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. eric

    the GOP is very smart. I didn't say intelligent. The more you say something, the more people believe it. Pavlov's dog syndrome.

    July 2, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. Anonymous

    I will NEVER vote again

    July 2, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. rgc

    obama is the worst leader ever, no one comes close.

    July 2, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. US People


    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.
    Joe – FYI, we don't care "aboot" a Canadians opinion eh.... Since you choices in leaders are so sound...ummmm like Rob Ford?

    July 2, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  5. aCriticalEye

    Geee Dubya is by far the worst in my book. I voted for Mr Obama twice ans still think he is doing a great job in spite of the obsticles the GOTP are throwing at him because he is black. I will vote for Hillary in 2016 !

    July 2, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  6. Tony Nbc

    "George W hands down no contest. 2 wars trillions in new debt"

    Obama no wars, no results, several line drawn in the sand and not wanting to offend those who try to kill us , 7 trillion plus in debt The WOREST.

    July 2, 2014 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. wayne

    There is little doubt that Obama is the worst President since WW2. Every President has had to face challenges. Some of them are new and some are left over from previous administrations. Rarely is a President actually responsible for the challenges they face. Whether or not one agrees with the policies that they enact or support, their role is to execute the government and maintain order (as commander in chief). Obama is the only President who is not only incapable of addressing the problems that we currently face, but also the only President who has consistently allowed lawlessness among the Executive branch to go unpunished. Nixon was a cheat and stepped down. Carter was inept but honest. FDR was communist but compassionate. Bush's conservative views were a mess but he had conviction and worked with Democrats. Obama stinks. He's a child and should go down in history as not only the worst but as a caution to us all about who we elect and why. The only reason he's still in office is partisanship. If congress could truly transcend partisanship he would be removed from office.

    July 2, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  8. Tommy G

    BWAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!!!!! We've been telling you lefties this for a while now but you just can't come to grips with it. I think you have been eating some of those Obama crack pies and can't admit to the unmitigated disaster you have inflicted on this country in the form of Barack Obama.

    Anybody with more then 10 live brain cells know this country would have been far better off with Mitt Romney as President. Hopefully the American people now see the media and Democrats for the lying, deceitful people they are.

    July 2, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. kiwisepp

    10 years after his presidency, I am sure, American people will realize that Mr. Obama is one of the best president. Even Bush 's poll number was getting better after he left the MH

    July 2, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. jkcottrell15

    He's on the low end of average. Americans have very strong feelings about current and recent presidents – always have and always will. It will take many years to determine his impact. Nixon, for example. He plowed the seeds of government distrust but it was his opening doors with China that led to the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. Let the emotions fade away and then take a look.

    July 2, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Randall

    No one can beat George W. Bush. He took an annual $180 billion surplus left by Clinton and turned it into a $1.3 trillion deficit in the last year of his presidency. He accomplished this by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy and by starting two wars and screwing those wars up. Before Bush we had Sadam Hussain to control Iran now Iran is the master of the middle east. The private sector workforce declined by 2 million workers and government employment increased by 1 million workers for a net decline in the workforce of 1 million workers. This decline in workers occurred over 8 years when the total deficit increased by $5.2 trillion. "W" screwed up in so many ways they could fill a book.

    By comparison even with the GOP fighting every jobs program presented, Obama stopped the loss of 775,000 job per month that was occuring when he took office and has averaged jobs added of 210,000 in the latest months.
    The Dow Industrial index was below 8,000 and now is approaching 17,000. That is pretty good for a socialist.

    July 2, 2014 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. john

    Worse since WWII? I would say within top 5 worse presidents of all time. Not since the Jacksonian period have we seen such a blatant use of patronage to support political agendas. He is all about expanding the democratic party base, country be damned.

    July 2, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. 101 Wild Turkey

    The Obama Administration is the epitome of incompetence. He is making George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter look good. Leaders around the world view Obama as a "celebrity" rather than a "statesman".

    July 2, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  14. nunya

    >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.

    Spot on comment!

    July 2, 2014 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  15. Jeff

    Easy, Bush by an long shot, easily the worst.

    July 2, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  16. Up Side Down

    The poll was conducted between 1,000 or 1,500 people. Do this small number represents the views of 300 million people on this important issue? What about thinking first CNN? Instead of making your daily bread from reporting nothing.

    July 2, 2014 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  17. holyman

    If congress would work with him the country would be in a better position. They still cant get over the fact a black man is in the whitehouse.

    July 2, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. Charles

    Expand the poll to the worst Congress, separated by presidency. It might be an interesting poll.

    July 2, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  19. Kelly

    He's a very intelligent person and I did vote for him because he was the best candidate at the time, if we would of had McCain in there we would be at war with Iran and pretty much completely broke. There are somethings I like about Obama like trying to avoid wars, but the thing that really blew my mind was when he had a full Democratic House and Full Democratic Senate to fix the housing market and put people back to work fixing or infrastructure, correct the wages for the American people to adjust the today's standard of living and fix immigration for good. So what does he do? tackle healthcare! and believe me Obama care is the worst system I have ever seen in any country. It's time for a real change just not saying to get elected! It really doesn't matter because the big corporations are the ones running and controlling our country by buying our politicians and presidents for their own interests. We have now become another corrupt country falling into despair. Soon we will be going to other countries looking for a better opportunity for our families.

    July 2, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  20. ipmut

    Yes and also since the Civil War and also since the French and Indian war.

    July 2, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  21. Rina

    Thank God for Obama. This man has done more for our country than most of the leaders we have ever had. He would have accomplished more had the RWNJ's been up to working with him. When we get rid of the Tea Party, we might get America back.

    July 2, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  22. Big Bob

    I know. Dissent is cute when you do it.

    July 2, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  23. JJ

    That's only true for chumps that are still mad a superior black man smackdowned not one but two of their useless $2 haircu, grey-skinned, white trash loser candidates. My advice? Go talk to your doctor about an enema.

    July 2, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  24. AA

    He's the best president ever for illegal Aliens. We better learn Spanish. Viva El Presidente Obama! Best Cholo Ever.

    July 2, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  25. Lee

    Obama is a liar. He is an arrogant socialist and an incompetent person who will be viewed by historians as someone who tried to make the USA into a third-world country. His best ability is as an orator and he has convinced millions of Americans that he represents them with the BS he slings. Historians will query how he ever became president. Answer: He's charismatic. I've been paying attention for 50 years and he is definitely the worst president ever, no contest.

    July 2, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
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