Obama ‘Worst’ Since WW II: Poll

U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House.

It’s widely recognized, at this point, that President Barack Obama’s public approval ratings are in a slump.

His job approval stands at 41 percent in the latest Gallup track (with 53 percent disapproval, a phenomenon colloquially known as “underwater.”) He has stood lower — at 38 percent in Gallup’s tracking in the summer and again fall of 2011.)

Yet, the worst American president since World War II?

That’s what 33 percent of the voters surveyed by the Quinnipiac University National Poll say. Another 28 percent named former President George W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan ranked highest, with 35 percent going with the Gipper. Bill Clinton ran a distant second, with 18 percent identifying themselves as “Friends of Bill.”

Furthermore, 45 percent of those surveyed say the country would be better off if Republican Mitt Romney had won the 2012 presidential election.

Dig a little deeper and here are a few more twists:

While the greatest number of those surveyed name Obama as the worst commander-in-chief since World War II, the respondents are statistically divided over who was worse, Obama or Bush. And it is, after all, one third of those surveyed. Combined, nearly two thirds identify two presidents.

It’s the Republicans surveyed who really skew the numbers against Obama in the Quinnipiac contest: 63 percent of Republicans surveyed naming him as the worst, while just 4 percent of Democrats say so. Similarly, 28 percent of Democrats surveyed picked Bush as the worst, and 5 percent of Republicans did.

Richard Nixon, who resigned in the face of impeachment, was named by just 13 percent overall — making him a distant third-worst behind Obama and Bush in the survey. All of the other nine presidents were flunked by just single-digit shares of those surveyed — which suggests that history has a way of healing any bad feelings about anyone.

Which all adds up to one fact:

The share of those saying Romney would have made a better president is smaller than the percentage of Americans who actually voted for him in 2012. The percentage of voters calling Obama the worst president is significantly smaller than the number who say they disapprove of the job he is performing.

In other words, there is within any of these polls a share of voters who don’t like the president. Give them a list of modern-day presidents, and they’ll put him atop the ranking of the worst leaders. And partisans line up in numbers guaranteed to accentuate the criticism for any one leader.

What is more relevant than this contest among presidents living and dead is the actual standing of the chief executive holding the office today.

Obama has his work cut out for him.

“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 University Poll, in a statement accompanying the poll report.

And that poses a distinct political problem for a president facing a recalcitrant Congress heading into the final two years of his term.

Congress, too, is suffering low public approval: 16 percent at Gallup.

“Sue me,” the president said publicly yesterday, alluding to House Speaker John Boehner’s threat to sue the president for his perceived overuse of executive powers at a time of congressional inaction. Not an auspicious start to a summer of public polling on either centers of power.

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