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. chosenbygrace

    Stupid liberals are the other half that won't admit he's terrible out of pride. Pride comes before a fall liberals, stop lying to save face.

    July 2, 2014 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  2. Jim Piani

    People in this country are very immature when it comes to politics. W was the worst without a doubt!!! Reagan was next!!! Obamanation is really making a great effort to make W look good!!!

    July 2, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  3. Kippen (Portland, Oregon)

    In foreign affairs a lot of it has to do with the expectations of the American people. When a foreign leader or terrorist group does something that is clearly a violation of international law or a war crime we expect the President of the United States to both notice and take effective action. Recently President Putin ordered the invasion of Crimea by Russian troops and took it for Russia and ISIS and ISIL invaded Iraq and took major cities (Mosul, Tal Afar, Fallujah and Tikrit) that we spent a lot of treasure and lives securing. My sons have served as US Army officers in Afghanistan and Iraq combat on three tours. President Obama in each instance first went on vacation and golfed and then took no effective action that would reverse the course of events. To me that is not acceptable for the leader of the free world. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue but a leadership issue and frankly I have seen very little in the way of leadership from Obama since he became President six years ago. If he were being graded on a report card for his effectiveness in addressing major crisis in the world I would give him a "D."

    July 2, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  4. paul maney

    I was talking about this in my American history class today. The right-wing media did their best to turn Reagan into a demi-god the minute he left office, but let's not forget that he presided over the most corrupt administration in US history with over 130 of his official either being convicted, indicted, or leaving office under a cloud. The "Teflon presidensity" lives on. Anyone ever heard of Iran-Contra?

    July 2, 2014 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Miso

    The Empty Chair turned out to be just a stool after all

    July 2, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  6. The GOP need to pack up and leave

    Bush is the worst. Hands down, the absolute worst. Obama will go down in history as one of the better presidents.

    July 2, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  7. michael

    The current resident of 1600 Penn Ave takes the cake....Clinton learned his lesson when he lost the house...first time in decades. Obama lost big in 2010 and thought , full steam ahead. The guy IS NOT a leader because for one, he's never lead anything in his life. Hey America, surprise!! 8 wasted years...is it 2016 yet?

    July 2, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. notblind

    Best president since Andrew Jackson. Just my opinion.

    July 2, 2014 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  9. Jerry Okamura

    I will wait an let he historians make that call.

    July 2, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  10. Jeff

    The younger Bush

    July 2, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  11. Jen

    Obviously that would happen with the recency effect. A more meaningful poll would be to ask the same question about presidents from over a century ago.

    July 2, 2014 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  12. Chris

    Who does phone interviews? Those with a lot of time on their hands and those with land lines. Gee, I wonder what demographic this skews too. The older generation who mostly lean conservative.

    July 2, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  13. 7light

    Fact is that Americans have reacted negatively toward House Republican politicians' in Congress inability to work together to find solutions to challenging issues facing this nation.

    July 2, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  14. James Klimaski

    This type of poll is meaningless. Worst in what way? The question does not provide any definition. Also, when you consider that more than half the population can even name their Senators or Representative, what makes the pollster think these people could independently name all the U.S. Presidents since the end of WWII? Stupid poll and stupid pollsters.

    July 2, 2014 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. ct

    the state of which our nation was in after G.W. Bush finished his second term was in shambles and I dont think anyone else could handle the pressure of taking the hot seat than Obama who had the roughest person to follow up on . Plus... this is the year 2014....and to have so much opposition within our own gov't because of republicans and how they try to brain wash americans to go against other americans is just sick .... i think we would be much worse of Romney was the face of our nation

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  16. 7light

    Fewer Americans than ever trust House Republicans in Congress to Handle Problems.

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. Joe B.

    Since WW II, how about WORST EVER....

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  18. joe

    Obama without question is the worst president of all time. America could have selected a crackhead from a corner street in NY City and got better results. This nation is screwed.

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  19. NorCal Curtis

    No surprise that the Obama trolls are posting in force here. Please pull your head out of the sand! Your guy is an arrogant unqualified fool who is mocked and ridiculed on a global scale!!! He stands for only what is popular at the moment and has failed to do anything he promised. Hope and Change – Remember that? The most transparent presidency in history – Remember that? I’ll close Guantanamo – Remember that? I will work tirelessly to restore American’s image and its leadership in the world – Remember that? But if you’re the true Kool-Aid drinker you’ll blame the Republican’s for blocking everything (every though he had his majority for the first two years and only passed the single largest tax increase in the history of the country known as the ACA/Obamacare). He did not “pull us back from the abyss” as Barbara would like you to believe. Unemployment is 6. whatever, BUT THE LABOR PARTICIPATION RATE IS THE LOWEST SINCE CARTER! 37% of adults in America who could work and are out of unemployment benefits aren’t working!!!! My god people, only 1.9 of every 3 adults has a job… WAKE UP! It’s not W’s fault… He’s been gone for over half a decade! How long before Obama can stand without being propped up on his own record? My guess is never as you clowns continue to follow your deity blindly.

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. ellid

    Anyone who thinks that Obama is as bad as Bush II, who lied us into two unfunded wars, sent the budget into orbit, allowed evangelical Christianity to infiltrate our government, and ignored multiple warnings about 9/11, is delusional. They also seem to have forgotten that Richard Nixon even existed.

    What a crock of owl poop.

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. Julie

    To Zactaps – Yea, because we are all racist. Does that mean black people are racists because they didn't like W?

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  22. Lily

    Those who took this poll are as stupid as my lovely small puppy, which pees on my sofa and doesn't think that I have to sit on it. Pres. Obama was elected and re-ected, how come that he becomes the worst President ever. Do People think he was good at his first term and now he is the worst person ever? Sorry, I do not buy your poll. Am ready to throw away this poll together with my little puppy which annoys me a lot and don't see the use of it or rather don't make sense at all to me.

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Joe

    How about WORST EVER....

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  24. average joe

    People seem to forget that Obama had both the house and the senate his first two years in office and he still could not get anything done. Then in 2012 he lost the house, a man once said, "elections have consequences" He has reaped what he has soed

    July 2, 2014 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  25. MarkWisdom

    "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."

    Funny, the more we get to know the real Obama, the better we like Bush!

    July 2, 2014 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
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