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. Rasta Farrakan

    Lord Obama is the greatest of all time !!!

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

    This will go down as the Lost Obama Decade. His disastrous choices have set this country back decades. He decided America would not be a world leader and now many parts of the globe, especially the Middle East, are in flames. Our allies don;t trust us and our enemies don't fear us thanks to Obama. Domestically he has flatly refused to moderate his far left agenda to negotiate with Republicans.

    Bill Clinton was right, he is The Amateur. But the country wanted a novelty no matter what the cost. I don't think they envisioned this high a cost though. One thing is for certain, if we screw up again and vote for a novelty, we are done for good. Two lost Democrat decades will not be overcome.

    July 2, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  3. Natrldiver

    I love reading all the lemmings support for Obama. Yet he was the most divisive president in history. Never during his two terms has he even tried to work with both parties. He has stuck strictly to his own party line and shut out the Republicans completely. Yes, there will be those that say the Republicans are the party of no but, Harry Reid himself, supported by Obama even said that any proposal from the Republicans would be DOA and not make it to the senate floor for a vote.

    The truth is in the facts. Even Clinton fought to work with both parties.

    July 2, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Chuck

    Best and worst are relative ideas which depend on perspective. For those who love America and its traditions of individual liberty, private property rights and relatively free markets Obama is perhaps the worst president in history. But as the first anti-American president in history Obama will continue to be loved by the nihilist left.

    July 2, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  5. Bill Lundy

    What this poll shows is that the public relations campaign of the GOP Congress to grind the government to a halt under the United States' first black president has been successful in painting the President, who has limited power to force the GOP Congress to do their damned jobs, as ineffectual, despite that it is the GOP Congress that has done nothing despite constant efforts on the administration's part to work with the GOP during this administration. This GOP Congress will go down in history as being the worst ever, and there will be no debate once enough years have passed to erase the ridiculous and manufactured partisanship that is the GOP Congress.

    July 2, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  6. Trajk Logik

    So, Obama is voted the worst president since WW II. So how is it that he got re-elected? Did America figure out that he was the worst only since the last election? Then America is slow and ill-informed. Did America already know before the last election that he was the worst? Then America is running rampant with white-guilt. Either scenario doesn't look good for America's future.

    July 2, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Anonymous

    This is the result of 5 years of vile vitriolic demonization of President Obama by the right wing noise machine.The majority of Americans are totally ignorant of the facts concerning the economy and foreign policy, they get their so-called facts from sound bites usually from faux news or some other right wing septic tank that deals in whatever lies
    and misinformation they need to vilify this president and what he is trying to do.Any objective independently thinking person that understands the reality can see that Obama is trying to deal with the problems facing this nation in the 21st century while the republicans want to maintain the same status quo that caused the problems.

    July 2, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. john

    I do think that Obama is the worst president both in terms of domestic damage to the economy, creation of a sense that is OK to be dependent on government, damage to American reputation overseas, his damage to relationships with long term allies, certainly he has the most incompetent (except maybe for Carter but at least he was honest, good man), most corrupt and least transparent administration in the last 100 years. Carter at least The worst part is that most people are completely unaware of just how damaging this man is for USA. That will take another generation to show the incredible damage he has caused.

    July 2, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  9. kurt

    So much "hope" for "change" and what did we get...the george bush of the left. it wasn't all that long ago that the debate was over whether Clinton or Reagan was the best president of our lifetimes. today, we've done a 180 and fight over which of the last 2 was the worst. Hilary? Romney? Christie? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you! Let's hope we're comparing the next one to Clinton/Reagan and not Bushbama 😦

    July 2, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. AA

    Obama is the best example of "ALL SHOW NO GO." He's like a geo metro with spoilers, 20 inch rims, and a big exhaust.

    July 2, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  11. Ron

    Absolutely the worst! We could all be standing on the bread line, right now, enjoying GWB's depression. Obama ruined that.

    July 2, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Tony

    Just to show how strange the polls are, according to the latest polls, the 2014 generic Congressional ballot is either tied (Fox News Poll) or Democrats +2 (Rasmussen Poll).

    July 2, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  13. Leeroy

    So what is it that Barry has accomplished ?

