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Historical rankings of presidents of the United States

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In political studies, surveys have been conducted in order to construct historical rankings of the success of the presidents of the United States. Ranking systems are usually based on surveys of academic historians and political scientists or popular opinion. The scholarly rankings focus on presidential achievements, leadership qualities, failures and faults.[1][2][3] Popular-opinion polls typically focus on recent or well-known presidents.

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. More recent presidents such as Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton are often rated among the greatest in public opinion polls, but generally do not rank as highly among presidential scholars and historians. Because William Henry Harrison (31 days) and James A. Garfield (200 days, incapacitated after 119 days) both died shortly after taking office, they are often omitted from presidential rankings. 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 whether they received low rankings due to their actions as president or because each was in office for such a limited time that he did not accomplish much or to leave much of a legacy.

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] It's also not clear that the absolute rankings mean much, especially for the middling presidents. Gerard Baker, US editor for The Times, writes, "the 42 American presidents fall into a well-established, Bell-curve or normal distribution on a chart – a handful of outstanding ones, a handful of duds, and a lot of so-sos. I couldn't, in all honesty therefore, really say that number 13 on the list is that much better than number 30."[5]

Notable scholar surveys

Abraham Lincoln is generally considered the greatest president for his leadership during the American Civil War.
James Buchanan, Lincoln's predecessor, is generally considered the worst president for his leadership in the build-up to the Civil War.

A 1948 poll was conducted by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. of Harvard University.[1] A 1962 survey was also conducted by Schlesinger, who surveyed 75 historians.[6] Schlesinger's son, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., conducted another poll in 1996.[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] These surveys collect presidential rankings from historians, political scientists, and presidential scholars in a range of attributes, abilities, and accomplishments.[11] 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.[12][13]

A 2006 Siena College poll of 744 professors reported the following results:[14]

  • "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".[14]

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".[15]

The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership consists of rankings from a group of presidential historians and biographers. The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership has taken place four times: in 2000, 2009, 2017, and 2021.[16][17][18][19] The most recent survey was of 142 presidential historians, surveyed by C-SPAN's Academic Advisor Team, made up of Douglas G. Brinkley, Edna Greene Medford, Richard Norton Smith, and Amity Shlaes. 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—with each category equally weighed.[20] The results of all four 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 four surveys.[18]

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).[21][22]

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.)[23]

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.[24]

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.[25]

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.[26] APSA conducted a repeat of this poll in 2018, with Donald Trump appearing for the first time, in last position.[27]

A 2016 survey of 71 British specialists by the Presidential History Network produced similar results to the 2011 USPC survey, with Barack Obama placed in the first quartile.[28][29]

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...."[30] Donald 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, whom presidential scholars had rated among the bottom five in the previous 2010 survey, improved in position to the bottom of the third quartile. A 2021 C-SPAN poll continued a recent rehabilitation of Ulysses Grant, with Bush improving yet again, Obama remaining high and Trump near the bottom.[31]

