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  • Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States

    Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States


    • In political studies, historical rankings of presidents of the United States are surveys conducted in order to construct rankings of the success of individuals who have served as President of the United States. Ranking systems are usually based on surveys of academic historians and political scientists or popular opinion. The rankings focus on the presidential achievements, leadership qualities, failures, and faults.

      Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, are the three most popular presidents among historians. The remaining places in the Top 11 are often rounded out by Harry S. Truman, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, James K. Polk, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Jackson, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. Recent presidents such as John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton tend to be rated among the greatest in world opinion polls, but do not always rank as highly among presidential scholars and historians. The bottom 11 often includes Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Warren G. Harding, Millard Fillmore, James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover, William Henry Harrison, George W. Bush, Zachary Taylor, and John Tyler. Because William Henry Harrison (30 days) and James A. Garfield (200 days, incapacitated after 119 days) both died shortly after taking office, they are sometimes omitted from presidential rankings. Zachary Taylor also died after serving as president for only 16 months, but he is usually included. In the case of these three, it is not clear if they received low rankings due to their actions as president, or because each was president for such a limited time that it is not possible to assess them more thoroughly.


      No. President Political party Schl. 1948 Schl. 1962 M-B 1982 CT 1982 Siena 1982 Siena 1990 Siena 1994 R-McI 1996 Schl. 1996 C-SPAN 1999 WSJ 2000 Siena 2002 WSJ 2005 Times 2008** C-SPAN 2009 Siena 2010 USPC 2011 APSA 2015 Aggr.
      01 George Washington Independent 02 02 03 03 04 04 04 03 02 03 01 04 01 02 02 04 03 02 03
      02 John Adams Federalist 09 10 09 14 (tie) 10 14 12 14 11 16 13 12 13 13 17 17 12 15 12
      03 Thomas Jefferson Dem-Repub 05 05 04 05 02 03 05 04 04 07 04 05 04 04 07 05 04 05 04
      04 James Madison Dem-Repub 13 12 14 17 09 08 09 10 17 18 15 08 17 15 20 06 14 13 14
      05 James Monroe Dem-Repub 12 18 15 16 15 11 15 13 15 14 16 09 16 21 14 07 13 16 16
      06 John Quincy Adams Dem-Repub 11 13 16 19 17 16 17 18 18 19 20 17 25 16 19 19 20 22 21
      07 Andrew Jackson Democratic 06 06 07 06 13 09 11 08 05 13 06 13 10 14 13 14 09 09 08
      08 Martin Van Buren Democratic 15 17 20 18 21 21 22 21 21 30 23 24 27 40 31 23 27 25 24
      09 William Henry Harrison Whig 99  – 99  – 99  – 38 26 35 28 35 99  – 37 99  – 36 99  – 39 39 35 99  – 39 39
      10 John Tyler Whig 22 25 28 29 34 33 34 34 32 36 34 37 35 31 35 37 37 36 37
      11 James K. Polk Democratic 10 08 12 11 12 13 14 11 09 12 10 11 09 09 12 12 16 19 10
      12 Zachary Taylor Whig 25 24 27 28 29 34 33 29 29 28 31 34 33 28 29 33 33 33 35
      13 Millard Fillmore Whig 24 26 29 31 32 32 35 36 31 35 35 38 36 33 37 38 35 37 38
      14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 27 28 31 35 35 36 37 37 33 39 37 39 38 41 40 40 39 40 41
      15 James Buchanan Democratic 26 29 33 36 37 38 39 40 38 41 39 41 40 42 42 42 40 43 43
      16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 01 01 01 01 03 02 02 01 01 01 02 02 02 01 01 03 02 01 01
