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. Marcus

    I have taught college level statistics courses for 37 years.

    This poll is garbage because it does not compensate for the single most glaringly exogenous factor that influences its outcome. Notice that the President is (part) black? Add inherent American racism. Add Fox News.

    So much for the original assertion.

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

    This is my three worst in order:

    1)George W Bush (how can you not be the worst after Iraq with 4K US soldiers dead, over 100K Iraqis, and 2 trillion spent)
    2) Jimmy Carter (just not capable)
    3) Barack Obama (was inexperienced coming in, and it showed. Hiring Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff, one of the most abrasive people alive, contributed to the partisan atmosphere we have now. He is a do nothing who does not understand foreign affairs)

    July 2, 2014 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. Anonymous

    George W. Hands down. Worst President.
    Guilty of treason for instigating a war in Iraq under pretenses that he knew to be false. How many lives lost. How much treasure wasted!
    Current republican congress who's stated mission it has been to make sure that nothing gets done under any circumstances even if they agree with it since the 2008 election. Sure doesn't sound like they are upholding the constitution oath either.

    July 2, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. kjljh

    Definitely, Obama is horrid. I actually made the mistake of voting for him the first time (cause yes, Bush was the second worst) and regretted it ever since. The problem is, we have crap to choose from who runs.

    July 2, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  5. Wes

    obama is a disaster.

    July 2, 2014 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. widow

    no bill clinton? The guy who had the chance and passed on killing Osama Bin Laden? The guy who signed the housing bill that cost americans trillions in home values lost... That guy isn't even on the list? shows how uneducated americans are and how the media can skew things to change public perception of a man who did more harm than good for the citizens lives he was supposed to be improving. Today that bum walks around getting 250-500k or more per speech. Now his lying wife Hillary who doesn't see the importance of finding out what went wrong during her secretary of state run is going to run for president? yeah she will only if she hides the truth of what happened there. How can you go before congress and act like it isn't a big deal and question why you are even being questioned in the first place.. This is a leader? Sounds like another democrat lawyer lying through their teeth.

    July 2, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Anne

    Perhaps the question should have been "is this the most obstructionist congress ever in history"?

    July 2, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  8. brenna

    Bush Jr. the worst president ever!

    July 2, 2014 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  9. Ed F.

    Bush of course is the worst President in the history of the country

    Obama is one of the best, the stats prove it.

    This is a fake right wing made up poll.

    July 2, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  10. FrankA

    Obama is not only bad, he is a disgrace.

    July 2, 2014 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  11. mikeinthevine

    The last president we had took us to the brink of financial ruin, illegally invaded another country based on trumped up intel, is a war criminal by all definitions, and Obama's the worst president since WWII? Oh please. Never underestimate the stupidity of the American public.

    July 2, 2014 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. Thomas

    Polls mean nothing.......because I have my pen and paper, I'll just exec order them into correctness.

    July 2, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. wowlfie

    Obama plain and simple. But lets not limit it from WWII. Worst President in US History. He is a tyrant NOT a President. He is a spendrift having spent more than ALL the combined US Presidents throughout our history. ALL of them! With no world wars that cost so much. He has put out of work permanently tens of millions of Americans with his policies. He should be impeached because of his disdain for the separation of powers and his tyrancy. Out with Obama!

    July 2, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  14. rick

    Any poll taken DURING a presedency will always show the bad times in peoples minds. Memories of other presidents blunders are usualy downgraded. And the good things enhanced. If this poll were was done on almost all the previous ones. Things of course would be very different. I remember ?Reganomics? Was not very well recieved.. At the time he did it. But now? Opinions different of course. So. As polls go... Time will tell..

    July 2, 2014 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  15. Anonymous

    Ha Ha. Most Americans don't have a clue about anything outside of shopping anymore. Wonder how many of these people could even name 1 Supreme Court Justice or the Speaker of the House. Ask President Romney about the accuracy of his polls.

    July 2, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. Freedom Storm

    OBAMA 5TH BEST PRESIDENT EVER
    Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and 7 others tied for First.
    15 Presidents tied for Second.
    17 Presidents tied for Third.
    Jimmy Carter wowed us all to land in Fourth Place.
    ..and Barack Obama came in 5th place.

    July 2, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. PaulCat

    The polls also said Chris McDaniel was going to win in Mississippi

    July 2, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. Caroless

    One wonders what the controls were, in a "survey" like this. I'm thinking it was Americans for Prosperity?

    July 2, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  19. Stan

    how about since 1776

    July 2, 2014 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  20. Skibum73

    I love people like Brian McKinsey. He insults those who don't believe in the same things as him. Anyone different is stupid. There are two sides every debate Bri guy. Maybe it is you who is stupid? Being a typical Liberal though, you keep calling everyone who doesn't agree with you names. Keep it classy.

    July 2, 2014 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  21. crock

    in the eyes of disgruntled republicans and tea sippers, sitting president of democrat president would be the worst in history.

    July 2, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  22. Steph

    Maybe not the worst President but surely the first and worst King

    July 2, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  23. Getoverit

    According to liberals, polls are useless and wrong......except for the one that says Hillary is leading. LMFAO!

    July 2, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. Serious Truth

    Shocking! Who would have thought Mr. Hope & Change would not be everyone's favorite? Now look at all his diehards jumping to blame Bush. Sorry, Mr. President, this bud is for you.

    July 2, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  25. betterdays

    Great. Now Obama is going to get all upset and change something by decree again just to prove that he's in charge.

    July 2, 2014 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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