Scholar survey summary

Within each column
 Blue  backgrounds indicate first quartile.[a]
 Green  backgrounds indicate second quartile.
 Yellow  backgrounds indicate third quartile.
 Orange  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.
[b]
[c]
President Political party
Schl. 1962[6]
M-B 1982
CT 1982
Siena 1982
Siena 1990
Siena 1994
R-McI 1996[8]
C-SPAN 2000
WSJ 2000
Siena 2002
WSJ 2005[9]
Times 2008[32]
C-SPAN 2009[33]
Siena 2010[21][22]
USPC 2011[34]
APSA 2015[26]
PHN 2016[28]
C-SPAN 2017[35]
APSA 2018[27]
Siena 2018[36]
C-SPAN 2021[31]
1 George Washington Independent 02 02 03 02 04 04 04 03 02 (tie) 03 01 04 01 02 02 04 03 02 03 02 02 01 02
2 John Adams Federalist 09 10 09 15 10 14 12 14 11 16 13 12 13 13 17 17 12 15 10 19 14 14 15
3 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 05 05 04 05 02 03 05 04 04 07 04 05 04 04 07 05 04 05 05 07 05 05 07
4 James Madison Democratic-Republican 14 12 14 17 09 08 09 10 17 18 15 09 17 15 20 06 14 13 15 17 12 07 16
5 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 12 18 15 16 15 11 15 13 15 14 16 08 16 21 14 07 13 16 14 13 18 08 12
6 John Quincy Adams Democratic-Republican 11 13 16 19 17 16 17 18 18 19 20 17 25 16 19 19 20 22 17 21 23 18 17
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 06 06 07 07 13 09 11 08 05 13 06 13 10 14 13 14 09 09 16 18 15 19 22
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 15 17 20 18 21 21 22 21 21 30 23 24 27 40 31 23 27 25 27 34 27 25 34
9 William H. Harrison Whig 26 35 28 35 37 36 39 39 35 [c] 39 38 42 39 40
10 John Tyler Independent[37] 22 25 28 28 34 33 34 34 32 36 34 37 35 31 35 37 37 36 36 39 37 37 39
11 James K. Polk Democratic 10 08 (tie) 12 10 12 13 14 11 09 12 10 11 09 09 12 12 16 19 22 14 20 12 18
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 25 24 27 26 29 34 33 29 29 28 31 34 33 28 29 33 33 33 33 31 35 30 35
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 24 26 29 31 32 32 35 36 31 35 35 38 36 33 37 38 35 37 39 37 38 38 38
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 27 28 31 33 35 36 37 37 33 (tie) 39 37 (tie) 39 38 41 40 40 39 40 40 41 41 40 42
15 James Buchanan Democratic 26 29 33 34 37 38 39 40 38 41[d] 39[d] 41 40[d] 42[d] 42[d] 42 40[d] 43[d] 41[d] 43[d] 43 43 44[d]
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 01 01 01 01 03 02 02 01 01 01 02 02 02 01 01 03 02 01 02 01 01 03 01
17 Andrew Johnson National Union[38] 19 23 32 30 38 39 40 39 37 40 36 42[d] 37 24 41 43[d] 36 41 37 42 40 44[d] 43
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 28 30 35 32 36 37 38 38 33 (tie) 33 32 35 29 18 23 26 29 28 23 22 21 24 20
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 13 14 22 22 22 23 24 25 23 26 22 27 24 27 33 31 30 30 32 32 29 32 33
20 James A. Garfield Republican 25 30 26 30 29 33 34 (tie) 28 27 [c] 31 29 34 28 27
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 17 21 (tie) 23 24 24 26 27 28 26 32 26 30 26 22 32 25 32 32 35 35 31 34 30
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 08 11 17 13 18 17 19 16 13 17 12 20 12 19 21 20 21 23 24 23 24 23 25
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 21 20 26 25 31 29 30 31 19 31 27 32 30 29 (tie) 30 34 34 29 30 30 32 35 32
25 William McKinley Republican 18 15 18 11 19 19 18 17 16 15 14 19 14 17 16 21 17 21 20 16 19 20 14
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 07 07 05 04 05 05 03 05 06 04 05 03 05 05 04 02 05 04 04 04 04 04 04
27 William H. Taft Republican 16 16 19 20 20 20 21 20 22 24 19 21 20 29 (tie) 24 24 25 20 25 24 22 22 23
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 04 04 06 06 06 06 06 06 07 06 11 06 11 10 09 08 06 10 06 11 11 11 13
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 29[d] 31[d] 36[d] 36[d] 39[d] 40[d] 41[d] 41[d] 39[d] 38 37 (tie) 40 39 34 (tie) 38 41 38 42 38 40 39 41 37
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 23 27 30 29 30 31 36 33 30 27 25 29 23 26 26 29 28 27 31 27 28 31 24
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 20 19 21 21 27 28 29 24 33 (tie) 34 29 31 31 36 34 36 26 38 29 36 36 36 36
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 03 03 02 03 01 01 01 02 02 (tie) 02 03 01 03 03 03 01 01 03 01 03 03 02 03
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 08 (tie) 08 08 07 07 07 07 08 05 07 07 07 07 05 09 07 06 08 06 06 09 06
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 21 (tie) 11 09 11 12 08 09 10 09 09 10 08 06 08 10 10 07 09 05 07 06 05
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 13 14 08 10 10 15 12 08 18 14 15 11 06 11 15 14 12 08 16 10 08
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 10 12 14 15 13 12 14 10 17 15 18 12 11 16 11 12 11 10 10 16 11
37 Richard Nixon Republican 34 35 28 25 23 32 36 25 33 26 32 37 (tie) 27 30 23 34 26 28 33 29 31
38 Gerald Ford Republican 24 23 23 27 32 27 28 23 28 28 28 25 22 28 24 24 28 25 25 27 28
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 25 27 33 24 25 19 27 22 30 25 34 32 25 32 18 26 18 26 26 26 26
40[e] Ronald Reagan Republican 16 22 20 26 25 11 08 16 06 08 10 18 08 11 13 09 09 13 09
41[e] George H. W. Bush Republican 18 31 22 24 20 21 22 21 20 18 22 22 17 21 20 17 21 21
42[e] Bill Clinton Democratic 16 23 20 21 24 18 22 23 15 13 19 08 19 15 13 15 19
43[e] George W. Bush Republican 23 19 37 (tie) 36 39 31 35 34 33 30 33 29
44[e] Barack Obama Democratic 15 (08)[f] 18 07 12 08 17 10
45[e] Donald Trump Republican 44[d] 42 41
46 Joe Biden Democratic
Total surveyed[b][c] 29 31 36 36 39 40 41 41 39 41 39 42 40 42 42 43 40 43 41 43 44 44 44
  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 is colored  Yellow-green.
  2. ^ a b Note: Grover Cleveland was elected to two non-consecutive terms, serving as both the 22nd and 24th president of the United States; he is the only person to have held the office in non-consecutive terms. Because Cleveland had two presidencies, the number of persons who have served as president is one less than the number of presidents in order of succession.
  3. ^ a b c d William Henry Harrison and James Garfield are sometimes omitted from rankings of the presidents because of the brevity of their terms in office. In addition to Grover Cleveland's two presidential numbers, this contributes to the number of ranks assigned by some sources being less than the presidential complement of the era.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w Underline within a column indicates a given survey's lowest-ranking president (or presidents, in the event of a tie for last place).
  5. ^ a b c d e f Italics within row indicate rank awarded before president had completed term in office.
  6. ^ Obama would place 8th based on provisional scores of the USPC 2011 survey, but was not given a ranking in the final results as he had not yet completed his term when the survey was conducted.

