July 2nd, 2014
08:36 AM ET
4 months ago

Who is the worst president since WWII ?

(CNN) - President Barack Obama tops the list of the worst presidents since World War Two, according to a new national poll.

And the survey, released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, also indicates that a plurality of voters nationwide say in hindsight that the country would be better off if Mitt Romney had won the 2012 presidential election.

Obama at 41% approval in new CNN Poll of Polls; Congress at 14%

Thirty-three percent of people questioned in the poll say that Obama is the worst president since the Second World War, with 28% saying George W. Bush was the worst. Thirteen percent picked Richard Nixon, with 8% naming Jimmy Carter.

"Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.

It's important to note that Obama and Bush, his predecessor in the White House, are more in the public conscious than previous presidents, and that both have governed during a time of bitter partisanship that's made compromise between the two major political parties extremely difficult. When Quinnipiac last asked the question, in 2006, Bush topped the list, with 34% saying he was the nation's worst president.

According to the poll, Ronald Reagan (at 35%) tops the list of the best president since WWII, with 18% saying Bill Clinton was best, followed by John F. Kennedy at 15% and Obama at 8%.

Voters are divided on whether Obama's been a better president than his predecessor, with 39% saying he's better than Bush and 40% saying he's worse. No surprise, there's a wide partisan divide on this question.

Bush left office in January 2009 with very low poll numbers. But according to a recent CNN/ORC International survey, his favorable rating now stands at 46%, up 11 percentage points over the past five and a half years. His favorable rating, according to the CNN poll, is now on par with Obama.

Better off if Romney had won?

Forty-five percent of those questioned say that America would be better off if Romney had won the 2012 election, with 38% saying the country would be worse off. Again, it's no surprise that 84% of Republicans say that America would be better if Romney had won and nearly three quarters of Democrats saying things would be worse.

For Romney, this endorsement's close to home

An adviser close to the former Massachusetts governor told CNN that he received a bunch of calls Wednesday, following the release of the poll, from donors who contributed to the 2012 Romney presidential campaign.

Spencer Zwick, the campaign finance chairman for Romney's 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, said that he thinks the poll "creates a hope and interest from a lot of those donors who would have loved to seen Romney become president but are hopeful there may be a shot in the future."

"It started a few months ago with donors saying 'do you think there's any shot,' to donors now saying 'how do we convince him to do it.' Which is kind of interesting because they have heard Gov. Romney say 'I'm not planning on doing this again' and I think some of these donors don't want to take no for an answer," added Zwick.

Romney has said over and over that he won't run for the White House a third time.

"I'm not running," Romney last month on NBC's "Meet the Press," a line Romney's used in interviews every time he's asked about 2016. Romney's wife, Ann, has also been adamant against another run.

How many ways can Romney say no to 2016

Obama's job running the government

By a 54%-44% margin, the survey indicates that the Obama administration is not competent in running the government.

The poll's Wednesday release comes as the scandal rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs dominated headlines recently. It's the latest controversy of the past year, following the NSA snooping scandal, the controversy over the IRS targeting of some conservative non-profit groups, and the rough rollout of the new federal health care law.

The President has also faced numerous international challenges, including the new bloodshed in Iraq, the civil war in Syria, and the fighting in Ukraine, as well as the controversial swapping of five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay for the release of a U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan.

"This poll gives a window into the sentiment of Americans at the moment," said CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, who said he suspects the numbers could change dramatically in four or five years.

The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted June 24-30, with 1,446 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.


Filed under: Mitt Romney • Poll • President Bush • President Obama
soundoff (1,046 Responses)
  1. kurt

    Frank Tremile

    Most Americans don"t understand how the American political system works so its pretty easy to point at Obama instead of the nasty GOP senate handcuffing him at every turn. Also the GOP did an excellent smear champagne on the healthcare system that confused and spread wide untruths about it so that people were not for it.... they didn't even know why they weren't for it; and it they did know, they were wrong. Better off with Romney, HA! You want more poverty, you want more war, you want more 1%?

