Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States

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In the 1920s Sculptor Gutzon Borglum and President Calvin Coolidge selected Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lincoln to appear on Mount Rushmore. It has become an iconic symbol of presidential greatness.

In political science, 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[edit]

George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt are consistently ranked at the top of the lists. Often ranked just below those Presidents are Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. The remaining places in the top ten are often rounded out by Harry S. Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, James K. Polk, and Andrew Jackson. Presidents such as John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton tend to be rated among the greatest in public opinion polls, but do not always rank as highly among presidential scholars and historians. The bottom ten often includes James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Warren G. Harding, Millard Fillmore, George W. Bush, Herbert Hoover, Martin Van Buren, Zachary Taylor, and John Tyler. Because William Henry Harrison (32 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 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 rate them more highly.

Political scientist Walter Dean Burnham noted the "dichotomous or schizoid profiles" of presidents, which can make some hard to classify. Historian Alan Brinkley said, "There are presidents who could be considered both failures and great or near great (for example, Nixon)". 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 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."[5]

Historian and political scientist Julian E. Zelizer argues that traditional presidential rankings do not explain much concerning actual presidential history, and that they are "weak mechanisms for evaluating what has taken place in the White House."[6]

Notable scholar surveys[edit]

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.

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 #22 in 1962 to #9 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 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 23 down to 39.

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 (2000, ISBN 0806521511). 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 & crisis management, political skill, appointments, character & 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, but never balanced. 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 #8. Franklin 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.[11] 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:[12]

  • "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." Dr. 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."[12]

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 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).[13][14]

The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership consists of rankings from a group of presidential historians and "professional observers of the presidency"[15] who ranked presidents in a number of categories initially in 2000 and more recently in 2009.[16][17] With some minor variation, both surveys found that historians consider Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Franklin D. Roosevelt the three best presidents by a wide margin and William Henry Harrison (to a lesser extent), Warren G. Harding, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, George W. Bush and James Buchanan the worst.

In 2008, The Times newspaper asked eight of its own "top international and political commentators" to rank all 42 US presidents "...in order of greatness".[18]

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).[19]

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.[20]

A 2013 History News Network poll of 203 American historians, when asked to rate Barack 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 and transparency and accountability.[21]

Scholar survey results[edit]

