July 2nd, 2014
08:36 AM ET
4 weeks 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 (1,047 Responses)
  1. cp125

    These people you polled must not have counted the previous president or Ford or Bush41 or Nixon or Carter, I could go on & on and on...but people are in general stupid, so this is no suprise. And as far a Mitt is concerned, we now would be in at least 4 more wars and every millionaire and billionaire wouldn't be paying any taxes as the middle class has been eradicated.

    July 2, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  2. laeinstein

    Whether it be Bush (1 or 2)- Nixon- Carter or Obama as the worst president- one must analyze the voting process that determines the outcome- When you have guaranteed 47% voting for the Democrats (The 50% of the population that does not pay taxes claims the other 50% is not paying their fair share- one of the best quotes ever) it is like a bowling march when your opponent is given a 50 pin lead Hilary in 2016- Please pass the Malox

    July 2, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  3. jharry

    Is Obama worst president since WWII?

    You had to ask? YES

    July 2, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Americans who think Obama is so bad are absolutrpely NUTS! He ended two wars started by 'sBush and the economy has been steadily improving. I lost thousands in Bush's economic downturn. Also; my social sevurity and medicare were not touched. If you adk me the whole thing is racial.

    July 2, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  5. Drakkon

    No. Bush I still holds that honor. George HW Bush was the most impotent, useless President since WW2. Riding on Reagan's coattails, puking on the Japanese Ambassador, failing at domestic, foreign and economic policies, including maintaining the policies that Reagan setup and seemed to be working until Bush took over... All failures.

    In comparison, Obama is at least trying, and that puts him above Bush. And GW, too.

    July 2, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  6. Sam M

    Obama is bad, but Carter was worse.

    July 2, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  7. whatever123

    And this is why telephone polls are useless. Which one of you has a landline? I bet if you're over the age of 60, there's a better chance than below 60. I bet if you're over 70 there's an even better chance.

    July 2, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  8. Duffus Dingleberry

    The numbers don't lie. Obama's the worst, ever!

    July 2, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  9. Liberal...NOT

    Since WWII? How about the worse of all time? He's certainly the worst leader of all time. He has no leadership qualities. He doesn't know how to lead. He doesn't know how to drive consensus from differing opinions. He doesn't know how to bring people together. He is the most partisan president in history and therefore the worst. Embarrassing really.

    July 2, 2014 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  10. Steve

    No...

    He is the worst President in all of American History.

    July 2, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  11. Matt

    When 54% of the American public says the President isn't competent to govern, that's telling you something. Yet he still has the nerve to blame Republicans for his problems.

    July 2, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  12. cskoog2014

    The worse president since World War II? That's totally subjective. Liberals will choose Nixon or Reagan or George W. Bush and conservatives will choose Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton or Obama. In other words, the answers are predictable based upon one's political ideology to the extent that this article has no point.

    July 2, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. Dave

    It just means the GOP has accomplished what they set out to do. They attacked him, Obstructed everything Obama tried to do Spread lies and it's gone on for the entire 6 years.

    July 2, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Brian McKinsey

    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.
    Yes, and so much for the intelligence of the American voter. Terrifying, isn't ti? Worse than NIXON? Worse than W? These twits must all have been born in the last 20 years.

    July 2, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  15. LJ

    While I'm always wary of polls, I do agree that Obama has been a terrible president. Unlike Clinton, a pragmatist who truly attempted to reach across the aisle, Obama is an ideologue who wishes to do nothing of the sort. His idea of compromise is agreeing to work with Republicans only if they agree 100% with his point of view.

    He pits black vs. white, rich vs. poor, man vs. woman and young vs. old at every turn to keep all us, the American citizens, fighting amongst ourselves so we don't notice the big brother, big government policies his administration keeps passing, which shouldn't be a surprise. Look at the people who influenced him as he grew up. Despite the media constantly trying to hide and/or minimize his past relationships with people like Bill Aires and Rev Wright, we are molded by the people who surround us as we grow.

    It's too bad. He had a great opportunity to be something historically great. Unfortunately, he's been historically bad.

    July 2, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  16. Glenn

    Yes, well most people are stupid and ill-informed, aren't they? How many Americans would tell polsters that the universe is 6000 years old or that we're being visited by aliens? We're also the most heavily propagandized generation ever and most of what the public believes about Reagan and Obama and Bush is simply not true.

    July 2, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  17. Anonymous

    This will go down as the worst poll ever! If there is one thing we can take from polling over the last few years is that they are inaccurate and a waste of time, just ask Mitt Romney & Eric Cantor.

    July 2, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  18. toad734

    Is this a joke?? 9/11, Iraq, Bin Laden, the housing bubble and financial crash, record debt and a budget surplus to a huge deficit...THat's all Bush!

    July 2, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  19. semajr

    This will go down as the worst poll ever! If there is one thing we can take from polling over the last few years is that they are inaccurate and a waste of time, just ask Mitt Romney & Eric Cantor.

    July 2, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  20. BluntNRude

    With regard to job performance and accomplishments, Nixon was one of the better Presidents.

    For the worst, It's still a toss-up between Carter and Obama but with Carter we have the advantage of hindsight to see just how much damage was done. 5-8 years from now when the results of 8-years of printing money to cover failed economic policy comes home to roost, I suspect there will be a new "winner" and 300+ million "losers".

    July 2, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  21. Dave Johnson

    Who decides which commenting system is used for a specific article?
    It seems like articles that CNN does not want a heated discussion are on this system.

    July 2, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  22. Much thunder...little rain

    Obama is finally no. 1

    July 2, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  23. mike

    Yes, without a doubt, Obama is the worst president since WWII. Maybe longer.

    July 2, 2014 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  24. jb

    Yeah ...when he set up his Greek stage set during his first inauguration...nobody actually thought he intended to actually turn America into Greece;)

    July 2, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  25. VEW2012

    No that would be Ronald Reagan, followed by George W. Bush whose mess we are currently dealing with.

    July 2, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
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