July 2nd, 2014
08:36 AM ET
6 years 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. S.B. Stein

    Not knowing how the questions were phrased and under what criteria makes the president the worst, I would still go with George W. Bush. He said that he would be certain things and had them pushed through Congress without any clear thought of the consequences. He pushed through the war in Iraq without honest evidence. The Medicare Part D for prescriptions had no way of being paid for; how is that fiscally responsible (or even conservative)? This isn't to say that any other presidents are saintly and pure.

    July 2, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  2. He Hate Me

    The people on CNN message boards sometimes boggle my mind. When a poll's results align with your beliefs, you come on here to spout off about the merits of national polls. Then, when they arrive at a conclusion you dislike, it's the respondents faults for being "idiots." National polls have been going on for decades and have been shown to be very representative of the views held by larger audiences. You don't have to agree with the opinion of the majority of Americans, but the poll itself is not to blame. Also, for those claiming this was biased by the respondents' political affiliation, that is asked during the process to get as close to a 50/50 split as possible. The fact that 25% of democrats think Romney (someone they HATED during the process) would be a better choice is more telling to me than anything that Obama has not lived up to his "hope and change" agenda. I also think if you did this same poll while pitting Obama vs. Bush, Bush would come out the loser. The open-ended nature of the question is the primary reason that Obama was voted as worse.

    July 2, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  3. timekeeper

    Who actually cares what polls show. In twenty years Obama may be considered one of the best Presidents. It is a stupid question to ask if someone that has never been president would be better than one that had been president for 4 years already dealing with actual situations not just opinionating about them. Much of the Obama's dislike is centered on the American public's belief that a President can do actually more than they can. Presidents need congress and the congress he has worked with has been the most partisan in modern history with a bent on making Obama the most ineffective president.

    July 2, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. FrankBlack

    He's got over 2 years left. By the time his term is done he will be the worst president in History.

    July 2, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. Anonymous

    I had hopes for Obama and even voted for him in the first election. Unfortunately Obama became the leader of the Peoples Victim Party and has deepened the divide in America. It is unfortunate that we have so many victims in this Country. I firmly believe the following – "When you are young and not a democrat you have no heart, when you are old and not a Republican you have no brain". The young credit card generation will understand this when retirement comes around. No point in even talking to a young democrat, they'll understand one day as they pay ridiculous amounts of taxes for victims that need, need, need.

    July 2, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  6. Harpblu

    Seriously? Obama has tried to do his job. The problem lies with a do-nothing Congress. I'm certain that if a poll were to be taken, they would rank as the worst ever. The political gridlock has been over the top. Everything he has attempted to do has been stonewalled by the Republican majority in the House. Frankly, I think that Reagan was the worst president my generation has seen. He was simply a puppet for the right wing. Just because he knew how to communicate doesn't exactly mean he knew what he was doing. And G.W.? Really? The man is a blithering idiot.

    July 2, 2014 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    You've gotta be kidding me right? Ever seen that movie "W?" That pretty much sums it up.

    July 2, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. Michael

    This is the 24 hour news cycle driving this silliness. It's pretty easy to say who's the worst (Nixon) followed closely by Jimmy Carter. I'd say Obama and Bush are in the middle somewhere with Reagon and Kennedy as the best. However, if you include the WWII years FDR was the greatest President by far. He'd probably still be getting elected if he hadn't passed.

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

    The results are obviously indicative that mainly Repubs were polled. Either that or 100% of the population is delusional rather than the 49% we're used to.

    July 2, 2014 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  10. Michael Newberry

    I love how the idiot who is defending Obama as his personal savior gives their name as Anonymous. Lacks the spine to even give their identity. AND they need some typing or spelling lessons.

    July 2, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  11. Anonymous

    Seriously, we repeat this vicious cycle every decade. I mean what do people expect? He said when he was running in the first term that Bi-partisan support would be required in order for anything to get accomplished and we all know opposing political party (s). I mean its not even like the his opposition was shy about it. I don't blame him for bi-passing congress. We (US) complaint about what our politicians do for our US citizens every day. Be darned if you do darned if you don't. If he didn't by-pass congress one of you would be complaining he did nothing to progress toward a solution... pathetic..

    July 2, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  12. It's Me

    Worst EVER!!!

    July 2, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. Hikertom

    George W. got us into an unnecessary war and wrecked the economy. Haven't people noticed that Obama got us out of Iraq and the economy and stock market are booming?

