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. A G Dorsey

    Mencken and Churchill were both right about Democracy. The collective American public can't remember beyond what they ate for lunch. That they should forget all of the epic failures committed by George W Bush and his cabinet of war criminals speaks volumes about 66% of the populace. Barack Obama is so competent that his detractors criticize him based on half-truths and distorted facts.

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

    George W. Bush begins and ends the conversation on worst President of all time, Obama's only mistake was in thinking we still have a working political system in this country.

    July 2, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. Steph

    Even an airhead lyk me would be a better president than Obama! OMG

    July 2, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. JY

    So far all the major controversies in the IRS and VA have been in RED states, no one reporting on that. My brother retired from government after 40+ years and told me many a stories were low level decisions were made based on politics to make someone look bad.

    July 2, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. dc

    Worst president ever had to be Bush 2 with Nixon and Carter being second and third. Bush had thousands of American soldiers killed for no reason other than Cheney wanting oil and related contracts and Bush wanting to somehow vindicate a false attempt on his daddy's life by Hussein. Actually, Obama has done nothing because he has a do-nothing Congress headed by the head baby, Boehnner, and his cohort McConnel. Both have openly hated Obama and that is one reason McConnell is going home this fall when he gets beat by a newcomer.

    July 2, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. John Illinois

    He is the worst President we have ever had! He is a lying, Constitution trampling socialist that must be stopped!

    July 2, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  7. hkirwin

    Ed F.

    Obama avg vacation = 25 days a year

    Bush avg vacation time = 10.6 days a month

    Nuff said

    LOL....all that time at work and zero productivity. Showing up and not doing a single constructive thing is the same as a vacation.

    July 2, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  8. Richard Miller

    I guess that senile old Ronnie baby doesn't count? He and his cronies began the destruction of America's middle class that continues to this day.

    July 2, 2014 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  9. Ulrich

    Obama inherited the huge problems created by many years before him. The financial crash began with dubious finance engineering initiated during the Clinton administration and exacerbated after 9/11. The Bush/Cheyney/Rumsfeld adventure in Iraq/Afghanistan is transcending at the present in the worst nightmare (ISIS/New Caliphate). Obama has been blocked at every step of his presidency by a divided Congress. Many excellent ideas his team had (infrastructure, healthcare and education) could not be implemented due to a dysfunctional legislative part of the government. The question should be: which is the worst Congress, since WW II?

    July 2, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Barack Obama the best President in my lifetime. I would like to thank him for bringing me back from the brink when I lost everything in October 08. My job, my self respect and my confidence. Thanks to you Mr. President, I was able to stay afloat until I could find another job. I don't know about anyone else but my life is much better these days.

    July 2, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  11. Loretta Ferguson

    President George W. Bush

    July 2, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  12. JC

    "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."
    Makes sense when you realize that only those with their heads up their ass use hindsight to make moot judgments.

    July 2, 2014 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  13. Kathy, az

    -------NO! ----- That would be GEORGE W. BUSH!!!

    July 2, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Jeff

    We have actually had mostly good, competent presidents since WWII, especially when you consider that the majority of president prior to WWII were awful. Keep in mind that a president's impact can be hard to gauge until well after his term, let alone in the middle of it. Carter certainly was ineffective in many ways and very unpopular by the end, but we now know that some of his energy policies paved the way for the economic boom of the 80s. Right now, it's difficult to put Bush above anyone else given the damage that his administration inflicted, which is a shame because I think that he is a good person who came into office with some genuinely sound ideas. Same with Obama, but we'll need to wait for a final verdict. But neither of them are terrible when compared with presidents of the 1920s or 1800s.

    July 2, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. sonny chapman

    It's hard to have a rational debate on a Negative. On FACTS , W will be slaughtered by History. His BIGGEST lie: "I'm a Uniter not a Divider". Karl Rove-"Fire Up Your Base" !!!!

    July 2, 2014 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  16. dumbpolitics

    If Mr. Robme had won we would have been in 3 other wars at this point. The 1% wouldn't have any taxes. Corporations would get all of the rights to voting. Only the 1% would be allowed to do any of the public voting. The national debt would be 3X more than it is now. Whenever Mr. Robme would go out in public all of the lesser people ( which would be the 99%) would have to bow down on their knees to show respect.