    You forgot "You want to actually have to work for a living?"

    July 2, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. anonymous

    Someone wrote about Obama "we never thought that would mean destroy the country and our standing abroad" You'd think the country would be in smoldering ruins based upon they way some of you guy talk. So you think the country is destroyed.. Really? The stock market is at all time record highs, more that DOUBLING under Obama. If you didn't participate in this, then it's your fault and it sucks to be you. Unemployment has recovered quite a lot. Obama has does his best to manage the 2 wars he inherited and hasn't gotten us into any new ones. They killed Osama bin laden under his watch.. Had this happened until a republican president, the republican rank and file would have a perpetual hard on over this. When Obama does it, he's still considered a Muslim who hates America. Obama didn't take your guns. The restaurants and malls are full. They passed universal health care. Things may not be great, but you guys really need to stop looking for others to blame for your own failures. If life hasn't worked out for you, it's absolutely not Obama's fault.

    July 2, 2014 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. Colo001

    I love you on the left. Your always good for a chuckle. If you believe Reagan is worse then Obama then we all know you are a life long liberal addict. We are watching the Obama WH imploding and still you wont admit the problems.

    July 2, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Matt McGregor

    Quit worrying about the presidents and throw out the congress that's the damn problem!!!!

    July 2, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. JD

    Obama has been awful. Cutting the deficit by more than half, getting bin Laden, cutting unemployment, nearly doubling the Dow, and ending warfare. What a terrible POTUS!

    July 2, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Scott Cisney

    Well I guess the American public has a very, very, short memory. Anybody remember George W. Bush?

    July 2, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. David

    GWB without a doubt or question was the WORST president.

    All this psychotic hate for President Obama is GOP faux news manufactured outrage to stir up their ignorant voting base into voting against their best interests and buying into their lies.

    July 2, 2014 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. kool aid man

    Hangs with Ayers, you see, when you feel the necessity of lying to make your case...you don't have one! Ronald Reagan hands down, followed be George w, then Nixon, then bush Sr.

    July 2, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. pedro

    The 30% of the country that are mouth-breathing right wing fanatics hate Obama for a variety of reasons. This is not a surprise. The worst presidents since WW2 are easily Reagan and George W Bush (George HW Bush was actually a pretty good president). The debt and deficit that all the crazies complain about? That's almost all due to Reagan with a lot of help from George W Bush

    July 2, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. You Got It

    Some folks just can't take the truth........the poll doesn't lie, it's a reflection of how America feels – even if you don't see it or personally agree.
    Hope & Change, Transparency – biggest lies ever. And I voted for him the first time around, too. Unfortunately.

    July 2, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. komododr

    President Obama is the BEST,and most SMART since Kennedy.

    July 2, 2014 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  12. Toby Thomas

    George W. Bush is the worst president in American history. Barack Obama will go down as one of the best presidents, along with Lincoln, Roosevelt and B. Clinton (perhaps H. Clinton?), and this congress will go down as the worst congress in history.

    July 2, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  13. B

    bmullan-you are both correct and mistaken; no, presidents aren't supposed to be able to legislate laws themselves, the problem is, Obama did....not only that, he BRAGS about bypassing congress altogether. He is a dictator, and nothing short of it. Congress always sucks because people elect morons, but this congress has had to fight just to *try* to do their job.

    July 2, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  14. Thomas

    Be careful what you write here, you do not want to be targeted for an IRS audit.

    While this is tongue in cheek, let's face it, this government has not only stopped groups from receiveing tax breaks (which I am for) but it overreached its power and went after American's.

    The IRS lost 75 million of 300 million given to it under Obamacare

    The highway bill? It was written or a part of it...in the Obamacare bill..

