Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Is Obama the Worst Prez since WWII?

There's a new survey out today in which respondents -- apparently not all presidential scholars -- ranked the presidents since World War II (scroll down a bit to see the actual table) Barack Obama, he doesn't do very well. Dead last. If you ask, who is the worst.If you have following links, the top finishers (Q35, with percentages who voted for them) were:
  1. Reagan (35)
  2. Clinton (18)
  3. Kennedy (15)
  4. Obama (8)
  5. Eisenhower (5)
Yes, but if asked who "you would consider the worst president" you get obviously a different list, but one that deserves a closer look.
  1. Obama (33)
  2. George W. Bush (28)
  3. Nixon (13)
  4. Carter (8)
  5. Clinton, Johnson, Reagan (tie at 3 each)
In other words, Obama is the worst president since World War II. Or he's the fourth best president since World War II.

Let that sink in for a moment. Obama is fourth best, or 12th, depending on how you ask the question. In other words, when you ask a random sample of U.S. adults, you get a huge partisan effect. Sixty-three percent of Republicans rated Obama the worst, while 33 percent of Dems did. George W. Bush? Fifty-four percent of Dems rated him the worst ever, only 5 percent of Republicans did.

So what do we make of this survey? Not a hell of a lot. Maybe Obama is the worst president since World War II. It's too soon to say, and to be honest I'd prefer to hear what presidential historians have to say about this than a random sample of people swaying in the partisan wind. But the key to me is how the two questions above differ so wildly in the same survey.

Also, Reagan does well in other surveys. A Gallup 2011 survey had him on top as "the greatest U.S. president." Higher than Lincoln. I'm a Reagan fan, but he's no Abraham Lincoln, so that result alone should demonstrate just how much a survey of the American public on this kind of issue can be skewed.

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