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. Glenn NM

    @BldrRepublican ~ Not one thing you mentioned is based on fact.

    July 2, 2014 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  2. DaveL

    Anyone who thinks this country would be better off if Romney had been elected hasn't got a clue....

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

    This is what happens when you have a President Obama that can't lead or bring people together. Funny 111 Dems voted for the Iraq war but not a single GOPer voted for the destruction of our healthcare system. Even Clinton got a lot done as the GOPers were trying to impeach him. Clinton didnt walk around all day whining about GOPers and complain every day how he could get nothing none because of those mean GOPers. Obama is not a leader he is ideologue.

    Funny despite the mainstream press covering up for Obama 7×24 the truth is coming out about how Obama has failed us on every front from being transparent, to foreign affairs, to a terrible economy and it goes on and on.

    What happen to liberals with leaders like Kennedy who said and asked dont ask what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country.

    Oh well we survived Carter where Reagan saved us from our darkest economic times and we will survive Obama. God bless America the greatest country ever.

    July 2, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  4. harry

    The most depressing thing about this poll, is the lack of votes for Eisenhower and Truman. Mostly because Americans know so little about there own history. Ranking current presidents is impossible since it is so hard to see long term impacts and to get past the political BS that opposing side produce.

    July 2, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  5. fred

    Obama is the best president ever.

    July 2, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  6. prax26

    Well, at least he won this vote legally.

    July 2, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  7. tom l

    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.

    Hell is still hot! 🙂 I don't think I denigrate you; I think I disagree with you and your political positions which is exactly what this country is all about. I have respect for you and I want to make that clear. I don't harbor and "hate" or "dislike" towards you and I'm not sure why you would feel that way. I was unemployed. I had to accept UI for a period in time and, like you, I hated it. I hated to rely on that but that is exactly what UI is for (a short period of time to help as you look to employed again). My answer was to have to move 2500 miles and leave a city I called home with family, friends and a girlfriend left behind to re-invent myself. It was me that did that. Just like, ultimately, it was you and your drive that got you where you are today. I just feel that today, we as a nation, have forgotten about that inner self drive and think we need the govt when we really don't. We need ourselves.

    July 2, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  8. Robert N. constant

    This is the typical Karl Rove political attack using innuendo and pitch polling techniques. With this opinion piece CNN has crossed the line..
    There is now an undercurrent in CNN stories and editorials that is a quasi subliminal consistent attack on the Democratic candidates in the next election. It is now official. CNN IS Fox Light, and no so light at that, just more sneaky.

    July 2, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  9. Mancee Graice

    As of this moment, CNN will no longer be my home page. The supermarket tabloids will give me the same thing.

    July 2, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    kurt says:
    July 2, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm
    Ronald Reagan inherited 13% unemployment and within a year it was at 6%. Leaders clean up the mess, whiners spend 8 years telling us how bad the guy before him was.

    Speaking of.... I watched a special on the 80's the other night on Nat Geo, they said RR tripled the national debt. Yet he is the patron saint of the GOP???

    July 2, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  11. tom l

    And Rudy, tell your boy Ol Yeller, that if he is going to accuse someone of cutting and pasting that he shouldn't do that cutting and pasting himself (while leaving out valuable information).

    July 2, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  12. Martha in CF

    Obama will go down as one of the BEST Presidents. Give it time-history will show this. We were on the brink of losing it all in 2008. I can remember our home mortgages under Reagan at 14%.
    Congress needs to get their act together-they have the worst record of all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 2, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  13. Duke

    President Obama is a good President and he could have been a great President but he was faced with a congress (House) that was out to get him from day one. It is that house that should receive a failing grade. They have violated their oath of office and deserve to be voted out to the extent that they committed to President Obama's failure.

    July 2, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  14. Mitzy

    All I know is that the Republicans handed Obama a country in a death spiral, brought to its knees by needless and badly run wars and an economy in shambles. Today there is peace and prosperity. We have Obama to thank for that, and it is typical of Americans to ignore those simple facts, for what I can only conclude is the rampant drumbeat of Republican racism.

    July 2, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  15. Dan Clayton

    We have lost interest as a people in the impact of politics... Easier to blame the people we vote for.

    July 2, 2014 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  16. Sandy

    The WORST!!!

    July 2, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. Tony D

    Not surprising... Obama thinks he was elected to sit there issue Executive Orders and then go vacation, golf or campaign fund raise. American just naturally hate dictators, which Obama is coming off like more and more every day. Being repeatedly rebuked by the USSC has not stopped his dictatorial tendencies either. Impeachment may be the only course of action is he continues to open state he is going to circumvent Congress, our elected representatives.

    July 2, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  18. Jerry

    Here is the real list of the worst presidents since World War II
    1. George W. Bush -worst in history
    2. Richard Nixon – a crook
    3. Jimmy Carter – weak
    4. George H W Bush – one termer
    5. Ronald Reagan – altzhimers
    6. Lyndon B. Johnson – How many kids have you killed today
    7. Gerald Ford – two years – nice man
    8. Barrack Obama – stuck with the worst Congress in history
    9. Dwight Eisenhower – many accomplishments
    10. Bill Clinton – balanced budget/surplus
    11. John Kennedy – inspiration
    12. Harry Truman – the buck stops here

    July 2, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. kiwisepp

    it indicated only hat 33% of Americans is totally stupid

    July 2, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  20. Greg

    I hate Nixon, but he did a few good things, he was also very good at Foriegn policy, (unless you lived in Vietnam).
    Obama got what he asked for...ELECTED...and he made a lot of PROMISES....and he has done.......NOTHING !!
    If Obama is blaming Bush 2 for the mess he inherted, Then Clinton should be judged by being given a great ecomomy from Bush 1 and Reagan. Because all Clinton did was chase skirts

    July 2, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  21. Matt Dobson

    Simply put, he does not know how to lead or build consensus, we need another Reagan or Clinton. This whole thing is tiring.

    July 2, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. Don

    In response to Fair is Fair – LBJ did more for the civil rights movement in this country than any president since Lincoln – he knew how to work with Congress – which our current president doesn't have a clue on how to do since he was not a Senator long enough to know how Congress worked – i.e., it's all about compromise – not my way or no way. Perhaps we should stop blaming the republicans for lack of movement during Obama's presidency and turn our attention on the real culprit. And by the way – have you noticed what a great man Bush is by not uttering a single word during the past six horrible years of this administration?

    July 2, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Chuck

    He is not the worst. Not even close. If he had a Congress who was willing to work with him and not denounce his presidency since the start, just maybe he would have had a chance to do wonderful things. Instead he just had a congress that said NO from the start, and had to battle for every little piece of legislation. America was very aware of what was and is going on. I just hope they show it in the election booth.

    July 2, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. Ted

    @tallychick – I dont think you get the basics. Of course the Senate and Congress are partisan. I elect my rep in my area to represent my view that is why I vote for them.

    However, we all vote for a President and it is his job to bring the sides together working out and leading on political compromise. Clinton did a good job at this despite being impeached by those mean GOPers.

    Stop making excuses for Obama as we are all sick of it. Meanwhile if Bush took a pee the wrong direction you would be critical of every aspect of it including the temp and color of the pee! Too much.

    July 2, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. kurt


    "Anyone who thinks this country would be better off if Romney had been elected hasn't got a clue...."

    Clearly you meant "anyone who depends on handouts"...

    July 2, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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