  • 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 Schl. 1948 Schl. 1962 M-B 1982 CT 1982 Siena 1982 Siena 1990 Siena 1994 R-McI 1996 Schl. 1996 C-SPAN 1999 WSJ 2000 Siena 2002 WSJ 2005 Times 2008** C-SPAN 2009 Siena 2010 USPC 2011 Aggr.[22]
01 George Washington None 02 02 03 03 04 04 04 03 02 03 01 04 01 02 02 04 03 03
02 John Adams Federalist 09 10 09 14 (tie) 10 14 12 14 11 16 13 12 13 13 17 17 12 12
03 Thomas Jefferson Dem-Repub 05 05 04 05 02 03 05 04 04 07 04 05 04 04 07 05 04 04
04 James Madison Dem-Repub 14 12 14 17 09 08 09 10 17 18 15 09 17 15 20 06 14 13
05 James Monroe Dem-Repub 12 18 15 16 15 11 15 13 15 14 16 08 16 21 14 07 13 14 (tie)
06 John Quincy Adams Dem-Repub 11 13 16 19 17 16 17 18 18 19 20 17 25 16 19 19 20 18
07 Andrew Jackson Democratic 06 06 07 06 13 09 11 08 05 13 06 13 10 14 13 14 09 08 (tie)
08 Martin Van Buren Democratic 15 17 20 18 21 21 22 21 21 30 23 24 27 40 31 23 27 24
09 William Henry Harrison Whig 99  – 99  – 99  – 38 26 35 28 35 99  – 37 99  – 36 99  – 39 39 35 99  – 38 (tie)
10 John Tyler Whig 22 25 28 29 34 33 34 34 32 36 34 37 35 31 35 37 37 36
11 James K. Polk Democratic 10 08 12 11 12 13 14 11 09 12 10 11 09 09 12 12 16 10
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 25 24 27 28 29 34 33 29 29 28 31 34 33 28 29 33 33 35
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 24 26 29 31 32 32 35 36 31 35 35 38 36 33 37 38 35 38 (tie)
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 27 28 31 35 35 36 37 37 33 39 37 39 38 41 40 40 39 40
15 James Buchanan Democratic 26 29 33 36 37 38 39 40 38 41 39 41 40 42 42 42 40 42
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 01 01 01 01 03 02 02 01 01 01 02 02 02 01 01 03 02 01
17 Andrew Johnson Democratic 19 23 32 32 38 39 40 39 37 40 36 42 37 24 41 43 36 41
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 28 30 35 30 36 37 38 38 34 33 32 35 29 18 23 26 29 37
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 13 14 22 22 22 23 24 25 23 26 22 27 24 27 33 31 30 25
20 James A. Garfield Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 33 25 30 26 30 99  – 29 99  – 33 99  – 34 28 27 99  – 29 (tie)
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 17 21 26 24 24 26 27 28 26 32 26 30 26 22 32 25 32 28
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 08 11 17 13 18 17 19 16 13 17 12 20 12 19 21 20 21 19
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 21 20 23 25 31 29 30 31 19 31 27 32 30 30 30 34 34 33
25 William McKinley Republican 18 15 18 10 19 19 18 17 16 15 14 19 14 17 16 21 17 20 (tie)
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 07 07 05 04 05 05 03 05 06 04 05 03 05 05 04 02 05 05
27 William Howard Taft Republican 16 16 19 20 20 20 21 20 22 24 19 21 20 29 24 24 25 22 (tie)
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 04 04 06 07 06 06 06 06 07 06 11 06 11 10 09 08 06 06
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 29 31 36 37 39 40 41 41 39 38 37 40 39 35 38 41 38 43
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 23 27 30 27 30 31 36 33 30 27 25 29 23 26 26 29 28 31
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 20 19 21 21 27 28 29 24 35 34 29 31 31 36 34 36 26 29 (tie)
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 03 03 02 02 01 01 01 02 03 02 03 01 03 03 03 01 01 02
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 99  – 09 08 08 07 07 07 07 08 05 07 07 07 07 05 09 07 07
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 99  – 22 11 09 11 12 08 09 10 09 09 10 08 06 08 10 10 08 (tie)
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 99  – 99  – 13 14 (tie) 08 10 10 15 12 08 18 14 15 11 06 11 15 11
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 99  – 99  – 10 12 14 15 13 12 14 10 17 15 18 12 11 16 11 14 (tie)
37 Richard Nixon Republican 99  – 99  – 34 34 28 25 23 32 36 25 33 26 32 38 27 30 23 32
38 Gerald Ford Republican 99  – 99  – 24 23 23 27 32 27 28 23 28 28 28 25 22 28 24 26
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 99  – 99  – 25 26 33 24 25 19 27 22 30 25 34 32 25 32 18 27
40 Ronald Reagan Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 16 * 22 20 26 25 11 08 16 06 08 10 18 08 17
41 George H. W. Bush Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 18 * 31 22 24 20 21 22 21 20 18 22 22 22 (tie)
42 Bill Clinton Democratic 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 16 * 23 * 20 * 21 * 24 * 18 22 23 15 13 19 20 (tie)
43 George W. Bush Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 23 * 19 * 37 * 36 39 31 34
44 Barack Obama Democratic 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 15 * 99  – 14 (tie) *
Total in survey 29 31 36 38 39 40 41 41 39 41 39 42 40 42 42 43 40 43
† Died in office during first term.
†† Due to their short time in office, William Henry Harrison (died after serving as President for 32 days) and James A. Garfield (incapacitated after 119 days as President, died after 200 days) are sometimes omitted from Presidential rankings.
* Ranking calculated before President had completed his term in office. For G. W. Bush, the Siena ranking dropped from number 23 in 2002, to number 39 in 2010.
** The Times poll is a British newspaper's poll of 8 of its own journalists, not of academics.
Note that 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.

