Worst President Ever?

Likely Voters: Carter Was a Better President than Obama

According to a Newsweek/Daily Beast poll of likely voters, Barack Obama now rates behind Jimmy Carter in the pantheon of great presidents. The poll asked likely voters to list the two best and the two worst presidents the history of the United States. Here are the tallies, based on net results:

Voters’ list of the 10 best presidents:

1. Abraham Lincoln, +27 points (28 percent place in top-2, 1 percent place in bottom-2)
2. Ronald Reagan, +25 points (31 percent place in top-2, 6 percent place in bottom-2)
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt, +22 points (23 percent place in top-2, 1 percent place in bottom-2)
4. John F. Kennedy, +19 points (19 percent place in top-2, 0 percent place in bottom-2)
5. (tie) George Washington, +15 points (16 percent place in top-2, 1 percent place in bottom-2)
5. (tie) Bill Clinton, +15 points (28 percent place in top-2, 13 percent place in bottom-2)
7. Thomas Jefferson, +6 points (6 percent place in top-2, 0 percent place in bottom-2)
8. (tie) Teddy Roosevelt, +5 points (5 percent place in top-2, 0 percent place in bottom-2)
8. (tie) Harry S. Truman, +5 points (5 percent place in top-2, 0 percent place in bottom-2)
10. Dwight D. Eisenhower, +4 points (5 percent place in top-2, 1 percent place in bottom-2)

Voters’ list of the 10 worst presidents:

33. (tie) Andrew Johnson, -2 points (0 percent place in top-2, 2 percent place in bottom-2)
33. (tie) Warren G. Harding, -2 points (0 percent place in top-2, 2 percent place in bottom-2)
33. (tie) Calvin Coolidge, -2 points (0 percent place in top-2, 2 percent place in bottom-2)
36. (tie) Lyndon B. Johnson, -3 points (1 percent place in top-2, 4 percent place in bottom-2)
36. (tie) Gerald Ford, -3 points (1 percent place in top-2, 4 percent place in bottom-2)
38. Herbert Hoover, -4 points (0 percent place in top-2, 4 percent place in bottom-2)
39. George H.W. Bush, -9 points (4 percent place in top-2, 13 percent place in bottom-2)
40. Jimmy Carter, -20 points (5 percent place in top-2, 25 percent place in bottom-2)
41. Richard Nixon, -24 points (2 percent place in top-2, 26 percent place in bottom-2)
42. Barack Obama, -25 points (11 percent place in top-2, 36 percent place in bottom-2)
43. George W. Bush, -39 points (4 percent place in top-2, 43 percent place in bottom-2)

I would quibble with some of those rankings but I generally agree with who belongs in the top and bottom groups. As for the worst president ever, I disagree. At least George W. Bush wasn’t a Democrat.

This entry was posted in Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to Worst President Ever?

  1. myiq2xu says:

    The Cheesehead protests – the gift that keeps on giving to the GOP:

    • myiq2xu says:

      BTW – I have nothing against Tammy Baldwin. If I lived in Cheeseland I would probably vote for her.

      • Lola-at-Large says:

        I wouldn’t. Even if I agreed with her policies, her presentation is dangerously divisive.

  2. angienc says:

    Good, I’ll repeat what I wrote before (with amendments). First, I love Bill Clinton, but no way should he be tied with Washington. Washington set the standard & should be higher than Clinton. In fact, he should be number 1 just for defining the office & guiding this country at its fragile start — if he hadn’t been the right man for the job, this country could have easily fallen apart. Second *if* Reagan has to be in Top 10, he should be no higher than #10 (although I’d put him in the middle range — somewhere between 28 to 38 — not deserving of bottom 10, but not 10 ten either). Third, I don’t think LBJ deserves bottom 10 — yes, he escalated Vietnam, but he did a lot of really good things too — civil rights act, Great Society; plus he bowed out rather than “ruin” the Dem party forever (as Obama seems intent on doing). Finally, I’m sorry, but JFK being in top 10 is just nostalgic b.s. –LBJ gets all the blame for Vietnam, but it was a situation started under the JFK administration & JFK gets all the credit for all the good things that LBJ actually accomplished.

    • myiq2xu says:

      My top three would be Lincoln, FDR, Washington.

      LBJ was pretty good if you don’t count Vietnam. Nixon wasn’t bad if you don’t count Watergate.

    • SHV says:

      Good ranking…I would put Lincoln first, Washington second but give GW the greatest American Gold Star for sticking with, what any sane person would have called, a lost cause.

