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)

    Since Obama took office, my 401K has quadrupled.

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

    Face the facts.

    July 2, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  3. Sammy Z

    In other news, Conservatives hate Obama and Liberals hate Bush. Nothing to see here.

    July 2, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  4. Boomer in Mo

    President Obama is a horrible manager, but Nixon was a criminal in the end. Carter was no prize either.

    July 2, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  5. chairmanmao

    You are all wrong. The worst President is LBJ. He stated entitlement programs which have ruined 47% of the population. I see this everyday in my work. People who have no desire to improve themselves because they on the government's hind tit--food stamps, AFDC, subsidized housing and electricity, etc.

    July 2, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  6. John Williams

    The poll was done probably during "working hours" so think about it....the only two groups home to answer the phones are laid off and looking OR those who have no desire to work and want to live off the rest of us! Shocked the numbers were as close as they were.

    July 2, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  7. excuse my rant

    Rudy NYC

    Simply put, America didn't trust Republicans with power. But, I will admit that we would likely have a stronger economy with a Pres. Romney. Not because Pres. Romney would have made a better POTUS, but because I believe that the obstruction would have ended for a period of time.
    I agree on the lack of obstruction part. The economy would have been better in the short term but not long term. I liken it to someone taking steroids for an extended period of time. At first your strength improves and you seem to be really healthy from the outside. But once you look under the hood you can see how bad things are. Oh what I wouldn't give for a return to the Republicans like Eisenhower.

    July 2, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. Ned Meyers

    QUESTION: "Who is the worst president since WWII?"
    ANSWER: Obama

    QUESTION: "Who is the worst president from the founding of our nation until WWII?"
    ANSWER: Obama

    End of questions.

    July 2, 2014 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. Michael L

    To say that any recent president is the "worst since WW II" or even the "worst of all time" is incredibly subjective, and pretty much impossible. I'd trust a poll like this a lot more of they had stopped with Bush Sr, as it takes at least a generation to put a presidency into perspective. In such a poll, Nixon would undoubtedly top the list, because it's hard to get much worse than having to resign before being impeached–although Carter came close due to his lackluster performance on just about everything except the Camp David Accords.

    July 2, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. Dave

    People are stupid and have no memory. Obama is reaping all the bad will left by Bush. Like a whipping boy president.

    July 2, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. shyeah

    You know it's bad when Obama makes Carter look like a decent Prez.

    July 2, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  12. kylefromohio

    @Duffus Dingleberry

    The numbers don't lie. Obama's the worst, ever!

    If the numbers don't lie then you must be blinded by the lights or Hate of Obama ;

    9/11, Iraq, Bin Laden, the housing bubble and financial crash, record debt and a budget surplus to a huge deficit...THat's all Bush!

    S&P is at 1970 compared to 850 when He took over as POTUS.

    July 2, 2014 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  13. tiki_party

    LBJ was the worst President since WW II and he was also the most corrupt.

    July 2, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  14. Give Polling a Rest

    Phone poll.

    Do you answer a call from a number you don't know?

    July 2, 2014 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  15. JDalco

    It is close with Carter but Yes he is worst. . . . Love all the Bush haters that ignore the facts like the economy, rise in terror groups, failure on the job front, loss of standing in the world, loss of our credit rating, multiple impeachable offences that he has managed to dodge so far, the cover ups, scandals, abuse of power . . . . it goes on and on and on. . .

    July 2, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. snowdogg

    According to the poll, Ronald Reagan (at 35%) tops the list of the best president since WWII...

    Lot of self-delusion in those numbers.

    “The presidency of Ronald Reagan was marked by multiple scandals, resulting in the investigation, indictment, or conviction of over 138 administration officials, the largest number for any US president."

    July 2, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. SuperDave

    I say yes. Close second is Jimmy Carter, but he was only clueless and not arrogant like this president.

    July 2, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. Bushman for Obama

    What a stupid poll ! The answers are always going to bash the current president. No sense in this poll whatsoever, especially when Bush is rated better than Obama. Using commonsense , one can come to an agreement that the IQ of Palin and Bush are not that off

    July 2, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  19. C. Shelby

    President Obama is certainly not the worst by any means. He & his team have taken an extremely devastated economy back from the brink of obscurity, ended two unnecessary wars,( in which many valuable lives were lost ; far too much hard earned money was squandered) steadily decreased the jobless rate, and continues, obtained affordable healthcare for millions of well deserving Americans, is fighting for those deserving citizenship, and continues to champion the rights of middle & less fortunate Americans, etc etc etc. Yet, we hear crazed characterizations! Some close their eyes to his accomplishments, which are too numerous to list, and choose only to criticize, demean, & blatantly,knowingly slander him, Why? Consider the source. No human is perfect, yet, so-o-o-o many cast stones, rocks & boulders! Look in the mirror fellow Americans whose ancestors hail from many countries. What do you see?

    July 2, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  20. Ace

    Dow has doubled, housing rebounded, auto industry rebounded, banks have rebounded, 55 straight months of jobs growth, bin Laden is dead, 2 wars ended. Yep, he's the worst.

    July 2, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. grumpy0ldman

    These are the results you get when you only ask the dinosaurs who still have land line phones.

    July 2, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  22. Kevin

    Sure, I mean Obama invaded Iraq with under false pretense which costed the lives of over 4,000 Americans, wounded tens of thousands of young American, costed hundred of thousand of Iraq lives and cost the United States treasury over 1 trillion dollars which could had been used to build America's infrastructure. The mideast is still a mess because of Obama's invasion.
    Obama's deregulation of the financial community almost put the country into a depression. I lost my job because of him in 2009. Obama prescription Medicare program gave the pharmaceutical industries billions in unpaid for money. George W. Bush gave Obama a surplus in the budget and Obama reckless tax cuts for the rich turn the budget into a deficit.
    What? You say that George W. Bush did those things which almost ruin out country? Well then next question.

    July 2, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. essmeier

    Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt. One hundred and thirty eight members of his administration were indicted, and twenty nine were convicted of crimes. The guy exchanged arms for hostages and circumvented Congress and U.S. law in the process. He willfully ignored the AIDS crisis. He did nothing when 240 Marines were killed by a bombing in Beirut.

    There's something seriously wrong when more than a third of Americans think he's the best president in the past 70 years. On the contrary, he is the father of everything that's wrong with American politics today.

    July 2, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. fletc3her

    I don't think this kind of assessment makes much sense until a couple decades down the line. George W. Bush's gamble on Iraq is still playing out. In the coming decades the country could be stable or it could be in constant turmoil. And then of course we are still in implementation of Obamacare which will be something Obama will be remembered for. We need another decade or so to see if it heralds a new era of insured Americans or if it doesn't work out.

    July 2, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. OsoMartinez

    Let's look at Bush's legacy: 1) Allowing the Nation to be attacked on 9/11/2001, 2) Starting a war with Iraq with lies so his VP's cronies could make billions, 3) Allowing the Great Recession. Anything missing?

    July 2, 2014 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
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