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. stewart

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

    July 2, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  2. john

    how is bush second? I dont remember our soldiers going to start a war under president obama that had no meaning and leaving thousands of our men and women in body bags.

    July 2, 2014 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  3. Liz the First

    Proof of how many idiots are in this country. Blame the guy who's trying to clean up the actual worst president's mess and who is blocked by that 'president"s party from doing what needs to be done. Bush isn't just the worst president ever, he's a war criminal who needs to be tried at the Hague. and to all the whiners who keep saying 'stop blaming Bush,' ok, i will, when we can stop blaming Hitler for the Holocaust! you can't wish away history.

    July 2, 2014 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  4. Patrick

    I clicked on this and expected to see a number of comments saying this poll means nothing. Then ripping the poll and everything against Obama apart. Did this poll pick a new set of people? maybe a set who better represents the US population? 1446 people is not a lot. By phone is land line phone or cell phone? Even if we round up the sampling error to 3% 54% of the poll say Obama is not competent in running the government. That says a lot. as usual towards the end CNN defends Obama saying things could be very different in 4-5 years. Of course they will be different. Obama will not be in the White House in 4-5 years.

    July 2, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  5. Gunderson

    Humm,
    We have had some dooseys, no? People not too good selecting a president. Maybe you do better next time, no?

    July 2, 2014 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  6. masher

    And you needed a poll for that one?

    July 2, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. logical conclusion

    You must ponder this, being a black president is worse than sending thousands of kids to die, so the Republican president, and veep can make huge profits off the war, and bankrupting our country to do it? And now when none of our former allies will get involved in military actions with us, you blame the current president, people, turn off fox news, no credible journalist there. You take advice on Iraq from dick Cheney? Really? Between the wars, the economic crash, you literally have to be brainwashed to vote for them again.

    July 2, 2014 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. Bill D

    Obama isn't the worst president since WWII. He's the worst president EVER!

    July 2, 2014 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  9. ricardo1968

    What this means is, Americans are entirely ignorant.

    July 2, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  10. Sid

    he's certainly the biggest DISAPPOINTMENT! I've lost track of how many times I've said this over the last 5 yrs but in a perverse way it's actually a great testament to racial progress that our 1st aa president is best described as "bush lite"...

    July 2, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  11. will

    not waving the flag here for Obama but Bush Jr wins hands down.. hell Cheney was really running things

    July 2, 2014 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  12. richard in houston

    These number are not suprising but I think history will prove them wrong. I have been around since Nixon and I can say that Nixon does rank near the bottom. Ford did not want the job. Carter was not bad but just average. Reagan was also just average to better than average. I still don't understand the republican diefication of him but oh well. Bush Sr was also like Carter, average. Clinton was ok but got lucky with the Tech bubble. Bush Jr had no business anywher near the White House. Obama has been average to better than average. Would have love to have seen what he could have accomplished with a republican party that wanted to work with him and govern instead of having a publically stated goal of making him a one term president and not allowing him any legilative victory. Funny how Carter and Clinton at their time were said to be the worst president in history by the republicans and time has proved them wrong and Nixon and Bush Jr were said to be the worst by democrats and history seems to be proving them correct. As Limbaugh would say hmmmm!

    July 2, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  13. Dan

    Weak inept president so this poll is no surprise.

    July 2, 2014 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  14. Fitsum A.

    History is the only thing that matters. 50yrs ago if we have done a survey if women should be allowed to vote, the result would have been overwhelmingly "No". Time does not have an influence on a TRUTH. What is true today will still be true tomorrow. 50 yrs from now we will be talking about how this president has achieved so much more than his predecessors. All those who probably think I am a fool now, if we read this comment in 50yrs, will also talk about how smart I was then.

    July 2, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  15. john

    Bush 43 has hat sewed up

    July 2, 2014 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  16. CommonSense

    What an absurd poll. How many of the potential respondents can even name all of the Presidents since WWII? I'm guessing that the majority cannot even name, in reverse order, more than 3 Presidents from the current one. The data has to be skewed toward the present. Seems like this poll had an answer it was trying to justify rather than a conclusion from the data ...

