As part of our national poll last weekend, we decided to do a special Presidents' Day poll and ask voters how they feel about each of the 43 presidents we've had, including the current one. (Yes, Obama is the 44th, but remember: Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th.)
What we found is that America's first president is still its most popular. 89% of voters see George Washington favorably, and only 3% unfavorably, followed in the top ten by Abraham Lincoln (85-7), Thomas Jefferson (74-6), Teddy Roosevelt (66-9), John Adams (55-9), Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower (each 62-11), John F. Kennedy (70-21), John Quincy Adams (52-7), and Franklin D. Roosevelt (62-22). Of other recent presidents, Ronald Reagan is 14th most popular (62-30), Gerald Ford 16th (49-28), Bill Clinton 17th (54-38), George H.W. Bush 19th (51-42), and Jimmy Carter tied for 29th (44-44).
The least popular by far is Richard Nixon (27-59), followed by ten others in negative territory: Lyndon B. Johnson (34-42), Warren Harding (12-19), Millard Fillmore (7-12), Herbert Hoover (25-29), Calvin Coolidge (18-22), Barack Obama (46-49), Chester Arthur (10-13), Martin Van Buren (13-15), James Buchanan (11-13), and George W. Bush (45-46).
JFK (90-7) ties Washington (86-3) for most popular among Democrats, followed closely by Lincoln (87-5), Clinton (84-11), FDR (79-8), Teddy Roosevelt and Jefferson (each 73-6), Obama (80-16), Truman (67-11), and Carter (72-17). Nixon (17-73) and Bush 43 (19-73) are by far their least favorites, followed by Bush 41 (27-66). Reagan (34-53) is the fourth least popular with Democrats, but he has only a net -19 favorability.
Among Republicans, Reagan (92-6) is a close second fiddle to Washington (92-4), and the Bushes are sixth and seventh (80-14 for H.W. and 79-15 for W.). Obama is obviously in a league of his own with Republicans right now, but he is followed distantly by Carter (19-70), Clinton (27-65), and LBJ (20-53) in the GOP hatred pantheon.
Obama (82-17) is fourth most popular among black voters, after Lincoln (85-1), Washington (83-4), and JFK (83-14). Clinton (73-18), Carter (67-18), LBJ (62-16), and FDR (63-18) are sixth through ninth. Obama obviously has the largest racial gap (80 points), followed distantly by Bush 41 (59 points), Carter (58), LBJ (57), Bush 43 (50), Reagan (48), and Clinton (47).
The biggest gender gap is for Carter, whom women see 23 points more positively than do men, followed by Nixon, who is viewed 21 points better by men than women. Obama has a gender gap of 13 points, Clinton of 11, and LBJ of 10.
Lauded more for his post-presidency (including a controversial Nobel Peace Prize) than his presidency, Carter also places near the top in the age gap between those under 30 and those over 65, seen 25 points better by voters who weren't born during his time in the White House than senior citizens who were in their mid-30s or older when he left office. Bizarrely, though, Lincoln places higher (seen 28 points better by older voters), as well as Bush 41 (31), Reagan (32), Truman (34), Eisenhower (45), and Ford (52). Bush 43 is seen 17 points better by older folks than young ones, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, Obama, LBJ, and Clinton are seen 14 or 13 points better by youth than their parents and grandparents.
54% (James Monroe) to 84% of voters (Franklin Pierce) have no opinion of 20 of the 43 presidents, mostly 19th- and early-20th-century commanders-in-chief. Only eight have “not sure” figures in the single digits, led by the current head of state, of whom only 5% have no opinion.
There are lots of more interesting stuff in the crosstabs, so let us know what you notice that we haven't.
Full results here