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. Quixote

    What horse crap. How stupid are people anyway? Do they not remember that the previous president turned a massive surplus into massive deficits in one short year? Or that he botched the response to 9/11 AND started an illegal disaster of a war? The things some people think are wrong about our President are fictions, and if they actually read the stories about unfit mitts plans for governing that got into the press after the election it would make their skin crawl. History will show bush as the worst president since buchanan, and Obama will historically end up in the top 25%

    July 2, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  2. Jim in PA

    I'm surprised that all of the southern traitors surveyed didn't choose Lincoln as the worst.

    July 2, 2014 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. Linda

    "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....yeah, Obama's ranking is going to go down even further!! The.Worst.President.Ever!!

    July 2, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Craig

    Because news outlets such as CNN in their every day effort to imitiate FOX News for ratings and becase they are all run by corporate right wingers continually hound on him and only give voices to the haters. The racist animosity he has had to face, the constant promotion of right wing views (McCain, Cheney,etc) that are on the Sunday news programs every week have influenced the febal minded American public. CNN used to be a reliable source of fare straight news. That has gone away in the pursuit of ratings for corporate profits. I guarantee you the people that are polled are ovrwhelmingly white, male, right wing. So I give no credence to any of these polls and as a black man, I'm not surprised by the overall hatred by the overwhelmingly white media who can't stand the fact that a black man is in the White House.

    July 2, 2014 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. Bill from GA

    " 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. "

    While Bush earned his ranking with a failed attempt to avenge 9/11 in Afghanistan and an unnecessary and probably illegal war in Iraq, plus devastating the world economy, Obama gets his low numbers through lazy, ignorant Americans who ignore the economic recovery Obama brought. Much of Obama's accomplishments were in cleaning up the mess left over from Bush: wars, bad economy, and the turmoil in the Middle East (largely the result of those two).

    As to Romney being better, possibly his term would have had better results, because the obstructionist repubs would not spend every minute trying to destroy him, at the expense of our Country.

    And, we shouldn't forget the right wing propaganda machine that tells all who will listen that whatever Obama does is wrong. Pure ignorance is hard to overcome.

    July 2, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  6. Steve

    Reagan, the worst American president

    July 2, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  7. Mathew

    Slow but steady job growth, very minor tax increases, two expensive wars winding down, DOW risen from 8,000 to 17,000 points, Bin Laden gone, expanded healthcare insurance (and the sky didn't fall)....

    Oh yes, Mr. Obama has done a terrible job.

    July 2, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. bill

    God this is funny-the left wing supporters don't know what to say-one top democrat was asked over and over "can you name one country that is better off since obama took office" and not one--but the juan williams of the left buy into the by the government, for the government and won't change even with all this going on. I voted for obama the first time and boy was i wrong--he IS the worse president ever and not just since WWII–why? he just doesn't learn-he wants to be "the man" but "if he had a son he would not let him play football". wow what a president???

    July 2, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  9. firewalker25b

    The Socialist Progressive DEMOCRATS have been BETRAYING AMERICA since WW2.

    July 2, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. RA

    It should read 'IS BUSH/CHENEY' worst prsident EVER?

    July 2, 2014 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  11. Lisa

    I don't recall no one ever asking me my opinion. I think it all depends on who you ask. George W. Bush is the worst so far.

    July 2, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  12. Hillary

    So Bush wrecks the economy, lies about WMD; Nixon gets caught doing illegal wiretaps, resigns–and Obama is the worst? These 1100 people surveyed obviously were t types.

    July 2, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  13. Jim in PA

    And of course, the landline phone survey skewed heavily towards the over-60 Fox viewers. Run a similar survey on social media and watch the results vary dramatically. Or just ask a sizable sample of qualified historians, who will still choose Bush as the worst.

    July 2, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  14. Rudy NYC


    He did get OBL, got the ACA, he's the 1st Black President, all significant accomplishments. On the down side he did not enforce immigration laws, but neither did any of his predecessors.
    The Obama administration "not enforcing immigration laws" is a confabulation, straight out of the right wing's alternate universe media machine. Over the last six years, we have seen more arrests and deportations than at any time in our history.

    If you're wondering why the tens of thousands of children who have flooded the border in recent months have not been deported, but instead housed and cared. It's because the administration is actually following the law that applies to minors, which calls for them to cared for and an effort be made to find their relatives in this country.

    You'd think that Republicans would want to change the law, but they'd rather mislead the public into thinking that the administration wants to create a safe haven for immigrant minors. "See, he's not deporting them. He's housing and feeding them."

    July 2, 2014 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  15. johnnymac1

    Worst president ever. Currently a president with no legacy due to his intransigence. Chicago style politics does not appear to work in DC.

    July 2, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  16. Shane

    Obummer by far is the worse President we have EVER had. And that is saying something since Jimmy Carter was our President at one time!

    July 2, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  17. Lizzie

    Polls only count if they lean your way

    July 2, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  18. sonny chapman

    On a a 10 point scoring basis, Obama ought to get 5 points just for cleaning up George W's diaper. Getting out of Iraq, Afghanistan, "taking out" the REAL 9-11 Culprit, Bin Laden, convincing the rest of the World Americans aren't all war mongers,taking down Khadaffi, ridding the Syrian Battlefield of REAL chemical weapons w/out firing a shot.
    Recovering all jobs lost in The Great Bush Recession, passing ACA so that MORE American can benefit from American Health Care System.
    Obama's only Big Failure was in not being able to get the National Political System functioning again. He had a lot of help w/that from,Obamacare will be his Waterloo"(DeMint), "Make Obama a One Term Prez"(McConnel), " I WANT Obama to fail"(Rush)

    July 2, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  19. Tekmisia

    We hand this country over to new presidents in worse shape then we got them. At least Obama is trying to help the citizens. The Bush clan handed over a broken system and said "Here, you fix it. Oh, yeah, and sorry about that 9/11 thing. It shouldn't be because we've been over there messing with them. Oh, and that housing thing? LOL. We kinda forgot to regulate the lending industry. Oops.."

    July 2, 2014 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  20. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    A whole 1400 out of millions and this is supposed to reflect the country as a whole? No wonder India and China are kicking America's butt when it comes to education and intelligent kids.

    July 2, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  21. John

    No president has EVER cared about the normal American. The rich get rich, the poor stay poor and the middle class will always be either middle class or close to poor. Welcome to America, the USA is the best, but dam do we need to make alot of changes.

    July 2, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  22. GOP FAIL


    July 2, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  23. firewalker25b

    Sad that the ELECTORAL COLLEGE SYSTEM got it WRONG not once but twice...and they are to PREVENT THINGS LIKE THIS HAPPENING ....just goes to show me that it was all about the Color of His Skin that got him placed into the Oval Office and NOT HIS LEADERSHIP ABILITIES.

    July 2, 2014 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  24. Funny Stuff

    And to make matters worse, they surveyed 20% more democrats than republicans, and still came out with these results.

    July 2, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  25. Bill from GA

    Drakkon – " No. Bush I still holds that honor. George HW Bush was the most impotent, useless President since WW2. "

    Really?? Even adding to your comment the fact that Bush I pardoned the people who would have helped prove the criminal deeds of Reagan and brought Reagan to justice, Bush I did no where near the damage to our (and the world's) economy, and maybe more damage to the good image or the USA, compared to Bush II.

    I'd take impotent and useless any day over totally destructive. I also think Reagan was worse than Bush I.

    July 2, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
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