33 30 31 25 32 23 31 34
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 26 23 26 27 19 27 22 19 20 19 22 20 27 20 21 23 23 21 15 22 23
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 33 34 30 35 28 36 33 35 35 35 34 31 28 35 32 34 32 29 29 33 35
25 William McKinley Republican 29 20 20 26 32 22 21 17 19 22 20 11 12 23 16 17 20 14 13 20 20
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 5 4 8 6 2 2 15 4 4 5 5 7 7 9 3 5 4 3 5 4 4
27 William Howard Taft Republican 12 28 12 14 27 31 19 23 26 21 23 30 21 16 19 21 18 22 19 23 22
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 8 8 19 7 14 11 35 14 14 7 14 8 14 13 11 14 14 11 25 15 11
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 39 41 42 43 33 40 34 40 41 39 41 38 35 36 35 41 38 36 39 41 41
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 32 36 17 33 13 39 27 32 38 37 33 26 24 31 24 32 33 35 22 32 31
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 13 35 15 13 43 37 36 29 36 29 29 32 33 26 44 35 39 33 40 35 36
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 6 3 16 12 5 3 4 3 3 2 3 1 3 2 2 3 3 1 4 3 2
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 31 16 9 21 12 8 12 8 10 14 10 14 15 17 8 10 7 4 9 7 9
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 11 18 5 17 7 21 5 5 5 20 7 15 9 5 6 11 8 7 3 6 6
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 14 5 31 11 31 9 8 12 8 3 11 17 13 12 7 6 15 17 18 12 10
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 15 11 34 22 25 10 9 9 13 17 9 3 2 8 12 8 5 40 35 17 16
37 Richard Nixon Republican 16 21 43 16 36 12 30 24 28 27 25 22 34 32 23 28 22 16 42 38 29
38 Gerald Ford Republican 18 32 10 30 30 29 11 31 30 33 30 25 25 21 33 24 31 28 21 27 27
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 25 19 3 15 38 27 29 32 32 24 28 37 36 19 38 22 28 25 34 26 26
40 Ronald Reagan Republican 27 17 24 31 3 13 10 15 7 6 18 4 6 18 18 20 16 12 12 16 13
41 George H. W. Bush Republican 10 27 18 19 20 27 13 20 22 28 21 21 20 29 28 19 26 10 17 21 21
42 Bill Clinton Democratic 21 12 39 8 11 17 3 16 15 8 13 13 18 10 5 12 9 18 30 14 15
43 George W. Bush Republican 17 29 33 41 21 20 28 34 31 38 38 19 22 28 36 29 30 38 36 34 33
44 Barack Obama Democratic 24 11 13 9 15 23 16 18 16 9 15 23 31 14 10 13 13 20 10 11 17
45 Donald Trump Republican 43 40 44 44 10 25 42 41 42 43 44 43 42 40 39 44 40 42 41 42 42
Seq. President Political party Bg Im Int IQ L WR AC EAb LA CAb OA PL RC CAp HE EAp DA FPA 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.[47][48] 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 the following:

Criticism and alternatives

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: "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".[49] 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".[50]

Ivan Eland's Recarving Rushmore (2008)

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 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.

Racial Equality Assessments

In 2002, Ron 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 M. 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 and 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.[51] Individual presidents' attitudes, policies and perspectives were historically ranked in five categories: White Supremacist; Racist; Racially Neutral; Racially Ambivalent; Antiracist.[52]

Northwestern Presidential Leadership on Diversity and Inclusion Survey (2019)

In May 2019, the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, "in conjunction the Dr. Christina Greer of Fordham University, the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy's conducted a poll of 113 academic researchers and asked them to rate the 14 modern presidents on both their overall leadership and rhetoric on diversity and inclusion using a scale ranging from 0 to 100." [53] Survey respondents were significantly more liberal than the national average, with "with only 13 percent of the respondents describing themselves as either moderate, slightly conservative, or conservative." However, "similar patterns of ratings [were stated to be found] across the ideological spectrum".[53]

Overall (Performance + Diversity and Inclusion Score)

1.) Franklin Roosevelt (83/100)

2.) Barack Obama (77/100)

3.) Lyndon Johnson (69/100)

4.) Bill Clinton (62/100)

5.) John Kennedy (61/100)

6.) Harry Truman (57/100)

7.) Dwight Eisenhower (54.4/100)

8.) Ronald Reagan (54.1/100)

9.) Jimmy Carter (50/100)

10.) George H. W. Bush (49/100)

11.) Gerald Ford (39/100)

12.) George W. Bush (38/100)

13.) Richard Nixon (32/100)

14.) Donald Trump (11/100)

Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Score (Without Including Overall Leadership)

1.) Barack Obama (75/100)

2.) Bill Clinton (54/100)

3.) Jimmy Carter (43/100)

4.) George W. Bush (41/100)

5.) Lyndon Johnson (40/100)

6.) George H. W. Bush (34/100)

7.) Franklin Roosevelt (31/100)

8.) Gerald Ford (30/100)

9.) John F. Kennedy (28.4/100)

10.) Harry Truman (28/100)

11.) Ronald Reagan (27.8/100)

12.) Dwight Eisenhower (26/100)

13.) Richard Nixon (24/100)

14.) Donald Trump (9/100)

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ 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.

