Notable Scholar Surveys
The 1948 poll was conducted by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., of Harvard University. The 1962 survey was also conducted by Schlesinger, who surveyed 75 historians. Schlesinger's son Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., conducted another poll in 1996.
The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents also gives the results of the 1982 survey, a poll of 49 historians conducted by the Chicago Tribune. A notable difference from the 1962 Schlesinger poll was the ranking of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, which rose from #22 in 1962 to #9 in 1982.
The Siena Research Institute of Siena College conducted surveys in 1982, 1990, 1994, 2002, and 2010. The 1994 survey placed only two Presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, above 80 points and two Presidents, Andrew Johnson and Warren G. Harding, below 50 points.
The 1996 column shows the results from a poll conducted from 1988 to 1996 by William J. Ridings, Jr., and Stuart B. McIver and published in Rating the Presidents: A Ranking of U.S. leaders, from the Great and Honorable to the Dishonest and Incompetent. More than 719 people took part in the poll, primarily academic historians and political scientists, although some politicians and celebrities also took part. Participants from every state were included, and emphasis was placed upon getting input from female historians and "specialists in African-American studies", as well as a few non-American historians. Poll respondents rated the Presidents in five categories (leadership qualities, accomplishments & crisis management, political skill, appointments, character & integrity), and the results were tabulated to create the overall ranking.
A 2000 survey by The Wall Street Journal consisted of an "ideologically balanced group of 132 prominent professors of history, law, and political science". This poll sought to include an equal number of liberals and conservatives in the survey, as the editors argued that previous polls were dominated by either one group or the other, but never balanced. According to the editors, this poll included responses from more women, minorities, and young professors than the 1996 Schlesinger poll. The editors noted that the results of their poll were "remarkably similar" to the 1996 Schlesinger poll, with the main difference in the 2000 poll being the lower rankings for the 1960s presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy, and higher ranking of President Ronald Reagan at #8. Franklin Roosevelt still ranked in the top three.
Another presidential poll was conducted by The Wall Street Journal in 2005, with James Lindgren of Northwestern University Law School for the Federalist Society. As in the 2000 survey, the editors sought to balance the opinions of liberals and conservatives, adjusting the results "to give Democratic- and Republican-leaning scholars equal weight." Franklin D. Roosevelt still ranked in the top-three, but editor James Taranto noted that Democratic-leaning scholars rated George Bush the sixth-worst president of all time, while Republican scholars rated him the sixth-best, giving him a split-decision rating of "average".
A 2006 Siena College poll of 744 professors reported the following results:
- "George W. Bush has just finished five years as President. If today were the last day of his presidency, how would you rank him? The responses were: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%."
- "In your judgment, do you think he has a realistic chance of improving his rating?” Two-thirds (67%) responded no; less than a quarter (23%) responded yes; and 10% chose "no opinion or not applicable."
Thomas Kelly, professor emeritus of American studies at Siena College, said: "President Bush would seem to have small hope for high marks from the current generation of practicing historians and political scientists. In this case, current public opinion polls actually seem to cut the President more slack than the experts do." Dr. Douglas Lonnstrom, Siena College professor of statistics and director of the Siena Research Institute, stated: "In our 2002 presidential rating, with a group of experts comparable to this current poll, President Bush ranked 23rd of 42 presidents. That was shortly after 9/11. Clearly, the professors do not think things have gone well for him in the past few years. These are the experts that teach college students today and will write the history of this era tomorrow."
A 2010 Siena poll of 238 Presidential scholars found that former president George W. Bush was ranked 39th out of 43, with poor ratings in handling of the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments and intelligence. Meanwhile, the current president, Barack Obama was ranked 15th out of 43, with high ratings for imagination, communication ability and intelligence and a low rating for background (family, education and experience).
The C-SPAN Survey of Presidential Leadership consists of rankings from a group of presidential historians and "professional observers of the presidency" who ranked presidents in a number of categories initially in 2000 and more recently in 2009. With some minor variation, both surveys found that historians consider Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Franklin D. Roosevelt the three best presidents by a wide margin and William Henry Harrison (to a lesser extent), Warren G. Harding, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, George W. Bush and James Buchanan the worst.
In 2008, The Times newspaper asked eight of its own "top international and political commentators" to rank all 42 US presidents "in order of greatness".
In 2011, through the agency of its United States Presidency Centre (USPC), the Institute for the Study of the Americas (located in the University of London’s School of Advanced Study) released the first ever U.K. academic survey to rate U.S. presidents. This polled the opinion of U.K. specialists in U.S. history and political studies to assess presidential performance and produced an overall rating on the basis of the responses. They also gave an interim assessment of Barack Obama, but his unfinished presidency was not included in the survey (had he been included, he would have attained eighth place overall).
In 2012, Newsweek magazine asked a panel of historians to rank the ten best presidents since 1900. The results showed that historians had ranked Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama as the best since that year.
Read more about this topic: Historical Rankings Of Presidents Of The United States
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... Note Click the "sort" icon at the head of each column to view the rankings for each survey in numerical order. 99 – 99 – 15 * 99 – 14 (tie) * Total in survey 43 ... * Ranking calculated before President had completed his term ... The surveys have been criticized for the way they have been organized ...
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