      I think that LBJ will be rehabilitated by time and history. He was stuck with Mr. Kennedy’s war (JFK: “We will stop them in Vietnam”} and stuck with Kennedy’s war monger “best and brightest”.

      The JFK of the #4 ranking is a fictitious person created by Jackie and Teddy White after JFK’s death, IMHO.

      • angienc says:

        My top 3 would be, like myiq, but different order:

        FDR — although it is kind of unfair, since FDR had a lot more time than any of the others.

        But I totally agree — the JFK at #4 is a fictitious person created by Jackie & Teddy White after his death.

        I do agree with myiq that W should be second to last — at least he didn’t sell himself as one thing & then get in & be the *exact* opposite. Plus, we are allowed to critique him without being called r*cist. That’s gotta count for something.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          The difference between Geo. W. Bush and Obama is simple: one turned his aggression on the world outside the US; the other turned his aggression on the US itself.

          I don’t like either, but I prefer the former if those are my choices.

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      I agree with you on Kennedy, but I very much disagree on LBJ. He was a monster, IMO. The only thing good that came out of the Great Society was Medicare. His War on Poverty actually increased poverty, and put needless barriers in place for poor blacks, making them the captives to generational poverty they are today. Welfare is institutionalized racism, and it’s sexist to boot. My 2 cents.

      I would put Washington at the very top, too, though.

      • angienc says:

        Well, that “monster” flew down to the Ninth Ward (at the time the poorest area of New Orleans & the hardest hit) within 24 hours after Hurricane Betsy & announced, with a bull horn & flash lights and announced to the newly homeless people “This is your President! I am here to help you!”

        And Medicare is more than a lot of others have done. And I do count pushing through the civil rights act (and he *pushed* it through) as a good thing — and it was something *no one else* would have had the balls to do.

        Look, I’m not married nor related to the man. Maybe because I grew up in NOLA & we were taught the story of what happened after Hurricane Betsy & I lived the different reaction from the federal government after Katrina, but I think the man’s failings have been disproportionally exaggerated.

        Of course, YMMV — that’s why there’s chocolate & vanilla.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          I grew up in Houston, Texas (until I was 10) so I’m quite familiar with his hagiography, and I give him his props for the CRA, but what came after and the effect it had the black community and in particular the black family cannot be ignored. His policies decimated them, and that at least cancels out what he did with the CRA.

        • angienc says:

          Yeah, well, tomato, tomahto. You seem to charge him with purposefully & maliciously intending the consequences of welfare on the black community, while ignoring changes/additions to it by subsequent Congresses/Administrations.
          Whatever. Like I said, I’m not married to the man. I just wouldn’t put him in my bottom 10.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          I do think it was purposeful and malicious because I know that everyone in Washington and its associated intellectual circles were talking about the fallout from the black baby boom and the ascendency of the Civil Rights movement and what to do about it at the time. Charlie Manson didn’t pull that race war crap out of his ass, you know.

          FTR, I wouldn’t put him in the bottom 10 either.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          FTR, that’s me thumbing you up in comments. We don’t have to agree on everything to be friends. Hope that feeling is mutual.

        • angienc says:

          LMAO! Honey if you think I’m going to take differences of opinion on LBJ — or any politician — personally, you’ve been hanging out among progs on the internet too long. 🙂

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          It’s always worth checking out. That’s just how I roll. 😉 I wouldn’t want to lose the smartest woman on Twitter!

    • votermom says:

      I go Washington, Jefferson, FDR (for winning WW2)
      I am always torn on Lincoln – abolished slavery but the human cost of the civil war makes me second guess his decisions.

      • Lola-at-Large says:

        Also, his almost losing the war over McClellan & Stanton is a big problem for me with Lincoln. Are you the Commander-in-Cheif or aren’t you, dude? Still, dealing with the scourge of slavery gets him big points, as well it should.

      • myiq2xu says:

        He second guessed his own decisions. He was haunted by the loss of life. His death was probably a mercy.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          Wow, I hadn’t considered that about his death. I guess it probably was. It was perfect for the union, too. It cemented the win by uniting a lot of people who would have otherwise grumbled for longer. What his predecessors did almost reversed that.

          I do think Washington, Lincoln and Teddy are the presidents with the most integrity we’ve ever had. That’s important to me. Winning isn’t everything. How you win matters. That’s why I’m not so big on FDR. He was a great president, I won’t argue that, but he was also an authoritarian.

