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. T.W.A

    I agree 100% !!!!

    July 2, 2014 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  2. cp125

    you must not have counted the previous president or Ford or Bush41 or Nixon or I could go on & on and on...

    July 2, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  3. jonathanlk

    You have to be careful with polls. I would want to know how the sampling population was distributed. It looks believable though and that is only because I know how ignorant the vast proportion of our population is. They prefer to form opinions and draw conclusions based on the easy stuff, that is, assumptions, impressions, hearsay, etc.. I have become a little disenchanted with Obama since he was elected. But polls and opinions don't make truth. I think Obama may be the least popular because he is the current president. If this poll was taken during Bush's administration he'd be on top, same with Nixon and Carter. In retrospect, I think Bush was by far the worst president and it may be only partisan love that keeps him below Obama. I think GOPers love their presidents right or wrong more than Dems love theirs. It is an opinion poll and not a fact. I read a poll once that found that 40% of Amercan adults think the Sun goes around the earth (like a moon). If it were 60% would that have made it a fact? No. But this just shows people with their impressions, can be wrong so take it with a grain of salt.

    July 2, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  4. The Griot

    Anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that many people hate Obama because he is black. Deny it all you want, but racism is alive and well. Obama's main failing is that he is too civilized to verbally mash the people who try to disrespect him.

    July 2, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  5. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, hey. 45% think we ought to have voted in Mitt Romney? Good news for GOPerville. He has another chance at it. Let him run for the third time.

    July 2, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  6. jk641

    Let's not forget the DOJ's Fast and Furious scandal, Benghazi, etc..

    July 2, 2014 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  7. James

    is it really surprising that the current president is not liked

    July 2, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    Obama.......but he is also the worst President of all time........surpassing even Lincoln, as the worst President in U.S. history. He will destroy this country, completely, before his term ends. The only salvation we have open to us, is to forcibly remove him from office.

    July 2, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. menoc

    LOLOL . . . .

    I'm gonna guess it all depends on who you asked, who sponsored the poll, and what the answer is based on (AKA "He's the worst president because I can't find a job")

    You see, If you're gonna ask the common folk anything, then most Americans will tell you God exists and the earth is 8,000 years old.

    Get it?

    July 2, 2014 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. bisusinha

    Are you KIDDING?????
    Greedy Warmonger Butcher (G.W.Bush) was the worst President and Human US ever had.

    July 2, 2014 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  11. joeusavotes

    Obama has about 28 months left in office. Although he has disappointed many there is time to do something great.

    July 2, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  12. Rick

    Obama is quite possibly the worst U.S. president of all time.

    July 2, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  13. EugeneBlair

    The Internet and polling methodology render the question irrelevant. People are so very sick of surveys and polls it is difficult to get anyone but the fanatics interested. Internet is quick to spread negative material about Obama in this case.

    Consider that when Obama was elected, very few people had 'Smartphones' as one example of the change just in the last few years. On any metric I can see or sense... the Obama Administrations are pretty darned good.

    July 2, 2014 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  14. Rogers

    This survey boss must be a republican. This survey has always put Obama way down compared to all others. People, do not be fooled to dislike Obama like Republicans do.This survey is a scum people, don't be fooled. This president is going to go down in history as one of Americas best presidents you watch. He has ended republican wars. He has brought our economy back from the great recession which the republicans too caused from the bush time in office. Republicans, you either forget too fast or you are just good lairs

    July 2, 2014 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  15. Rick Reid

    I hate your polls. I can't and won't believe that he is worse than George W. Bush. You polls have been wrong for some time including the 2012 election, when it was predicted Mitt Romney would win. And if people really think we would be better off if Romney would have one are really hiding their head in the sand....he was nothing but a rich, arrogant phoney that would have led this country over the edge like W almost did. Get real with this!!!!!

    July 2, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  16. Gary

    The only thing this poll proves is the right wing smear machine is working. Keep screaming the lies. The Fox noise makers, shouting the loudest, seems to be working. Hypocricy works. Keep throwing mud on the wall, some will stick.
    I will take a slow growing economy over a fast growing recession any day.

    July 2, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  17. TAJ

    Of course!! But I'd go back a little further than WWII...like the Revolutionary War.

    July 2, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Maybe if you ask him nicely President Obama will step down and anoint Willard and Queen Anne POTUS and FLOTUS.

    Once again FIFY!

    July 2, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. Rooney

    Anyone with any common sense should not be surprised by this poll. Obama is one of the worst Presidents in history.

    July 2, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. Todd103

    There's no doubt that Oblamer is the worst president ever.

    July 2, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  21. Dick Grayson

    Does nobody think maybe it's because we have the worst congress since the invention of democracy?

    July 2, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  22. Anonymous

    No one asked me,.....but,...if getting 4486 Americans killed for a lie isn't the WORST thing the POTUS could do,....I don't know what could be?........Health Care?

    July 2, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  23. Petoulet

    Obama is the worst president ever - of any nation anywhere - even on another planet.

    Sadly, Hillary will be even worse.

    July 2, 2014 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  24. nonyabizz

    No, ya tool. But he inherited the biggest mess since WWII. Jeez.

    July 2, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  25. whatever123

    I wonder if this poll was conducted by the same folks who said Mr. Romney would win by a landslide in 2012.

    July 2, 2014 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
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