Murray–Blessing 1982 survey

The Murray–Blessing 1982 survey asked historians whether they were liberal or conservative on domestic, social and economic issues.[39] 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

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.[a]
 Yellow  backgrounds indicate third quartile.
 Orange  backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.

Source:[40]

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[37] 33 42 39 42 39 31 22 39 26 34 35 29 34 33 37 35 36 33 32 36 37
11 James K. Polk Democratic 17 9 13 12 21 15 7 23 7 16 17 14 11 24 9 8 10 20 9 11 12
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 37 35 28 37 37 24 36 34 28 28 34 27 37 21 31 34 25 37 25 33 33
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 40 41 40 38 35 33 25 25 37 35 38 36 35 36 38 33 39 39 30 35 38
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 38 37 37 41 40 34 35 36 38 38 39 39 39 38 40 40 40 38 35 40 40
15 James Buchanan Democratic 23 40 41 40 42 41 40 41 43 39 42 42 43 40 42 41 43 40 41 43 42
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 28 6 2 6 4 5 13 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 5 2 3 2 1 3
17 Andrew Johnson National Union[38] 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

2011 USPC UK Survey of US Presidents

In September/October 2010, the United States Presidency Centre (USPC) of the Institute for the Study of the Americas at the University of London surveyed 47 British specialists on American history and politics. Presidents were rated from 1 to 10 in five categories:

  1. vision/agenda-setting – "did the president have the clarity of vision to establish overarching goals for his administration and shape the terms of policy discourse?"
  2. domestic leadership – "did the president display the political skill needed to achieve his domestic objectives and respond effectively to unforeseen developments?"
  3. foreign policy leadership – "was the president an effective leader in promoting US foreign policy interests and national security?"
  4. moral authority – "did the president uphold the moral authority of his office through his character, values, and conduct?"
  5. positive historical significance of legacy – "did the president's legacy have positive benefits for America's development over time?"

William Henry Harrison (1841) and James Garfield (1881) were not rated because they died shortly after taking office. Barack Obama (2009–) ranked 8th in interim ranking as of January 2011, but was not counted in the final results (and thus did not affect the rankings of other presidents) because he had yet to complete a term.[23]

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933–1945) came in first overall and in the categories of vision/agenda, domestic leadership and foreign policy leadership. Washington came in first for moral authority; Lincoln for his legacy. Morgan believes it is likely that Roosevelt's ranking (which only marginally surpassed Lincoln's) rose because the poll was conducted during the worst economic troubles since the 1930s.[23]

Of presidents since 1960, only Ronald Reagan and (in interim results) Barack Obama placed in the top ten; Obama was the highest-ranked president since Harry Truman (1945–1953). Most of the other recent presidents held middling positions, though George W. Bush placed in the bottom ten, the lowest-ranked president since Warren Harding (1921–1923). Lyndon Johnson (1963–1969) "would have been placed much higher in recognition of his civil rights achievement but for the corrosive effect of Vietnam on his foreign policy and moral authority scores." As with US polls, the bottom five (other than Harding) were president before and after the Civil War.[23]

One of the more significant differences from American polls is the relatively low ranking of John F. Kennedy (1961–1963), who placed fifteenth. British academics "seemingly faulted JFK for the gap between his rhetoric and his substantive achievements as president."[23]

Abbreviations
VSA = Vision/Setting an agenda
DL = Domestic leadership
FPL = Foreign-policy leadership
MA = Moral authority
HL = Historical legacy (positive significance of)
O = Overall
 Blue  backgrounds indicate first quartile.
 Green  backgrounds indicate second quartile.
 Yellow  backgrounds indicate third quartile.
 Orange  backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.