The surveys have been criticized for the way they have been organized.[23] At times, the surveys have had low responses.[23] The issue of the validity of the rankings has been of special interest to historians and political scientists, who have tried to specify the relative importance of personality, leadership, issues and partisanship. It has also been argued that those surveyed have tended to select their choices from personal preference rather than from a neutral perspective.[24] Historian Thomas Bailey describes the endeavor as trying to "measure the immeasurable".[25] Quantitative ranking by groups of scholars has been in favor in recent decades, displacing the traditional methods of evaluation by individual writers as typified by Bailey (1966) and most biographers.[26]

Liberal and conservative raters[edit]

The Murray-Blessing 1982 survey asked historians whether they were liberal or conservative on domestic, social and economic issues.[27] 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 Franklin D. Roosevelt Abraham Lincoln
2 Abraham Lincoln 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

Excluded groups ranking approach[edit]

In 2002, Ronald Walters, former director of the University of Maryland's African American Leadership Institute, stated that Presidents ranked by how each President 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 Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. poll, 31 white historians and one black historian ranked Presidents on differing categories of greatness. In a survey done by Professor Hanes Walton, Jr., and Professor 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.[28] Individual President's attitudes, policies, and perspectives were historically ranked in five categories: White Supremacist; Racist; Racially Neutral; Racially Ambivalent; Antiracist.[29]

Popular opinion[edit]

C-SPAN poll[edit]

In addition to conducting a historian survey, C-Span also conducted a presidential leadership survey of 1145 viewers in December 1999.[30]

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

ABC poll[edit]

An ABC News poll about presidential greatness, taken February 16–20, 2000, asked 1,012 adults in the U.S., "Who do you think was the greatest American president?"[31]

  1. Abraham Lincoln (19%)
  2. John F. Kennedy (17%)
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt (11%)
  4. No opinion (10%)
  5. Ronald Reagan (9%)
  6. George Washington (8%)
  7. Bill Clinton (7%)
  8. Theodore Roosevelt (4%)
  9. George H. W. Bush (4%)
  10. Thomas Jefferson (3%)
  11. Harry S. Truman (2%)
  12. Richard Nixon (2%)
  13. Jimmy Carter (1%)
  14. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1%)

Washington College poll[edit]

A Washington College poll about presidential greatness, taken February 11, 2005, asked 800 adults in the US, "Thinking about all the presidents of the United States throughout history to the present, who would you say was America's greatest president?"[32]

  1. Abraham Lincoln (20%)
  2. Ronald Reagan (15%)
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt (12%)
  4. John F. Kennedy (11%)
  5. Bill Clinton (10%)
  6. Other/Don't Know (9%)
  7. George W. Bush (8%)
  8. George Washington (6%)
  9. Theodore Roosevelt (3%)
  10. Dwight Eisenhower (3%)
  11. Jimmy Carter (2%)
  12. Thomas Jefferson (2%)
  13. Richard Nixon (1%)
  14. John Adams (<1%)
  15. Andrew Jackson (<1%)
  16. Lyndon B. Johnson (<1%)

Gallup poll[edit]

A Gallup poll about presidential greatness, taken February 2–5, 2011, asked 1015 adults in the US, "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%)

Rasmussen poll[edit]

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

Recent president polls[edit]

These polls evaluate recent Presidents only.

2010 Gallup poll[edit]

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.[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[edit]

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.[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[edit]

A Vision Critical/Angus Reid poll, taken on February 18–19, 2011, asked respondents about 11 former presidents plus the current president and whether they were 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 (15% approval/27% disapproval)
  11. George W. Bush (30% approval/55% disapproval)
  12. Richard Nixon (24% approval/54% disapproval)

2013 Gallup poll[edit]

A Gallup Poll, taken February 7-10, 2013, asked 1039 adults in the US, "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
Result Barack Obama George W. Bush Bill Clinton George H. W. Bush Ronald Reagan Jimmy Carter Gerald Ford Richard Nixon Lyndon Johnson John F. Kennedy Dwight Eisenhower
1. outstanding 6% 3% 11% 3% 19% 4% 2% 2% 4% 18% 10%
2. above average 22% 18% 44% 24% 42% 19% 14% 13% 16% 56% 39%
3. average 31% 36% 29% 48% 27% 37% 56% 27% 46% 19% 36%
4. below average 18% 20% 9% 12% 6% 20% 15% 29% 14% 2% 2%
5. poor 22% 23% 6% 10% 4% 15% 5% 23% 8% 1% 1%
no opinion 1% 1% 1% 2% 2% 6% 8% 6% 12% 4% 12%

