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. kurt

    I pretty much agree with what you said vaughndk, but this is CNN so you have to play by the rules. If you're a Republican who recognizes the chosen one's incompetence, then you're a racist. If you happen to recognize it as a Democrat then you have to find someone else to blame for it. There is no in between!

    July 2, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  2. jhonnyausemkock

    I think it's a three-way cage match between Jimmy "Wake me when it's over" Carter, George W "duh" Bush, and Barack "The Lie Juggler" Obama. I'd pay 45 bucks for that PPV.

    July 2, 2014 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  3. Bob

    CNN reported this on their web site but no discussion on the so called News Network. Guess it is hard to spin in Obama's favour. Wonder if Cross fire will force their own liberal opinions to make this go away.

    July 2, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. otlset

    Correction; he's the WORST president ever!

    "Obama's the worst president ever Jerry, the worst!" - Kenny Banya, at a recent dinner at Mendy's with Jerry Seinfeld.

    July 2, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Jim McDonald

    Anyother President would have been impeached by now for the criminal activity obama has done.

    July 2, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  6. LesterPolyester

    Gotta love people who get all bent out of shape when a poll doesn't agree with their views. It's not crap. It's the way your American neighbors think. The QU poll is one of the most reputable and non-biased in the country. Sorry dissenters, your comments are just sour grapes.

    July 2, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. Gurgyl

    GWBush, then Reagan are the worst and the worst presidents in American History.

    July 2, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  8. TheSadTruth

    What a joke. By what criteria is he judged a failure? Didn't start enough wars? Didn't cater to the rich enough? Cared too much about healthcare for the average person?

    July 2, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. 2Km from Ground Zero

    Obama was just as bad in his first term. But he got RE-ELECTED. What does that tell you about the losers in the GOP clown car? They're going to get Hillary elected and re-elected as well.

    July 2, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  10. Obama - a man of firsts, lasts and worses

    Obama will go down as our first black president, our last black president, our first dictator and our worse President and worse dictator. The man simply doesn't have a clue on what he was elected to do. He campaigned to "fundamentally transform America" but we never thought that would mean destroy the country and our standing abroad.

    July 2, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  11. Adam

    George Bush started two pointless wars, he takes the cake

    July 2, 2014 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  12. kr34t0r


    Did I say something untrue? Nope.

    July 2, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  13. spqrome

    This polling is pointless when you consider the fact that Americans suffer from chronic amnesia. Most of us can't remember what happened two weeks ago let alone what has happened since WW2. There are many variables that should be taken into account when judging who's the worst or best president. More variables than most Americans could intelligently juggle at one time. History will judge this president as not the worst, but possibly the best president in recent history. If for no other reason than the fact that thanks to a hostile and obstructionist GOP, ... he has done more with so little to work with than any other president since possibility Lincoln.

    July 2, 2014 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  14. Bigwilliestyles

    Must be the same pollsters that so correctly forecast the Romney presidental landslide of 2012.

    July 2, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  15. Louis Smith

    Just wondering, did any of you guys ever hear of Warren Harding or Howard Taft, and let us not forget U S Grant?

    July 2, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. Argosy3

    Bush was our worst President period! I really have a problem with these negative pollsters anyway who call folks to survey voters and get people who home to begin with .I avoid surveys like the plague because I have a life! This I is disrespected President who was confronted immediately with fabricated Tea Party thanks to Karl Rove and Koch bro. Kudos Mr President for ACA , and minimum wage to name just 2 great things! The right in the Congress have done NOTHING!

    July 2, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. RA

    what a BS poll...I live in the US...how come I wasn't polled?

    July 2, 2014 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Tillydilly477

    Hmmm...I think they polled the Supreme Court also. I would also imagine Bankrupt Detroit and California might have a different point of view today.

    July 2, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. E-Man

    I thought nobody was worse than Carter until Obama came along....

    July 2, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  20. David

    No way to judge...impossible...it is all opinion of some silly poll

    July 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    George W. BUSHHHHHHHHHHh the WORST!!!

    July 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. cesan

    No, he will turn out to be one of the best. This brings out the best in all that are supposed to be "The Best" (our elected officials)

    July 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |

    Thank God Romney didn't become President -what was it, to govern 41% of the people? I'm out of the loop, not a slave to time & unbound of this world's sick illusions, so I predict Barack Obama will go down not as America's 1st Black President, but one of its greatest. One man, one vote.

    July 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. GTS58

    The good news is folks are finally realizing Obama is an unaccomplished, unqualified and incompetent/bumbling POTUS. The bad news is we still have him in office for the next two years!

    July 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  25. tstorm92

    Easily Ronald Reagan was the WORST president since WWII in terms of doing long lasting damage to our country. A very very close second is, of course, George Bush whose admitted lies sent thousands of Americans to a war in Iraq where we didn't belong. A close third is another infamous Republican.... Richard Nixon.

    July 2, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
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