Each category is ranked according to its averaged numerical score (in parentheses). Source:[34]

Seq. President Political party VSA DL FPL MA HL O
 
1 George Washington Independent 5 (8.22) 4 (7.78) 2 (7.89) 1 (9.20) 3 (9.18) 3 (84.5%)
2 John Adams Federalist 13 (6.33) 17 (5.56) 11 (7.05) 9 (7.15) 12 (6.26) 12 (64.7%)
3 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 3 (8.29) 6 (7.57) 8 (7.14) 8 (7.16) 4 (8.16) 4 (76.6%)
4 James Madison Democratic-Republican 15 (6.23) 15 (5.78) 19 (5.75) 11 (6.72) 10 (6.38) 14 (61.7%)
5 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 18 (5.97) 18 (5.55) 9 (7.08) 12 (6.27) 14 (6.18) 13 (62.1%)
6 John Quincy Adams Democratic-Republican 17 (6.00) 21 (4.89) 20 (5.69) 13 (6.00) 19 (5.22) 20 (55.6%)
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 9 (7.50) 7 (7.29) 18 (6.08) 18 (5.63) 9 (6.40) 9 (65.8%)
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 27 (4.33) 25 (4.42) 27 (4.55) 27 (4.45) 25 (4.06) 27 (43.6%)
9 William H. Harrison Whig
10 John Tyler Independent[37] 37 (3.38) 37 (3.08) 30 (4.00) 35 (3.19) 38 (2.46) 37 (32.2%)
11 James K. Polk Democratic 12 (6.44) 13 (5.97) 14 (6.50) 22 (5.19) 20 (5.22) 16 (58.6%)
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 33 (3.84) 33 (3.88) 28 (4.13) 26 (4.46) 34 (3.00) 33 (38.6%)
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 36 (3.50) 35 (3.62) 35 (3.72) 32 (3.72) 32 (3.19) 35 (35.5%)
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 40 (2.79) 39 (2.50) 39 (3.00) 37 (2.81) 39 (2.18) 39 (26.5%)
15 James Buchanan Democratic 39 (3.06) 40 (2.33) 40 (2.91) 38 (2.74) 40 (2.11) 40 (26.3%)
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 2 (8.98) 2 (8.91) 3 (7.73) 2 (9.13) 1 (9.37) 2 (88.2%)
17 Andrew Johnson National Union[38] 26 (4.39) 38 (2.90) 31 (3.92) 36 (3.05) 36 (2.54) 36 (33.6%)
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 30 (4.05) 30 (4.08) 26 (4.64) 31 (3.95) 26 (3.95) 29 (41.3%)
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 28 (4.27) 26 (4.27) 33 (3.81) 30 (4.10) 31 (3.48) 30 (39.8%)
20 James A. Garfield Republican
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 34 (3.74) 29 (4.22) 36 (3.68) 28 (4.26) 30 (3.48) 32 (38.8%)
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 23 (5.44) 19 (5.28) 22 (5.16) 19 (5.56) 21 (5.06) 21 (53.0%)
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 35 (3.68) 34 (3.68) 34 (3.75) 29 (4.24) 33 (3.04) 34 (36.8%)
25 William McKinley Republican 19 (5.95) 16 (5.58) 17 (6.28) 17 (5.86) 17 (5.46) 17 (58.3%)
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 7 (8.11) 5 (7.76) 5 (7.61) 10 (7.09) 7 (7.28) 5 (75.7%)
27 William Howard Taft Republican 25 (4.61) 24 (4.59) 24 (4.73) 25 (4.97) 23 (4.18) 25 (46.1%)
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 8 (8.11) 8 (6.98) 6 (7.50) 5 (7.30) 5 (7.43) 6 (75.7%)
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 38 (3.32) 36 (3.23) 37 (3.62) 39 (2.21) 37 (2.52) 38 (29.8%)
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 29 (4.22) 31 (4.07) 29 (4.02) 23 (5.07) 29 (3.56) 28 (41.9%)
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 24 (4.87) 32 (4.02) 25 (4.72) 24 (5.00) 28 (3.78) 26 (44.8%)
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 1 (9.11) 1 (9.04) 1 (8.77) 3 (8.43) 2 (9.32) 1 (89.3%)
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 10 (7.06) 9 (6.79) 4 (7.72) 7 (7.28) 6 (7.32) 7 (72.3%)
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 20 (5.81) 12 (6.13) 7 (7.21) 4 (7.40) 11 (6.34) 10 (65.8%)
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 11 (6.96) 14 (5.79) 15 (6.41) 21 (5.42) 13 (6.23) 15 (61.6%)
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 4 (8.23) 3 (8.55) 32 (3.87) 20 (5.45) 8 (6.53) 11 (65.3%)
37 Richard Nixon Republican 16 (6.11) 20 (5.09) 12 (6.83) 40 (2.02) 27 (3.89) 23 (47.9%)
38 Gerald Ford Republican 32 (3.93) 22 (4.72) 23 (4.89) 16 (5.87) 24 (4.11) 24 (47.0%)
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 22 (5.60) 23 (4.72) 21 (5.62) 6 (7.28) 18 (5.38) 18 (57.2%)
40 Ronald Reagan Republican 6 (8.17) 11 (6.28) 10 (7.06) 14 (5.89) 15 (5.89) 8 (66.6%)
41 George H. W. Bush Republican 31 (4.04) 27 (4.24) 13 (6.64) 15 (5.87) 22 (4.71) 22 (51.0%)
42 Bill Clinton Democratic 14 (6.28) 10 (6.46) 16 (6.39) 34 (3.48) 16 (5.57) 19 (56.4%)
43 George W. Bush Republican 21 (5.64) 28 (4.22) 38 (3.82) 33 (3.55) 35 (2.75) 31 (39.6%)
44 Barack Obama Democratic 11 (7.00) 11 (6.44) 19 (6.04) 8 (7.27) 8 (6.66) 8 (66.8%)
Seq. President Political party VSA DL FPL MA HL O

