The respective excellence of US presidents is always being debated. Many academics have put together rankings over the years to demonstrate who they think is best, and in one famous case the features of one person’s top four have been carved into a mountain.
But how do the leaders of the nation rank in terms of public opinion? A new YouGov poll has asked Americans their view on the 45 men who have served as president to date.
Topping the list is Abraham Lincoln. Eight in ten Americans (80%) have a favorable view of the president who freed the slaves and won the Civil War, including 56% who have a “very favorable” view of him.
In a perhaps surprise second place – if going by combined very+somewhat favorable ratings – is John F. Kennedy, whom 73% of Americans have a favorable view opinion of. This puts him three points ahead of the more traditional runner-up George Washington (70%), who places third on this measure (although the scores are within the margin of error). It is worth noting that fewer people have a “very” favorable view of Kennedy: 35% to Washington’s 44%.
Theodore Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson complete the top five, both being seen favorably by 62% of Americans.
There are only two presidents who are currently seen unfavorably by a majority of Americans: Richard Nixon (56%) and Donald Trump (54%). More Americans take a “very” negative view of Trump (47% to Nixon’s 34%), although he is also popular among a wider group: 39% like Donald Trump compared to 27% for Nixon.