Quinnipiac poll[edit]

A Quinnipiac University poll, taken June 24–30, 2014, asked 1446 registered voters in the US who they thought were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[38]

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%)

Siena College Research Institute survey[edit]

[39]

Seq. Name Background Party Leadership Communication Ability Relations with Congress Court Appointments Handling of Economy Luck Ability to Compromise Willing to take Risks Executive Appointments Overall Ability Imagination Domestic Accomplishments Integrity Executive Ability Foreign Policy Accomplishments Leadership Ability Intelligence Avoid Crucial Mistakes Expert's View Overall
1 George Washington 7 18 12 3 3 4 1 3 4 1 4 9 4 2 2 3 1 12 1 3 4
2 John Adams 4 29 18 26 10 13 23 32 16 15 13 17 22 3 19 12 20 7 15 12 17
3 Thomas Jefferson 1 4 6 4 6 16 6 11 8 5 5 3 6 14 5 7 6 1 6 5 5
4 James Madison 3 10 11 9 7 12 17 7 15 9 6 8 12 5 14 20 17 2 10 8 6
5 James Monroe 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 2 34 20 35 16 14 30 29 23 13 15 11 18 4 21 16 26 5 20 21 19
7 Andrew Jackson 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 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 24 30 25 31 33 27 42 35 30 24 37 35 36 30 33 39 24 31 33 34 35
10 John Tyler 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 17 9 13 12 21 15 7 23 7 16 17 14 11 24 9 8 10 20 9 11 12
12 Zachary Taylor 37 35 28 37 37 24 36 34 28 28 34 27 37 21 31 34 25 37 25 33 33
13 Millard Fillmore 40 41 40 38 35 33 25 25 37 35 38 36 35 36 38 33 39 39 30 35 38
14 Franklin Pierce 38 37 37 41 40 34 35 36 38 38 39 39 39 38 40 40 40 38 35 40 40
15 James Buchanan 23 40 41 40 42 41 40 41 43 39 42 42 43 40 42 41 43 40 41 43 42
16 Abraham Lincoln 28 6 2 6 4 5 13 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 5 2 3 2 1 3
17 Andrew Johnson 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 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 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 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 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 19 16 17 15 17 22 20 19 24 18 20 22 17 19 17 21 19 25 14 19 20
23 Benjamin Harrison 39 32 34 28 30 35 29 30 39 36 36 34 32 31 35 28 34 35 23 32 34
25 William McKinley 21 14 19 11 23 18 24 20 21 20 21 23 19 22 18 15 18 27 11 20 21
26 Theodore Roosevelt 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 14 36 29 30 18 20 32 24 36 22 23 30 21 18 25 23 31 18 28 23 24
28 Woodrow Wilson 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 43 38 36 34 36 39 37 26 40 43 43 43 40 42 43 37 41 43 39 41 41
30 Calvin Coolidge 25 24 38 21 26 30 12 28 41 30 32 37 31 17 28 32 33 28 19 28 29
31 Herbert Hoover 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 5 1 1 2 2 1 5 2 3 3 2 4 3 16 3 1 3 10 4 2 1
33 Harry Truman 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 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 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 15 3 16 1 5 10 28 9 12 12 9 12 5 34 12 43 15 21 37 16 16
37 Richard Nixon 18 20 26 36 38 25 34 33 14 37 22 19 24 43 24 11 29 16 43 37 30
38 Gerald Ford 27 25 35 17 22 36 31 17 35 23 31 33 30 15 32 27 30 34 26 25 28
39 Jimmy Carter 31 39 27 39 20 40 38 31 25 21 29 21 29 7 36 29 35 13 36 30 32
40 Ronald Reagan 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 11 27 33 23 34 32 26 16 29 27 27 31 28 20 22 14 22 24 18 22 22
42 Bill Clinton 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 36 39 42 32 41 42 18 42 19 41 40 40 38 39 39 42 38 42 38 39 39
44 Barack Obama 32 21 7 18 13 17 16 10 13 14 18 6 16 12 16 22 16 8 21 18 15