2016 PHN UK Survey of U.S. Presidents

In 2016, the Presidential History Network surveyed 71 named British and Irish specialists. The questions were the same as in the USPC survey, which was directed by some of the same people. Some respondents didn't rate presidents that they were not familiar with. The minimum number of responses (62) were for the rather obscure and inconsequential presidents Hayes, Arthur, Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison. 69–70 rated all recent presidents, from FDR on.[28]

Abbreviations
VSA = Vision/Setting an agenda
DL = Domestic leadership
FPL = Foreign-policy leadership
MA = Moral authority
HL = Historical legacy (positive significance of)
O = Overall
 Blue  backgrounds indicate first quartile.
 Green  backgrounds indicate second quartile.[a]
 Yellow  backgrounds indicate third quartile.
 Orange  backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.

Each category is ranked according to its averaged numerical score. Source:[29]

Seq. President Political party VSA DL FPL MA HL O
 
1 George Washington Independent 3 (8.46) 4 (7.65) 3 (7.69) 2 (8.90) 3 (8.94) 3 (8.33)
2 John Adams Federalist 18 (6.27) 14 (5.98) 11 (6.79) 11 (6.79) 10 (6.47) 10 (6.52)
3 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican 4 (8.38) 6 (7.20) 9 (6.83) 10 (6.82) 4 (7.65) 5 (7.38)
4 James Madison Democratic-Republican 15 (6.36) 13 (6.08) 20 (5.79) 12 (6.47) 13 (6.36) 15 (6.21)
5 James Monroe Democratic-Republican 14 (6.40) 16 (5.80) 8 (7.02) 14 (6.16) 14 (6.20) 14 (6.32)
6 John Quincy Adams Democratic-Republican 20 (6.17) 19 (5.41) 17 (6.09) 13 (6.44) 15 (6.06) 17 (6.03)
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 11 (7.24) 8 (6.73) 21 (5.67) 22 (5.00) 17 (5.63) 16 (6.05)
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 29 (4.57) 25 (4.76) 26 (4.58) 25 (4.46) 26 (4.11) 27 (4.50)
9 William H. Harrison Whig
10 John Tyler Independent[37] 36 (3.52) 36 (3.36) 33 (3.57) 32 (3.42) 35 (3.12) 36 (3.39)
11 James K. Polk Democratic 17 (6.30) 19 (5.41) 18 (6.06) 26 (4.36) 23 (4.75) 22 (5.38)
12 Zachary Taylor Whig 34 (3.66) 35 (3.61) 34 (3.51) 30 (4.12) 33 (3.29) 33 (3.64)
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 40 (2.80) 38 (3.10) 38 (3.00) 36 (2.86) 36 (2.78) 39 (2.91)
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 39 (2.84) 40 (2.58) 40 (2.92) 37 (2.74) 40 (2.26) 40 (2.67)
15 James Buchanan Democratic 41 (2.69) 41 (2.31) 41 (2.82) 40 (2.33) 41 (2.13) 41 (2.46)
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 2 (9.16) 1 (9.03) 2 (8.01) 1 (9.32) 1 (9.49) 2 (9.00)
17 Andrew Johnson National Union[38] 35 (3.54) 39 (2.95) 37 (3.41) 38 (2.73) 38 (2.56) 37 (3.04)
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 24 (5.30) 22 (5.17) 23 (5.44) 21 (5.05) 22 (5.00) 23 (5.19)
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 33 (3.83) 31 (3.92) 32 (3.70) 31 (3.67) 32 (3.44) 32 (3.71)
20 James A. Garfield Republican
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 37 (3.36) 33 (3.78) 35 (3.49) 33 (3.38) 34 (3.18) 35 (3.44)
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 23 (5.33) 24 (4.93) 24 (5.15) 20 (5.22) 24 (4.73) 24 (5.07)
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 30 (4.06) 29 (4.10) 29 (4.10) 29 (4.13) 29 (3.55) 30 (3.99)
25 William McKinley Republican 22 (5.84) 18 (5.65) 16 (6.13) 18 (5.42) 21 (5.24) 20 (5.66)
26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 8 (8.07) 5 (7.55) 4 (7.62) 7 (7.03) 6 (7.07) 4 (7.47)
27 William Howard Taft Republican 28 (4.63) 27 (4.63) 25 (4.76) 24 (4.84) 25 (4.34) 25 (4.64)
28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 5 (8.37) 11 (6.26) 5 (7.53) 8 (7.00) 8 (7.01) 6 (7.23)
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 38 (3.22) 37 (3.17) 36 (3.48) 39 (2.37) 39 (2.54) 38 (2.96)
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 31 (3.90) 30 (4.00) 31 (3.83) 28 (4.29) 31 (3.48) 31 (3.90)
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 27 (4.72) 34 (3.76) 28 (4.15) 27 (4.31) 30 (3.48) 29 (4.08)
32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 1 (9.31) 2 (9.00) 1 (9.11) 3 (8.40) 2 (9.23) 1 (9.01)
33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 12 (6.90) 9 (6.71) 5 (7.53) 9 (6.86) 7 (7.03) 8 (7.06)
34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 19 (6.22) 12 (6.09) 7 (7.13) 5 (7.30) 11 (6.44) 9 (6.64)
35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 9 (7.56) 17 (5.77) 13 (6.60) 16 (5.67) 12 (6.43) 12 (6.41)
36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 7 (8.16) 3 (8.46) 30 (4.06) 19 (5.23) 9 (6.59) 11 (6.50)
37 Richard Nixon Republican 21 (6.16) 21 (5.19) 19 (5.99) 41 (1.75) 28 (3.58) 26 (4.53)
38 Gerald Ford Republican 32 (3.85) 28 (4.38) 27 (4.46) 23 (4.94) 27 (4.06) 28 (4.34)
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 16 (6.31) 23 (4.99) 22 (5.53) 6 (7.14) 18 (5.59) 18 (5.91)
40 Ronald Reagan Republican 6 (8.19) 15 (5.86) 12 (6.72) 17 (5.64) 19 (5.51) 13 (6.38)
41 George H. W. Bush Republican 26 (4.83) 26 (4.67) 10 (6.81) 15 (5.68) 20 (5.41) 21 (5.48)
42 Bill Clinton Democratic 13 (6.88) 7 (6.93) 14 (6.35) 34 (3.22) 16 (5.85) 19 (5.85)
43 George W. Bush Republican 25 (4.93) 32 (3.83) 39 (2.94) 35 (2.91) 37 (2.60) 34 (3.44)
44 Barack Obama Democratic 10 (7.39) 9 (6.71) 15 (6.30) 4 (7.86) 5 (7.44) 7 (7.14)
Seq. President Political party VSA DL FPL MA HL O

