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. richardeverhard

    The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted June 24-30, with 1,446 registered voters.

    There are 318,000,000 people in the US. Among them are 186,000,000 registered voters. They polled 0.0000007% of registered voters.

    A bunch of college kids calling 1,446 random people is representative of exactly nothing. Sure is great fodder for internet wingnuts screaming in impotent rage though.

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

    Goes to show racism is still alive, lurking, and slithering anonymously in America..."the great country of freedom and fairness."

    July 2, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  3. pete veslocki

    That's what you get when you have an enemy combatant in the White House.

    July 2, 2014 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. bucket588

    Lol really 1,446 people surveyed, that is a good representation of what the country thinks.
    He is no different from any other President. They all lie to gain power and personal wealth. Begone with party the party lines and then we would see change.

    July 2, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. blome republiklans blome

    J.S.? One person comes to mind when you mention all of those attributes, George W. Bush, remember him ? he was our last president that almost all but destroyed the world.

    July 2, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    @John
    Interesting how this story is absolutely BURIED on CNN, hidden away from easy view. I heard about it from comment board. It's pretty big news, wouldn't you say? Why would CNN bury the lead like this. I know why...
    ---------------
    So your saying this story that has 27 pages of heated comments and everyone is seeing on CNN is hidden away on CNN. That is not even an interesting conspiracy theory.

    July 2, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. HenryMason

    The incredible flaw with this poll is that all presidents are out of office except Obama. Historically, the sitting president polls better AFTER they leave office. Compare Bush's ratings while in office to Obama. Dubya is the worst president without question.

    July 2, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. Bill the Engineer

    This is just another sign that the break-up of the USA is coming. There is no middle-ground anymore. Schism is the ultimate end game for two groups that can't even agree what facts are no mater the topic.

    July 2, 2014 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. whatnow

    Obama is the most obstructed President in the history of the US, but certainly not the worst.

    July 2, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  10. matthewmonroe

    This study is highly questionable. It either lacks transparency or is highly subjective.
    I say this because for this study to have any authenticity the person being polled needs to have been born before WWII, maybe eight years before, to be able to have any memory. That would make that age group 77+ years of age, a group that was highly skewed toward the GOP. It should just say Senior citizens feel that Obama is the worse president since WWII; I would be fine with that heading.
    If it was taken of anyone regardless of age then the data is highly subjective and is based upon people who think they know what presidents where like before they were born.

    July 2, 2014 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  11. DD

    Only news on CNN, FOX readers knew this 6 years ago.

    July 2, 2014 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. CryBabies

    @G-man....and the U.S. is a much weaker nation in reality and in the eyes of the world.

    July 2, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Dan

    He has lied about every single thing he promised
    He has done NOTHING that isn't completely partisan
    He is rife with scandals and failure
    He runs away from everything and looks to blame everyone and everything else
    He does NOT lead

    Is he the worst? I voted for him, and I would say "yes"

    July 2, 2014 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. frank

    We dont need a poll to tell us that this man is a total disgrace period!! Everyone always touts the Bin Laden thing that was no great accomplishment. He was nothing but a figurehead by that time anyway if that!! Had you got hime 10-15 years ago it might have been worth something now not so much in reality!! This man takes incompetence to its highest level!! He should have been impeached long before now

    July 2, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. GOP FAIL

    Worst Presidents in history:
    Reagan
    Nixon
    Reagan
    Bush
    Reagan

    July 2, 2014 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. gpb

    Did the survey ask why the respondents thought so? Sure, the article mentions that both Bush 2 and Obama are in the more recent public memory but it's still worth seeing why people have their opinions.

    I was born in 1984 so the only Presidents of memory are Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, and Obama (Reagan served through '88 but my memories to age 4 are non-existent). All of them seem like nice guys. Bush 2 and Obama each make strong cases in my opinion but their legacies really still haven't played out either to really judge their impact. Nixon does as does LBJ and Carter.

    But ultimately, we still get pathetic voter turnout so we're getting the government we deserve. Also, it feels like we're getting the complaints of everyone and yet only half of those folks put in the effort to make a choice.

    July 2, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. lroy

    Obama is the worst president EVER! I LOVED Reagan (the first president I ever voted for), and I even liked Nixon (maybe I was too young). It will take a 100% PRO-LIFE Democrat candidate nomination to vote against GOP.

    July 2, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. CryBabies

    @GOP fail.....And what correlation is there between your 401k improvement and BO being President? Please reply with facts.

    July 2, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. jb1963

    I'll take Obama over any republican. Even the tax raiser Reagan

    July 2, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. NealR2000

    The mark of a good President is the ability to reach consensus where you have differing political parties controlling our branches of Government, which were brilliantly set up by our founding fathers as a form of checks and balances. Even when one party controls all three pillars, consensus is still needed. Most Presidents have been able to achieve consensus, and in the mordern era, we've seen Clinton and Bush II work well with opposing Houses of Congress. I'd have to say that Obama is a complete failure at consensus, even with members of his own party. Why? Well, despite what his image handlers will have you believe, he is quite far to the left in his vision of America, which is evidenced by his Senate voting record. His policies and vision are completely out of sync with House Republicans, which is why we are at this legistlative road block. Obama's coolness and likability factors maintain his public popularity, but as a President, yes, I'd say he was a huge failure.

    July 2, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Kevin

    Gee, the 1/3 of Americans who've opposed everything he's done thinks he's the worst ever. Which is so different from when they said the same about Clinton, Carter, Johnson, Kennedy, Truman, and Roosevelt.

    Thanks for letting me know that the opposition party is still in opposition. Very newsworthy.

    July 2, 2014 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  22. robpinva

    It's very sad seeing how CNN has fallen to Fox News level.

    July 2, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. Russ

    Interesting ... 41% picked Republican presidents as the worst. Since they were both so completely horrible, it's not surprising the vote would be split. Refelcting the country at large, the votes seem to be split somewhat evenly between Republican and Democratic presidents. In my view, nothing compares to Bush's war in Iraq ... hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, over 4000 dead Americans, and $1.7 trillion dollars wasted (sorry, Halliburton, but that's the truth!) And for you Republican nitwits who say the war was legal, so is drinking a pint of whisky every night as long as you dont drive. Being legal is no excuse for murder.

    July 2, 2014 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  24. Zaktaps

    If you take out the whole 'I automatically hate him' thing about Obama since he's black, I'd say he's probably realistically at the bottom third of the group. George W. has done the most damage so far, followed by a close second with Carter. Clinton and JFK were obviously exceptional leaders.
    Hopefully we'll someone like those two after Bush – Obama have muddled thing sup.

    July 2, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. J Kay

    A poll from Quinnipiac? Thanks for the laugh. GW Bush is the worst for all the right reasons. Obama just happens to be Black, and has had to deal with a racist country that was always simmering under their 'sheets'. No surprise there, either. A disgrace, but no surprise.

    July 2, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
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