WASHINGTON (KTVU) — About a month after Donald Trump was sworn into office as the 45th president of the United States, C-SPAN on Friday released its annual ranking of the best and worst presidential leaders in American history and there are some surprises on the list.
C-SPAN’s academic advisers asked 91 presidential historians to rate each American president from one to 10 on a variety of factors, including crisis leadership, economic management, relations with Congress and agenda setting.
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What’s not surprising perhaps is that the top three presidents atop the list are Abraham Lincoln, who came in at number 1, George Washington, who ranks number 2 on the list, and Franklin Roosevelt, who rounded out the top three.
“Once again the Big Three are Lincoln, Washington and FDR – as it should be,” historian Douglas Brinkley, who helped guide the C-SPAN research, told CNN.com.
What may be surprising is that the 44th president — AKA Barack Obama — came in at number 12, remarkable considering that he just wrapped up his term less than 45 days ago.
“That Obama came in at No. 12 his first time out is quite impressive,” Brinkley told CNN. “And the survey is surprisingly good news for George W. Bush, who shot up a few notches.”
During a raucous and free-wheeling press conference on Thursday by Trump, he said he is still struggling to put the nation on the right path after taking over from Obama.
“To be honest, I inherited a mess,” Trump said during a news conference that lasted more than an hour and was at times rambling, combative and pointed and has drawn sharp criticisms from the inside the Beltway crowd who have described it as a press conference like no other ever. “It’s a mess. At home and abroad, a mess. Jobs are pouring out of the country.”
In an online post, Politifact puts Trumps claim to the test and evaluates his “mess” claim based on current economic and foreign policy data.
While history’s picture of Obama may still be early, the survey found the worst ranked presidents to be Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, who presided over the nation as the Civil War was starting, ranked last.’
Here’s how some of America’s modern presidents ranked:
- Beloved Republican icon Ronald Reagan came in at ninth.
- His successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, ranked number 20.
- Bill Clinton, who ousted the elder Bush and prevented him from serving a second term, ranked number 15.
- George W. Bush came in at number 33.
- Richard Nixon ranked higher than the younger Bush, landing at number 28.
- Democrat Jimmy Carter ranked number 26.