July 2nd, 2014
08:36 AM ET
7 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.

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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. Jodo

    I was not born until afer WWII, but obama is hands down the worst president in my otherwise long lifetime.

    He is profoundly dishonest, uniquely dysfunctional and thinks that he can cover for his many failures by blaming somebody else – anybody else. He has diminished respect for our nation around the world. It will take generations to recover from this man's trail of failures

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

    The following must be making him the worst president:
    – he brought us out of the great recession. Stock market has boomed.
    – he ended two wars in a valiant way by actually punishing Nation's greatest enemy, Bin Laden.
    – he reformed health care so that student childrens can be on their parent's health insurance until 26. Plus a vast majority of people will have health insurance.
    – he gave citizenship to illegal immigrants who have contributed to the American lifestyle.
    – he established rapport and respect for American around the world.
    – he expanded research and development
    - and many other things.

    Or is he the worst president since:
    – he does not look like the majority of Americans.
    – he spoke against the gun lobby?
    – he is not a war monger

    Which is it?

    July 2, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  3. Cazo

    Great leaders unite. Good leader at least get consensus. Failures divide and create toxic work environment ...enough said

    July 2, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  4. Arnie1174

    Check out all the typical liberal responses. If you don't agree with them, you are "stupid", or worse. This from the group that always claims to be the most tolerant of others. Right ...

    July 2, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  5. Will

    Obama: The Edsel of presidents.

    July 2, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Lou

    This poll is ridiculous. Obama has been great but the fox newses and limbaughs and hannitys of the world have made it their number one goal to make everyone think he's horrible. in truth they're horrible, and obamas record is full of great accomplishments like killing bin laden, saving the economy and slowly rebuilding it with a firmer foundation, hc reform, reducing the deficit, co2 restrictions to address global warming, etc..... this is all with a republican opposition that shut down the govt for tax cuts for the rich and has down talked mercilessly this prez since he came into office. obamas done great, the spotlight should be on the reflexively oppositionist, no ideas party called the republican party...

    July 2, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. TK93

    For one, you say that it was a "plurality of voters", but what does that even mean? Rrich, uperclass people who sit on their assess all day complaining about all the problems in America??

    You also don't take into account that of course the current president is going to get the "highest ratings" for most-hated president. People's memories these days are worse than a goldfish. This is why people need to go to school and study history so that we don't forget the past mistakes, and so that we can appreciate what is right infront of us. "Studies" like this making national headlines are an embarassment. What happened to the real stories about things that actually matter??

    July 2, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  8. rl

    It seems that there are an awful lot of Independents today. An Independent in my book is just a republicon who won't admit they are really a republicon, and could never say they would want a "different" type of President, and they know exactly what I am referring to.

    July 2, 2014 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. Barry Hussein

    This amateur community organizer who grew up muslim, sat 20 years in a church that yelled God Damn America and befriended the lowest class psychopathic killers (aka Bill Ayers)........has done nothing but what the results show....divided, divided, blamed, blamed.......and accomplished nothing but to put our children further in debt. I had to laugh at the comment above by Anonymous who said....'and he hasn't touched my Medicare or SS..........'.....well....why do you think he hasn't figured out a way to pay for it.....oh, that's racist, as you said.

    The big sucking sound you here in the world today is our leadership running from their responsibilities along side the tide of human beggers and law breakers crashing our borders and breaking our laws.

    July 2, 2014 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  10. NSL

    I'd love to speak to those who put Obama last, to find out what they were thinking. The are either morons or are no more than about 4 years old and know nothing of the presidents before Obama.

    I think Obama has been a mediocre president at best. He's been a major disappointment. That said, he stands well ahead of Bush, and Carter, who in my opinion was the worst president since WWII.

    The idea that Reagan was the best of the lot defies imagination and reason. For one thing, most of the time he was president, it's highly likely his wife Nancy was making the decisions due to Reagan's Alzheimers. But more important is the revisionist history about Reagan who's know for his great economic policy by the revisionists. Unfortunately for them and Reagan's legacy, the truth gets in the way. Under Reagan the economy started at a debt of 2.7% of GDP which he inherited from Carter, and then ballooned to an average of 4.2% of GDP while Reagan was in office.