        • imusthavepie says:

          Yeah, but FDR had one great asset……Eleanor.

        • Lola-at-Large says:

          You will not get argument from me on that, imusthavepie. I sometimes wonder if some of my resentment isn’t carryover from how he treated her. Bastad!

  3. DeniseVB says:

    And that was a Newsweek poll ? Poor Obama, probably the only thing that saved him from being worse than GWB.

  4. cj says:

    I’d put him below George W. Obama had the benefit of hindsight, and he still doubled down on the same policies.

    Wonder who broke the news to his majesty? 🙂

  5. SophieCT says:

    How the hell did Warren G. Harding do so well. He should be tied for last with Obama and W!

  6. myiq2xu says:

    Giants are wilting in the DC heat.

  7. Karma says:

    Probably should wait to post this tomorrow but it was so nice seeing Socks. 🙂


    The dyed cat…ugh

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Damn, #8 is just cruel. Probably an animal rights activist in the picture with the cat.

  8. carol haka says:

    Sorry, don’t agree on GW. I felt safe after 911 with him in charge. We don’t know what he knows but the world was clear on who was in charge. And don’t start on iraq. Almost everyone in Congress voted for the War and Hillary has never backed down on it being the right decision and Bill agrees. And I wish people would start remembering the Congress was Democratic from 2006 with Obama voting present or with the spending. H

    • carol haka says:

      And the asshole democrats ruined the World economy with their bogus mortgage giveaway of which I have been a financial victim. Can’t blame GW for that. Still think Soros was in charge of the mysterious transfer of funds that put Obama in WH.

    • angienc says:

      Look, I’m not going to get into a debate about it, but Hillary’s vote wasn’t a vote *for* the war (nor where the other senators’ votes).

      But definitely W doesn’t deserve to be dead last — I’m sorry, William Henry Harrison only served 31 days before dying of pneumonia. I know that isn’t his fault, but still, he should be last just for that.

      • cj says:

        Everybody should read the comments she made before the vote. She carefully & thoughtfully laid out the all the reasons why she was going to vote yes on the IWR.

        I totally understand why she wouldn’t apologize for it, she didn’t have to. (unlike John Edwards the gung-ho hawk, who actually co-sponsored the damned thing)

      • SophieCT says:

        I think it was his fault–wasn’t he the guy who refused to wear an overcoat giving his inaugural address in the freezing cold?

        • angienc says:

          True! By “not his fault” I meant he didn’t intend to die. But that does go to why he should be dead last on the list — if he didn’t have the sense God gave a goose to protect himself from the cold, he has to qualify as “worse POTUS.”

      • carol haka says:

      • SophieCT says:

        The full version gives more context:

    • yttik says:

      I really appreciate Hillary’s refusal to back down on her war vote. Nothing set my teeth on edge more then the congresscritters who refused to take responsibility for their votes and whined about how they were tricked and deceived.

      • angienc says:

        Yes, and the fact is she wouldn’t have been allowed to “evolve” on stuff the same way Obama was re: same sex marriage, gun control, campaign finance, NAFTA, FISA — just about every issue in the race. She didn’t have much of a choice other than to stand by her long record of public service against the plastic Jesus.

  9. Lola-at-Large says:

    Ha! My husband & I just had this conversation two days ago and he said Reagan placed in the top ten, but not the top five. I vehemently disagreed. I wasn’t a big fan of some of his policies, but he absolutely changed the world and united this country, if only temporarily.

    I do think Teddy R. should place in the top 5, too, because he had more integrity than every president who came after put together. But I do understand, because his integrity outlasted his presidency.

    • gxm17 says:

      I’m a Teddy R. fan too. He would be in my top three if I had a top three presidents.

      Reagan, not so much. I see his presidency as a turning point in our nation, when greed and disregard for those less fortunate became a virtue. It was the beginning of the end with an all too brief delay during the Clinton years. I often feel we’ll never recover.

      • Lola-at-Large says:

        Nah, that started with Nixon. It got hyped during Reagan, sure, but Nixon is the pivotal point from which we are still not recovered. People just got tired of the whining & violence of the boomers during Nixon and decided to crush it, whether it was a good idea or not. I see shades of his first election happening now, which does give me pause. But I really am so sick of the poison spewing from progressives that it’s a chance I’m willing to take.