      17 Andrew Johnson Democratic 19 23 32 32 38 39 40 39 37 40 36 42 37 24 41 43 36 41 40
      18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 28 30 35 30 36 37 38 38 34 33 32 35 29 18 23 26 29 28 36
      19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 14 14 22 22 23 23 24 25 23 26 22 27 24 27 33 31 30 30 25
      20 James A. Garfield Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 33 25 30 26 30 99  – 29 99  – 33 99  – 34 28 27 99  – 31 31
      21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 17 21 26 24 24 26 27 28 26 32 26 30 26 22 32 25 32 32 28
      22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 08 11 17 13 18 17 19 16 13 17 12 20 12 19 21 20 21 23 18
      23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 21 20 23 25 31 29 30 31 19 31 27 32 30 30 30 34 34 29 29
      25 William McKinley Republican 18 15 18 10 19 19 18 17 16 15 14 19 14 17 16 21 17 21 19
      26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 07 07 05 04 05 05 03 05 06 04 05 03 05 05 04 02 05 04 05
      27 William Howard Taft Republican 16 16 19 20 20 20 21 20 22 24 19 21 20 29 24 24 25 20 23
      28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 04 04 06 07 06 06 06 06 07 06 11 06 11 10 09 08 06 10 07
      29 Warren G. Harding Republican 29 31 36 37 39 40 41 41 39 38 37 40 39 35 38 41 38 42 42
      30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 23 27 30 27 30 31 36 33 30 27 25 29 23 26 26 29 28 27 30
      31 Herbert Hoover Republican 20 19 21 21 27 28 29 24 35 34 29 31 31 36 34 36 26 38 32
      32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 03 03 02 02 01 01 01 02 03 02 03 01 03 03 03 01 01 03 02
      33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 99  – 09 08 08 07 07 07 07 08 05 07 07 07 07 05 09 07 06 06
      34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 99  – 22 11 09 11 12 08 09 10 09 09 10 08 06 08 10 10 07 09
      35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 99  – 99  – 13 14 (tie) 08 10 10 15 12 08 18 14 15 11 06 11 15 14 11
      36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 99  – 99  – 10 12 14 15 13 12 14 10 17 15 18 12 11 16 11 12 13
      37 Richard Nixon Republican 99  – 99  – 34 34 28 25 23 32 36 25 33 26 32 38 27 30 23 34 33
      38 Gerald Ford Republican 99  – 99  – 24 23 22 27 32 27 28 23 28 28 28 25 22 28 24 24 26
      39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 99  – 99  – 25 26 33 24 25 19 27 22 30 25 34 32 25 32 18 26 27
      40 Ronald Reagan Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 16 * 22 20 26 25 11 08 16 06 08 10 18 08 11 15
      41 George H. W. Bush Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 18 * 31 22 24 20 21 22 21 20 18 22 22 17 22
      42 Bill Clinton Democratic 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 16 * 23 * 20 * 21 * 24 * 18 22 23 15 13 19 08 20
      43 George W. Bush Republican 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 23 * 19 * 37 * 36 39 31 35 34
      44 Barack Obama Democratic 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 99  – 15 * 99  – 18 * 17 *
      Total in survey 29 31 36 38 39 40 41 41 39 41 39 42 40 42 42 43 40 43 43
      Rankings by Liberals and Conservatives
      Rank Liberals (n = 190) Conservatives (n = 50)
      1 Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln
      2 Franklin D. Roosevelt George Washington
      3 George Washington Franklin D. Roosevelt
      4 Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson
      5 Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt
      6 Woodrow Wilson Andrew Jackson
      7 Andrew Jackson Harry S. Truman
      8 Harry S. Truman Woodrow Wilson
      9 Lyndon B. Johnson Dwight D. Eisenhower
      10 John Adams John Adams
      ...
      30 Calvin Coolidge Jimmy Carter
      31 Franklin Pierce Richard Nixon
