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. Luis

    Really? Obama is a worse president the George W. Bush?? Damn that's a shame people think like that! I think it should be W. Bush, Nixon, and Reagan as the worst presidents!

    July 2, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  2. Ted

    Funny the koolaid drinkers here just blame GW – fun to do but naive. Too bad its not true because the real problems started with the DEMS under Clinton. Note Bill Clinton said about the finical crises "I think the responsibility that the Democrats have may rest more in resisting any efforts by Republicans in the Congress or by me when I was president, to put some standards and tighten up a little on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac," Funny at least GW, Reagan and even Clinton were strong enough leaders to do their job not walk around all day just blaming other.

    But that is what far left extreme libs do today just demonize and blame others, no clue what leadership means.

    July 2, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  3. shehar39

    No, not since WW2, Since 1776

    July 2, 2014 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Obviously they polled all republicans.

    Reagan traded weapons, started wars, raised taxes on everyone, became senile and would do nothing unless Nancy's astrologist approved.

    July 2, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  5. Kman

    Obama is the absolute WORST. Not because he is black, because he is this country's biggest divider. He had an opportunity to mend, he made it worse instead. It is a shame.

    July 2, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Krish Chennai

    I viewed the movie Lincoln just yesterday..and am moved by it enough to vent here " of the people, for the people, by the people, shall not perish from the earth " is still relevant today. So let us not have any misgivings, a country that lives by democratic practices gets the leadership it deserves, and if that includes God's own country, so be it. After all, someone else did say "Vox Populi, Vox Dei"...Latin for the Voice of the People is the Voice of God...I am not up to it to google and find out who actually among the ancients did utter that.
    So three Cheers to the people of the US of A to the man they Elected to lead them !

    July 2, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  7. JC

    I'd be interested so see if the results would be the same if Obama were white. Somehow, I doubt it. Listen to Russell P. He's right on.

    July 2, 2014 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Reggie from LA

    Could possibly be better on paper if Romney won, seeing as how that "Clown Congress" would be kissing his ring. The reference to "on paper" would refer to the health of the economy by showcasing the wealthy as a bellweather. You folks up above, beating on President Obama are likley low information megaphones who wouldn't even know what criteria would be used to rate a president. Additionally many of you have a very poor grasp of history (hence "Obama's War in Iraq), and a failed "Obam economy". Ignorance and hateful abound, and seem to be getting worse.

    July 2, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Gary Sutphin

    This "poll" is so completely meaningless. The 33% who say that Obama is the WORST president since WWII? That right THERE takes in the people who will hate his guts NO MATTER WHAT. If he were to cure cancer – he's ruining the healthcare industry. If he were to bring about world peace – he's ruining the military industry. To this hard core of "haters"...he can do no right.

    And it simply no longer matters WHO is president ANYWAY. The only siginificant difference in the two major parties is that republicans are easier to control with money than democrats.

    But the fix is in no matter who APPEARS to be "in charge". Money talks. Money rules. Money controls. And just to show you how far reaching that control by money has gone? They don't even sneak around anymore doing it. It's done right up front, in your face with little pretense of fairness. For Christ's SAKE...the Supreme Court even ruled that corporations are people? And they can spend as much money as they want to voice they're opinion? If THAT isn't "in your face" I guess I must not know what it means then.

    Politics is now nothing more than some "scripted" unreal reality show. And just LIKE one of those dumb reality shows...the audience is polled to see which character and which turn of event will bring the best entertainment value and most viewers. I GUESS it started with Reagan. "Here Ronny...this is the script. You're going to play the President of the United States. The network has picked us up for four guaranteed seasons. If all goes well...they'll go with another four. Just shut up and do what you're told".

    Pretty neat...huh?

    July 2, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Mad

    Who would be surprised that people think Obama is the worst president ever? It is so very obvious that he is ruining our country. He is now a dictator and not a good one either.

    July 2, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  11. Roy

    Bush II and his crony sidekicks Chaney and Rumsfeld are the worst government goofs of all time started 2 multi trillion dollar credit card wars, almost created a depression, caused thousands of job losses, and screwed up just about everything they were involved in while in office. There was one exception that was when Bush read a book to a class of second graders in Florida.