    July 2, 2014 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. rs

    G.W. Bush wins hands down and pulling away- it's the one thing he excelled at.
    The top ten reasons:
    1. Cutting taxes and going to war- inventiveness- never before done in American History-ever!
    2. Two-off-books wars that cost $trillions- naturally, combining them with his wealthy-welfare blew a giant hole in the budget creating both deficit spend and big debt. These were wars with no end plan- and thus are the longest in American History. They failed to get bin Laden.
    3. Deregulation- because hey, everyone loves living in a toilet bowl, and having banks write their own rules- like selling people homes they couldn't possibly afford.
    4. "you go to war with the army you have"- which means you want war on the cheap- make parents buy their soldier sons and daughters body armor- while they scrounge for scrap metal to reinforce their fiberglass Hummers. Allowing Halliburton to put in shoddy bases in Iraq- complete with electrocution showers.
    4. "Mission Accomplished"- enough said there.
    5.Unpaid for Medicare expansion- only half a $trillion off of estimates.
    6. Blowing the cover of a CIA operative because her husband blew the whistle on the "yellowcake" uranium lies.
    &. "deficits don't matter".
    7. Instituting POW torture.
    8. Frosting off every single ally the U.S. ever had.
    9. Wrecking the economy- at the end of Bush's tenure, more than 800,000 Americans lost jobs every month.
    10. Taking the most vacation time of any President in history- nearly 3 years out of his 8 in office.

    July 2, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  15. genny01

    I cannot imagine anyone calling our President the worst President – who are they polling? No doubt it's only republicans. I think President Obama has done an outstanding job, considering all the opposition. President Reagan was a terrible president and he got a 35% approval rating, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who was polled.

    July 2, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. zielzoric

    No, he isn't. Obama's short-comings have everything to do with the racist, partisan, do-nothings on the right side of the aisle. Bush the Junior would have to get my vote for the worst President. 9/11, basically giving Halliburton free money, Iraq, Afghanistan, the tanking economy, making our country a laughing stock on the world stage. It will take decades to clean up the mess that George W. Gump and his cronies left us in.

    July 2, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  17. Anonymous

    I'm not getting how if 66% of the people polled don't think he is the worst, that the 33% win?

    July 2, 2014 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  18. stretch5150

    Obama is the worst President since Harding. Obama continued the spiral of GW's economic policies, created a stimulus package that failed, brought us the Arab Spring that ended in the First US Ambassador to die serving his country since the Carter Administration, doubled the national deficit in 5 years (more than every single US President before him COMBINED), took us to a Libyan civil war for NOTHING, held US service men in Iraq longer than promised then pulled them out publicly putting them in harm's way, still in Afghanistan for no reason, has not secured our borders and is leaving them even more open for floods of people to cross, is strong arming Conservative Media outlets, IRS targeting Conservatives, tried to by-pass Congress for appointments and got over-ruled by the SCOTUS, ObamaCare is a tax and creating more unemployment, hides the real unemployment figures because once you no longer receive unemployment benefits you are not counted as unemployed, creating massive under-employment in this country never seen in US History, weakened the US stance and strength with out allies and everyone else abroad,
    In short A FAILURE AS PRESIDENT.

    July 2, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. Shorty

    As long as people are voted in for reasons other than skills and integrity, we're going to have problems with lousy presidents. If you vote for someone only because they are black, good looking, a woman or whatever, give your head a shake! You deserve what you get!

    July 2, 2014 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  20. Michael Newberry

    I love the way the knucklehead defending Obama like their own personal savior lists their user name as Anonymous. They lack the spine to back their statements with their name.

    July 2, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  21. Rich

    obama and CNN share one thing in common. You're both total failures at your jobs. That may be why your ratings are so low. Oh, and let's not forget Holder. Can't forget him when talking about failure. Liberal media provides cover for the worst president ever at the expense of America, her future, and the great people who built this country. You're against everything that made this country great. Some day you'll regret that, maybe sooner than you think.

    John Kennedy once said "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country". Did you morons at CNN forget that? Obama says ... ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you. Come get your free American handouts! Destroy our neighborhoods, come get your subsidized housing, welfare, food stamps, Medicaid, disability, unemployment, free medical coverage, free cell phones, and on and on and on! It's all free in America, just give obama your vote. Good long-term plan!

    Hey obama, some of us actually worked for what we have ... and yes, we're going to fight to keep it. And no, we don't want to subsidize your (handout) version of America. Let them work for what they want just like we did.

    July 2, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  22. zielzoric

    No, he isn't. Obama's shortcomings have everything to do with racist, ignorant, hyper-partisan, do-nothings on the right side of the aisle. For the title of "Worst President Since WWII" you need merely look at Bush the Junior. 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, the tanking economy, turning our country into a laughing stock on the world stage, plus uttering statements so dumb they would make Dan Quayle shake his head. This mess we are in now is the result of George W. Gump and his cronies. It will take us decades to right this listing ship.

    July 2, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. bob

    Why do liberals hate the truth so much?

    Be careful what you ask for, you got it and own it!

    July 2, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. drake mallard

    what about richard nixon,lyndon johnson,jimmy carter,Ronald Reagan, the bushes one and two

    July 2, 2014 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  25. Tony

    Starting in 2017, the people in this poll will say that Hillary is the worst president after World War II. And they will say that for the next 8 years, until the next Democratic president in 2025.

    July 2, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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