NEW YORK, Feb. 22, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- As the nation continues to celebrate our Presidents by commemorating Presidents' Day and the birth of President George Washington, pluralities of Americans see President Abraham Lincoln as the best president ever and President Ronald Reagan as the best president since World War II.
A new Harris Poll also finds that attitudes to more recent presidents are highly polarized by party, with Democrats having much more positive attitudes to Presidents Kennedy, Clinton and Obama, and Republicans having much more positive attitudes to President Reagan. When asked who they think was the worst president since World War II, a plurality which includes half of all Republicans name President Barack Obama, followed by Presidents George W. Bush and Nixon.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,319 U.S. adults ages 18+ surveyed online between January 24 and February 3, 2017. Complete results of the study can be found here.
Best and Worst Presidents since World War II
When asked who the best president was since World War II, the largest proportion of Americans (25%), including 51% of Republicans, choose Ronald Reagan. He is followed by presidents John F. Kennedy (16%), Franklin D. Roosevelt (16%) and Barack Obama (15%).
When asked to choose the worst president since World War II, the largest number (24%), including 50% of Republicans, pick Barack Obama, followed by presidents George W. Bush (16%) and Richard Nixon (16%).
These perceptions of more modern presidents - like so many other attitudes today - are highly polarized by party, and the more recent the president, the more polarized the opinions. The percentages of each party who see the following as the best presidents are:
- Reagan - 51% of Republicans vs. 6% of Democrats;
- Kennedy - 21% of Democrats vs. 9% of Republicans;
- Roosevelt - 19% of Democrats vs. 10% of Republicans; and,
- Obama - 29% of Democrats vs. 3% of Republicans.
Almost a quarter (24%) of Democrats see George W. Bush as the worst president, compared to only 5% of Republicans. Nearly half of all Republicans (48%) think Barack Obama was the worst president, compared to 7% of Democrats.
Best President ever
When it comes to picking the best president in the history of the United States, no one president receives 20% or more of the vote. President Lincoln (19%) tops the list, followed by presidents Obama (15%, including 30% of Democrats), Washington (14%), Reagan (13%), Kennedy (8%) and Franklin Roosevelt (7%).
Those polled were also asked to pick their second choice. When those who chose a president as their first or second choice are added together, the rank order is more or less the same, with Lincoln (31%) topping the list, followed by Obama (26%), Reagan (24%), Kennedy (19%), Washington (18%), Clinton (14%) and Franklin Roosevelt (12%).
No other president received more than 5% of the vote. With the exceptions of presidents Washington and Lincoln, very few Americans picked any presidents before World War II.
To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit our website, TheHarrisPoll.com.
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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 24 and February 3, 2017 among 2,319 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.
The Harris Poll® #7, February 22, 2017
By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman Emeritus, The Harris Poll
About The Harris Poll®
Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, please visit our new website, TheHarrisPoll.com.
The Harris Poll
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SOURCE The Harris Poll