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. Matthew

    The only reason this is an issue is because the house is full racist bigots that refuse to allow any progress to happen because of two reasons, one he is black and two because he is not a republican.

    July 2, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  2. Atul C

    When they don't want arguments in their stories, CNN just refuses to show responsive format of discussions. Pathetic really. Have guts to be a real news channel, not a party spokesperson.

    July 2, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. Ol' Yeller

    Hey, this poll is almost as accurate as the ones which showed romney was going to be our next President.
    In other words.... WRONG.

    July 2, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. DucDave

    He's a direct reflection of the idiots who voted for him!

    July 2, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  5. mstuckonu

    For me it was easily George Bush! Obama, has it hard because of the Repubes, always standing in his way! Which, is not what we hired them to do! Now because they simply refuse to work with him on most matters, either because of his party affiliation or racism, whatever the cause, they need to learn how to compromise! It's ridiculous!

    July 2, 2014 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  6. Tasha

    Didn't they do a survey awhile ago about how most younger and early 30's voters have disconnected landline phones and ONLY use cell phone service? Also said that the people most likely to use landline based phones were older people. Well seeing as how most young voters see through the BS of the Republican Party, and I'm sure they weren't called on their cell phones, I can't really say I'm surprised by the results of this poll. I mean what is the main voting bloc of the GOP? Older white people at the house with landlines answering their phones.

    July 2, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  7. rs

    just asking

    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.

    because congress consists of our elected representatives that obama must work with to get things done. he must be willing to work at finding some sort of consensus, some sort of compromise. obama was elected president, not dictator, leader for life. he has simply refused to negotiate and enforce our laws in good faith. he then goes out and attacks and demonizes the very people he is supposed to be working with to get things done.

    bill clinton had no problem working with and getting things done with a republican congress. but obama somehow can't do it? he just refuses to do it. he's not a leader and has no skills when it comes to building personal relationships.
    Really JS, how does one find consensus with "No!"? McConnell and Boehner met to ensure Obama would be a "one-term" President the day he was inaugurated by constructing a wall of obstruction, lies and filibusters. Face it, the GOP has been on attack obstructing everything- even in cased where the President agreed with them from day one forward. You must remember when McConnell was forced to filibuster his own bill, right?

    As to your insane comment on Bill Clinton- you do remember that Newt Gingrich tried to have him impeached (at the same time he was having an affair and lying about it)?

    Republicans are useless politicians who are simply mad at just how bad the President makes them look. The problem for them is- it sure doesn't take much.

    July 2, 2014 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  8. Larry

    Never ever heard of that poll taker. Must be Facebook pulling a fast one. Wonder how the republican run congress rates? Why haven't they found the 1/3 of the nations wealth they lost. Guess that's not important.

    July 2, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. President Messiah Darkness

    Every single one of these people in this poll will be getting a call from the IRS, FBI and Secret Service. I don't have to put up with this kind of treatment. I am President for Life, Dear Leader, Obama I. I am working on the selection of my hand picked replacement. Malia is looking like she will be next in line, Obama II.

    July 2, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  10. kurt


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

    Gurgyl, please don't use Reagan and Bush's name in the same sentence. Clinton and Reagan are fine. But when you're talking about Bushbama, please, lets keep the comparisons of those two limited to Jimmy Carter.

    July 2, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  11. Danny

    Two comments... first, a poll consisting of around a 1000 individuals, is now speaking for the majority. Wow!! Second, most companies these days are hiring, but thru temp services. And the use of Independent Contractors have gone up. This practice has been on an upswing since 2006. No benefits, seasonal usage, etc. Big business has and will continue to look for ways to save cost. So how can any president in this enviorment, be sucessful in creating jobs?

    July 2, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  12. Scott

    How did everyone's 401K do during the Bush administration compared to Obama? Want to trade results?

    July 2, 2014 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  13. nytww

    Any liberal.

    July 2, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  14. brasstacs

    We don't need polls to tell us that...Obama,.. because of his habitual lying is also the most corrupt president.

    July 2, 2014 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. Beth

    It was pretty close with obama and Carter but with the rolling out of the brown shirts, the winner is obama.

    July 2, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  16. loadmaster3

    First the 2013 LIAR OF THE YEAR award. Now he rated as the worst president since WWII. Barry's lemmings will defend him to the end. I almost feel sorry for them, almost.

    July 2, 2014 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. rs


    Do the wingnuts trying to defend Obama remind anyone else of the tea partiers that used to defend Bush?
    Ummm, Kurt? The TEA Party didn't exist in Bush's day. It was created (like the lunatic Birthers) by the GOP after Obama took office. The only funny thing about that is the TEA Party will be the end of the GOP.

    July 2, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. Mike

    I am black and not one pollster called me.. all that were polled I am sure are white racists... this is irrelevant!

    July 2, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. Erick

    Dear CNN:

    There are other news sources.

    I'll be using them instead.

    July 2, 2014 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. blome republiklans blome

    looks like we added 281,000 private sector jobs in june, Bad President, you would have been more highly thought of if you would have lost 750,000 jobs in june like GWB

    July 2, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. kurt

    "Bush was the worst president!" – You must be a liberal

    "Obama is the worst president!" – You must be a racist

    "They're the same idiot with different letters following their name!" – You must have a clue

    July 2, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    obama clinton carter bush all terrible.

    July 2, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  23. Dan Jenkins

    This list just lets everyone know how retarded American voters really are. Reagan was a terrible president, and Obama has been hamstrung by far right politics.

    July 2, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  24. Melanie

    Last I knew the President of the United States is not a dictatorship. He can't "declare it so." The fact that Obama is unable to get things done speaks to our representatives in Congress who block anything Obama tries to do. We have MANY government officials who are doing nothing rather than trying to work on a problem and reach a compromise. This is not Obama's doing. This is the work of the House of Representatives who are doing nothing but get a paycheck anyway. Blocking EVERYTHING is not going to get our country to better standing.

    July 2, 2014 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  25. Anonymous

    A telephone poll...as in landline...as in old people. Shocking results.

    July 2, 2014 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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