    July 2, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  17. Kelly

    He's the worst president since forever. More evil than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot combined. While a senator, he personally forced FIFA to arrange the world cup games of 2014 around Supreme Court rulings as to distract the future president from evil dealings in Israel. Or maybe the IRS. I don't know. Evil has no boundaries.

    July 2, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  18. dubyasux

    Of course, Obama is the worst president. He is the only one capable of retroactively screwing up his predecessor's "heck of a job". Why else would Obama be responsible for Bush's lack of response to Hurricane Katrina?

    July 2, 2014 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  19. Just for one day....

    Well you certainly have to respect a poll that puts George Bush behind Barack Obama...Let's see now– Bush had 9/11 on his watch after being warned of an impending attack. 3,000 American lost their lives. The Housing and Stock markets collapsed and almost sank the world into a global depression. We invaded Iraq under the threat of WMD's that never existed and 5,000 Americans died as a result (along with 10's of thousands of Iraqi's). He took a no deficit balance sheet and destroyed it (and the economy) after cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans. His Vp shot a guy in the face!! His first Supreme Court nomination Harriet Miers? Oh come on ... Now let's see -Obama fights a Congress that made a pact to destroy him from day 1-limit his ability to govern– crush his nominations... You know they hated Lincoln too after he suspended Habeus Corpus as well ...

    July 2, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  20. aashen

    Breaking News: obvious poll states the obvious and partisan minds respond to a partisan poll in a partisan fashion.

    July 2, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  21. Rudy NYC

    You can put me in the column with the people who think the country would be better off if Romney had won. If he had, then all of this obstruction that we have seen from the Republicans would come to an end. I also believe that the Democratic leadership in the Senate and House would not respond with obstruction of their own because they know that there is too much that the country actually needs.

    Whether or not Republican POTUS, with a likely Republican Congress, would actually do something to fix the roads and bridges, among many other things, or ignore what's broken and simply pick up the economic policies where Bush left them is the real question. Americans answered it November 2012. If voters actually trusted Republicans to act in the best interests of the common good, then Romney would have won in a landslide. But, he didn't win. Republicans had proven themselves to be far too untrustworthy.

    Simply put, America didn't trust Republicans with power. But, I will admit that we would likely have a stronger economy with a Pres. Romney. Not because Pres. Romney would have made a better POTUS, but because I believe that the obstruction would have ended for a period of time.

    July 2, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  22. baracalypse

    More likely that Obama is the worst president since 1789.

    July 2, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  23. Twopartymonopoly

    Surely this must be racism. Because there's just no other explanation for not liking Obama. Or perhaps this is a side-effect of global warming.

    July 2, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  24. dave

    He did get OBL, got the ACA, he's the 1st Black President, all significant accomplishments. On the down side he did not enforce immigration laws, but neither did any of his predessors. He did very little for jobs, wage/salaries/benefits are still in steep decline, the middle class is still shrinking. He did work against a republican Congress for most of the time, and they are always interested in driving down wages/salaries/benefits, plus they have no interest in seeing that Obama and the Country do well, only that they do well in polls and in elections. In general, he's a mediocre President in a long line of mediocre Presidents, which unfortunately for us, and the Country, we become more of a mediocre Country, being passed by many Countries, economically, and socially. It becomes so-so, just another place to live without much opportunities, other places are much better. There's not much that Obama can do to salvage his legacy, his main focus seem to be getting jobs for foreigners here illegally, getting them jobs, and the American dream, while neglecting, almost abusing, regular American workers, even more interested in creating jobs in foreign Countries, thru trade deals, and now even giving them taxpayer money so they won't send their illegals, or deperately poor, here to overwhelm our borders. He's about average for America, maybe slightly below mediocre, like the rest of them. At least we are not in depression, we damn sure would be with more supply side economics and Romney.

    July 2, 2014 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  25. OT

    Hmmm, popularity poll, is this high school? You don't have to be popular to do a job.

    July 2, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
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