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. Quackman

    And who did they poll? Did they poll only people alive since WWII so the people who answered actually lived through the presidencies or did they include a bunch of twenty somethings who don't know Obama from Nixon from Carter from Ford etc. If they did then those answers are based on what someone told them or they read, not their owned informed opinion based on actually living during the time. Pointless poll. As far as Romney - You gotta be kidding.

    July 2, 2014 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. Azimuth5

    I would say Bush 1 & 2, Nixon & Reagan were the worst, though Reagan had his moments of clarity. Eisenhower, Clinton and Kennedy would be the best. I'd say Obama comes in right after Kennedy. Much better than those "proposed" geniuses from the right; Santorum and Bachman. Could you imagine Bachmann as President. It would be the dark ages all over again, man.

    July 2, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  3. Gunderson

    Next time Beware Greeks bearing gifts! This your Nanny Speaking!

    July 2, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  4. James

    The competition for this is a tough one-

    Obama: Continues to allow big government to spy on its citizens. Believes that he (the executive branch ) has the authority unilaterally to execute US citizens overseas that he deems as a threat (drone strikes). Stifles domestic us energy production in favor of unproven "Green" technologies that limits our economic growth and continues to threaten our national security by maintaining dependency on foreign oil.

    GW Bush: Failed to acknowledge that the true terrorist state has been and is Saudi Arabia – 15 of the 19 911 highjackers were Saudi Nationals and at its peak 140 out of approximately 750 Guanatamo detainees were Saudi Nationals. As a terrorist state this is the one government that convicts, executes and crucifies the bodies of criminals including those accused of witchcraft. Bush also destabilized the entire Middle East be removing Saddam Hussein who kept religious fanatics in check and provided a buffer against Iran. Toss in the Medicare part D prescription drug act and you have the largest expansion of entitlements since Lyndon Johnson.

    Ronald Reagan – introduced the most devastating form of liberalism by removing the correlation between tax rates and government spending. The ideas that Americans can pay less for government services while not reducing or eliminating government spending is a moral crime against our nation's children and grandchildren. Stealing from future generation is wrong and the $17 billion in debt we have dumped on them represents an evil right up there with slavery, as future generations will be enslaved to pay for government programs that we in the present use but don't want to pay for.

    In terms of the worst President, for the above mentioned reason I nominate President Reagan.

    July 2, 2014 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. Too Scruffy

    Rats on a sinking ship. Some of them still can't believe the perception of the majority of the polled. Put down the Kool Aid. Remember theses numbers, it will be worse by 2016.
    "I can't believe there are that many racist / haters!"

    July 2, 2014 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  6. David Becker

    toad734, I couldn't agree more

    July 2, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  7. Oscar Napoli

    I'm surprised he fared so well – in my opinion he's not equipped to preside over an outhouse – never mind the White house!

    July 2, 2014 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Hmmm, popularity poll, is this high school? You don't have to be popular to do a job.

    Sadly, this is what has become of politics. High school theatrics and nothing else. No doubt the child-like mentality of the American people are much to blame (read through the comments cheering).

    The good news: Mitt Romney has the momentum. Again. And right before mid-terms, too.

    July 2, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. George in PA

    Ask me when the National debt has been paid off!

    July 2, 2014 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    Of course people are going to say this. Difficult decisions were made, which is always going to inflame people. Conservatives seem to think that W's administration was a time of wine and roses, when the exact opposite was true. Difficult decisions were made then as well, which did not sit well with people on the Left. What is forgotten in all of this is that the level of partisan rage has never been this high. I thought it was bad during Clinton's years, but, in retrospect, its never let up. The 24-hour news cycle, with blogs and talk radio inflaming people to the point where neighbors won't talk to each other if they see a political sign for a party they disagree with is an indication of the level of moral decay we are at. Btw, Fair, of course you would agree with that, and of course you would think Romney is being vindicated. Your inability to separate your narrow views from a broader issue hobble you as effectively as anyone in the red-meat section: the difference is that you have more civil word choice, as a general rule. The survey itself is pointless, since it cannot reflect long-term effects of policy. Truman was despised when he left office: now look at what people think of him. W and Obama may be seen in a far more favorable light, while Bill Clinton may be seen only as a tactical politician. Time will tell.

    July 2, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  11. Anonymous

    This article has no constructive purpose and is a complete waste of time.

    July 2, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Orolandes O'Rourke

    This is called massaging the data to get what you want. Phone polls are invalid since the majority of young people don't have landlines and thus don't get counted. You conservatards keep up your delusions and you'll get the same surprise Rove had on election night.

    July 2, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  13. Alyx

    CNN fails the news train. It's not like the country's economy is tanking, people are losing their jobs at record rates, we are stuck in 2 wars, or having to bailout huge policy deregulation blunders. No that's the last piece of work that sent this president into office twice. All this poll shows is polarization and politics at its worst, CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, etc all share the blame in exaggerating information to make a buck. The US media are as big of sell outs as politicians are.

    July 2, 2014 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  14. Big Bob

    He's been able to do exactly what he wanted to do in the first place. He's not incompetent. See Cloward/Piven. The downfall of the USA is his business. That is what he was appointed to do. To the applause of the world.

    July 2, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. The Fact of the Matter

    Worst since WWII? Why stop there?

    July 2, 2014 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  16. lecadien

    With over 4,000 US troops killed in Iraq and over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians, and yet no WMDs . . . GW Bush is the worst US president since WWII, in my opinion.

    July 2, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  17. Richard

    For sure Obama has that title sewed up.

    July 2, 2014 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. lewtwo

    Who is the worst president since WWII ?
    Well lets put it this way: He left office with two foreign wars and the worst financial crisis since 1929 (some might say worst ever).

    July 2, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Its amazing to me how many Obama defenders there are considering his 6 years of failure. Cowards like Barrack always blame someone else ...they never accept responsibility. Apparently the cowards who voted for this clown cant accept being wrong either.

    July 2, 2014 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Big Bob

    Oh and thanks, CNN. Nice of you to put this out considering how you helped sell and continue to protect this man.

    July 2, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. nimitta

    So 35% think Reagan was the best? We're still reeling from policies set in motion during his administration.

    'Nuf said about this silly poll, and the amnesiac American 'landline electorate' it was culled from.

    July 2, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Fred

    Lame propaganda posing as news. Ronald Reagan is best?! The pollsters sure steered clear of the non-wealthy neighborhoods. 1,446 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone. How many non-wealthy people (e.g. young people) answer landline phones and have the spare time to participate in polls? They might as well poll the Koch brothers.

    July 2, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. Steve

    Nope. W was far worse.

    July 2, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. rjsenterp

    I've known every president since Eisenhower and Obama is hands down the worst. NO foreign policy, no domestice policy (other than getting more handouts for his homeys), and no leadership.

    July 2, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. Rick

    What should we expect from a Community Organizer who couldn't run a Seven Eleven. All he cares about is pushing the envelope when it comes to social issues. As far as everything else....he hasn't a clue.

    July 2, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
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