    July 2, 2014 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  14. J RUss

    GOP FAIl..........yes your 401K is doing good because the fed keeps printing money for the banks. Of course that money is worth nothing compared to a few years ago but hey what's inflation matter?

    July 2, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Natrldiver

    Rudy NYC, Bes President in your lifetime? What are you 19? Please, you have a lot to learn about what a good president is then. He is by the worst at domestic policy and his foreign policy is non-existent. He did nothing to fix the economy. That is the work of good businessmen like Ira Rennart and the Ford family who kept factories open in lean times.

    July 2, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Steve

    Easy, 2 Trillion dollars later and lots of lies about 911 oh and thousands of lives lost GEORGE W BUSH!!!!!!

    July 2, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. william proctor

    Val you prove what I have been saying all long that American like you give me an ache in my ass with your clueless comment. How many Presidents had to take over the Country in such a screw up condition as President Obama in 2009. You stated he will not work with anyone,question: how many people would you work with when they tell you to your face "I CAN WORK WITH YOU,IN FACT I CAN STAND YOU BEING IN THE SAME ROOM WITH ME," WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO WORK WITH SOMEONE WHO MADE SUCH A STATEMENT TO YOU??? We all can agree the white man have had control of this Country over the last 300 years but yet look at the situation when Bush turn over the keys to President Obama so what happen??? Also we must remember this situation been coming for a long, long, time so my question to you WHAT HAPPEN,umm seem to me no one else had the skill or experience over the last 300 years to be President.

    July 2, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. Bob K

    When only 13% of the respondents picked Richard Nixon as the worse president since WWII, you have to think the poll or the respondents are slanted. Come on, I couldn't stand Bush 2, but Nixon should have gotten 80% as the worse president.

    July 2, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. Ted

    I'm so tired of hearing liberals complain about George W. Bush. The majority of liberals voted for use of force in Iraq, quit whining. A majority of liberals said that Afghanistan was the "good" war, quit whining. Liberals blame Bush's policies but never name one that ruined their lives. If you do find one, I bet you find more than one liberal that signed on.

    July 2, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  20. Leeroy

    Everything Barry has touched has been degraded. And now he admits that the White House pastry chef is add cocaine to their food ! Was it Moochelle or Barry that requested that. It explains the irrational behavior of those two.

    July 2, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  21. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    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.
    ——————————————————————————————–

    Hell must have frozen over. Tom I didn't denigrate me. That said. Thank you Tom. I agree somewhat. However when I lost my job there were no jobs to be found in MI. Many people were out of work for long periods of time and I was one of those people. Being used to hard work, when you're not working you feel helpless. Going on interview after interview but not getting any offers hurts ones confidence. If President Obama had not been elected I fear I may not have made it over that hurdle. And for that I'm quite grateful, eternally. The GOP wanted to get rid of unemployment, felt people that lost their jobs through no fault of their own and had to accept unemployment for the first time in their lives, were moochers and takers. I thank God that an understanding man is in the WH. And I will adore him always, along with his beautiful wife and daughters.

    July 2, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. Mike

    Our current debt was triggered by a war based on lies. Obama is far from a great president but he has had little help from congress and inherited a financial mess. I fear that with the escalation of "my way or the highway" politics that currently engulfs Washington that nothing will be accomplished going forward until both sides can learn to "play nice". The biggest concern is that 1 party gets complete control. Every time that has happened it has ended in disaster. Just look at Bush's 1st 6 years and look how that ended.

    July 2, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  23. Greg In Atlanta

    Please tell me how President Obama is the worst president ever? President Bush was in "charge during Iraq 2, Katrina, Afghanistan, the worst financial disaster since the Depression, the rise of one of the bewilderingly bad decision making Supreme Courts EVER, and the beginning of Keeping up with the Kardashians! At least President Bush had a Congress that showed up to work. The present congress collects $174000 dollars per year, and they brag about doing nothing. Talk about your welfare queens. Please go take a civics class before you spout this nonsense. The kool-aid can't taste that good.

    July 2, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. Fair is Fair

    LBJ was probably the worst... with Carter and Obama duking it out for 2nd worst.

    July 2, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. jerry5555

    And this is what happens when we elect someone who's main experience before becoming president was a community organizer.... I think it's time to say – We told you so!!!!!

    July 2, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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