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. phil box

    i'm voting for worst president since the position was created. if that doesn't work then since there was an America and if you still don't like that how about in the past 100 years.

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

    were all the 1,446 registered voters nationwide questioned republicans?

    July 2, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. Steve

    I would be interested in what they would have found in this poll if the first question was "Can you name all of the presidents since WWII? I would bet only a small percentage would be able to, therefore, it is a pretty useless poll.

    July 2, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  4. andrew

    It is scary. It shows you how stupid and forgetful American can be!

    July 2, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  5. Ken

    Toad – You need to get your head out of the mud. Please explain how 9/11 was Bush's fault (keep in mind the Cigar statement being made below)? Iraq & Bin Laden – Maybe if Clinton was focused on his job instead of where to put his cigars Bin Laden would have been dead years before 9/11. Housing bubble started welll before Bush. Financial Crash & Record Debt – A lot of this due to wars in multiple fronts (see Clinton and Cigar statement above).

    July 2, 2014 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  6. LarryS

    I strongly believe he is hated because he is one half white, one half black. It's all racial....he is doing a great job as president.
    Facts speak strongly.

    July 2, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Throwing_it_out_there

    President Bush didn't wage the War on Iraq on his own. People easily forget that 58% of Senate Democrats, including Mr. Reid and Mrs. Clinton, voted for the Iraq War Resolution along with 40% of the House Democrats. If you believe President Bush should get all of the blame for events that happened under his watch, then should the same treatment should be given to President Obama?

    July 2, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  8. mk

    The GOP is the worst since WWII, don't blame the President.

    July 2, 2014 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Doug

    to cp125; wow, and you are calling out others on their intelligence

    July 2, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  10. GOP FAIL

    The GOP wouldn't recognize a BAD poll if it slapped them in the face and did a tap dance on their spineless backs. Remember the "Romney is going to win poll" ? BAD MATH, BAD SCIENCE = GOP FAIL.

    July 2, 2014 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  11. MTP

    See polls like this are fishing for a specific answer. I mean does this poll REALLY think people can compare presidencies that most people taking the poll weren't alive for? I mean come on. You can only get so much from reading about a presidency as opposed to experiencing it.

    Having said that, this Obama term is, so far, the worst presidency I can remember.

    July 2, 2014 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. Rob

    Why stop at WW2? Obama's the worst President since James Buchanan.

    July 2, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. Anony Mouse

    Well, if a national poll says it, then it must be true. Everyone knows the average American is very intelligent and well-informed when it comes to national politics.

    July 2, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  14. GOP FAIL

    Remember when the GOP dismissed Nate Silver...because he was gay. THIS is why the GOP is a FAILURE. FAILURE to believe facts. FAILURE to stop twisting the truth. FAILURE to understand MATH and SCIENCE and NATURE. FAILURE to quit believing in religious myths. GOP is a FAIL.

    July 2, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  15. Anthony

    No matter what my president does, he will always be known as the worst president, simply because of color, and everyone knows this. Since Mr. Obama has been in office, all you right wing conservatives has continued to disrespect the office of the presidency, because he's a MAN of color . But just wait, because Hillary comming for you next

    July 2, 2014 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. Silence DoGood

    The last president is always the worst. Sensational journalism baiting tin foil hats.

    July 2, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  17. Victor

    Anonymous
    Americans who think Obama is so bad are absolutrpely NUTS! He ended two wars started by 'sBush and the economy has been steadily improving. I lost thousands in Bush's economic downturn. Also; my social sevurity and medicare were not touched. If you adk me the whole thing is racial.

    Those wars ended while he just happened to be President. Most of the agreements for withdrawals of troops from Iraq, etc., were set by the Bush Administration. You are another sad, ignorant American who cannot see the forest for the trees.

    July 2, 2014 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  18. Lizzie

    Brian McKinsey and those twits voted for President Obama twice

    July 2, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Dean

    Since WWII? How about since the Constitution was signed!

    July 2, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  20. kool aid man

    Chug chug Republicans, reality is something your not so good at, drink me up baby, I'll do the driving!

    July 2, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  21. Pete

    Saint Ronald Reagan was the worst, the decline of America started with him. W just about finished us off and the GOP/TEA party will finish the job if given the chance.

    July 2, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  22. JJR

    Jimmy Carter is now the 2nd worst POTUS.

    July 2, 2014 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  23. Papa

    Carter was the worst, but Obama is a close 2nd.

    July 2, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  24. Ron

    You have to stop giving poll results that are taken by idiot people. If Mitt Romney was elected we would be in a worse economic slow down, the rich would be taking over the middle class........the real middle class would be losing jobs left and right unemployment would be double digits, and the environment, and food would not be fit for consumption.

    July 2, 2014 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  25. dee

    so tired of the lies,i will do it my way.i won the election,i have a phone and a pen.you can keep your doctor.shame,shame on this country for keeping this liar.he has all but ruined this country

    July 2, 2014 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
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