        • Senneth says:

          I suggest you read the Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein. While Nixon was responsible for some of the damage, Reagan enshrined the “Milton Friedman” way.
          Catsup is a vegetable and the homeless want to be homeless were some of his contributions to the national dialogue. He closed so many mental health institutions and tossed people on the street where they ended up being homeless or put in jail it was horrific. I remember it well.
          I think Reagan deserves to be near the bottom of the list. His “morning in America” simply meant that everything needed to be privatized including the commons paid for by the taxpayer. Blech. I could go on and on remembering several people who committed suicide because their plants closed down because of Reagan’s policies, but I think I’ve ranted enough.

          • myiq2xu says:

            The “catsup is a vegetable” is true but misleading. The real issue was plate waste – kids were throwing away the vegetables served with their hot lunches. I know we did when I was in school. We were more likely to use the spinach in a food fight than eat it.

            Lots of the homeless do want to be homeless. At least they don’t want to do what it takes to NOT be homeless. They are drug addicts who survive by scrounging, stealing and/or begging. They are the same ones that flooded into the OWS encampments.

            As for the mental hospitals, that move was strongly supported by the left. They complained that many of the people who were institutionalized as retarded or mentally ill should not be locked up. There were a number of books and movies made on this theme, like Flowers for Algernon, Charly and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. You are correct – they are the other major component of the chronically homeless.

        • WMCB says:

          Senneth, even better than reading Shock Doctrine is having been alive, adult, and paying attention during the Reagan years. As myiq said, everything about those years is not so cut and dried as either side wants to make it seem. Reagan wasn’t a demon. Neither was he a god. He did good and bad.

  10. Lola-at-Large says:

    YES! I needed this today: http://news.yahoo.com/poll-romney-claims-slight-edge-15-battleground-states-164545408.html;_ylt=A2KLOzGP5vJPnRUA.Q3QtDMD

    …in the 15 states CNN calls its battleground states — Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin — Romney leads Obama, 51 percent to 43 percent. Notably, though, the CNN/ORC International group includes three states thought to be comfortably in the Romney column this cycle: Arizona, Indiana, and Missouri.

    • yttik says:

      LOL! That would almost make a good anti- terrorism video. Don’t mess with Americans, they’re f-in crazy.

  11. leslie says:

    I’ve never given the top 10 as much thought. But if I had, Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt (both), Truman, Clinton and Eisenhower.
    I’m not certain about the other 2, maybe Nixon would be up there, but Reagan most assuredly would not. I agree that “greed and disregard for the less fortunate” (per gmx17) became nearly a national sport during the time of REagan and in no small measure to his focus on “welfare queens”, etc. at that time.

    I agree that if not for Watergate, Nixon might have accomplished a great deal more. His first act was to take care of the poor, iirc. He proposed and created the EPA. Opened the way for relationships with China. (ftr: I loathed Nixon.)
    W would not be challenging Obama for the last place. THAT would go to Obama all by himself. He is the worst of the worst. I believe GWB loves the US. and I don’t believe his actions were intended to create the madness that has followed.

  12. Oswald says:

    And they say Mormons are weird http://bit.ly/NtuLDi

    • Lola-at-Large says:

      Link is not redirecting properly. Probably Xenu interference.

    • T says:

      Somebody help me understand why the leaders of Scientology haven’t been prosecuted and thrown in jail. I hope good things like that come out of the Cruise/Holmes divorce.

      • T says:

        (and the linked worked for me).

      • Lola-at-Large says:

        Well, it’s a loooooooong story, but when the federal government basically allows you to terrorize IRS agents without penalty, and then rules in your favor, you quickly accumulate a lot of power. You can thank Ford for that. He definitely deserves to be in the bottom 10.

        • T says:

          The Scientologists didn’t achieve “religious” status for IRS purposes until 1993….so the Democrats had a hand in giving them power too.

        • angienc says:

          @T — well, that makes sense — look at where the center of Scientology is — Hollywood (which also makes perfect sense because I’ve never heard of one religion — no matter how corrupted by “man” they may be now or in their history — that actually *teaches* shallowness & materialism as virtues). A lot of Hollywood belongs to CO$ — you’d be surprised — it isn’t only Travolta & Cruise, but many others, including directors & producers.

        • HELENK says:

          one of their centers is near me. It looks like a prison. Never see any people. It is weird

  13. yttik says:

    You know, I can’t really rank presidents because none of them were good or bad, they were all shades of gray. FDR gets a lot of praise for his New Deal, but he sure sucked if you were Japanese. Reagan is demonized by the left and given sainthood by the right. They’re both wrong.

