What Is a List of the U.S. Presidents in Order From Best to Worst?


Quick Answer

One poll taken by historians and political scientists, which incorperates public opinion, ranks past US Presidents in order from best to worst. The polls are based on their effectiveness and accomplishments in a broad range of categories, both foreign and domestic.

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Full Answer

Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt consistently rank near the top of these polls. Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt often make appearances in the top ten. James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce and Warren Harding are almost always found in the bottom tier. The respective position of other U.S. Presidents, such as Richard Nixon and Rutherford B. Hayes, have fluctuated over the course of time.

There have been seventeen different majorly relevant polls since 1948, with Sienna College having produced five of them. The first two polls were conducted by Arthur M. Schlesinger, in 1948 and 1962. His son, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., also conducted a poll in 1996. C-SPAN, The Wall Street Journal, and Gallop, among others, have done subsequent polls.

The polls are often criticized since they are conducted from partisan perspectives. Historian Thomas Bailey has said the polls are pointless because they try to "measure the immeasurable." Despite this, such polls, ranking US Presidents from best to worst, have become increasingly popular in the twenty-first century, with seven of them having been conducted since 2000.

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