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February 20, 2024

Historians Rank All U.S. Presidents

Historians have spoken, and the verdict is in: Donald Trump has been ranked the worst president in U.S. history, while Abraham Lincoln claims the title of the best. These findings come from the 2024 Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey, conducted by Qualtrics, which sought the opinions of more than 500 members of the American Political Science Association.

In the survey, respondents were asked to rate all presidents on a scale from 0 to 100, with 0 representing "failure," 50 representing "average," and 100 representing "greatness." Abraham Lincoln emerged as the highest-rated president with a score of 93.87, followed closely by Franklin Delano Roosevelt at 90.83 and George Washington at 90.32.

On the other end of the spectrum, Donald Trump received the lowest rating of all presidents surveyed, with a paltry score of 10.92. He was trailed by James Buchanan, who ranked as the second-worst president with a score of 16.71.

The survey results also shed light on the political divide in the perception of presidential greatness. While President Biden received an overall rating of 62.66, placing him 14th out of 45 presidents, Republicans and conservatives rated him lower than Trump. Trump ranked 41st and 43rd among Republicans and conservatives, respectively, while Biden was rated 30th by both groups.

Interestingly, respondents from different political affiliations showed varying opinions on who they considered the greatest president. Republicans and conservatives hailed George Washington as the greatest, while Democrats and independents favored Lincoln. However, there was a consensus across the board that Trump was the worst president.

Notably, Trump was also deemed the most polarizing president, with respondents identifying him as such more than twice as often as any other president. In contrast, George Washington was viewed as the least polarizing figure. Jimmy Carter also emerged as one of the least polarizing presidents.

In addition to his title as the worst president, Trump was also ranked as the most overrated by historians. Meanwhile, Barack Obama experienced a significant increase in his ranking since the survey began in 2015, climbing nine spots to seventh place with a rating of 73.8. Conversely, Andrew Jackson's ranking plummeted 12 places to 21st, with a score of 54.7.

These findings provide insight into the perspectives of historians on the legacies of past presidents and highlight the stark divisions in opinion across political lines. While some presidents are celebrated for their leadership and accomplishments, others are condemned for their actions and policies. As the nation continues to reflect on its history, these rankings serve as a reminder of the complex legacy of the U.S. presidency.

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