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. me

    This poll is biased by the extreme polarity in our politics. Check back in 50 or 100 years about whether Obama and W. Bush were good or poor Presidents.

    July 2, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. jerry

    Obama is the worst ever.

    July 2, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  3. afonds

    What about the peanut farmer?

    July 2, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Sam Wilson

    The worst president in 70 years!

    July 2, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  5. Earle

    I agree with the 33%... Must be true if Bushie boy only got a 28%... The writing is on the wall for Obama now...

    July 2, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. Arianna

    You polled college students. I am 22 years old so I am in the same age range of the voting pool so I know what I'm saying when I say.. We only remember 2 presidents. The outcome isn't biased at all.

    July 2, 2014 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. al

    i think the poll is diceiving because most of the white supposed conservative white people out right dislike him because his black.

    July 2, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  8. And the REALLY BAD NEWS is....

    Obama has another 2.5 years to make an even bigger disaster of this country and the world stage!! Ask this question in January 2017 when he leaves office and 99.99% will agree he is the worst of all time, ever, in any country, in the history of the planet.

    July 2, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  9. King

    I honestly think that President Obama is one of the most genuine politicians in recent memory. People can't seem to look past who he is and see that he wants the best for this country. We have a Congress full of rich and lazy individuals who are just in it for power. These are the same people who fight, bicker, and shut the government down when President Obama attempts to pass legislation but have no problem agreeing on a provision making it easier for them to take all-expenses-paid trips. People have to realize that President Obama is not the problem, he may not do everything perfectly but he tries.

    July 2, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. sactonana

    Absolutely not! That'd be George W. Bush, who got us into the Iraq War based on phony intelligence about the Weapons of Mass Destruction, which were never there. The cost is $1.7 TRILLION, plus 4400+ American lives.

    July 2, 2014 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Andrew

    Presidential rankings since WWII:
    Bill Clinton
    John F. Kennedy
    Dwight D. Eisonhower
    Ronald Reagan
    Lyndon B. Johnson
    George H.W. Bush
    Richard Nixon
    Barack Obama
    Jimmy Carter
    Gerald Ford
    George W. Bush

    July 2, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Sean Biggs

    These people saying Obama is the worst president are clearly racists.

    July 2, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. True Grit

    Speaking of which, it's amazing how the millions spent by the SEVERAL billionaires even trickle down into the media. How under the table payments cause favorable comments of Obama to be moderated, yet foul disrespectful comments against Obama are displayed with lightning speed.

    July 2, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  14. laird mitchell

    Even worse than a president that had to resign in disgrace? Even worse than a president caught in scandals trading with the enemy to get guns to them? Even worse then a man that declared a war by faking conditions and so on get real, other then being black has done nothing to be hated for?

    July 2, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  15. it must be said

    Leslie Handsome
    Not sure how he beat Carter or Nixon, but whatever.
    ---

    You obviously have not been paying attention.

    July 2, 2014 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  16. lordbrucegiles

    My personal take on this poll goes as follows:

    Assumption: 35% of Americans tend to strongly vote Republican, 35% of Americans tend to strongly vote Democrat

    Republicans tend to mention Obama as their mortal enemy and Reagan as their savior fairly consistently. Democrats split their answers on both subjects. The younger Dems say Bush was the worst in many cases; whereas, the older crowd may throw in a Nixon. The Dems have a few different great choices for best Clinton, Kennedy, and Obama (yes, conservatives, some people believe this as passionately as you disagree).

    The numbers seem to track with this hypothesis, and the original assumption comes from years of noticing poll numbers on issues typically having around those percentages at least when it comes to the liberal or conservative answer. In other words, it isn't an exact science kind of theory. Just a SWAG.

    July 2, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  17. Jason

    Bruce – GW is far from the worst President. No, I did not agree with much he did – but he is far from the worst. He saved us after 9/11. Believe it or not – that idiot rallied all of us together in desperate times and put the world on notice. You probably say he invaded Iraq over false assuptions of chemical weapons. My man, what killed the Kurds. Iraq was an example – and under Bush, it worked. So – am I now going to bash President Obama. Nope. The man DID pull us out of a deep, deep, DEEP recession. While things are not great – man, they could have been MUCH worse. Healthcare is actually worse off, right now. Obamacare is a train wreck. Do I blame him? Nope. The man had the balls to pull it off. Hilary was talking about Healthcare in the late '90's and gave up on it....Obama at least has the ball rollling. What has really ruined this country – like it or not – is the ediorializing, politicizing and downright lying our media has done. They've divided us. So – no President is perfect – but guess what – they are still MY President...and yours too my brotha....

    July 2, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  18. Country Above the Parties

    Those who said Obama is the worst president have nothing to point to other than being Fox Bob-heads. How blind and bias could you be not naming Bush as the worst as evidence of his destruction are still so plainly visible and felt. Oh I forgot you son was not among the over 40,000 killed or 100,000 wounded in unnecessary wars and you are not the unemployed started from the down fall of economy under Bush. Or just plain dumb and bias.

    July 2, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  19. Natalia

    Community organizer vs CEO Romney people chose a community Organizer .Change you cannot believe

    July 2, 2014 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. Big Bob

    Ha ha! (Nelson Muntz)

    July 2, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. Laure9s

    Wrong Bruce. The people have spoken. Obama is the absolutely worst president since WWII.

    July 2, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. Obamamamma

    Hands down Obama. He is perhaps the ONLY president who has had trouble leading his OWN party. There have been times where he has had trouble getting support from his own rank and file.

    July 2, 2014 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. TS9

    Yes because public opinion and polls are never wrong.

    July 2, 2014 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. genkazdin

    With only 1446 people represented in the poll? We are meant to take this seriously? Not in this lifetime, kiddies. We need to stop responding to these polls. They do have the outcome those who take them want. It is not difficult to format questions and target respondees.

    July 2, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  25. smith

    I would say the last three potus with Carter, LBJ, and Nixon were the worst.

    July 2, 2014 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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