    While many would disagree, I think history is clear that the 2 best presidents post WWII were Eisenhower and Clinton, based on their accomplishments of office.

    July 2, 2014 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  11. Canada

    wow American's have no clue. The worst president ever. was Bush Jr. no doubt about it, There are people all around the world asking for him to be jailed and tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. even in Nations that are American allies. To say Obama is the worst president. is ridiculous. The republican tirades and obstruction is oh so evident. This is the man that is fighting to bring affordable health-care to everyone, who opposes war (including the Iraq war) and you people call him the worst? I will never understand Americans.

    July 2, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  12. PM

    Sorry, Carter and Bush did more damage to this country than Obama. Mitt Romney would have made things much worse because he'd only focus on making the rich wealthier.

    July 2, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  13. mungomunro

    Obama kept us out of the civil war in Libya, while still getting rid of the the puke who blew up Pan AM 103.

    Just think how much better we would be if Bush did the same thing in Iraq?

    July 2, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Logic

    I think it is team effort. Coupled with the worst Congress of all time does not help your ERA as president.

    July 2, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  15. ProudDem

    Well duh....people will always say whoever the current President is.

    July 2, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. Dr Benson Evans

    Obama the worst President? Just take a look at George W Bush's record. He is the REAL American Tragedy!
    Under Obama we have helped people obtain healthcare – something desperately needed. We also have achieved improved equality for our LGBT segment of the society. In my opinion, those who oppose our President so vehemently are doing so based upon race. Some people just can't stand a black man in office. I hail and support him and oh, by the way, I'm white!

    July 2, 2014 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. JY

    Worst to best Forgot Obami
    bush 2
    bush 1

    July 2, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. Joe

    Hi. I am Canadaian and have to laugh at how crazy some of the Republicans in US seem to be. First off all Obama helped repair the 2008-2009 crash, introduced some form of Universal health care which only the US in the whole democratic world does not have (and the only one where a credit card gets you service–if it actually does not decline the Hospital's charge), ended two wars, has the economy humming again (the past quarter be damned) and has attemped to pass programs to help poor and middle class only to have Repubs focus only on obstructing him–the worst President–too bad the Repub Senate and House can't be included in this vote. Go Obama go! Canada loves you.
    PS-on his watch–and due to his brave decision- he also got Osama after the Repubs (and its wings of the govt) could not find him for over 7 years.

    July 2, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  19. Joan

    The majority wrong on this one... History will have the last word and Obama will not be on the list of 'worst'!!! He is amazing!!! The electorate is the worst!! Sure the polls showed. Lincoln to be the 'Worst'!!! History will prove the polls wrong!

    July 2, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. George Liebert

    Just proves that people don't know shit.

    July 2, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. CryBabies

    We know he is a Democrat.

    July 2, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. terry

    Worst of the Worst by far!!! Besides that, his arrogance makes it even worst. "W" was a humble man compared to this one...

    July 2, 2014 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. paradox

    GW hands down, then nixon. obama has some more screwing up to do to even get near these losers. He barely compares to them on the lying sack of s-t scale, but he is trying.

    July 2, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  24. jeff

    The last real president we had was Kennedy. Since then, the elite bankers run the world via the military industrial complex. If a president doesn't follow orders from these guys, they get killed like Kennedy. Watch the documentary on you tube called "The Obama Deception" which was released 55 days after Mr. Obama took office. Amazing how much of what was said in this documentary has come true in the last 5 years....

    July 2, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  25. Davis Quest

    Obama is the great divider. He's reminded everyone that we are different in many, many ways and then asserted that the only way to have peace and harmony is for everyone who lives by bible principles or has conservative values to flush all of that, after all-you didn't build that, and convert to his radical, anti-constitution, anti-American belief system.

    July 2, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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