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. John Illinois

    Worst President ever!

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

    You can find a poll to back up just about any viewpoint you have. They are meaningless at this point.

    July 2, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Jason

    I voted for Obama in 08 and didn't vote at all in 12 (didn't like either candidate). My biggest gripe, which is shared by some of my friends who are exactly like me in voting pattern, is "Obamacare". It's a terrible mandate that does way more harm to our long term future than good.

    In theory, it's a great idea. But the bill feels like a "trap" bill – Intended to be poor on release so that they can play hero again later (2016) and try to make it better. And my friends and I think it's insulting to be pawns.

    So yeah, I highly disapprove of him now. And it's very disappointing.

    July 2, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  4. Logic_Is_Not_Common_Sense

    We went from Obama-wan-Kenobi... you're our only hope to...
    Worst president since WWII. What a turn around. The one thing that keeps me going is all of the dem entertainment I get from those trying to still defend him (just like those that tried to defend bush at the end of his term)

    July 2, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Dave

    Obama is the worst President ever (PERIOD). Imagine where his #'s would be if CNN (MSM) actually covered his scandals instead of being a cheer leader.

    July 2, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. JoeBob Scruggs

    All hail ex el Presidente Junior. He so luvable paintin dogs and all that. he would never hurt no one why when i look at him at his easel with his choo choo apron and all, JoeBob just say to hisself "Why he so gentle, he wouldn't even hurt a fly..." It about time that we all embrace the retarded ex el Preidente. It weren't his fault he so stupid.

    July 2, 2014 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. Eagle1

    Obama is the worst thing to ever happen to America! He has set race relations back 50 years with the help of his racist friends like Holder, Sharpton........I will be so glad when this imposter is out of office. I forgot his racist wife.

    July 2, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. RandyF

    The Congress and the Supreme Court have been the worst in US history the fact is they have blocked Obama for purely political reason and made him the the Jackie Robinson of presidents.

    July 2, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  9. pauleky

    Our country is screwed. Our citizens revel in their ignorance. Personally, I think Obama is a disappointment, but GWB was 20 times worse – maybe 100 times.

    July 2, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    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 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  11. Sal

    Those people that vote him as the worst probably don't know much of what is going on in the world or the country. They just don't like him personally, not by what he has done to anyone. 

    July 2, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  12. L Kurt Engelhart

    I voted for Obama based on his record against tyrants. In my opinion he is the best President in my lifetime of 73 years. He is doing all the things I think he could possibly do considering the circumstances. If you have complaints about his actions, you can come to me.

    July 2, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Does "give yourself credit" also mean "accept the blame yourself" for failures? Seeing how you're a big "take personal responsibility" guy, it would seem lit would be the case.

    A wise man with your ideology would not try to answer that question.

    Since you tried to claim yesterday that I don't answer your questions, I will happily answer. the answer is a hearty "of course!" you accept responsibility for your own personal failures. Please tell me how my "ideology" (whatever you think it to be) would hamper my response. Are you trying to say that I don't take personal responsibility? I am very confused by your challenge. I know you had a bad day yesterday on the ticker so I'm curious what you mean.
    I didn't say that a man with your ideology would hamper you in any way. I said a WISE man with your ideology wouldn't try to answer the question. He'd look before he leaped, and recognize that it's a gotcha question. If you answer no, then you'd be denying your belief system, which means the only answer you could possibly give is a yes.

    Watch out. Here it comes If people are take full responsibility for their failures in life, then why do you attach so much blame to the President for people failing to find jobs, for the economy having such a slow recovery. You said don't give the President credit for one's personal success, that you should take credit yourself. So, why blame the President for one's personal failures when you say that we should take responsibility for failures?

    Don't say that I didn't warn you that a wise man wouldn't touch the question?

    July 2, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  14. Jeff6187

    This article is irresponsible. Because historians and statisticians realize that opinions are vastly different DURING a president's term, RECENTLY after he leaves office and LONG after he leaves. As time elapses, perspective sets in and we tend to view presidents in a greater, less focused, context. For this reason, most reputable historians wait at least 20 years after a president leaves office to even guess how history will judge him. The reason for this is obvious for those of us who remember the DEGREE of hatred Americans had for 1) LBJ over both Viet Nam, and the "tax and spend liberalism" of his Great Society programs, 2) Nixon over Watergate and the public airing of his coverup, 3) Carter over rampant inflation (remember 20% on mortgages!?), Gas crisis, Iran hostages, etc., 4) Bush Jr. over his wars ... etc.

    I agree that Obama has shown himself to be more weak and ineffective, and deceitful, especially recently. But he's not even close to the MOST disliked (Nixon?) or MOST disrespected (Carter?) since WWII.