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): 104-113. doi:10.2307/1900552. 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.
  3. ^ a b "Americans Say Reagan Is the Greatest U.S. President". Gallup.com. Retrieved 2012.
  4. ^ Skidmore. 2001.
  5. ^ a b Schlesinger, Arthur M. "Our Presidents: A Rating by 75 Historians". The New York Times. July 1962. pp. 12-13, 40-41, 43.
  6. ^ a b "Rating the Presidents: Washington to Clinton". Retrieved 2010.
  7. ^ a b Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent. 2000. ISBN 0806521511.
  8. ^ a b "Presidential Leadership; The Rankings". Wall Street Journal Online. September 12, 2005. Archived from the original on February 7, 2006.
  9. ^ "About the Presidents Study". Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ "Siena's 6th Presidential Expert Poll 1982 - 2018". Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ "Historians Give Good Grades to Clinton Presidency in Siena College Survey". January 11, 1995. Archived June 28, 2006.
  12. ^ "FDR America's Greatest President". August 19, 2002. Archived February 10, 2007.
  13. ^ a b "Experts: Bush Presidency Is A Failure; Little Chance To Improve Ranking". Archived May 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. 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. ^ a b Thomas, G. Scott (July 1, 2010). "Clean sweep for the Roosevelts". Business First of Buffalo. Retrieved 2010.
  16. ^ "Siena's 6th Presidential Expert Poll 1982 - 2018". Retrieved 2019.
  17. ^ "C-SPAN Releases Second Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership". C-SPAN. February 15, 2009.
  18. ^ "Presidential Historians Survey 2017". C-SPAN. February 17, 2017.
  19. ^ a b "C-SPAN Releases Third Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership". C-SPAN. February 17, 2017.
  20. ^ "Methodology: Presidential Historians Survey 2017". C-SPAN. February 17, 2017.
  21. ^ Griffin, Jeremy; Hines, Nico (October 28, 2008). "Who's the greatest? The Times US presidential rankings". The Times. London. Retrieved 2010.
  22. ^ a b Iwan Morgan. "UK Survey of US Presidents: Results and Analysis". Retrieved October 10, 2013.
  23. ^ "From Franklin Delano Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy, Newsweek's 10 Best Presidents (Photos)". The Daily Beast. September 24, 2012. Retrieved 2014.
  24. ^ HNN Staff (September 8, 2013). "Historians Give Barack Obama a B-". History News Network. Retrieved 2014.
  25. ^ a b Brandon Rottinghaus (February 13, 2015). "Measuring Obama against the great presidents". The Brookings Institution.
  26. ^ a b "How Does Trump Stack Up Against the Best -- and Worst -- Presidents?". The New York Times. February 19, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  27. ^ "Lincoln Wins: Honest Abe tops new presidential survey". CNN. February 16, 2009. Retrieved 2010.
  28. ^ "Presidential Historians Survey 2017". C-SPAN. Retrieved 2017.
  29. ^ "Presidents 2018 Rank by Category" (PDF). Retrieved 2019.
  30. ^ a b c d 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.
  31. ^ a b c d Johnson was a former War Democrat elected on the National Union ticket as Lincoln's vice president, but by 1868 the National Union Party disbanded.
  32. ^ Murray and Blessing. p. 135.
  33. ^ "Washington, Lincoln Most Popular Presidents: Nixon, Bush Least Popular - Rasmussen Reports(TM)". Rasmussenreports.com. July 4, 2007. Retrieved 2012.
  34. ^ "Kennedy Still Highest-Rated Modern President, Nixon Lowest". Gallup. Retrieved 2012.
  35. ^ "JFK, Reagan, Clinton most popular recent ex-presidents". September 15, 2011.
  36. ^ "Kennedy and Reagan Lead List of Good Presidents for Americans". Angus Reid Public Opinion. Archived August 22, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Retrieved August 22, 2012.
  37. ^ "Americans Rate JFK as Top Modern President". Gallup. Archived from the original on August 1, 2016.
  38. ^ The weights were 5 for "Outstanding", 4 for "Above Average", 3 for "Average", 2 for "Below Average" and 1 for "Poor".
  39. ^ "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". Quinnipiac University.
  40. ^ "Trump Starts In The Hole As U.S. Voters Disapprove, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Reagan, Obama Are Best Presidents In 70 Years". Quinnipiac University.
  41. ^ "Morning Consult National Tracking Poll February 09-10,2017". Politico.
  42. ^ "Poll: Trump and Obama Are America's Worst Presidents Since World War II". Morning Consult. February 15, 2017.
  43. ^ "QU Poll Release Detail". Quinnipiac University. March 7, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  44. ^ "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 2017.
  45. ^ "All Presidents - C-SPAN Survey on Presidents 2017". C-SPAN. Retrieved 2017.
  46. ^ "Siena's 6th Presidential Expert Poll 1982 - 2018".
  47. ^ Roediger, Henry L.; DeSoto, K. Andrew (November 28, 2014), "Forgetting the Presidents", Science, 346 (6213): 1106-1109, Bibcode:2014Sci...346.1106R, doi:10.1126/science.1259627, PMID 25430768
  48. ^ Carey, Benedict (November 27, 2014). "Study on Cultural Memory Confirms: Chester A. Arthur, We Hardly Knew Ye". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015.
  49. ^ Donald, David H. Lincoln. 1995. p. 13.
  50. ^ Zelizer (February 21, 2011). "What's wrong with presidential rankings". CNN Opinion.
  51. ^ Walters (July 8, 2002)."Presidency: How Do African-American Scholars Rank Presidents?". History News Network.
  52. ^ Walton Jr., Hanes; Smith, Robert C. (2000). American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom. New York: Addison-Wesley Longman, Inc. pp. 201-202.
  53. ^ a b Tillery Jr., Alvin (May 31, 2019). "The First-Ever Expert Survey on Presidential Leadership on Diversity and Inclusion" (PDF). Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy. Retrieved 2019.

Further reading

External links


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