    July 2, 2014 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  12. True American

    No... Ronald Reagan by far is the worst for America, working class, middle class. But he was a God to the rich and republicans. Need I say any more....

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

    Read your history, did Obama resign in disgrace? Did he send thousands of solders to unnecssessary wars? Did he send secret arms from Iran to right wing radicals in Central America? Stop being puppets to the media, and make your own informed decisions.

    July 2, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Reggie from LA

    That really is a shame, Russell P
    Pearls cast before swine. I mean pigs for those who don't get it.

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

    "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.

    Not Way John King. This is not an indicator of Americans' sentiment. It's an indicator of the Americans that were asked a question that lumps everything, including a no acting, no passing of bills to better this country Congress. John King has always thought he could opinionate by lumping everyone into every poll. I guess CNN has to keep feeding their own base for lack of viewerships.

    July 2, 2014 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  16. Name susana rosarios

    I thing that Mr Obama is a wonderfull president the history.will.tell to as whith the perspectic of the time.
    Always was like that.
    Is the person for the.moment and the moment is not the best.
    Do not thing all the time about – only to.do.
    The best for your country.

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

    Not just since WWII, he's the worst ever. And he built that.

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

    Nixon did VERY. beneficial things for our people. Obama does beneficial thing for our people although he must work while the republicans in congress hold the economy and American workers hostage so that democrats look ineffective. The economy is lurching ahead despite GOP obstructionism. If the GOP had allowed Obama policies to be implemented we would have high speed rail along the US east coast, west coast, and in several regions from east to west coast! Instead the GOP holds the American people hostage so a president and a party LOOKS ineffectual. Obama moves the country forward against the hopes of the GOP.

    July 2, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Russell P

    Not only did his administration reverse the most devastating economic catastrophe of modern times, but he got us out of a war we never should have been involved in to begin with. Beside that, he has had to deal with the most inept congress maybe ever. I would say he has done a pretty good job considering the hand he was dealt. Give the guy a break.

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

    In my opinion, the opposite party has prevented many laws to improve American citizens. The middle east has been fighting even before the USA came into existence. Same goes for businesses that continue to suppress the worker, raise prices and still push for government favors. The health industry has demonstrated it is more interested in profits-costs than curing Americans. The President has rightfully used Executive powers because some congress members refuse to solve Americans interest. I do not think some 60 second political video can accuracy compress what goes on in the Presidency and Congress. Lately, Religion wants to mind mold your political thoughts.

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

    If you believe in one poll than you should probably just bury your head in the sand because you're obviously not capable of research. America revamped the healthcare system because of Obama. Most developed countries did this 100 yrs ago. It's incredible that people are fighting against Universal Healthcare.

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

    Look who Obama has been TRYING to work with.... CONgress.

    July 2, 2014 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  23. clouseau2

    People apparently have been afflicted with severe amnesia.

    Bush had a rubber stamp Congress for most of his Presidency, presided over 9/11, the Great Recession, tax cuts combined with a disastrous optional war that killed almost 5,000 US soldiers and is going to cost trillions, leading to insane deficits, actual treason committed by his administration (the intentional outing of a CIA agent). Federal spending almost doubled under his watch, DOD funding almost doubled, and the government grew by 3 million employees (so much for drowning it in the bathtub).

    He was the biggest spender since LBJ.

    Obama, on the other hand, was handed this disaster coming into his Presidency, with the country bleeding jobs and money, and a GOP whose sole function was to block everything he tried to do. He stabilized the economy preventing another Great Depression, got millions of people health insurance, a goal that has eluded Presidents as far back as Nixon, ended don't ask don't tell, supported marriage equality, got our troops out of the hell holes they were in, killed bin Laden, stopped the Bush torture program, etc. Government actually shrank by 645,000 employees under his tenure.

    This all while being the stingiest spender since Eisenhower.

    July 2, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ Keli

    I see you've bought the 2014 mid-term media talking points lock, stock, and barrel.
    Good for you ... as a "lifetime" democrat ... you must be very proud of yourself.

    July 2, 2014 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  25. Time for Change

    Obama fancies himself more as a king/emperor than president.

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