News & Politics

Obama Leaves Trump in the Dust in Public's Ranking of the Best Presidents

"When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetimes, more Americans name Barack Obama than any other president."

Photo Credit: Politic/Gage Skidmore

Despite President Donald Trump's fervent support among his base, a recently released Pew Research Center poll found that he is trailing President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, and President Ronald Reagan in a survey of public opinion.

"When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetimes, more Americans name Barack Obama than any other president," Pew writes in a new post. "More than four-in-ten (44%) say Obama is the best or second best president of their lifetimes, compared with about a third who mention Bill Clinton (33%) or Ronald Reagan (32%)."

Meanwhile, Trump falls in fourth place at 19 percent.

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Which president has done the best job during your lifetime?

Somewhat surprisingly, President George H.W. Bush (10 percent) ranks behind President George W. Bush — despite the fact that the latter led the country into two endless and largely pointless wars and oversaw the start of the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.

For those hoping that Trump's tenure is more of a blip on the radar rather than a sign of things to come, the poll offers some comfort. Younger people are far more likely to rank Obama among the best presidents than they are to favor Trump — a sign that Democrats' electoral strength had the potential to grow. And indeed, the fact that Democrats tend to be younger will necessarily skew the poll toward Obama, since younger people will have fewer presidents that were around "in their lifetimes" to choose from.

Even some Republicans appear to be feeling more favorably toward Obama. When the poll was conducted in 2011, only 5 percent of Republicans listed Obama among the best presidents — that number climbed to a (still quite modest) 13 percent in the newest round.

Overall, the poll shouldn't be too surprising. Given the relative strength of the economy, Trump's approval rating remaining in the low 40s, which reflects a pretty dismal failure to win over the public. Meanwhile, Obama — who Trump believed was overseeing a disastrous economy — left office with a Gallup approval rating at 59 percent.

Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.