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. bobo

    Why stop at WWII? How about....... EVER?

    July 2, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  2. HRC16

    Yes John King the numbers could shift dramatically as America realizes just how great a President, President Obama is. CNN has done a wonderful keeping every controversy inflamed while failing to inform on any. Name one policy that Mitt Romney indorsed which would led anyone to believe he would be a better president.

    July 2, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  3. Anthony

    so when your done looking at the numbers and filter out the BS from the article, it boils down to one thing, the country is still in a hyper-partisan divide and these numbers should be read as such. that being said, we have had the worst two presidents in the history of our nation back to back from opposing sides of the political spectrum the one from the retarded right was so bad, the very next election we elected one just as bad from the retarded left! Wake up America!!!! when will you re-learn that Compromise is not a dirty word, but the saving grace of our nation! both Extremes need to put in a corner and ignored for the good of the nation!

    July 2, 2014 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. WB

    Our country could use some work on history knowledge.

    July 2, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. Sonny

    Jimmy Carter was the worst, then Nixon, Obama and George W Bush. Also, people forget that John Kennedy was really responsible for escalating the Vietnam conflict but his death put Johnson in that hot seat.

    July 2, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  6. Robert

    He makes the criminal Nixon look like a saint. He makes the fool Carter look like an international relations genius. He makes bad decisions of Bush look like keen political calculus. Worst President since the founding of this Great Nation.

    July 2, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  7. menoc

    Well, If Hilary wins the presidency, then will know how bogus this poll is. Won't we?

    July 2, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  8. Tom

    Obama may be the worst President since World War II for several reasons: He promotes internal conflict between our citizens, oversteps the Constitution, and has created a culture of toxic cynicism in Washington.

    July 2, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  9. LOL

    this is so useless.

    July 2, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  10. john

    Worst in U.S. history

    July 2, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  11. Howard

    These kinds of polls only serve to reflect the current mood of the country, and are not a realistic reflection of whether the assessment of where any President will ultimately be judged. For example, for years, many people regarded Harry Truman as a disaster as President only to later decide he was pretty darn good. The same is true of Jimmy Carter.

    In truth, most Americans have little appreciation for how much any President is a victim of events beyond his or the U.S.' ability to control. We can fairly judge a President by things he did (Was the Iraq invasion really necessary or beneficial?), but it's a lot harder to judge them by what they decided NOT to do, such as Obama's active refusal to put American troops and support into every foreign situation that comes up. Judging those kinds of decisions takes the passage of years to properly assess their wisdom or lack thereof.

    July 2, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. LOL

    Come on, everyone who has some brains knows that W. was the worst of the worst. The white stuff that builds on your lips when you are really thirsty is better then W.

    July 2, 2014 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  13. bobo

    I think the worst part about Obama is the LYING!!!!

    July 2, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  14. James Jameson

    Come on, everyone who has some brains knows that W. was the worst of the worst. The white stuff that builds on your lips when you are really thirsty is better then W.

    July 2, 2014 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. Hogarth

    Just proves that people are fools.

    July 2, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  16. Rod

    If Romney had been elected people would have been saying the country would be better off with Obama as President. Voters are fickle and only see what is directly in front of them at the moment. Politicians know this, and have become experts at creating as much chaos as possible so they can continue do what they do best: suck up as much money as possible while doing as little as possible. It doesn't matter who is President of who controls Congress, they will continue to fight with each other to create a smokescreen for their own corruption. Keep everyone angry and the politicians laugh all the way to the bank.

    July 2, 2014 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  17. pkMyt1

    Nixon or Bush Jr. The first was a power hungry crook but he did do some good. The second never really wanted to be President and never had a plan of what he wanted to do. Ok, Bush.

    July 2, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. Patrish

    Who really care. Each president makes decision we don't like. The historians will decide – polls mean little. Just a way for us to express an opinion.

    July 2, 2014 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. JustRight

    Is this a serious question? Obama is without a doubt the worst by every measurement. When 84% of the population thinks a person is a liar it doesn't get much worse.

    July 2, 2014 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. ES

    It is not the question of whether Obama is the worst president, it is a question of why after WW2 the US had so many bad president. Which one was worse than the other is immaterial, most of them were bad.
    Out of the last few, Regan was OK, Bush I was mediocre, Clinton was good, and Bush II and Obama both horrible.

    July 2, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  21. Jim in PA

    Because if there is one reliable source of accurate historical perspective, it is surely the average, randomly selected American.

    July 2, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  22. Glenn

    It is easy to MAKE a bad president by refusing to work with him. He then doesn't get anything done and you can point to how bad he is.

    July 2, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  23. Mike

    Worst president ever is more like it. He is truly an amateur.

    July 2, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  24. Joshua

    I think a condition of being allowed to name the worst president since World War II should be the ability to name every president since World War II. FDR to Obama. I have a feeling that many of those choosing Bush or Obama might not be able to do so.

    July 2, 2014 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  25. ironwolf56

    The media bought and paid for his re-election, now it's even biting THEM in the rear

    July 2, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
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