Five Thirty Eight analysis[edit]

In January 2013, New York Times journalist and statistician Nate Silver composed a composite list of previous presidential rankings by scholars for the purpose of predicting President Barack Obama's ranking among presidents.[40]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Schlesinger, Arthur M. "Historians Rate the U.S. Presidents" Life November 1, 1948: 65-66, 68, 73-74.
  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 2012-03-16. 
  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. ^ Schlesinger, Arthur M. "Our Presidents: A Rating by 75 Historians." New York Times Magazine July 1962: 12-13, 40-41, 43.
  8. ^ "Rating the Presidents: Washington to Clinton". Retrieved 2010-03-25. 
  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. ^ "Presidential Leadership; The Rankings, Wall Street Journal Online, September 12, 2005
  12. ^ a b Experts: Bush Presidency Is A Failure; Little Chance To Improve Ranking, Siena Research Institute, May 1, 2006
  13. ^ Rushmore Plus One; FDR joins Mountainside Figures Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Lincoln as Top Presidents, Siena Research Institute, July 1, 2010
  14. ^ Thomas, G. Scott (2010-07-01). "Clean sweep for the Roosevelts ". Business First of Buffalo. Retrieved 2010-09-01. 
  15. ^ "C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership - Survey Participants". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  16. ^ "C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership". Retrieved 2012-08-21. 
  17. ^ "Lincoln Wins: Honest Abe tops new presidential survey". CNN. 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  18. ^ Griffin, Jeremy; Nico Hines (2008-10-28). "Who's the greatest? The Times US presidential rankings". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  19. ^ Iwan Morgan. "UK Survey of US Presidents: Results and Analysis". Retrieved 2013-10-10.
  20. ^ "From Franklin Delano Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy, Newsweek’s 10 Best Presidents (Photos)". The Daily Beast. September 24, 2012. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  21. ^ HNN Staff (September 8, 2013). "Historians Give Barack Obama a B-". History News Network. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  22. ^ Aggregate of all polls up to USPC 2011 using Copeland's method. Quartiles are allocated 10-11-11-11 rather than 11-11-11-10 because of a tie for 22nd place.
  23. ^ a b Jackie Smith (1997-09-01). "Nonresponse Bias in Organizational Surveys: Evidence from a Survey of Groups and Organizations Working for Peace". Nvs.sagepub.com. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  24. ^ "Scholar, Survey Thyself :: Accuracy In Academia". Academia.org. 2008-11-19. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  25. ^ Greenberg, David (28 September 2012). "'Where They Stand' by Robert W. Merry". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  26. ^ Bailey, Thomas (1966). Presidential Greatness. Appleton-Century. 
  27. ^ Murray and Blessing, p. 135.
  28. ^ Walters (7-08-02),Presidency: How Do African-American Scholars Rank Presidents?, History News Network
  29. ^ 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. 
  30. ^ "Life Portraits". American Presidents. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  31. ^ "Presidents & History". Pollingreport.com. 2000-01-26. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  32. ^ "Washington College | Search the Washington College Site". Starrcenter.washcoll.edu. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  33. ^ "Washington, Lincoln Most Popular Presidents: Nixon, Bush Least Popular - Rasmussen Reports™". Rasmussenreports.com. 2007-07-04. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  34. ^ "Kennedy Still Highest-Rated Modern President, Nixon Lowest". Gallup.com. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  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 Retrieved 2012-08-22.
  37. ^ http://www.gallup.com/poll/165902/americans-rate-jfk-top-modern-president.aspx
  38. ^ http://www.quinnipiac.edu/news-and-events/quinnipiac-university-poll/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2056
  39. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20100706090046/http://www.siena.edu/pages/179.asp?item=2566 210 Report
  40. ^ Silver, Nate (2013-01-23). "Contemplating Obama's Place in History, Statistically". The New York Times. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Pfiffner, James P. (2003). "Ranking the Presidents: Continuity and Volatility". 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. 
  • Eland, Ivan (2009). Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty. Oakland, California: Independent Institute. ISBN 1598130226. 

External links[edit]