    What’s frightening is that I can list some positives for every single President ever….except Obama. I kid you not, I cannot come up with one single positive accomplishment beyond the fact that he is the first black president.

  14. sonrisa says:

    I agree that Washington & Jefferson should top the list. As Angie pointed out, Washington set the standard, & I would add, Jefferson refined it. Then Franklin Roosevelt- Hitler was just too scary to be allowed to run around loose.

    • leslie says:

      I agree with what you said about Washington and Jefferson. That is why I have them in my top 10. But, FDR let Hitler run around until he was compelled to do something. (and ftr: FDR is in my top 10)

      • myiq2xu says:

        FDR wanted the US to get involved in WWII much earlier than we did. That is one of the reasons people think he had prior knowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor but let it happen anyway.

  15. propertius says:

    At least George W. Bush wasn’t a Democrat.

    I usually put this as “at least Bush wasn’t impersonating a Democrat.”

  16. DandyTiger says:

    I like the following presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson. Not because all of them are the best, many of them are, but because they were born in VA. 🙂

  17. myiq2xu says:

    Check out the huge crowds at #natgat:

  18. jeffhas says:


    1) Washington (any other man would have been King).
    2) Lincoln
    3) FDR
    4) Jefferson
    5) Teddy

    My list is pretty much like a lot of your above – but I am very passionate about Washington, I just think at that historic moment – to imagine how the rest of the world operated for Centuries – he broke the mold, and thankfully we are not a Monarchy because of it…. and don’t just ask what the US would look like without that decision, what would the rest of the world look like?

    As much as I think Lincoln probably had more to struggle with during his Presidency, there really is no Lincoln without Washington.


    • leslie says:

      Please tell me what is YMMV.
      I looked it up and it didn’t make sense to me.

      • WMCB says:

        Your mileage may vary.

      • SophieCT says:

        Your Mileage May Vary.

        FWIW, I’m annoyed that Adams isn’t in the top 10. He was really an incredible statesman and man. He never cheated on Abigail, never owned a slave, and never went into debt. Unfortunately, “His Rotundity’s” best works happened outside of his presidency which will forever be remembered for the Alien and Sedition Acts.

      • jeffhas says:

        Yummy muffins munched violently.

    • jeffhas says:

      … basically, Rushmore got it right.

  19. jeffhas says:

    I also agree with Angie above – Clinton probably should not be in the top 10 (let alone the top 5)… He was probably the best in my Lifetime, but historically – meh.

    .. but if we were judging Ex-Presidents; Clinton would be #1 – the man has shown how you can use the Presidency even after you leave office to do good/great works…. very impressive, and I think it has affected the voting in this poll (which is fine by me).

    • gxm17 says:

      I think that’s probably a big part of it. Clinton is the best president of our lifetime. And, sadly, probably won’t get much competition. We’ve really had some bad ones and I don’t see things improving until we break free from the two-party shackles.

  20. WMCB says:

    Many of our presidents who did great and bold and good things also did horrible things. I think its the flip side of the coin. Lincoln saved the Union, but stomped on the constitution and had a bloody war to do it. FDR took charge and created jobs, massive public works, and kicked Nazi ass. He also horrendously abused federal power in the process, and could well have become a well-meaning dictator if he’d been allowed. GWB seized the reins in a crisis, and got the nation through a horrendous attack with strong leadership. I think he was actually sincere in the desire to protect us. I also think that he suffered from great hubris, and figured trashing the constitution and grabbing more federal power was justified under the circumstances. He was wrong.

    Men who are decisive and effective in a crisis are often the same men who get heady with power. It seems to go together. Thus, many of our presidents who did “great” things also tended to overstep their office – they could not resist thinking their great acts gave them license to impose their “wisdom” in more and more expansive ways.

    I don’t tend to believe in saints and demons. Men are men. Capable of the best of intentions, inspiring response to crisis, and complete arrogant stupidity in the next moment.

    • jeffhas says:

      For some reason, this contradiction does not seem to be evident in the history/background of Washington…. it is one of the other reasons I count him #1

      Of all the men you cited above (or ANY of them for that matter) – if they had had the chance to be the first, and were given a chance to step down after their term or not step down (remain King) – how many do you think would have really stepped down as Washington did?

      Even with the great ones – I don’t think any would have stepped down (FDR is obvious).

      I mean there have been some courageous and GREAT Presidents – but to step aside for the greatness of history – to literally CHANGE THE WORLD… I don’t know, that seems like a whole different level to me.

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