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. nouk

    Carter, the worst president and best ex-president we've had in the postwar period. Of course these polls show voter bias and frustration with the most recent presidents of both parties. Still, Obama has been underwhelming in most of his work, health care being the exception (like it or hate it, Obamacare was a major program he got through). He generally seems unable or unwilling to do the hard work with Congress, admittedly a difficult Congress. Still, LBJ and Truman had very difficult people to work with in getting their programs moved along, as did Clinton and Reagan.

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

    Another poll right on the mark. Love watching the libs try to defend the Prez. Comical as all get outs.

    July 2, 2014 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. Kevin in VA

    Yes, yes, yes, yes yes.

    July 2, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  4. Bob schuster

    CNN, Fox and Bush= The worst of the worst period!

    July 2, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. AnotherTom

    Yes, yes, and how many Americans can even name the last 6-7 presidents. And, how many Americans can name any good presidents and what the did.

    This poll is worthless, and I am not a big fan of Obama, and W IS BY FAR the Worst ever!!

    July 2, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Ken

    LOL - Look at the liberals crawl out from their dark spaces to whine and complain, once more, that it's all Bush's fault. It's incredible how twisted their thougt processes are. When Obama kept the Bush surge in place in Iraq and then kept to the timeline agreed to under the Bush administration to leave Iraq, liberals were more that proud to claim getting out of Iraq and leaving it in a stable condition was all Obama's doing. But now that things have soured in Iraq, oh, it was all Bushes fault. They very deliberately ignore how what Bush signed was a key aspect of turning rule back over to the Iraqis. And despite the signing the Bush Administration was working diligently to change the Iraqi minds and get an extension for US troops. They ignore how Obama stopped all such negotiations and decided he wanted to leave Iraq and leave as soon as possible. So while Bush wanted to keep negotiating to keep troops there as a way to provide added stability to Iraq and a trigger should Iran try to get involved in the country, Obama washed he hands of it all .. and this is the result.

    July 2, 2014 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. Lisa P

    Only 33% said Barack Obama is the worst President since WWII. That's not bad considering that Fox News is screaming that very message 24/7. And how about 28% picking President Bush the Younger, without all that media prompting? That means that it is possible that Presidents Obama and Bush are in a dead heat for worst president since WWII, given the margin of error. Imagine how that contest would turn out without Rupert Murdoch's thumb on the scale.

    Ditto the Obama versus Romney rematch - Monday morning quarterback is a notoriously easy position to play. I have yet to see Mitt Romney come up with anything close to a realistic Sunday game plan. I doubt President Romney would have been any more successful at responding to events and his economic plans would have been a disaster for the barely-recovering middle class. Disappointed though they may be with President Obama's performance I would bet that the 10% who say in the poll that in hindsight they would switch their vote to Romney would think that choice over again if it actually came to pulling the lever. Polls are nothing; voting has consequences. It might take a few years, but I would guess that President Romney would have eventually given President Bush #2 a run for his money.

    July 2, 2014 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  8. K Beckwith

    I guess allot of Americans (mostly Republicans) equate "leadership" & "significance of presidents" with those who start & wage wars & max out the National Debt.... but not those who wind down & end wars and cut the National Debt. This Doesn't speak well of what kind if country we actually are, & fits the image much of the world has come to hold (because of 8 yrs of Bush), that of an ignorant, culturally stagnant, bully.

    July 2, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  9. bert f.

    Obama was ill equipped to be President and only won because he faced McCain who many saw as a carbon copy of George Bush. Obama surrounded himself with friends as advisers. Those advisers had little experience in running an administration and served him poorly. He'll rank alongside Carter as the most well meaning but incompetent President in recent history.

    July 2, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Lily

    Ya, Obama is the poster child of what happens when low educated and low income voters vote. He has been on big disaster.

    July 2, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. GOP FAIL

    Since Obama took office, my 401K has quadrupled. Now that's failure I can tolerate.

    July 2, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  12. Elton

    I'm just an american. I not into parties or all these categories we claim to be in or people put us in. I'm just an american. I fnid President Obama to be in the majority of most of our Presidents and that is just average. He is neither the worst or the best & alot of stuff depends upon if people want to work with you or not, but he's clearly better than the knuckleheads who got us into this mess. Just give him a C or D- if you have to for a grade & respect the position as all americans should. Please don't let Bush 3 or Hillary get in. Then you would have a comparison for sure. An Romney & that fruitcake from Alaska would have had us all suffering today, so let's move on.

    I crack up more on all these folks who want call or refer to him as President Obama, but no matter how bad or good a previous President was they are always referred to as President. That in and of itself tells alot about where we are. That's more important and telling to me 😀

    July 2, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Right as Always

    This one's easy... GEORGE W. BUSH!!!!

    America will need half a century to recover from this one.

    July 2, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Daniel

    Education is definitely not the strong point of most of these commenters. Makes me wonder about their cognitive ability to evaluate the presidents. I actually remember each administration including gas lines and 20% interest rates. I started out as a democrat until Clinton. Now I am a firm believer in jobs not entitlements. Of course the 47% who get a government check will always vote democratic. I don't blame them. Don't be upset with other viewpoints that differ from yours. Opinions are like backsides, everyone has one and they all stink. I am always proud that I served, and glad I survived.

    July 2, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Jason

    G W Boosh: No one else can be worth his salt being inept and corrupt. Killed thousands and brought untold suffering to million in the US and elsewhere. Genocide of Christians in Iraq is a milestone for his administration

    July 2, 2014 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. BldrRepublican

    "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."

    Bullcrap! He hasn't "Created new messes" because he's standing back and letting other countries be overrun. Can you say "Iraq"? Can you say "Ukraine"? His Obamacare is a massive failure and under his watch, our national debt has risen by an amount greater than all the other presidents combined....

    Ya. The mess he created is HERE.

    July 2, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    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.
    Does "give yourself credit" also mean "accept the blame yourself" for failures? Seeing how you're a big "take personal responsibility" guy, it would seem lit would be the case.

    A wise man with your ideology would not try to answer that question.

    July 2, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  18. JoJo

    Bush & Cheney were an apocalypse with long-lasting catastrophic consquences internationally, domestically, economically, politically & environmentally. Obama's only fault is that he's been slower to clean up the horrible mess Bush/Cheney left him than we wish, partly due to the solid opposition of Republicans to everything he tries to do.

    July 2, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Barry

    I used to have a lot of respect for this writer until this article. i always thought he was more intelligent than that.

    July 2, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  20. Fel121

    The majority of the American public are TV watching, pill popping semi literate fools, so lost in their cell phones and credit cards they don't know their arse from third base, and these are the dopes you are going to for an opinion on a job they couldn't understand in a hundred years.

    July 2, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |

    nope that was GW Bush

    July 2, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. The Real Tom Paine

    And the predictable responses from the usual people on a non-issue come pouring out, and to what end? Whip people into putting out their least coherent thoughts of the day.

    July 2, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  23. Babyboomer

    Just another day in the life of a President expected to do 150% compared to previous President's 75%. It's the same double standard that has existed in the United States for African Americans since slavery. The fact that he is President of the United States and was elected not once but twice doesn't really matter to those who expect him to do twice the work for less then half of the recognition. Same old same old. Nothing new here. Move along please...

    July 2, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  24. melavon bigovich

    what about Johnson? and all he did for civil rights?

    July 2, 2014 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  25. Ancient Texan

    Bush ranks 6 points higher than Obama right now. Obama has taken Jimmy Carter's crown for absolute worst away from him.

    July 2, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
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