2017 C-SPAN Presidential Historians 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.[a]
 Yellow  backgrounds indicate third quartile.
 Orange  backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.

Source:[41]

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[37] 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 National Union[38] 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 sixth presidential poll.[42]

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 awarded the top five spots to George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson, in keeping with prior surveys. Washington had been ranked fourth in all previous surveys, and Franklin Roosevelt first.

(Note that the numbers below do not match the source where there are ties in the rankings. They have instead been counted as ties are in other polls (e.g. 26, 27, 27, 27, 30 rather than 26, 27, 27, 27, 28), so that all categories span the range 1–44.)

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.
 Yellow  backgrounds indicate third quartile.
 Orange  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 14 4 4 24 14 32 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 15 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 25 22 23 12 16 29 29 15 17 18 21 15 14 18 18
7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 38 16 29 28 4 4 39 11 9 18 19 6 16 30 25 25 17 23 20 19 19
8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 24 23 27 25 34 30 20 28 27 25 27 16 23 25 31 26 29 27 24 28 25
9 William Henry Harrison Whig 22 (tie) 39 28 37 44 34 42 39 29 31 37 36 38 42 41 40 42 44 37 39 39
10 John Tyler Independent 35 34 35 34 22 26 38 37 37 34 36 41 41 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 31 27 22 32 37 24 27 26 25 32 32 35 32 37 27 33 27 30 26 30 30
13 Millard Fillmore Whig 41 38 36 38 35 40 (tie) 33 38 39 40 39 40 40 39 37 37 37 37 33 37 38
14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 39 40 38 40 39 40 (tie) 40 40 40 41 40 39 39 41 40 39 41 39 38 40 40
15 James Buchanan Democratic 37 44 40 39 42 44 41 43 44 42 43 42 42 43 42 43 44 43 44 44 43
16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 29 1 2 2 18 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 4 3 4 2 1 6 2 1 3
17 Andrew Johnson Democratic 43 43 41 42 40 36 44 44 43 44 42 44 44 44 43 42 43 41 43 43 44
18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 20 25 25 24 26 18 17 27 18 26 26 24 19 24 26 38 24 24 31 24 24
19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 36 31 32 29 23 37 24 34 33 30 31 33 30 27 22 30 35 31 28 29 32
20 James A. Garfield Republican 22 (tie) 26 21 20 41 32 26 25 24 23 24 27 26 34 29 27 34 34 27 25 28
21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 42 32 37 36 17 35 22 (tie) 30 34 36 35 34 33 (tie) 33 30 31 25 32 23 31 34
22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 27 24 26 27 19 27 (tie) 22 (tie) 19 20 19 22 20 27 20 21 23 23 21 15 22 23
23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 34 35 30 35 28 38 34 36 35 35 34 31 28 35 32 34 32 29 29 33 35
25 William McKinley Republican 30 21 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 29 12 14 27 33 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 36 14 14 7 14 8 14 13 11 14 14 11 25 15 11
29 Warren G. Harding Republican 40 42 42 43 33 43 35 41 41 39 41 38 36 36 35 41 38 36 39 41 41
30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 33 37 17 33 13 42 28 32 (tie) 38 37 33 26 24 31 24 32 33 35 22 32 31
31 Herbert Hoover Republican 13 36 15 13 43 39 37 29 36 29 29 32 33 (tie) 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 32 17 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 19 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 (tie) 34 22 25 10 9 9 13 17 9 3 2 8 12 8 5 40 35 17 16
37 Richard Nixon Republican 16 22 43 16 36 12 31 24 28 27 25 22 35 32 23 28 22 16 42 38 29
38 Gerald Ford Republican 18 33 10 30 30 31 11 31 30 33 30 25 25 21 33 24 31 28 21 27 27
39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 26 20 3 15 38 27 (tie) 30 32 (tie) 32 24 28 37 37 19 38 22 28 25 34 26 26
40 Ronald Reagan Republican 28 18 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 28 18 19 20 27 (tie) 13 20 22 28 21 21 20 29 28 19 26 10 17 21 21
42 Bill Clinton Democratic 21 13 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 30 33 41 21 20 29 35 31 38 38 19 22 28 36 29 30 38 36 34 33
44 Barack Obama Democratic 25 11 (tie) 13 9 15 23 16 18 16 9 15 23 31 14 10 13 13 20 10 11 17
45 Donald Trump Republican 44 41 44 44 10 25 43 42 42 43 44 43 43 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

