(CNN) – Nearly fifty years after he was assassinated, President John F. Kennedy remains the highest rated modern president, according to a new Gallup Poll.
Kennedy earned an 85 percent retrospective job approval rating, the highest among the nine U.S. presidents who have served in the past 50 years. Ronald Reagan ranked second with a 74 percent approval rating.
Bill Clinton eclipsed Jimmy Carter for third place, while Carter's 52 percent approval rating brought him down to sixth place. Gallup noted that Carter's declining rank - his approval rating peaked at 69 percent in 1999 - may be attributed to his criticism of George W. Bush and the Iraq War.
Richard Nixon again ranked last, as he has almost every year since the 20-year-old poll was initiated.
This was the first time George W. Bush was included in the poll since he left office in January 2009. He earned a 47 percent approval rating, and 51 percent disapproval rating, joining with Nixon as the only two presidents whose retrospective job disapproval exceeded their approval.
Despite this, the poll indicates that public opinion may be improving for the 43rd president. Bush's final approval rating while in office was 34 percent - 13 points lower than his initial retrospective rating.
In fact, the poll, which asked Americans to say whether they approve or disapprove of how each president handled his job in office, indicated that most modern presidents have enjoyed an increase in public approval since leaving office. Reagan, Ford, Carter, and George H.W. Bush have all earned higher retrospective job approval ratings than the ratings they earned at the end of their presidencies. Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, and Clinton's ratings have remained about the same as they were at the end of their respective terms.
The poll surveyed American adults by telephone interviews. It was conducted from November 19-21, with a sampling error of ±4 percentage points.