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. Ed F.

    Obama avg vacation = 25 days a year

    Bush avg vacation time = 10.6 days a month

    Nuff said

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

    How about "worst since ever".

    July 2, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Jim

    At last, an article that actually says what I want to hear!

    July 2, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Aaron

    Shows what the public knows about the balance of power and exactly who is to blame for the continuously stagnant economy and low job numbers: nothing.

    July 2, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  5. Chriz555

    The latest president is always the worst one. Thanks to the short of the general population.

    July 2, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  6. Diane

    Yes Carter was the worst president since WWll but Obama has done nothing but split this country. For all the people
    that are calling people stupid and ignorant because they may not agree with them just shows you he has done nothing
    for the people of the United States. BTW he did not end the wars in fact he just sent some back into Iraq.
    Funny thing is you can't even begin to debate politics with a democrat because they never see the reality of what is going on in this country they just see Obama and the halo that beams above him. He has been a terrible president. I am not a republican I am an Independent.

    July 2, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. mike

    everyone knows that obama is the worst president since WWII (if not ever). only the extremists on the left would try to tell you he isnt. todays dem party is the extremist party.

    July 2, 2014 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. Dean


    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!

    Both parties voted for Iraq after 9-11. And a budget surplus is nothing. An actual surplus of money is what counts. Every year of Clinton's term the national debt rose.
    Housing bubble and financial mess- ever hear of Dodd, Barney Frank and Democratic congress?

    July 2, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. getfiddler

    Is Obama worst president since WWII?
    More like Obama is the worst president EVER!

    July 2, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Anonymous

    Quinnipiac has chosen to add the name of a man - Mitt Romney - who was never elected President of the United States as a qualifier for who should be considered the worst President of the United States since WWII? By doing so, this entire poll reeks of political bias; the takeaway suggesting that REPUBLICAN Romney would have been a better president without having one been called upon to make ANY presidential decision to be judged upon.

    July 2, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. foxghostwriter

    I've never been one to go overboard on one poll or the other, but really?

    July 2, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. HC

    Why does it matter ? Looks at congress... There are a punch of them useless.

    July 2, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. Bob R

    Absolutely the Worst! YES!!!

    July 2, 2014 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. Ed F.

    Duffus Dingleberry

    Shows us those imaginay numbers

    I'll start

    Obama = Unemployment down 20%

    Bush = Unemployment up 85.7%

    July 2, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Drinkawater

    IS it a rhetorical question ? were you born when G.W. Bush was our president ? Do research and post your dumb question here.

    July 2, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. Marc Florida

    No one comes close to Goerge "W" Bush. The nation may never recover from his presidency

    July 2, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. Dan Silagi

    Truman, Reagan, Clinton, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Obama, Johnson, Bush I, Ford, Bush II, Nixon, Carter.

    July 2, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. betterdays

    I like Ike.

    July 2, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  19. Dragonballs

    He's the worst president ever. He's borrowed more money that all other presidents COMBINED. He's squandered Iraq and soon Afghanistan. He's opened the borders to everyone, his economic policies have made only the rich richer. His healthcare plan is a failure. He does not have one unqualified policy success.

    He makes Warren Harding and Jimmy Carter look cool.

    July 2, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. Kris Wood

    A poll of 1446 is not front page news. It's not even back page news. Just because you CLAIM there's a low margin of error doesn't make guessing the dice roll more accurate. How many of those polled even knew more than 1-2 presidents back to name?

    July 2, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  21. Cazo

    No honest person can say unless they were alive. On the other hand, from the lens of what you expect leaders to deliver he is an abject failure. His arrogant leadership has divided our country in a way that is hard to believe. He takes no responsibility for outcomes. Division and lack of accountability are on no top leader metric list I have ever seen.

    July 2, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. RW

    Leave it to the media to instigate a non-productive debate of a publically elected official. Met folks from many cultures. We can't be satisfied. Every 10 years we go through the same economic cycle and we blame, or credit the Present president for the current state of our country at any given time. Even though this is public knowledge people still continue to do it. Common knowledge. Even in grade school its more difficult to pull a Failing grade back up to a passing grade. "F" to an" A". Even if he got not opposition could the US's issues be fixed in 1 or even 2 terms? Probably not...

    The President said when he was running for office during his first term that without "BIPARTISAN" support the road would be hard to recovery. Opposing political parties made it public knowledge that they were not going to support his plans from the door. It wouldn't have mattered what his administration proposed and most know this to be true.

    Big business runs the US and or planet for that matter not Politicians... anyone with a fundamental understanding of economics understands that. Lobbyist exist because someone in a position of influence believes they should. Otherwise there would be laws in place to prevent them from doing what they do during every single public election.

    People would complain regardless who was in office.... what solutions were proposed...what efforts were made. Many folks are just miserable. If there wasn't a deficit many of the people posting would probably be speculating if the numbers were sincere and the media would fuel it because it sells...

    July 2, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  23. curtegg

    Most Obama supporters fail to remember that Obama continued the Bush recovery policies with TARP and Quantitative Easing while also putting a grin on Chenney's face with his increased spying policies. At lease we had 3 good presidents prior to these two duds.

    July 2, 2014 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  24. Anonymous

    At least you're finally starting to realize president Obamma is the worst president we've had in decades but as an independent voter it's obvious it's painful for you because you just can't help bringing up GW. Give it a rest. Any other other President would have to resign because of the mess we are in here and overseas.Our President brags of his knowledge of the constitution but when he gets rebuffed because he over reaches the Supreme Court is the one who is wrong. Such arrogance is painful to watch.

    July 2, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  25. Bill

    Obama may not be a great president, but he's better than Bush. My biggest beef with Obama is he hasn't done very much. Outside of ACA, I don't know what achievements he could point to over his presidency. I don't blame that entirely on him – he has had a completely obstructionist Congress to deal with – but it will still be his legacy. That being said, I would rather have a president who does nothing (like Obama) than one who does a great deal of harm, like Bush. Among other things, W got us into two unfunded wars, had horrible economic policies that lead to the worst recession in this country's history. He did far more harm than Obama has, and is easily the worst president I've seen in my lifetime.

    July 2, 2014 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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