      32 James Buchanan Franklin Pierce
      33 Andrew Johnson Andrew Johnson
      34 Ulysses S. Grant James Buchanan
      35 Richard Nixon Ulysses S. Grant
      36 Warren G. Harding Warren G. Harding
      Variable coefficient p-value
      Years In Office 22.67 <.01
      Intellectual Brilliance 57.79 <.01
      War Hero 147.86 <.01
      Real Per-Capita GDP Growth 7.75 <.05
      Assassination 195.97 <.001
      Military Deaths Per-Capita Rank -8.73 <.001
      President Favorable Unfavorable Net favorable
      George Washington 94 2 92
      Abraham Lincoln 92 4 88
      Thomas Jefferson 89 4 85
      Theodore Roosevelt 84 8 76
      Franklin D. Roosevelt 81 12 69
      John F. Kennedy 80 13 67
      John Adams 74 9 65
      James Madison 73 8 65
      Ronald Reagan 72 22 50
      Dwight D. Eisenhower 72 15 57
      Harry S. Truman 70 14 56
      Andrew Jackson 69 14 55
      Gerald Ford 62 26 36
      John Quincy Adams 59 7 52
      Ulysses S. Grant 58 24 34
      George H. W. Bush 57 41 16
      Jimmy Carter 57 34 23
      William Howard Taft 57 15 42
      Woodrow Wilson 56 19 37
      Bill Clinton 55 41 14
      James Monroe 49 10 39
      Herbert Hoover 48 34 14
      Lyndon B. Johnson 45 42 3
      Andrew Johnson 45 26 19
      Chester A. Arthur 43 17 26
      James A. Garfield 42 16 26
      William McKinley 42 24 18
      George W. Bush 41 59 -18
      Grover Cleveland 40 26 14
      Calvin Coolidge 38 31 7
      Rutherford B. Hayes 38 19 19
      Richard Nixon 32 60 -28
      Benjamin Harrison 30 35 -5
      Warren G. Harding 29 33 -4
      James Buchanan 28 32 -4
      James K. Polk 27 21 6
      Zachary Taylor 26 18 8
      Martin Van Buren 23 19 4
      William Henry Harrison 21 16 5
      Franklin Pierce 17 25 -8
      Millard Fillmore 17 25 -8
      John Tyler 9 15 -6
      Gallup poll 2013
      President Outstanding Above Average Average Below Average Poor No Opinion Weighted Average
      Eisenhower, Dwight D.Dwight D. Eisenhower 10% 39% 36% 2% 1% 12% 2.38
      Kennedy, John F.John F. Kennedy 18% 56% 19% 2% 1% 4% 2.08
      Johnson, Lyndon B.Lyndon B. Johnson 4% 16% 46% 14% 8% 12% 3.07
      Nixon, RichardRichard Nixon 2% 13% 27% 29% 23% 6% 3.62
      Ford, GeraldGerald Ford 2% 14% 56% 15% 5% 8% 3.08
      Carter, JimmyJimmy Carter 4% 19% 37% 20% 15% 6% 3.24
      Reagan, RonaldRonald Reagan 19% 42% 27% 6% 4% 2% 2.33
      Bush, George H. W.George H. W. Bush 3% 24% 48% 12% 10% 2% 3.02
      Clinton, BillBill Clinton 11% 44% 29% 9% 6% 1% 2.55
      Bush, George W.George W. Bush 3% 18% 36% 20% 23% 1% 3.42
      Obama, BarackBarack Obama 6% 22% 31% 18% 22% 1% 3.28
      Seq. President Political party Bg PL CAb RC CAp HE L AC WR EAp OA Im DA Int EAb FPA LA IQ AM EV O
       
      1 George Washington No Party 7 37 12 3 3 4 1 3 4 1 4 9 4 2 2 3 1 12 1 3 4
      2 John Adams Federalist 4 29 18 26 10 13 23 32 16 15 13 17 22 3 19 12 20 7 15 12 17
      3 Thomas Jefferson Dem-Repub 1 4 6 4 6 16 6 11 8 5 5 3 6 14 5 7 6 1 6 5 5
      4 James Madison Dem-Repub 3 10 11 9 7 12 17 7 15 9 6 8 12 5 14 20 17 2 10 8 6
      5 James Monroe Dem-Repub 9 12 15 8 14 9 9 8 17 8 16 16 8 10 11 2 13 15 7 9 7
      6 John Quincy Adams Dem-Repub 2 34 20 35 16 14 30 29 23 13 15 11 18 4 21 16 26 5 20 21 19
      7 Andrew Jackson Democratic 30 2 10 14 27 28 4 38 5 19 12 13 14 23 6 19 5 23 12 13 14
      8 Martin Van Buren Democratic 16 13 23 19 24 38 33 13 32 25 24 24 27 29 23 25 27 22 27 24 23
      9 William Henry Harrison Whig 24 30 25 31 33 27 42 35 30 24 37 35 36 30 33 39 24 31 33 34 35
      10 John Tyler Independent 33 42 39 42 39 31 22 39 26 34 35 29 34 33 37 35 36 33 32 36 37
      11 James K. Polk Democratic 17 9 13 12 21 15 7 23 7 16 17 14 11 24 9 8 10 20 9 11 12