    July 2, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  17. Rudy NYC



    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?
    The historical rewrite by the right continues unabated. The final three years of the Clinton administration, and the first year of the Bush administration, were all surpluses. The largest surplus, $300 million, came during Bush's first year, which was0 Clinton's final budget year, by the way.

    The first six years of the Bush administration enjoyed a Republican controlled Congress. The housing bubble first rose its' ugly head in 2006, which was two years after Bush signed the "American Dream Downpayment Initiative" into law in 2004. It allowed, some would say encouraged, mortgage lenders to change the language on the loans to something that was supposed to be "simpler for first time home buyers." Lenders used this new deceptive language on all mortgages.

    If you've never heard of the ADDI of 2004, then I strongly suggest that you educate yourself on it. Pay special attention to the speech that Bush gave to introduce it. That would be the one where he promised that buying a mortgage will now be as simple as taking out an auto loan. He actually encouraged people to go out and sign mortgages without professional legal advice. The law even gave out grants of up to $10,000, which gave the law its' name, to help first time buyers with their down payments. Nearly a half billion was given away to first time buyers.

    July 2, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  18. dmckinleywhite

    I am disgusted by the article, regardless of who the POTUS is. How degrading. However, Obama has rescued the economy, replaced all the jobs lost by Bush, has ended (nearly) two wars we should have never fought, hasn't gotten into any more, has killed bin Laden, arrested the Bengahzi architect, provided health care for most, endorsed equal rights for all. If the GOP would actually do anything, we'd have a humming economy, 5% unemployment and be leaders in the world again. The House is a total complete joke

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

    Painful. It was coming and people knew it. Obama did not have the skills or experience to lead and this is where we are now. He will be out there today being contentious and indignant refusing to work with anyone else who does not have his same views. He is the worst president and there is a lot of clarity among people because we had excellent presidents of Clinton and Reagan a short time ago.

    July 2, 2014 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  20. Fed up

    I would have to saw that W and Obama are equally ineffective leaders....but for much different reasons.

    July 2, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Traci Gilmartin

    Two things stand out which make this poll a laughing stock.

    1. Most respondents were not yet born when even Reagan was President. So how can they honestly judge Presidents they were never alive under? As one other commenter pointed out, they will say whoever the current President is largely based on political winds and media coverage.

    2. Only 1,446 persons were polled, and not at random. Meaning? This is about as reliable as a Ford Pinto. Ooops, most respondents to the poll were not even born when the Ford Pinto was being manufactured, I should have said Chevy Cobalt. Now, here is some science for you... the more people who are polled the more accurate the poll will be. In a nation of more than 315 million a paltry 1,446 can never speak for all. Especially when it is a biased poll skewed by political winds.

    The worst President I have ever been alive under while being old enough to remember and be affected by them? Ronald Reagan. Tripled the national debt, more wars and conflicts than Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr. and Obama combined, most executive orders since FDR, more government scandals over time than even Bush 43's scandal-a-day administration. Speaking of which, who remembers the "shot a hole in foot trophy" that was awarded to a Reagan cabinet member after a particularly bad scandal by Reagan himself? That's how bad things were, you actually got awards for doing something particularly bad!!

    July 2, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. tom l

    Barack Obama the best President in my lifetime. I would like to thank him for bringing me back from the brink when I lost everything in October 08. My job, my self respect and my confidence. Thanks to you Mr. President, I was able to stay afloat until I could find another job. I don't know about anyone else but my life is much better these days.
    Wake Up! After reading your comments and your clear intelligence I would say you should give YOURSELF the credit. YOU did it. YOU are the one that gained your self respect and your confidence back. It had nothing to do with any politician. Give yourself credit for your success. It is YOURS and YOURS alone.

    July 2, 2014 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Seriously

    not a war monger? are you serious?
    tell that to the thousands of people that have been killed since he has expanded the drone program – many of whom innocent children, several of which American citizens.

    July 2, 2014 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. G-Man

    Bush-9/11 Attack
    Two wars

    Obama-Improved Economy
    No Wars/Soldiers Home
    No Terror Attacks on US Soil


    July 2, 2014 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  25. lloyd spearman

    Of course Obama is the worse president Not he is judge by his skin color America forgot about Bush!!!!! This is a racist to ask that question of course its the black president that is worst since ww2 probably in history but I think president obama is the Best!!!!!

    July 2, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
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