Ranking the presidents for Presidents' Day

February 16, 2018, 3:00 PM GMT+0

Trump and Obama top the worst presidents list

The week before Monday’s Presidents' Day holiday, the latest Economist/YouGov Poll finds Americans mostly (but not entirely) looking back through history when they are asked for America’s best President, and it also indicates that it’s in the present that they find their worst leader.

Donald Trump and Barack Obama rank first and second when it comes to which American President the public views as its worst ever. Richard Nixon, the only President to resign the job, is a distant third, followed by two more recent occupants of the White House, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

Most Democrats name Trump; most Republicans choose Obama.

President Trump has struggled in the public’s estimation throughout his Presidency, as his approval rating has rarely risen above 40% since his Inauguration last year. This week was one of those times. But while 41% approve of how he is handling his job today, 51% disapprove. 71% of those who disapprove of the current President say he is the worst ever, suggesting that there is little reason to believe minds will change about his performance anytime soon.

There is a somewhat more historic view when Americans make their choice for the country’s best President - one twenty-first-century President shares the top of the list with one from the twentieth and one from the nineteenth century. Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln top the list, followed by Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington and John Kennedy. 5% each name Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.

Americans cite presidents with whom they may have a special attachment. Just about half of African-Americans name Barack Obama, the nation’s only African-American president. And there is also an attachment to presidents of one’s youth. Obama score well with those under 30, while older Americans like Reagan more. One in ten Republicans name Trump, but nearly four times as many – 36% -- pick Reagan. Democrats choose Obama and Roosevelt. Lincoln’s popularity transcends age and party.

As for Presidents' Day, most Americans say it is meant to celebrate all Presidents. But not everyone can celebrate. A third of the public (more than half of those who have a job) will be working that day.

Read the latest topline and tables results here

Image: Getty