      12 Zachary Taylor Whig 37 35 28 37 37 24 36 34 28 28 34 27 37 21 31 34 25 37 25 33 33
      13 Millard Fillmore Whig 40 41 40 38 35 33 25 25 37 35 38 36 35 36 38 33 39 39 30 35 38
      14 Franklin Pierce Democratic 38 37 37 41 40 34 35 36 38 38 39 39 39 38 40 40 40 38 35 40 40
      15 James Buchanan Democratic 23 40 41 40 42 41 40 41 43 39 42 42 43 40 42 41 43 40 41 43 42
      16 Abraham Lincoln Republican 28 6 2 6 4 5 13 1 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 5 2 3 2 1 3
      17 Andrew Johnson National Union 42 43 43 43 43 37 39 43 34 42 41 41 42 37 41 38 42 41 42 42 43
      18 Ulysses S. Grant Republican 26 28 24 22 25 29 21 22 22 40 28 26 26 27 34 24 21 29 31 31 26
      19 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican 29 33 30 29 29 26 19 18 33 33 33 32 33 28 30 30 32 30 24 29 31
      20 James A. Garfield Republican 20 22 22 24 32 23 41 27 31 29 25 28 25 25 26 31 23 26 22 27 27
      21 Chester A. Arthur Republican 41 31 32 27 28 19 14 21 27 26 30 25 20 32 27 26 28 32 17 26 25
      22/24 Grover Cleveland Democratic 19 16 17 15 17 22 20 19 24 18 20 22 17 19 17 21 19 25 14 19 20
      23 Benjamin Harrison Republican 39 32 34 28 30 35 29 30 39 36 36 34 32 31 35 28 34 35 23 32 34
      25 William McKinley Republican 21 14 19 11 23 18 24 20 21 20 21 23 19 22 18 15 18 27 11 20 21
      26 Theodore Roosevelt Republican 6 7 3 5 1 2 2 12 1 4 3 1 2 6 4 4 4 6 3 4 2
      27 William Howard Taft Republican 14 36 29 30 18 20 32 24 36 22 23 30 21 18 25 23 31 18 28 23 24
      28 Woodrow Wilson Democratic 8 8 9 16 8 8 15 37 9 10 8 5 9 11 10 10 12 4 29 10 8
      29 Warren G. Harding Republican 43 38 36 34 36 39 37 26 40 43 43 43 40 42 43 37 41 43 39 41 41
      30 Calvin Coolidge Republican 25 24 38 21 26 30 12 28 41 30 32 37 31 17 28 32 33 28 19 28 29
      31 Herbert Hoover Republican 10 26 31 33 19 43 43 40 42 32 26 38 41 13 29 36 37 14 40 38 36
      32 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic 5 1 1 2 2 1 5 2 3 3 2 4 3 16 3 1 3 10 4 2 1
      33 Harry S. Truman Democratic 35 15 14 20 15 6 11 15 6 7 7 15 7 8 8 6 9 17 8 6 9
      34 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican 12 17 21 10 9 11 8 5 20 17 11 20 13 9 7 9 7 19 5 7 10
      35 John F. Kennedy Democratic 13 19 4 13 12 7 27 6 10 6 14 7 15 35 13 17 11 11 16 14 11
      36 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic 15 3 16 1 5 10 28 9 12 12 9 12 5 34 12 43 15 21 37 16 16
      37 Richard Nixon Republican 18 20 26 36 38 25 34 33 14 37 22 19 24 43 24 11 29 16 43 37 30
      38 Gerald Ford Republican 27 25 35 17 22 36 31 17 35 23 31 33 30 15 32 27 30 34 26 25 28
      39 Jimmy Carter Democratic 31 39 27 39 20 40 38 31 25 21 29 21 29 7 36 29 35 13 36 30 32
      40 Ronald Reagan Republican 34 5 5 7 31 21 3 14 11 31 19 18 23 26 20 13 8 36 13 17 18
      41 George H. W. Bush Republican 11 27 33 23 34 32 26 16 29 27 27 31 28 20 22 14 22 24 18 22 22
      42 Bill Clinton Democratic 22 11 8 25 11 3 10 4 18 11 10 10 10 41 15 18 14 9 34 15 13
      43 George W. Bush Republican 36 39 42 32 41 42 18 42 19 41 40 40 38 39 39 42 38 42 38 39 39
      44 Barack Obama Democratic 32 21 7 18 13 17 16 10 13 14 18 6 16 12 16 22 16 8 21 18 15
      Seq. President Political party Bg PL CAb RC CAp HE L AC WR EAp OA Im DA Int EAb FPA LA IQ AM EV O

      * Ranking calculated before president had completed his term in office.
      ** The Times poll is a British newspaper's poll of eight of its own journalists, not of academics.
      Note: Grover Cleveland was elected to two non-consecutive terms, serving as both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States; to date he is the only person to have achieved this distinction. Because of it, the total number of people who have served as president is one less than the number of presidents in order of succession.