2021 C-SPAN Presidential Historians 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.
 Yellow  backgrounds indicate third quartile.
 Orange  backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.

Source:[43]

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

Scholar surveys of diversity and racism

American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom polls (2002–2020)

Professors Hanes Walton Jr. and Robert Smith conducted a poll in 2002 for their book American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom, where 44 African-American political scientists and historians ranked presidents for their personal and institutional racism against their policies to counter racial subordination. The polls have been updated for subsequent editions of the book. The results (through Donald Trump) were as follows. Note that "white supremacist" refers to personal belief; the other categories refer to policy.[44]

Rating of presidential racism[44]
White supremacist[nb 1] Institutional racist[nb 2] Institutionally neutral[nb 3] Ambivalent[nb 4] Anti-racist[nb 5]
George Washington
Thomas Jefferson[nb 6]
James Madison
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Harrison
John Tyler
James Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln[nb 6]
Andrew Johnson
Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
Warren Harding
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Richard Nixon
Donald Trump[45][nb 6]
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams[nb 6]
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Harrison
John Tyler
James Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Andrew Johnson
Theodore Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
Chester A. Arthur
Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
William Taft
Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Rutherford B. Hayes
James Garfield
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Gerald Ford
Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
George W. Bush
Abraham Lincoln[nb 6]
Ulysses S. Grant
Benjamin Harrison
Harry S. Truman
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard Nixon
Jimmy Carter
Barack Obama[45]
  1. ^ Held a belief in the inferiority of African people
  2. ^ Supported slavery or segregation. All presidents before Lincoln defended slavery.
  3. ^ Record shows no positions on racial issues
  4. ^ Varied between anti-racist and racially neutral policies
  5. ^ Attempted to dismantle at least some aspects of racial subordination
  6. ^ a b c d e Lincoln is rated as both white supremacist, for his personal views, and antiracist, for his policies. Jefferson was both a white supremacist and institutional racist (for defending the institution of slavery), but acted as soon as constitutionally possible to end the slave trade. John Quincy Adams took no anti-racist actions as president, but was not personally racist and after his presidency was a vigorous opponent of slavery. Trump is rated as white supremacist both for his personal beliefs and his policy.[44][45]

Northwestern Presidential Leadership on Diversity and Inclusion Survey (2019)

In May 2019, Dr. Alvin Tillery of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University and Dr. Christina Greer of Fordham University "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."[46] Survey respondents were significantly more liberal than the national average, "with only 13 percent of the respondents describing themselves as either moderate, slightly conservative, or conservative." However, "similar patterns of ratings [were found] across the ideological spectrum."[46]

Rank Overall (performance + diversity and inclusion score) Diversity and inclusion leadership score only
1 Franklin D. Roosevelt (83/100) Barack Obama (75/100)
2 Barack Obama (77/100) Bill Clinton (54/100)
3 Lyndon B. Johnson (69/100) Jimmy Carter (43/100)
4 Bill Clinton (62/100) George W. Bush (41/100)
5 John F. Kennedy (61/100) Lyndon B. Johnson (40/100)
6 Harry S. Truman (57/100) George H. W. Bush (34/100)
7 Dwight D. Eisenhower (54.4/100) Franklin D. Roosevelt (31/100)
8 Ronald Reagan (54.1/100) Gerald Ford (30/100)
9 Jimmy Carter (50/100) John F. Kennedy (28.4/100)
10 George H. W. Bush (49/100) Harry S. Truman (28/100)
11 Gerald Ford (39/100) Ronald Reagan (27.8/100)
12 George W. Bush (38/100) Dwight D. Eisenhower (26/100)
13 Richard Nixon (32/100) Richard Nixon (24/100)
14 Donald Trump (11/100) Donald Trump (9/100)

