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. BP 8 My Brain

    No only the Carter Administration.
    Obama like Carter have both handled immigration with blinders on, shutting out anyone against his policy.
    Carter's boat lift fiasco allowed criminals into the US igniting drug wars and the increase in crime. The latest invasion has cost close to $1 Billion US and will reach ten times that amount before any control of the border is gained.

    July 2, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Tony

    No. Congress is THE worst ever.

    July 2, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. Friends

    Liberals only like polls if they are in favor of them. When not they are heavily criticized. Typical

    July 2, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. drefromla

    he's not great, but let's not kid ourselves, Bush was the worst president ever! not just the last 69 years.

    July 2, 2014 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. Caumont

    Lets hope the electorate can learn as is human and find someone next time that is capable of being President. Obama is a nice person but his inexperience, arrogance, and petulance have led to decisions that no doubt make him the worst president.

    July 2, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  6. Anonymous

    he is not the worse president, the GOP has fought him all the way, to where nothing got done. lets see things in the right light guys.

    July 2, 2014 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. Tired of political crap

    I do not agree with everything that this president has done. But I disagree with that poll. Who did they ask? Tea Party republicans? Please, anybody with half a mind knows what this president has been up against from day one! You only need to goggle it. Mitch McConnell, their secret meetings on how to bring down this president. No other Democratic president had to endure this, no not even Clinton. We are the laughing stock of the world, all because there is a president in the white house that is more tanned than they would like. Carter is the worst president from a Dems point and "W" would make my list for worst Repub. You want a better America, vote for someone who has "WE THE PEOPLE'S " interest at heart, not political saber rattling, shutting down the government, screwing college students, and vets. Oh I have forgotten Congress on that one! BENGAZI. BENGAZI, BENGAZI!, The list can keep going. These people do not care about us. They care about stopping the president from doing a job, no matter what the cost. And again, I DO NOT agree with all polices set forth by this administration, but Romney sure in He$% do not care about regular folks that does all the working, living and dying for out country!

    July 2, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  8. Hector Slagg

    Humm, What?,
    Do you realize the same people that elected Obama responded to these polls. Well you had your chance. You had a choice between Forrest Gump and Gordon Geckeo. Gump promised you the moon and you bought it. Now you have buyers remorse. Whazzat? Obama will rank as a Mini FDR. Gee Chapped out, you wouldn't kid me, would you? The people can't wait to send What-His-Name to the trash heap of History.

    July 2, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  9. ConsiderThis

    What other answer would you expect to get asking white Americans that question? If you could be honest for just a split second, you'd know that your life in America changed for the worst as a result of the Bush administration – hands down. Bush destroyed America – the economy, our national values, our national integrity and sense of right and wrong. Why else do you think we ELECTED OBAMA IN THE FIRST PLACE! Because you didn't believe that the REPUBLICANS would fix Bush's mess – that's way. Under Bush, we became a LAWLESS nation to the point where even the supreme court has abandoned justice. All of you who think President Obama is the worst President need to get over your racist DNA. I know that America knows nothing but racism and discrimination. In fact America was built on the backs of slaves and predatory practices against minorities to this day. You already own everything. When will enough be enough?

    July 2, 2014 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  10. Neil

    This is hardly surprising. The real surprise is that CNN ran the story.

    July 2, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. Cinman

    George B II is keeping a very low profile on this one..

    July 2, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. Boomer in Mo

    Those who think Obama is the worst president every should check out the presidencies of Grant, Harrison and my choice for worst, Warren Harding.

    July 2, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Mark

    Let's do a poll showing which president acts like a corrupted tyrant and which president they feel should be in "Jail." Hint – it's not George.

    July 2, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. heinzdoofenshmirtz

    Without doubt.

    July 2, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Alluh

    Cheney and his lap dog Bush killed 4 million people and brought the world to the brink of financial collapse, easily #1 worst of ALL time, Carter is the runner up. Obama has had to deal with a total blockade on the part of the soon to be extinct woman hating GOP.

    July 2, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. OCCUPY WALLSTREET

    Many presidents are considered the WORST when in office.

    It's not until they leave and you see the legacy of their policies that you can determine if they are failures.

    Bush left us with tons of debt from two unfunded wars, tarp bailouts, a great recession, a non-negotiable drug prescription plan and god knows what else. And worst of all Bush had full republican control of the Congress for 6 out of his 8 years in office.

    When Obama is out of office for 5 to 10 years, we'll see all of his successes, especially Obamacare as it naturally turns into Universal Healthcare in a few states then proves successful and spreads across the country.

    July 2, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Anonymous

    The guy that was impeached (Clinton) is listed as the second best president right under the guy that had Alzheimer's (Reagan)? Never underestimate the bias of the American people.

    July 2, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  18. heinzdoofenshmirtz

    Without any doubt whatsoever.

    July 2, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  19. mymary0913

    No, worst president ever....

    July 2, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  20. Thomas

    Read this article , then ask yourself .

    A Blackwater official threatened to kill a government investigator.

    Dose anybody know how to make Freedom Fry's ?

    July 2, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. anthony

    He is the worse because he is the most unresponsible president , never be his fault, someone else.

    July 2, 2014 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  22. Barbara

    I feel President Obama ranks as one of the best! It is the do nothing Congress that ranks the worst.

    July 2, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. George Washington

    History will accurately reflect that Obama is the worst president since WWII and may be the worst president ever. History will not look at the propaganda narratives provided by CNN, ABC, NYT, WaPo,NBC, etc and will instead look at the objective facts. It will see a very thin-skinned man who knew how to manipulate through manufactured crisis, but not lead or make decisions. It will show a man bent more on his own personal agenda rather than a man who did what was best for the nation.

    July 2, 2014 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. sonny chapman

    BlderRepub- "We have a Foreign Policy crisis, what should we do"? "Nothing, it's usually the best course of action"-Lawrence of Arabia. "First, do no harm"-Hippocratic Oath. "America, we have an access to Health Care & run away cost Problem "-why not get as many people covered under Health Insurance/-Bob Dole, Richard Nixon, Heritage Group.

    July 2, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. RCM

    Let see, Nixon, Reagan/Nancy, Ford, Bush and Bush all sucked. A few actually belong in jail.

    July 2, 2014 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42