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. just me

    Let's be fair. He is not the worst president since WWII. He's the worst president ever.

    July 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. obamination

    obama defines amateur

    July 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  3. Hugh Janus

    Obama should've stopped after one term. His extreme foreign policy weakness, coupled with his total inability to work with Congress has made him the fool on the World stage.

    July 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. tom l

    Watch out. Here it comes If people are take full responsibility for their failures in life, then why do you attach so much blame to the President for people failing to find jobs, for the economy having such a slow recovery. You said don't give the President credit for one's personal success, that you should take credit yourself. So, why blame the President for one's personal failures when you say that we should take responsibility for failures?

    Don't say that I didn't warn you that a wise man wouldn't touch the question?


    So, we are all responsible for ourselves and our own success. I have never attributed my PERSONAL success or failures to a president. Do I attach peoples failures of finding a job to the president? On a personal, individual basis, no (there are exceptions to that, for instance by putting restrictions or standards to a particular industry, the president can positively or negatively affect that industry/area – like coal or healthcare or a small business). The president sets the tone for the economic environment and can make it more difficult or more easy for someone to have a job. The proof is in the pudding. Our labor force participation rate is at an all time low. Income levels are down. I believe that is due to new regulations and rules that have been put in place such as the ACA, the Dodd-Frank Act, his refusal to allow for true/real drilling here so we can produce oil here and get out of the middle east. These are all conditions that have been laid upon business here that have made it more difficult. So, ultimately, it's up to the individual. But the president's economy is terrible and there is just no getting around that no matter how many times you try to peddle the unemployment numbers or jobs gained. They are tragic numbers and this is the weakest "recovery" we have ever seen. This awful economy is on Obama due to the decisions he has made. Ultimately, on a micro basis it is up to the individual. On a macro basis, it's on our govt to set the conditions for economic prosperity and he has failed miserably at that because he has inserted govt more.

    July 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. matkins4268

    not worth commenting on HE SUCKS .....DAMN LOSER

    July 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. The Truth Hurts

    It says a lot about a man when Jimmy Carter AND Richard Nixon rank lower on the detest-ometer...

    July 2, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. horseman

    he should have been jailed when he lied to America about WMD'S and invaded Iraq.

    July 2, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. 7light

    Americans now know more than ever the House Republicans in Congress as the most important problem facing the country than to name any other specific problem.

    July 2, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  9. Donna

    I guess this pretty much tells us why Obama will NOT be campaigning with Democrats running for re-election in November!! Come on you wimps!!! Don't desert your leader now in his time of need!! Invite him to campaign, hold him tight, nice BIG hug and hold it long enough to get some good pictures. And if you don't do this well then you must all be racists!

    July 2, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. zorg

    Obama should've stopped after one term. His extreme foreign policy weakness, coupled with his total inability to work with Congress has made him the fool on the World stage.

    Obama is a front man, not a leader. He has no depth. America is tired of Obama's blame-shifting and lack of results.

    July 2, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  11. Ling

    Brian from DC

    I love the nerve of the people who voted for George W. Bush TWICE to talk about Obama being a bad President!

    If you remember part of Bush's base turned on him. You left wingers are such zealots Obama has free reign to do any nutty thing he wants and still gets praised. Either way this article is hilarious and refreshingly truthful - haha.

    July 2, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  12. rrock

    I don't like Obama but how can you say he is worse than Bush who started 2 wars under false pretenses, spent 2 trillion on wars that destabilized Iraq, and ran up huge deficits during a strong economy. It was Cheney who said that deficits don't mater. And Bush administration advocated imprisonment without trial and torture.

    And tell me again why Regan was a good president other than the fact we have largely forgotten his presidency.

    July 2, 2014 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  13. jrm03063

    It's no fun being President when the financial and political bills arrive for previous misadventures. I remain a loyal and committed fan of this President. Indeed – the light cast upon the GOP during this administration convinces me that I have nothing in common with that party, nor will I ever.

    July 2, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. kathy

    Who in the world did Quinnipiac poll white men. Obama will probably turn out to be one of are best presidents for just putting up with all those arrogant close minded white congress men. I am white and they are an insult to my intelligence and morals.