    In response to a former poster who said that The president is just doing his best to uplift this country from a total loss!
    We were not at a total loss...and frankly that does not give any damn administration the right to take my freedoms or to target me as an individual for any view that I may have.

    Due to the "loss" of IRS emails...a bunch of crap...we really do not know how far the White House and the Treasury Department have gone...

    Oh and Harry Reid, the loving American that he is...made it so that if any American (not illegal or foreign born individual) owes more than 50K in taxes (not hard if you lost your house and with interest).....they lose their passport.

    The fact is -enough is enough...I do not live in the past, but now.

    This government has gone too far and more and more there is too much of "well, I will do it anyway tone."

    July 2, 2014 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  15. deee510

    Obama elected twice Romney rejected twice.these polls said Romney had a chance of being president in 2012

    July 2, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  16. Stephen

    GWB clearly was the worst president ever!!! No other president has ever destroyed the economy and moral fabric of a country as much as he has. He ought to be tried as war criminal. Americans are blind and ignorant! No wonder considering that Kim Kardashian is a major celebrity figure in this country! Obama took a country that was on the brinks of economic collapse thanks to his stupid stupid predecessor and brought back the jobs, the economy and gave millions health care!!! He will be judged as one of the greatest presidents ever! What poll was this, did they just poll the GOP?

    July 2, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  17. zendaddy621

    This so-called poll is preposterous and lacking perspective; almost every sitting president since WWII has been declared "worst ever" because people always need a convenient scapegoat in the here and now. Truman was not a popular president in his day; it wasn't until some time had passed after he left office that people started to realize how much good he actually did the nation and the world. Oh, and no president since WWII has had to deal with the level of partisan obstructionism that Obama is facing; not Nixon, not Reagan, not even Clinton...

    July 2, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  18. kurt

    Obama has rubbed off on quite a few of you. The poll did not produce the results I wanted..so I'll blame the people that responded to the poll! Hilarious!

    July 2, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. Maypo

    Worst President? - the guy isn't even qualified to wash cars...

    July 2, 2014 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  20. AmericanFool

    I think this is at heart a popularity poll, which is not invalid, since part of leadership is making your team/citizens feel secure in your authority and decision making ability, but disadvantages the pre-JFK presidents. However, it does a poor job of measuring actual accomplishments, and where those accomplishments rank in terms of benefit/impact to the country. Both Truman and Eisenhower, not to mention LBJ, have seen a significant re-evaluation of their standing from historians. I think timing is critical in the evaluation also. The NSA and VA scandals could have happened under any President, both were taking place for many years if not decades (hello, the NSA spies on our friends – this is a surprise to whom?). Also, growth under Obama has been reasonably strong when you normalize for the impact of globalization and the congressional response to the events of 2007/8 – the case can be made that a stronger recovery was not possible, and that the Bush/Obama actions in 2008/9 were the optimal response to the crisis. That interpretation would be a far cry from what most people personally experienced, but such events would tend to result in Reagan and Clinton being over-rated, and Bush, Carter and Obama under-rated in terms of their policies. In terms of natural leadership, clearly Reagan was very strong, JFK seemed to be as well, and Clinton also, though hampered by personal scandal, and Bush W has to be on that list with the bullhorn in NY, though subsequent performance was lackluster, esp in his 2nd term. I think Carter and Obama & Bush Sr (even though I think his policies were excellent) and Nixon need to be near the bottom of the leadership list (some might put Clinton here for his personal issues also), and LBJ, Ike and Truman seem to be in the middle somewhere – not due to capability necessarily – Ike had great leadership skills, but perhaps less of an opportunity to shine in his Presidential capacity. My impressions, FWIW.

    July 2, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  21. YeahMe

    Least informed voters in US history. This despite the creation of the Dept. of Education and mountains on money wasted on education that previous generations never came close to, yet were able to digest the information and make informed choices that didn't harm this country. What we have now is definitely worse than anything we've seen heretofore but he didn't elect himself.

    July 2, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42