WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama tops the list of the worst presidents since World War II, according to a new national poll.
And the survey, released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University, also indicates that a plurality of voters nationwide say in hindsight that the country would be better off if Mitt Romney had won the 2012 presidential election.
Thirty-three percent of people questioned in the poll say that Obama is the worst president since the Second World War, with 28 percent saying George W. Bush was the worst. Thirteen percent picked Richard Nixon, with 8 percent naming Jimmy Carter.
“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,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
It’s important to note Obama and Bush, his predecessor in the White House, are more in the public conscious than previous presidents, and both have governed during a time of bitter partisanship that’s made compromise between the two major political parties extremely difficult. When Quinnipiac last asked the question, in 2006, Bush topped the list, with 34 percent saying he was the nation’s worst president.
According to the poll, Ronald Reagan (at 35 percent) tops the list of the best president since WWII, with 18 percent saying Bill Clinton was best, followed by John F. Kennedy at 15 percent and Obama at 8 percent.
Voters are divided on whether Obama’s been a better president than his predecessor, with 39 percent saying he’s better than Bush and 40 percent saying he’s worse. No surprise, there’s a wide partisan divide on this question.
Bush left office in January 2009 with very low poll numbers. But according to a recent CNN/ORC International survey, his favorable rating now stands at 46 percent, up 11 percentage points over the past five and a half years. His favorable rating is now on par with Obama.
Better off if Romney had won?
Forty-five percent of those questioned say that America would be better off if Romney had won the 2012 election, with 38 percent saying the country would be worse off. Again, it’s no surprise that 84 percent of Republicans say that America would be better if Romney had won and nearly three-quarters of Democrats saying things would be worse.
An adviser close to the former Massachusetts governor said he received a bunch of calls Wednesday, following the release of the poll, from donors who contributed to the 2012 Romney presidential campaign.
Spencer Zwick, the campaign finance chairman for Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, says that he thinks the poll “creates a hope and interest from a lot of those donors who would have loved to seen Romney become president but are hopeful there may be a shot in the future.”
“It started a few months ago with donors saying ‘do you think there’s any shot,’ to donors now saying ‘how do we convince him to do it.’ Which is kind of interesting because they have heard Gov. Romney say ‘I’m not planning on doing this again’ and I think some of these donors don’t want to take no for an answer,” added Zwick.
Romney has said over and over that he won’t run for the White House a third time.
“I’m not running,” Romney said last month, a line Romney has used in interviews every time he’s asked about 2016. Romney’s wife, Ann, has also been adamant against another run.
Obama’s job running the government
By a 54 percent to 44 percent margin, the survey indicates that the Obama administration is not competent in running the government.
The poll’s Wednesday release comes as the scandal rocking the Department of Veterans Affairs dominated headlines recently. It’s the latest controversy of the past year, following the NSA snooping scandal, the controversy over the IRS targeting of some conservative non-profit groups, and the rough rollout of the new federal health care law.
The president has also faced numerous international challenges, including the new bloodshed in Iraq, the civil war in Syria, and the fighting in Ukraine, as well as the controversial swapping of five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay for the release of a U.S. soldier held captive in Afghanistan.
The Quinnipiac University poll was conducted June 24-30, with 1,446 registered voters nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey’s overall sampling error is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.