Was Trump the worst president? Not according to this survey


President Donald Trump listens as Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt delivers remarks on proposed changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, at the White House on Jan. 9, 2020. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)

(ABC4) – Former President Donald Trump is the first president of the 2000s to land in the bottom five of a survey of historians on presidential leadership.

For the last two decades, C-SPAN has surveyed historians, professors, and other professional observers of the presidency to rank presidents based on 10 qualities of presidential leadership. That includes administrative skills, public persuasion, and relations with Congress.

According to C-SPAN, this survey is conducted after each presidential cycle.

Trump landed in the 41st slot, coming in between William Henry Harrison and Franklin Pierce. Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan rounded out this year’s list.

Pierce, Johnson, and Buchanan have ranked at the bottom of the list through every cycle. Until this survey, Harrison had been ranked directly above Pierce.

Trump’s ranking is over 30 places behind his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, who landed in the 10th ranking. In the survey immediately after his term ended, Obama was ranked 12th.

The only other president who served during the survey time, George W. Bush, has ranked 36th, 33th, and 29th, respectively, since leaving office.

Here is where Trump ranked, out of 44, across the individual qualities:

  • Public persuasion: 32nd
  • Crisis leadership: 41st
  • Economic management: 34th
  • Moral authority: 44th
  • International relations: 43rd
  • Administrative skills: 44th
  • Relations with Congress: 42nd
  • Vision/Setting an agenda: 36th
  • Pursued equal justice for all: 40th
  • Performance within context of times: 42nd

For the fourth time in a row, former President Abraham Lincoln topped out the overall list. He and Thomas Jefferson are the only two presidents to be ranked at the same level since the survey began. Jefferson again captured the 7th position.

Other noticeable changes in this survey include:

  • This year, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, the father-son duo, and George W. Bush jumped four spots in the rankings while James K. Polk, Bill Clinton, and Andrew Jackson fell four spots
  • Chester A. Arthur gained five spots from 35 to 30 in 2017 – the largest jump in this round
  • Ronald Reagan has improved overall since 2000, going from 11th to 9th, while Woodrow Wilson has worsened, moving from 6th to 13th since 2000

For the full results, click here.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah Coronavirus

More Coronavirus Updates


More In Focus

Justice Files

More Justice Files