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.

[twitter-follow screen_name='politicalticker'][twitter-follow screen_name='psteinhausercnn']

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. kr34t0r

    This is not that surprising. About 15% of people believe he's the antichrist so that should tell you something about the "enlightened" opinions of many.

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

    He's not the worst President since WWII, just the darkest-skinned....

    July 2, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  3. John

    Everybody knows GW was the worst president ever!!!!!

    July 2, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  4. Bush

    REALLY!!! This poll is NONSENSE!!!

    July 2, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. Cmon Man

    I'll tell you why Obama is number one, ahead of GW. If Obama had been in the White House on 9/11, we would have issued a pathetic apology to Al Qeada and all Muslims around the world, and been subsequently shocked that attacks against us only increased in scale and severity. I'm still waiting for one Obama policy or foreign policy decision to be the correct one in hindsight.

    July 2, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  6. Dallas

    What part of east Texas and rural Kansas did these 1400 people come from? This poll is just ridiculous and our country would be better served if pollsters were outlawed. Part of the excitement of the poiltical process used to be going to vote and then waiting to see the outcome without pollsters or pundits telling us what was going to happen. Barack Obama is NOT the worst President since WWII – his predecesor by far was worse!

    July 2, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  7. JR

    By any reasonable metrics (including his own), Obama is a failed president. He had complete control (filibuster proof super majority) of congress for 2 years. His landmark legislation (ACA) is a mess and still not fully implemented (more mess to come). The middle east is on fire. The economy is in shambles. Even he said he would have the economy below 6% unemployment in 4 years and we are at 6 years and it has never come close. The only credit he is due is improving rights for the LGBT community, which is commendable. But we hired him for more, we hired him because he said he could be successful, and by all metrics he has not performed. Worst president ever, no doubt.

    July 2, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Clearly, as you can see between Rudy and me, it was Rudy who was confused and forgot what he typed.

    Clearly you and Rudy need to get a room and work it out between yourselves.

    July 2, 2014 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  9. Tommy G

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

    Then Hillary & Bill Clinton also lied about WMDs in Iraq as well. As did many other Democrats, other foreign leaders and intelligence agencies.

    Obama should have been jailed when he lied to the entire country about something very personal to each and every one of us, our healthcare. He was voted Liar of the Year. Had he not spoken all those lies, and the press repeated them over and over with fact checking them, Obamacare never would have passed and this country would have had a decent chance at a good economic recovery.

    July 2, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  10. WackAmole

    Obama is one of the BEST Presidents the USA has ever had ... Wake up America.

    July 2, 2014 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. GOP FAIL

    Reagan and Bush = BOTH LIARS

    July 2, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  12. K Acc

    Are you kidding me? This poll is the biggest piece of crap I have ever seen.

    July 2, 2014 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. henryk8675309

    This poll literally accomplishes nothing useful.

    First of all its entirely subjective. Literally. The questions on the poll simply ask you who you think the worst president is. How do you even define the "worst president"? The irony is that the American public faults the presidents they vote into office. Its not that they are "so bad", its just that our society is so critical and whiny. Notice how the two most hated presidents have come one right after the other...Bush as a Republican, Obama as a Democrat. The US has nobody to blame but themselves.

    July 2, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  14. kurt


    This is not that surprising. About 15% of people believe he's the antichrist so that should tell you something about the "enlightened" opinions of many.

    How very "Obama" of you. Poll didn't produce the desired results? Blame the respondents!

    July 2, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  15. Clint

    Dumb poll. The current president, whoever he is, will lead.

    July 2, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Breath Conserver

    Pointless waste of time. Halfway through the next guy or lady, it'll come up and that poor soul will be the worst ever. How about some real stuff, CNN, instead of this time waster?

    July 2, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. Chris

    Absolutely ridiculous. The current president, no matter who it is, is almost always going to take the top in a poll like this. People answer based on political feelings.

    July 2, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. Mariaam

    I think the surveys was just with Republicans The President Obama is doing a good job.

    July 2, 2014 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. peabody3000

    while i doubt this survey is accurate, i understand the american public is lamentably uninformed about the real politics taking place. i fault obama for some things but i never forget how the GOP has sabotaged absolutely everything it can, and has a great deal of power in getting their version of the political storytelling done. george w bu$h on the other hand allowed 911 to happen and then cooked up a fraudulent war doomed to failure that obama is dealing with at this very minute. that makes w bu$h a war criminal and a traitor, regardless of the fact that i actually voted for him in 2000. meanwhile obama is being chased by an organized tar and feather crowd for benghazi and IRS "scandals" that are no more real than the fake evidence bu$h used to draw us into iraq

    July 2, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  20. tallulah131

    This poll says more about Americans than it does about our President. President Obama will never succeed because he was never the liberal messiah he was presented as by both sides. He's probably exactly what our country needed - a deliberate moderate who prefers to think before acting - but the American mentality screams for knee-jerk reaction. Until Americans figure out that destroying things is easy and fixing things is hard and requires time, effort and sacrifice, we will never fix what is wrong with this country.

    July 2, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  21. Bob

    Liberals: A poll is important and revealing... unless I don't agree with the results.
    If you really want a distorted poll, ask only the clueless left wing loons who pollute this comment section every day.

    July 2, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. Andrea

    How many people participated in this poll. I know I didn't

    July 2, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. CrashMan

    I'm guessing most of the people polled can't even name the presidents we've had since WWII, much less rate them.

    July 2, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. BADGUY

    Hey...in a divided political electorate, like we've NEVER had before (other than maybe during the Civil War) OF COURSE close to 50% of Americans would call him the WORST President. BUT....that DOESN'T mean he'd NOT win the 2012 election again..because ANOTHER 50% would say he's the BEST President we've ever had (or, at least, BETTER than any Republican alternative).

    July 2, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  25. Teddy Cruzz

    George Bush has the worst president trophy on his mantle and is not giving it up.

    July 2, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42