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. clevercandi

    I vote for Carter as the worst; 18% mortgage interest rates says it all.

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

    history should be left to historians. not pollsters.

    July 2, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. ChEB

    Obama is in my top 5 worst but Bush still ranks number one.

    July 2, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. sonny chapman

    History will rank Obama as a Mini-FDR. Considering the Foreign & Domestic Challenges he faced, He Done Good. AND, he didn't CREATE New Messes.

    July 2, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  5. steamerman

    Barry by a landslide! He was a pretty good community organizer though.

    July 2, 2014 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Heidi

    BUSH THE YOUNGER is, by all measures, the worst president in the past 50 years. It'll take 16 years, total–and a Congress that does it's damned job–to repair GW Bush's damage to the USA and to the world.

    July 2, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  7. Bill

    This poll seems to indicate a young and/or forgetful sampling.

    July 2, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. Bob schuster

    Are you kidding or what? Bush was the worst period! Obama is the BEST we ever had! Where did they pull that poll out of! We know where.

    July 2, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. mattmiller747

    Wow.....This is a 'common' if there ever was one ;-( If one judges by either 'Violence', or 'Wealth', or ,,,you name it......one is going to come to various answers. Ironically no one cited Clinton , who I loved....but his signing of Glass/Speigal which allowed for the Commercial Banks to merge with the Investment Banks...which led to the current Depression...was a HUGE mistake HUGE HUGE :-(((. Frankly I don't know how any 'thinking' person can not understand that the Republicans are ALL about GREED and Regans 'trickle down' was and is a joke of the cruelest kind! We live in a world where the powerful are all about GREED 😦 Those who are not greedy, generally vote Democratic. WAKE up my Republican friends ! O'bama is trying to help those who wish to work by providing JOBS, just as FDR did !!!!! The DEBT is a joke......the Dollar is made out of PAPER! The Dollar's only true value is our Work force, and the products we produce! If we put people to work........that $ will 'Trickle UP' !!! People need 'Food, Clothing and Shellter' and will spend any money earned or given to acquire those things! 'Trickle UP' !

    July 2, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  10. Jeremy Read

    Latest cry from Rep. House is – "sue the President". All upset over Obama's use of Executive Orders.
    Here is the tally – Executive Orders -Obama – 180; Repub. Presidents – George W. Bush (plus riding shotgun, VP Dick Cheney) – 291; Richard Nixon – 346; Dwight Eisenhower – 484; Ronald Reagan – who many wish for his likeness to be carved on Mt Rushmore – 381; and Teddy Roosevelt , whose likeliness is covered on Mt Rushmore- 1,081.
    Other than Nixon resigning, under pressure of being impeached, why had none of the past President been impeached?

    July 2, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. I have lost count of the scandals

    Obama is the worst and to think of the damage he will do with two and a half years to go is frightening.

    July 2, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Jeff

    Worst since WWII? Nah, Obama is the worst since ever.

    Good job voting him twice. America = fail.

    July 2, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  13. larry

    Obama is worse ever...ever...and that includes all future one's as well......WORSE!

    July 2, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  14. rock woman

    What a bunch of baloney. How many of those polled actually remember, or even know anything about, every president since World War II? Did this poll include only those old enough to have informed recall of Truman and Eisenhower?

    Here's what I know about the latter, who was elected when I was seven: "I like Ike." Ike liked golf. Ike was a general.

    Hardly qualifies me to rate him as a president.

    July 2, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. Pandamonius

    Quinnipac must have only sent their pollsters to trailer parks to get those numbers.

    July 2, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. LydiaMae

    No matter how the media tries to spin it, he's clearly the worst.

    July 2, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. Joe from Boston

    Considering that the previous president and vice president should have faced charges for lying to Congress and the American people, I would say no.

    July 2, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  18. Darwin

    Obama is the worst only a dum idjt will think obama is a good leader. The fact is he is not he is the worst

    July 2, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. Ben

    This article doesn't look like a serious article. I wish the Author knew that

    July 2, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Tony

    The polls don't lie...

    July 2, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. Thomas

    GW. Bush , hands down .

    Who is the worst president of all time , GW Bush .

    Never in the history of the United States of America has a president squandered such assets , both human and economic for so little .

    GW Bush / Ahmed Chalabi 2016
    Don't worry , Be Happy ?

    July 2, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Sy DVooh

    Obama is the worst president ever! He makes that dope, Jimmy Carter look like a genius and a strong leader.

    July 2, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Pandamonius

    45% of those questioned say America would have been better off if Romney had one.

    In a way, this is true. If Romney had won, all the GOtP obstructionist whiners in congress would have actually started doing their jobs again instead of pitching a fit because their team lost the white house.

    July 2, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  24. Ignicio Smith

    Yes, Mr Obama is one of the worst Presidents we have. He continues to only align himself with the far left wing of the Democratic Party. He misleads the American People in conservative stances however practices the opposite. He would not agree to reduce the rate of increases on government agencies and lead to a failed effort for cost constraints with our rising deficits. He has prevented us from becoming self sufficient by preventing the approval of the Keystone Pipeline alienating Canada to exports its oil reserves to China instead. I have no confidence in him whatsoever. Plus, his empty suit approach of speaking though to other Countries and doing nothing in return has helped the expansion of the ISIS movement in the middle east placing Jordan and Israel at risk. Though a bright and educated man, he is a failed President and I look forward to his departure with joy.

    July 2, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. gravatarfocus

    Complete shill article. Send Paul Steinhauser back to Fox.

    July 2, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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