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. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    1400 people out of millions?? And you think this is accurate?

    This wouldn't happen to be one of those that said Mittens would win in a landslide would it? Or that Eric Cantor had it sewn up would it??

    Carry on President Mittens Robme and Eric Cantor approve this message. 👽👽

    July 2, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  2. Adam

    He's still better than GW

    July 2, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  3. ItSoNlYmE

    You can't POSSIBLY be serious? This now ranks as the single stupidest thing I've ever seen on CNN. Great job guys. This is real journalism right here.

    July 2, 2014 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. Loathstheright

    Worst? Bush, he committed treason twice, lied us into a needless unfunded war, kidnapped, tortured, murdered 340 thousand innocent Iraqi men, women and children. Spied without warrants 1 week into office. Let 911 happen on purpose. And then to top it off he nearly destroyed the economy of the entire world, from which we are still trying to climb out of. Yes, Bush was hands down the worst ever.

    July 2, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. RD

    WOW~ what a surprise. Did it really take six years for the Country to realize this?

    July 2, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  6. Dave

    Obama has done an incredible job as president. I applaud him for standing up to the stupid, out of touch, Republicans that have caused our country to go broke with needless wars and utter stupidity. He is the best president we have ever had and history will agree with that. The Republicans complain about everything and do all they can to not support our country and the important issues we face. They complain and condemn but never have a good idea how to fix anything.

    July 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. John Smith

    Only in America! And they wonder why the rest of the world has zero respect for them anymore. If only we had done this boo hoo. Even an idiot american has 20/20 hindsight after the fact. Oh then again maybe not. The problem with Obama is he is smarter than 50% of Americans and that is no good. They love their old guy Bush where just about everyone was smarter than him. You have fallen so far, how far can you go?

    July 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Bigwilliestyles

    So the three confirmed criminal – Nixon (Watergate), Reagan (Iran-Contra, crack in S. Cal.), and Bush (Yellow Cake, outing a CIA agent, WMDs, embezzeling the economy, then stealing trillions from the taxpayers to reimburse the very thieves that crashed the economy in the first place), all were better than an honest man doing an honest job. Who are you people trying to kid?

    July 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. Bart

    I think he's an excellent president and I'd vote for him again.

    He's the worst treated president in history. It's because of his color. Plain and simple.

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

    Most people couldn't tell you when WW2 happened. I'm not going to put faith in them.

    July 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. parker

    How can this be? He didn't allow terrorists to fly into the WTC buildings and the Pentagon. He didn't lie to the American people and then start a war. He didn't borrow so much money from the Chinese to pay for that war that servicing that debt now makes up 40% of American debt. If he is the worst modern day president, 3 things have happened. One, they interviewed only Cheney, Rove and Palin. Two, those interviewed were on really bad drugs or
    three, they interviewed on third graders.

    July 2, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Jerry

    First of all, it's obvious that 0-Bama is the worst president the USA has ever elected. Secondly, no poll needed to be conducted to determine that result. Not only is 0-Bama the worst president, the Bully-in-Chief takes the crown for the most divisive president ever.

    What is really surprising is that my fellow Democrats have put up with His lying/divisive antics for so long.

    Maybe (I am hopeful) my fellow democrats will awake in time!

    Stay tuned...

    July 2, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. kurt

    Do the wingnuts trying to defend Obama remind anyone else of the tea partiers that used to defend Bush? The only difference between the last 2 chumps is the letter that follows their names. Proof positive that incompetence reigns supreme on both sides of the isle. But please, if you like the letter "R" tell me how great Bush was, and lets hear from the D's how great is Obama is. You guys are worse than Obama himself..."its his fault, no it's his fault".

    July 2, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. vns

    I agree 100% with the opinion poll I wish I was also part of the poll

    July 2, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Orygun Duck

    My personal net worth hit a high point last quarter. I am not complaining about the President.

    July 2, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Opal

    Yes Adam I agree with you President Obama is better than GW!!!! Both GWs!!!!

    July 2, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  17. Nowthatisfunny

    I stopped reading when it said worse than NIXON and BUSH.

    This is why you have to be careful about some polls, because there is no way he is worse than Nixon or Bush LOL. Just another fluff piece to help republicans think their party has a future in the White House.

    July 2, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  18. badnews333

    WOW!!! So what does all that mean?

    July 2, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  19. Martin

    I bet people questioned in the survey couldn't even NAME all the President's since World War 2, or tell the surveyor who did what to make them any better or worse than any of the others.

    Many Americans have a hard time remembering who was President before the current one and last one, and certainly don't know which Presidents did what to help or hinder Americans.

    What a ridiculous survey.

    July 2, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  20. Johnny

    I think this has a lot to do with the sign of economic times during which these Presidents governed. The 70's were a time for high gas prices and, eventually, high interest rates. During Bush II, there was an attack on US soil followed by the beginning of a deep recession. Obama presided over much of the length of that recession.
    We like to think the party we don't agree with, when in power, is asleep at the wheel and could have done something to immediately fix it. Complex problems are never solved by unilateral power.

    July 2, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Martin

    Worst since World War 2?

    GERALD FORD.

    July 2, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  22. jrt1098

    NOT only is he the "worst President ever" ... major brands such as CNN, MSNBC, the NY TIMES and ALL of the major news networks that HELPED him get elected have lost ALL credibility with the American public !

    Even BLACKS who supported Obama an astounding 95% percent are recognizing that his radical ideology and sheer incompetence ... is making it harder to elect the NEXT Black President !!!

    CLEARLY ... America was ready to elect it's first Black President ... CLEARLY this was NOT the man for the job !!!

    July 2, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  23. JRCitizen

    How can you guys against Obama talk so much trash when the GOPs in congress say 'NO' to everything he is putting out there especially when it comes to the well-being of the country.

    July 2, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  24. Ted

    LisaP – Right it is easy as the Gov job is to create a fair market place and to go after those individuals breaking the rules. But the left uses a few bad apples to completely take over markets as they redistribute to their supporters and taking money for themselves.

    The fact is government corruption is a much larger problem as they take our money, waste it and pay off their supporters like unions. Then at the end of the day unlike a private business that will go out of business doing such practices you can't even fire the crowny government employees!

    Like the IRS scandal the worst abuse of American citizens civil rights in 40 years, oh those emails just disappeared despite all the laws requiring them to save account for these emails.

    July 2, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  25. Eric

    So many people missing the point. Too caught up in labels.
    Obama is NOT progressive, liberal or socialist. His policies and the people around him are even more radically right than Bush. For example: spying, gangster banks, executive power grabs, illegal wars, drone killings, bribery, whistle blower punishment, pro big business, anti environment, etc. He is just another purchased puppet like all the others these days.
    There is NO real difference in the political parties these days and they are both happy with the status quo.
    We the people need to stop fighting with each other over stupid details and social/religious differences demand real solutions.

    July 2, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
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