    July 2, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  15. foxghostwriter

    Well, he is working with the worst congress in history......sounds about right.

    July 2, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  16. str009

    Obama is and has been the best choice. All the alternatives, especially the republicans and their plans and candidates, were much worse. At home Obama is confronted by a political opposition with nothing to offer the American people except the only alternative after they have intentionally damaged the country so they can blame the "guy in charge." Overseas, ancient warring reilgious sects have presented the world with only bad choices. It is no "failure of leadership" in the United States that has resulted in Mideast violence; show me one president whose "leadership" brought peace? It's easy to complain. 'Tougher to offer better alternatives. I support Obama.

    July 2, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  17. bmullan

    Naah... Obama is just a President stuck with the worst Congress since WW2.

    President's can't legislate or pass laws by themselves. This past 6 years our elected Representatives have absolutely failed the American People and ought to all be ashamed of themselves.

    July 2, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  18. Leonard Kovish

    I think this article cadence of objectivity. The CNN/ORC POLL don't describe the percent of the people that participated in for this poll by State. This is important because anybody can think that such data from the CNN/ORC may be obtained just for a specific area where most people sympathy with a specific political party.

    July 2, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  19. Teapot dome, tea bags, what is the difference?

    Nixon by far the worst since G. Washington.
    Then Bush43 tying with Reagan since WW2.
    Harding is a solid contender since WW1.

    Notice the criminals-working-for-fool connection, and all GOP.
    Not much moral ethical behavior, just a mob of sociopaths.

    July 2, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  20. Eddy

    That poll is a bunch of BS. Bush was no doubt the worst president since WWII. Regan was only the second worst.

    July 2, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  21. Michael

    your suggestion is laughable. I would point out that after Lincoln led this country through it's darkest hour and even after he was assassinated, there were many who tried mightily to vilify him. as you might assume, most were in the press. Obama will go down as one of our finest leaders and those who disagree will end up like those who disparaged Lincoln, in the trash heap of history.

    July 2, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. Ol' Yeller


    "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."

    Hey... is there a prize for the most racist, ignorant, nonsensical post?
    If so, I nominate this lady. She accuses J Kay of racism in the middle of their racist rant (and that is ALL it was... a rant )
    My guess is this one of the 'illegals' who love reagan because they got to become a 'Merican after the amnesty he granted. Therefore like any good rightie, she wants to benefit from the system and then yank the rug out from under anyone else trying to better themselves.
    I'll bet she attends Church every Sunday, too and prays for the little immigrant children who arrived here trying to escape the horrors of their country to die.
    I just LOVE the righties on here who in the midst of their vodka and prescription medication induced babble, where they think they are sounding intelligent, end up showing just how ignorant and racist they really are.
    Cheers there Waaaahnito, hope your guvmint check gets there before the liquor store closes.

    July 2, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. Yen M

    Before anyone can say that President Obama is the worst Pres?? Examine yourselves first! I bet you don't even know how to tie your own shoes! The president is just doing his best to uplift this country from a total loss!
    God bless you, Mr. President! God bless us all!

    July 2, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Ted

    All libs do is blame others for their failings.

    Note, even Bill Clinton said Libs caused this 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,"

    Not only did President Clinton warn DEMs to stop destroying the housing market giving houses to those that could not afford it but President George Bush warned Libs over 12 times !

    But the LIBs did it anyway and now all they do is blame GW, nice for them but not true!!

    July 2, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    tom l posted:

    You might want to read again, dear Rudy. You are the one that said "I'm not insinuating anything.... ...
    You would be best served by re-reading what you posted. You're the one who accused me of making insinuations, and I simply denied it. You're digging yourself in real deep here, tom.

    "tom l wrote: July 1, 2014 01:30 pm:

    Do you have any intellectual honesty, Rudy? Any at all? Are you really trying to insinuate that the TEA Party are big spenders? ... blah ... blah ...
    A wise man would stay out of this losing argument, tom. I'm not insinuating anything. Tony D laid out his definition of who is responsible for a budget, and I applied it for him. Don't blame me because his own argument blew up in his face."

    Here, let me rub it your face so that you don't miss it, anymore.
    "Are you really trying to insinuate that the TEA Party are big spenders?"

    July 2, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
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