Pollster Presidential Ranking

by Jonathan Hobratsch

I conducted a presidential ranking with about two dozen political buffs in a forum for the computer game PresidentInfinity by 270Soft, an Anthony Burgoyne company (I highly recommend this game).

How the Poll was Conducted

In this presidential ranking poll, I presented to pollsters 10 major policy decisions by each US president. Pollsters then voted on whether or not they would have supported the policy under that president. Secondly, they were asked what their general view of the given presidency was, from a range of “Very Favorable” to “Very Unfavorable.”

Of the two dozen participants, only about 8 pollsters voted for nearly every president. Yet, the results are interesting. Of these pollsters, three were conservative, two were centrist, and two were liberal. I must say that the conservative pollsters appeared rather moderate, compared to the average American, I’d say.

Presidential Ranking with Notes

Great Presidents

1. Abraham Lincoln
[The collective support for him was overwhelming. The pollsters also voted that he would most likely be a Democrat in 2016.]
2. George Washington
3. Franklin D. Roosevelt
[He would have been #1 if not for one unfavorable vote.]
Near Great Presidents
4. Theodore Roosevelt

5. Thomas Jefferson
6. Dwight Eisenhower
7. John F. Kennedy
[His name recognition probably lifted him.]
8. James Monroe
[His relatively harmonious presidency lands him here, it seems]
9. John Quincy Adams
[Highly favored by the 21st century for his failed proposals, but wasn’t desired in the 19th century. This was quite a surprise, since even the conservative pollsters liked his antebellum New Deal policies.]
10. Harry S Truman
[The majority of the pollsters believed Truman’s national security state moved us from FDR’s encouraging “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Despite this, pollsters liked Truman.]
11. Bill Clinton
[Had support from both sides of the aisle.
12. LBJ
[His domestic policies outweigh his Vietnam War decisions. Pollster also believed that after the last Vietnam vet dies, that LBJ will be known much more for his domestic succes than foreign policy failures.]
Good Presidents
13. Rutherford B. Hayes
[This is kind of a shocker.]
14. James Madison
[His policies weren’t really desired by pollsters, but they voted him favorable nonetheless.]
15. James A. Garfield
[Our greatest president to not really have a chance. Pollsters loved him for trying to clean out a corrupt government, enforce civil rights, and award positions by merit. Too bad he last only 6 months.]
16. Millard Fillmore
[This is quite a surprise. He seems to have risen, since he had few policies that people outright disliked. He hadn’t any real successes.]
17. Benjamin Harrison
[He was lifted by two very favorable votes that I cannot quite wrap my hand around. In fact, two of the 8 regular pollsters considered him one of their top presidents.]
18. William McKinley
19. Richard Nixon
[His policies outweighed his personality and the Watergate scandal. The majority of pollsters believed that Nixon would be considered a great president if not for Watergate.]
20. Gerald Ford
Above Average Presidents
21. Woodrow Wilson
[Opinions on Wilson were very divided. He was hurt by refusing to resign after a debilitating stroke, and by some of his views on race. Some were greatly disturbed by his economic policies.]
22. James K. Polk
[Another shocker, he’s usually at 11th. He was a little too aggressive for the pollsters.]
23. Ulysses S. Grant
[His commitment to civil equality makes him above average.]
24. Calvin Coolidge
Mediocre Presidents
25. Ronald Reagan
[Even one of the conservative pollsters wasn’t too high on him.]
26. John Adams
27. William Howard Taft
28. Jimmy Carter
[He was seen as either somewhat favorable or very unfavorable, for the most part.]
29. William Henry Harrison
30. Barack Obama
[He went along party lines. The two most conservative members considered him very unfavorable. While everyone else considered him somewhat favorable or mostly favorable.]
31. GHW Bush
Below Average Presidents
32. Andrew Jackson
[Genocide, bad appointments and opposition to the banks outweigh Jacksonian Democracy]
33. Chester A. Arthur
34. Zachary Taylor
35. John Tyler
Near Failed Presidents
36. Martin Van Buren
37. Warren G. Harding
[Pollsters were a little more lenient than scholars here, primarily for his pro-business stance, which was favored by Conservatives.]
38. Grover Cleveland
[Surprise fall in the polls. Cleveland may be the closest to a Libertarian president, and all the major pollsters seemed to favor an active president that intervened in emergencies.]
Failed Presidents
39. Andrew Johnson
40. GW Bush
[One conservative viewed Bush very favorably. About five people viewed him very unfavorably. Unlike with Obama, there was some bipartisanship in placing him here.]
41. Herbert Hoover
[Some of his policies were favored by the pollsters; yet, he was voted very unfavorably.]
42. Franklin Pierce
[One pollster somewhat approved of his presidency.]
43. James Buchanan
[The only president with 100% disapproval by pollsters]



One Comment Add yours

  1. Man, I kinda feel sorry for Buchanan:) could draw stick figures with one hand while erasing other stick figures with his remaining hand….simultaneously! In the world!!! –Paul


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