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. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

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

    News flash..... It's been this way since the 2012 campaign. They don't even attempt to not show their right leaning. When I saw a poll asking if people wanted to see the POTUS fail, that was enough for me. Yet people keep referring to it as liberal. If this is liberal I'd hate to see conservative.

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

    GW Bush let Bin Laden get away. Obama killed Bin Laden. That's enough for me. I wish President Obama had done a better faster job of fixing the economy that was ruined while GW was President. Bin Laden killed 3000 Americans on 9/11. GW killed 4000 American troops and 100,000+ civilians in the pointless Iraq war. Funny how people want to turn to Republicans to fix the economy when Republicans were in charge when the economy failed.

    July 2, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  3. Jerry

    Did these people really forget the 8 years under George W Bush? He did take us in to two terrible wars not to mention the economy went in the crapper under him.

    July 2, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  4. Betty R

    I hope this poll makes Anderson Cooper's Ridiculist.

    July 2, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  5. Sulla11

    This University should be ashamed of itself for using an obviously right-wing biased sample – obviously someone has an agenda.

    July 2, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. dave

    Funny comments about President Obama on vacation when GW took more vacation days than any other President.

    July 2, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  7. jim2307

    The results of this poll is the result of 5 yrs. of a vile vitriolic hate campaign by the right wing noise machine to destroy this president ,most people get their facts from sound bites and misinformation usually from faux news or some
    other right wing septic tank the gop had to destroy this president because when they were in power they almost
    destroyed the country and could not allow this president to succeed. Obama has been trying to deal in an intelligent way with the problems facing this country while the republicans try to maintain the status quo that caused many of the problems .The majority of Americans are totally ignorant of the complexities of the economy and foreign policy and when views are expressed out of ignorance they cannot be considered credible.

    July 2, 2014 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  8. Name

    That's total BS to say President Obama!!!!!!! Remember what Nixon pulled?!?! How soon we forget. 👎💩

    July 2, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  9. Laura


    July 2, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. EricS

    That's right – Mr. Obama took us into a war based on faulty (or perhaps deliberately distorted) intelligence and was responsible for tax cuts which blew up the budget . . . . oh, never mind.

    July 2, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  11. Mark S

    Really CNN
    Which polls are you referencing? What America are the respondents to this supposed poll living in. We are far better off since Obama. He is truly doing what is good for the people of America. Mitt Romney would have line his friend’s pockets. I am just about through with CNN style of reporting. If the right wing audience is so important to CNN, let them have CNN.

    July 2, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  12. mike

    All your non-newsworthy poll shows is something we already knew–Americans are too stupid to survive long term. That which our forefathers built, we'll destroy. Beavis and Butthead weren't humor as much as they were biography .....

    July 2, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  13. Michael

    I think the ineffectiveness of gwb and bho have a lot to do with where we are as a country .

    July 2, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. McMike

    It's unreal people can't remember 6 or so years ago when we were losing over 800,000 jobs a month and were in the most severe economic depression since the Great Depression.

    July 2, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. kenman14

    Why are you RE-ASKING the question in your headline? It's already been asked, and ANSWERED! IT'S OBAMA, NO SURPRISE!

    July 2, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. Ted

    @DaveL – at least Romney deals in economic realities and has shown leadership many times in his successful life. If Romney was President private industry who is sitting on more cash than human history would not be afraid to spend it as they are demonized by the extreme far left.

    Look Obama makes perfect sense if he had a magic wand, money tree and America had no enemies but since he doesnt so someone like Romney who deals in reality is greatly needed.

    July 2, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. Socrates

    Every president of the US works for the 1%, no exception. The system doesn't allow the president to work for the 99%.

    July 2, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Ol' Yeller

    "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)."

    I cut and pasted EXACTLY what you had cut and pasted from your posts where you foolishly and dishonestly created your little straw man so you could knock it down and strut around congratulating yourself like the little troll you are.
    I would just love to see you call me 'a boy' to my face.
    You'd be crying more than do in your posts (if that is possible)

    July 2, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Steve T.

    This is all garbage. Obama hasn't done anything horrible. This poll is extremely questionable and doesn't mean anything: JFK is tied for the WORST president? Really? Did being assassinated, promoting civil rights, and refraining from war hurt his approval ratings with people in 2014?

    Obama hasn't done anything exemplary like Clinton but he hasn't warmongered like Bush either. Conservatives create this elaborate narrative, and if you take a step back you realize that everything is running fine. The only complaints are pitiful "first world problems" like whether women should pay for the morning after pill or not.

    July 2, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  20. Jim

    W hands-down. No brainer. Nixon next.

    July 2, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    He is the worst president in our nation's history.

    July 2, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. Andrew

    I dont think he is the worst, but he is not the best, i think he is doing a better job the Bush, we also have a bunch of people in congress that keep saying no to everything under the sun. so i think its a tie, between a subpar president and a crappy congress.

    July 2, 2014 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. DaveinIL

    Nice story but it's all pretty much summed up in "It's important to note that Obama and Bush, his predecessor in the White House, are more in the public conscious than previous presidents".
    Recent history will always take precedent over older events in people's mind and that's probably why Carter and Nixon are lower than Bush and Obama.

    July 2, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. DN3

    I agree one hundred percent with Harry. How many of the people polled were born after 1980? Unless everyone polled held degrees in political science and/or history (ha!), this is the most ridiculous poll and holds absolutely no merit. I hold a degree in neither of the above but at least I have the common sense to know that I'm not qualified to take part in this vote (ie. 99% of people are not).

    July 2, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. Chad

    Corporate profits at record high, stock market about to hit 17,000...Getting out of Iraq for the most part, Bin Laden, first president to come out for gay marriage..first president to reaaaalyyy back SCIENCE... Yes I miss the days of W when we were losing 700,000 jobs a month with the stock market losing 400 points a day... Obama has been amazing working with statistically the worst congress in history. As soon as Obammer got in the nutcases came out....don't tread on me but tread on women gays and everyone who aint you

    July 2, 2014 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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