      • "George W. Bush has just finished five years as President. If today were the last day of his presidency, how would you rank him? The responses were: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%."
      • "In your judgment, do you think he has a realistic chance of improving his rating?" Two-thirds (67%) responded no; less than a quarter (23%) responded yes; and 10% chose "no opinion or not applicable".
      • Blue backgrounds indicate first quartile.
      • Green backgrounds indicate second quartile.
      • Orange backgrounds indicate third quartile.
      • Red backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.
      • Bg = Background
      • PL = Party leadership
      • CAb = Communication ability
      • RC = Relations with Congress
      • CAp = Court appointments
      • HE = Handling of economy
      • L = Luck
      • AC = Ability to compromise
      • WR = Willing to take risks
      • EAp = Executive appointments
      • OA = Overall ability
      • Im = Imagination
      • DA = Domestic accomplishments
      • Int = Integrity
      • EAb = Executive ability
      • FPA = Foreign policy accomplishments
      • LA = Leadership ability
      • IQ = Intelligence
      • AM = Avoid crucial mistakes
      • EV = Experts' view
      • O = Overall
      • Blue backgrounds indicate first quartile.
      • Green backgrounds indicate second quartile.
      • Orange backgrounds indicate third quartile.
      • Red backgrounds indicate fourth quartile.
      • Bailey, Thomas A. (1966). Presidential Greatness: The Image and the Man from George Washington to the Present. New York: Appleton-Century.  → A non-quantitative appraisal by leading historian.
      • Bose, Meena; Landis Mark (2003). The Uses and Abuses of Presidential Ratings. New York: Nova Science Publishers. ISBN .  → A collection of essays by presidential scholars.
      • DeGregorio, William A. (1993). The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (4. ed., rev., expanded, and up-dated ed.). New York: Barricade Books. ISBN .  → Contains the results of the 1962 and 1982 surveys.
      • Eland, Ivan (2009). Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty. Oakland, California: Independent Institute. ISBN . 
      • Faber, Charles; Faber, Richard (2000). The American Presidents Ranked by Performance. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN . 
      • Felzenberg, Alvin S. (1997). "There You Go Again: Liberal Historians and the New York Times Deny Ronald Reagan His Due". Policy Review. 82: 51–54. ISSN 0146-5945. 
      • Holli, Melvin G. (1999). The American Mayor: The Best & the Worst Big-City Leaders. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press. ISBN . 
      • Merry, Robert W. Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians (2012) excerpt and text search
      • Miller, Nathan (1998). Star-Spangled Men America's Ten Worst Presidents. New York: Scribner. ISBN . 
      • Murray, Robert K.; Blessing, Tim H. (1994). Greatness in the White House: Rating the Presidents, from Washington Through Ronald Reagan (2., updated ed.). University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State Univ. Press. ISBN . 
      • Nichols, Curt (2012). "The Presidential Ranking Game: Critical Review and Some New Discoveries". Presidential Studies Quarterly. 42 (2): 275–299. doi:10.1111/j.1741-5705.2012.03966.x. ISSN 0360-4918. 
      • Pfiffner, James P. (2003). "Ranking the Presidents: Continuity and Volatility" (PDF). White House Studies. 3: 23. ISSN 1535-4768. 
      • Ridings, William J., Jr.; McIver, Stuart B. (1997). Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent. Secaucus, NJ: Carol Publishing. ISBN . 
      • Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr. (1997). "Ranking the Presidents: From Washington to Clinton". Political Science Quarterly. 112 (2): 179–190. doi:10.2307/2657937. 
      • Skidmore, Max J. (2004). Presidential Performance: A Comprehensive Review. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN . 
      • Skidmore, Max J. (2001). "Ranking and Evaluating Presidents: The Case of Theodore Roosevelt". White House Studies. 1 (4): 495–505. ISSN 1535-4768. 
      • Taranto, James; Leo, Leonard (2004). Presidential Leadership: Rating the Best and Worst in the White House. New York: Wall Street Journal Books. ISBN .  → For Federalist Society surveys.
      • Vedder, Richard; Gallaway, Lowell (2001). "Rating Presidential Performance". In Denson, John V. (ed.). Reassessing the Presidency: The Rise of the Executive State and the Decline of Freedom. Auburn, AL: Ludwig von Mises Institute. ISBN . 
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    • Historical rankings of Presidents of the United States

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