President Obama is No. 1, but not in a flattering way.
He’s the top pick for “worst president since World War II,” according to a poll of American voters released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
Mr. Obama came in first with 33 percent, followed by George W. Bush with 28 percent. Third, with 13 percent, was Richard Nixon, who resigned in disgrace 40 years ago next month.
“Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel,” says Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac poll.
The top postwar presidents are Ronald Reagan (35 percent), Bill Clinton (18 percent), and John F. Kennedy (15 percent).
Of course, asking voters to rate the current president against his predecessors may not be fair. Sitting presidents face a daily barrage of challenges, and voters can be harsh, even when a president’s ability to fix a problem is limited. Typically, as soon as a president leaves office, his favorability rating gets a boost. And, historians say, one really should wait a few decades before ranking a president for the ages.
“Presidents often look different 20 or 30 years later, because when you wait that period of time you know what was important and what was not,” historian Michael Beschloss said in 2003, PBS notes.
In a head-to-head matchup, Obama and the second President Bush scored nearly evenly: Some 39 percent of voters said Obama has been a better president, while 40 percent say he has been worse.
But when asked about the outcome of the 2012 election, Obama fares worse – and it appears some voters may have buyer’s remorse. Forty-five percent say America would be better off if Republican Mitt Romney had won the race, while 38 percent say the country would be worse off. The poll did not indicate how many of those wishing Mr. Romney had won voted for Obama in 2012. In the election, the president beat Romney 51 percent to 47 percent.
Overall, Obama’s job approval rating remains in the doldrums, at 40 percent. Fifty-three percent disapprove. He also gets low marks for handling of issues: On the economy, 40 percent approve and 55 percent disapprove; on foreign policy, it's 37 percent versus 57 percent; on health care, 40 percent to 58 percent; and on terrorism, 44 to 51 percent.
Obama’s best issue, among those polled, is the environment. Fifty percent approve of his handling of the environment, and 40 percent disapprove.