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. Jeff

    There are a bunch of Americans with newly acquired health care and about 100,000 dead Iraqis who would beg to differ.

    July 2, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  2. Frank Tremile

    Most Americans don"t understand how the American political system works so its pretty easy to point at Obama instead of the nasty GOP senate handcuffing him at every turn. Also the GOP did an excellent smear champagne on the healthcare system that confused and spread wide untruths about it so that people were not for it.... they didn't even know why they weren't for it; and it they did know, they were wrong. Better off with Romney, HA! You want more poverty, you want more war, you want more 1%?

    July 2, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. anarchy_now

    The real worst president since WWII is Ronald Reagan. Most of our economic problems today began from his policies. Too bad the sheep refuse to see that.

    July 2, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. Barry Boy

    Sad, angry and hateful man......who surrounds himself in childhood with muslims, jumps to a so called Christian church that preaches....God Damn America......hangs with the murderer psychopath Bill Ayers........and has a following of the brilliant leaders from NOW and Hollywood.

    July 2, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. John

    I would actually rate Obama the best. Saved the country from another Great Depression, saved GM, and finally made some big steps toward fixing the disastrous U.S. health care system. Bush is clearly the worst, but followed closely by Reagan. Reagan, more than any other president, destroyed the middle class by his attacks on labor unions and his tax cuts that favored mainly the rich. Reagan was an excellent politician, but a terible president.

    July 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  6. GenPatton

    Wow, oh how the anointed one has fallen. Hopefully the American voters will pay attention to this.

    July 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. ted

    yet another rightwing poll underwritten by the KOCH Brothers. Blah blah blah.

    July 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  8. cesan

    Funny, I have never been polled on anything! Who are they asking????????????

    July 2, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  9. oilman

    as expected – we tried to warn all of you lovesick democraps!

    July 2, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. Herbal Tea

    It's possible the poll only reflects half of the George W. Bush presidency. If they were to ask about the actual joint presidency of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, I don't think this would fair well for Bush/Cheney.

    July 2, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. just saying

    Slapsie Maxie
    Further evidence that America gets dumber by the day

    i came to this conclusion when obama was re-elected. but i had to write it off because the american people were lied to so much by obama, the democrats and the media. if they elect another democrat in 2016 then it really does mean a majority of the country is just plain stupid.

    July 2, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  12. C M Tollefson

    I always see these polls – nobody asked me. I like him – I would give that honor to George W, R Reagan etc – if congress would try to do something other than criticize the president maybe something could be done. They seemed determined to make it their priority to go against any good the man does.

    Thank you Mr President for being our President.

    July 2, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  13. Niswander

    This sounds and looks like a school with a political slant that is obvious. In the U.S anyway, Reagan is overrated in practically every poll for one thing and Bush II is rated low because it's obvious...even conservatives were frustrated at least until President Obama came along. No discussion about Bush is really needed as far as that goes. This poll is just the same old propaganda. Yawn. Next!

    July 2, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. LarryO

    National poll? 1400 people conducted by Quinnipiac College? Your leanings and lack of journalistic professionalism are showing.

    July 2, 2014 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  15. oilman

    to all of you non-believers – the facts speak for themselves – absolute worst in 100 years!

    July 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  16. Hussein

    Hi Hussein,

    Been hanging around Bill Ayers, your old murdering buddy recently. How about the right reverend Wright who yells from the pulpit of Christ, God Damn America. Oh, I do admire who you hang with. Oh especially the uplifting sleaze bags from the entertainment industry who hang there riches around their necks and homes to their own condemnation.

    July 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  17. Sarah H

    He's going to go down in history as one of our best Presidents. People have such short memories. They forget that he pulled us out of an extreme downward economical spiral that had been cause by the previous president. For that I am forever grateful. He inherited a war in two mideast countries that were not of his making and handled them well. He's been hampered by a contrarian congress determined not to cooperate with him, to the detriment of the whole country. He's overseen massive health reform. I've directly benefitted from it. His biggest problem has been that of people who can't stand him because of his skin color, not because of his politics.

    July 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  18. Chris T

    Ol' Yeller

    "tom l

    I would just love to see you call me 'a boy' to my face.
    You'd be crying more than do in your posts (if that is possible)
    Wow Tom I, you really stepped in it from Ol' Smeller lol. My experience shows me that folks who "threaten" others on an anonymous ticker are in fact the biggest cowards of them all.

    July 2, 2014 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. dru

    If you're white, or a child of the old guard, of course he is the worst president ever. Obama represents everything that racist whites in America stand against...someone of another race other than theirs in the big chair. I hear them rail against it on a daily basis that the race card is always played if you don't like Obama. Well, there are a lot of things that I don't like about him but when I dig deep inside, I know it's because I want him to be stronger in the face of congress. However, if all these people who don't like him do the same digging, I would bet the house that it goes back to what their fathers didn't like about him...his race

    July 2, 2014 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  20. codee88

    Wait... here comes his pivot

    July 2, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  21. oilman

    hard to deny the truth – read the facts

    July 2, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  22. alf564

    to tstorm92

    I would never guess that you are a FLAMING LIBERAL that listens to what Obama says but buries in a hole the things that he does , has done, and will do...

    July 2, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Craig Yoshioka

    He's far from perfect, but I'd be willing to bet $1000 that history will look back on Obama rather favorably. Top 15 in 10-20 years wouldn't surprise me.

    July 2, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. Salty Bob

    Wow the hate for him is tangible, the hate for immigrants is tangible, the hate for equal pay and rights is tangible, the hate for LGP is tangible. This is the new GOP Republican Tea Party, (HATE). GOP Congress = do nothing, pass no law that would help the American people or any democrat especially the POTUS. GOP also = waste as much money on phony baloney scandals to make it seem like were doing something. Now the threat of a lawsuit really. The Republican party and its cronies as well as the Tea Party are criminals and need to be charged with Treason.

    July 2, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  25. it must be said

    The real worst president since WWII is Ronald Reagan. Most of our economic problems today began from his policies. Too bad the sheep refuse to see that.

    OMG!! The guy hasn't been in office for TWENTY SIX YEARS!!! His policies saved the country from Jimmy Carter. Do you not remember the 21% mortgage rates back then?!

    If what you say is true, then why didn't Bill Clinton immediately change or repeal them during his eight years in office, or Obama during his soon to be 8 years? It is just scary how far out of touch with reality lefties are.

    July 2, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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