    July 2, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. Greg In Atlanta

    The real reason that people say that President Obama is being criticized id because he is trying to do something new and different. Remember when we were explorers and we wanted to reach the stars? When we reached up to do so, unfortunately a few of our astronauts gave their lives in the struggle to break free of the bonds of Earth. But we didn't give up. We kept trying different things until we got it right. In spite of the fear and uncertainty, we tried new things. That is what we do as Americans. We try new things.
    This is the basis of how our country was founded. Our forefathers took the lead and designed a the basis of a new country that had never been seen before. A nation of laws, of ideas and of freedom and unity. We evolved as a nation to create the most powerful nation in the history of the world. We took a bunch of immigrants who had few things in common, shared our differences, fused them into something no one group could have thought of individually, and created something the world had never seen. Our differences made us made us stronger than the rest of the world. Chocolate tastes good. Peanut butter tastes good. But peanut butter cups are AWESOME! That is what trying new things gets you. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose (New Coke). but you can't stay the same, because if you don't try new things, sooner or later the rest of the world catches up, and you are left in the dust. Even the Karate kid realized that the crane kick wasn't going to work two movies in the row. Let the man try some new things. It is the American thing to do.

    July 2, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. LavaChip

    Remember when taxing the weathly causes the wealthy to just move out of the country because they can afford it?

    July 2, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  17. rick3807

    The people at Quinnipiac obviously have too much time on their hands. This poll is as predictable as "What has been the poorest performing congress in the last 100 years". It certainly is not worth the time it took to write this article. Summer is a slow news season.

    July 2, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  18. GatorDude

    Americans are getting screwed going and coming. On the Right, business wants to export jobs to low wage, low regulation, low cost companies or bring low wage workers from those countries to replace workers here in the U.S. Yet, they think the masses of under-employed Americans can continue to buy generation products. The Rights leaders are so doctrinaire that perhaps only two or three have ever had a thought of their own. On the left, the Democrats think that the incoming low wage workers will form their next generation of core voters. They also think that American taxpayers can fund extravagant social programs and that burdening business with onerous regulations encourages economic growth. They also want Americans to squeeze into little bitty cars with high accident injury rates or to ride the bus. They define "crime" as "mistakes people make" and note that "everyone makes mistakes." They think that we need to "understand" our enemies, tick off our friends, and let the "muslim street" rule the Middle East. They also think that cutting troops, ships, and aircraft programs sends a message of strength to aggressors and allies around the world. They believe in "hope and change" with no actionable and economically feasible program in place. Neither party remembers that America rose to prominence via "beggar thy neighbor" economic policies not "laissez-faire." Neither party remembers that to produce victory over an enemy you have to completely shatter their culture and capacity to resist. Thus, a war that should have taken an hour has taken a decade with little tangible result. It's ridiculous.

    July 2, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  19. kingsley

    Quinnipiac didnt ask me, and i think the poll is skewed seriously, i know republicans will support the poll. But anyone in their right mind will judge how the house of representative has done thier job so far, how they republicans shut down the government and we lost billions.How they have refused to pass any legislation, how they wanted this president to fail seriously they said it. So if anyone in thier right mind knows all these and still thinks ill of our president then they must be from another planet because they are not dealing with the reality.

    July 2, 2014 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  20. john

    Worst and most corrupt

    July 2, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  21. kurt

    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???

    I watched the same special. Reagan proved debts doesn't matter if you put enough taxpayers to work to pay down the debt. but when you put the economy in a chokehold and turn taxpayers into dependents...well, you get what we have today.

    July 2, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  22. Antajuan Grady

    The real people making the decisions behind the curtain are to blame for what does or doesn't happen if people really think about it. Its not the President who makes important choices. Its the men behind the curtain.

    July 2, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  23. Julie

    Mitzy – take your meds, prosperous, peaceful? How about 50 million Americans on foodstamps, 52% of Americans on some form of welfare and not working. He has had 6 1/2 years to fix whatever you think W screwed up. He hasn't fixed anything, made everything worse.

    Yea, the muslims killing teenagers and their own kind. What planet do you live on?

    July 2, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  24. LL

    Oh c'mon. America was in a giant black pit, both domestically and in the international eye, when Obama took office. He's had missteps, of course, but he's pulled us out of the recession, ended wars (or do we so quickly forget that Syria could have been another quagmire?), and worked earnestly to advance the public good (and been called a socialist for it). He's been an effective, thoughtful leader, and one poll of goombas will not erase that fact.

    July 2, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. Cecil Brumley

    Stop doing these ridiculous stories about polls that mean nothing because too many Americans either won't answer them or answer them dishonestly. Do some real journalism for a change!

    July 2, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
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