July 2nd, 2014
08:36 AM ET
7 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.

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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. Juanito

    Sorry J Kay, you're wrong. America's guilty conscience over race/slavery would've applauded any successes by this lame duck POTUS.

    Instead, we get the high-handed vote on Obamacare, and the long list of other woes that happened on his watch.

    He wanted the job, and he got it.

    Because he's failed miserably, deadheads like yourself play the race card because his supporters are racists. You most likely voted for him because you are black and obviously thought being a community activist is more than qualifying to be prez.

    No pass on that, amigo. Obama has caused more bipartisanship, division and harm to this country than Reagan ever could have.

    Deal with it. Your favorite White House occupier is the worst.

    July 2, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. jombo

    he sucks.... foreign policy, very cool looking but freaking garbage

    theres a difference between likership and leadership.. hes a liker, very weak fellow

    July 2, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Polar Bear

    No kidding! Many of us knew this in 2008. And America elected him. Twice! Big "L."

    July 2, 2014 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  4. The_dude

    Obama the worst president EVER!

    July 2, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  5. gtfohdude

    Oh please. Worst president since World War II? Most Americans don't even know what World War II was about, or when it took place. These polls should be taken with a grain of salt. A more entertaining poll would be to ask random Americans on the street when World War II took place, or what is their understanding or knowledge of World War II. I'm sure that would be very telling.

    July 2, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  6. D Mac Donald

    Absolutely not....Reagan started all this mess by giving breaks to his fat cat friends. Bush II and his imbeciles created such a mess that Obama, nor the next, and even the next after him, will be unable to fix this mess. The frightening rise of the oligarch and the failure of government to accept any kind of regulation places us on a collision course with chaos and mayhem....sad

    July 2, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  7. Ol' Yeller

    All these problems happen because today far left rejects personal responsibility and think the can just use wealth redistribution to fix everything. WRONG – just let the market work fairly for everyone and get out of the way!

    All these problems happen because today's far right rejects personal responsibility and think the can just steal all the wealth from the working and middle classes by purchasing ALL the congressmen in the gop (who are ALL for sale to the highest bidder) in a brazen effort to steal our Country with the help of the Kool Aid drinkers. WRONG – just put the tax code back to pre- reagan days, i.e.... tax fairly, cut the bloated military budget and get out of the way!


    'Free Market' in republicant speak is I could sell you catburgers and call them beef and no one will be the wiser if those pesky Health Dept. Socialist Tyrants would quit fining me.

    July 2, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  8. Truthteller

    Obama has not been a great president, but the worst president since WWII was Bush/Cheney (Cheney was at least much president as Bush). It isn't even close.

    July 2, 2014 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  9. jim

    In my book, "W" still ranks as the worst President of the last 50 years. He was essentially Cheney's puppet, and cost the US thousands of dead soldiers and Trillions of Dollars in the unnecessary Iraq War. He also left the financial markets in shambles and drove the economy into the ground with his fantasy about the trickle down theory of economics which basically helped his fat cat friends at the expense of the American People. People have very short memories.

    July 2, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  10. TT

    CNN you should be slapped with a fine for posting a poll that in no way represents the opinion of the people. Quite honestly, you're starting to sound like Fox News. I think it's time for you to just be quiet and quit talking.

    July 2, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. bdc

    More like...since the Revolutionary War.

    July 2, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Ken

    He's the best President according to those on the public dole!

    July 2, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. david

    the writer of this article is a republican. so I'm not surprised.

    July 2, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. D Mar

    Eisenhower definitely deserves to be ahead of Reagan.

    July 2, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. RC

    "President Barack Obama tops the list of the worst presidents since World War Two, according to a new national poll.

    And the survey, released..........."

    I agree with the first statement but the start of the second sentence shows me that before the survey was written a decision was made to look for a results that fit the survey writers premises.
    A similar survey written by a liberal would show the opposite results.

    July 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. Dead Bear

    If I had been asked to take this survey (I was not because I'm not so old that I still own a land line), I would have given them my top 3 in order...

    1) Ronald Reagan

    2) George W. Bush

    3) Richard Nixon

    I know I just committed blasphemy by naming Republican Jesus #1 on my list, but the man seriously was terrible. Only in a political party so naive can the truly ignorant revere a man responsible for the economic downfall of the middle class in this country. And what's worse, they praise the Gipper like he was some genius when in alll reality the man was mentally incapacitated even before he left office... They say hindsight is 20/20. I'm thinking in the case of Republicans, hindsight is more like what you see after dropping a ten strip of LSD or snorting an 8-ball of coke. Nothing but hallucinations because they can't deal with reality.

    July 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Lisa P


    All these problems happen because today far left rejects personal responsibility and think the can just use wealth redistribution to fix everything. WRONG – just let the market work fairly for everyone and get out of the way!
    July 2, 2014 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm

    And what if the market doesn't work "fairly"? What about the cheaters who use their money and power to break the rules that everyone has agreed to? Where is your "personal responsibility" then? Or do you think that the criminals should just police themselves? Because psychopathic oligarchs are so well know for their social conscience and sense of fair play.

    More Saturday morning kiddy cartoon nonsense.

    July 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. TonyInNYC

    America's worst president ever was James Buchanan. In 20 years Obama will look better than he does today.

    July 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  19. BADGUY

    Oh...I HOPE the Republicans "buy into" this poll and convince Romney to run against Hillary. We'll have ANOTHER "slam dunk" in 2016!

    July 2, 2014 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  20. Baal

    Nope, Obama didn't get 5000 American Soldiers KILLED based on LIES......

    Obama didn't raise the deficit by $1 trillion for a 2 Front War paid for on CREDIT!!

    Obama hasn't divided the country like GW Smirk did, The GOP thru their inaction is what has divided the country and stalled our recovery...

    July 2, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. fatlip

    Reagan was the worst, his policies are what eventually destroyed America and have helped the 1% control our lives. W is second worst followed by Nixon.

    July 2, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  22. Nodack

    Every US President is considered the worst of all time by the other party. The next President will be called the worst of all time and just like Bush Obama's numbers will start to cheap up after he is gone. Obama has been my favorite President of all time mostly because Republicans hate him so much. If Obama decided to be against abortions and decided to fight against them I guarantee a lot of Republicans would switch their stance on the issue and be for abortions just to spite Obama. If Obama said he wanted to cut taxes for all Americans the Republican Party would be forced to fight to raise taxes out of spite. If Obama cured all cancers overnight except lung cancer the FOX headline would read "Obama throws lung cancer patients under the bus and hates America". If Obama said he likes his black limo he rides in Republicans would call him a liar and say it was a dark charcoal color not black and then call him a racist for driving in a black limo.

    July 2, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. Matt

    I agree, but heaven forbid Hillary runs, and worse yet gets elected somehow. She will no doubt take Obamas place.

    July 2, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. Cory111

    All of this moaning and groaning from posters that never had it so good. You set at your little keyboard pecking away with a full stomach, a roof over your head and medical care because Obama made it possible for you to be on your parents plan.
    A cold cup of coffee and half a day work would have you on the way to ER.

    July 2, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. mikeysrant

    Let's pick the guy that hasn't even finished his first term in the Senate, has no executive leadership experience whatsoever and, oh by the way, no blood relatives around that anybody can actually talk to. Well, here you go.

    Picking the outsider is a great idea but next time let's pick one that has been a mayor or managed a Wal-Mart, not just some activist who sounds real good.

    July 2, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
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