Public opinion polls

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.[47]

  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)

2011 Gallup poll

A Gallup poll about presidential greatness taken February 2–5, 2011, asked 1,015 American adults 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 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.[48]

  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.[49]

  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 American adults 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?".[50]

Gallup poll 2013
President Outstanding Above average Average Below average Poor No opinion Weighted average[51]
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 American registered voters who they believed were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[52]

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 American voters who they believed were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[53]

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 President Donald Trump for the first time, a Morning Consult poll taken February 9–10, 2017, asked 1,791 American registered voters who they believed were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[54][55]

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 American voters who they believed were the best and worst presidents since World War II.[56]

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%)

2021 Gallup poll

A Gallup poll taken January 4–15, 2021, asked 1,023 American adults 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?"[57]

Gallup poll 2021
President Outstanding Above average Average Below average Poor Weighted average[51]
John F. Kennedy 23% 47% 25% 2% 1% 3.83
Richard Nixon 4% 7% 26% 29% 30% 2.14
Jimmy Carter 6% 21% 43% 14% 10% 2.81
Ronald Reagan 17% 35% 30% 10% 6% 3.41
George H. W. Bush 7% 21% 53% 11% 6% 3.06
Bill Clinton 10% 26% 37% 16% 11% 3.08
George W. Bush 6% 18% 49% 16% 10% 2.91
Barack Obama 21% 35% 22% 11% 12% 3.45
Donald Trump 9% 20% 10% 14% 47% 2.30

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.[58][59] 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

David Herbert 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 remarked, "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."[60] Historian and political scientist Julian E. Zelizer has argued 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."[61] The broadly static nature of the rankings over multiple decades has also been called into question, particularly given the frequent exposure of previously unknown material about American government.[62]

In 2002, Ron Walters, former director of the University of Maryland's African American Leadership Institute, stated that ranking based on the presidents' ability to balance the interests of the majority and those 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 that there was a qualitative difference between presidential evaluations from white and African-American intellectuals. He gives as an example of this difference a comparison between two contemporary studies, a 1996 New York Times poll by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., where 31 white historians and one black historian ranked presidents as "Great", "Near Great", "High Average", "Average", "Below Average", or "Failure", and a survey performed by professors Hanes Walton Jr. and Robert Smith and featured in their book American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom, where 44 African-American political scientists and historians ranked presidents as "White Supremacist", "Racist", "Racially Neutral", "Racially Ambivalent", or "Antiracist".[63]

A 2012 analysis by Mark Zachary Taylor[64] faulted presidential surveys with "partisan bias and subjective judgments", suggesting an algorithm to rank of the presidents based on objectively measurable economic statistics. The results placed Franklin Roosevelt as the best president for the economy, followed by Harding, Hayes and McKinley tied for second. The worst-ranked presidents were Hoover and Van Buren, tied.

A common criticism of presidential surveys is that participants are "driven by liberal bias to give high ratings to presidents who expanded the role of government." The first British survey, published in 2011, places some small government advocates higher than recent US surveys have: Thomas Jefferson at 4, Ronald Reagan at 8, and Andrew Jackson at 9 (compare 7, 10 and 13 in C-SPAN 2009).[23]

Alvin S. Felzenberg, a professor at both the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of those who has criticized what he sees as a liberal bias in presidential rankings. In particular, he ranks Ronald Reagan in third place, substantially higher than averaged rankings. In perhaps the only scholarly review of Felzenberg's 2008 book The Leaders We Deserved (and a Few We Didn't), Genovese (2010) says, Felzenberg is upset—with some justification—at the liberal bias he sees as so prevalent in the ranking of U.S. presidents by historians and political scientists. To remedy this, he has provided a counter to the liberal bias with a conservative bias. In doing so, he commits all the sins of which he accuses liberals. This book is a mirror image of the work he finds so troubling....It is unscientific, impressionistic, and highly subjective."[65]

See also

References

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  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.
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  4. ^ Skidmore. 2001.
  5. ^ Jeremy Griffin & Nico Hines (2018) Who's the greatest? The Times US presidential rankings. The Times, Tuesday October 28.
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  38. ^ a b c d e f Johnson was a former War Democrat elected on the National Union ticket as Lincoln's vice president. By 1868, the National Union Party disbanded but Johnson had not yet rejoined the Democratic Party.
  39. ^ Murray and Blessing. p. 135.
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  1. ^ a b c Because this survey covers an odd number of presidents, the median ranking is colored an intermediate  yellow-green.

Further reading

External links