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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rating Presidents

Our chapter on the presidency considers how Americans have appraised their chief executives. Gallup reports:
Americans believe history will judge Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton as the best among recent U.S. presidents, with at least 6 in 10 saying each will go down in history as an above-average or outstanding president. Only about 1 in 10 say each will be remembered as below average or poor. Three years into Barack Obama's presidency, Americans are divided in their views of how he will be regarded, with 38% guessing he will be remembered as above average or outstanding and 35% as below average or poor.

Gallup periodically asks Americans to assess how they believe presidents will go down in history. The current results are based on a Feb. 2-5 poll and include presidents Richard Nixon through Obama, with this being the initial measurement of Obama on this question. Aside from Clinton and Reagan, only George H.W. Bush gets significantly more positive than negative ratings. Nixon and George W. Bush are rated as the worst, with roughly half of Americans believing each will be judged negatively.
Compared with Gallup's previous update -- conducted in January 2009, just before Bush's presidency ended and Obama's began -- ratings of several presidents are up. This includes George W. Bush, whom Americans judged even more poorly than Nixon in the prior update.
Similarly, Harris reports:
As the nation prepares to celebrate Presidents' Day, it is always interesting to see what people think about some of the past presidents. Looking at all the presidents since World War II, one-quarter of Americans (25%) say Ronald Reagan is the best president, one in five (19%) say Franklin Roosevelt while 15% say it is John Kennedy and 12% say Bill Clinton. The nine other presidents, including Barack Obama, are at 4% or less.
Looking at the flip side, just over one-quarter of U.S. adults (27%) say that George W. Bush was the worst president while just under one-quarter (22%) say Barack Obama is the worst; one in ten (12%) say the worst was Richard Nixon. The ten other presidents are at 5% or less.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,016 adults surveyed online between January 16 and 23, 2012 by Harris Interactive.