Rate yer president

Rate yer president

by digby

The latest ratings of the presidents going back to Eisenhower:

Kennedy took the top spot in these ratings thanks to the strongest bipartisan support of any modern president. Naturally, he had a high rating among Democrats (7.09), but he also received top marks from independents — 6.62, the highest any president earned from that group — and from Republicans (6.20). Kennedy’s rating among Republicans was the highest rating the opposite-party identifiers gave to any modern president. The next highest were Ronald Reagan’s (5.15) and George H.W. Bush’s (4.96) rating among Democrats.

Independents rated Kennedy highest (6.62), but they also held relatively positive views of Reagan (6.21) and Barack Obama (6.11).

Among partisans, Reagan was the highest-rated president among Republicans, with GOP identifiers giving him an average of 8.03. With a 7.20 rating, President Donald Trump earned the second-best score among Republicans, reinforcing the reality that GOP voters have rallied around him.

As for Democrats, they gave Obama a rating of 8.65, the highest for any Democratic president and the highest for any single president among a partisan group. Bill Clinton was second behind Obama among Democrats with 7.19, followed by Kennedy at 7.09.

Few would dispute that JFK and Reagan have worn well over the decades, more so than any of their modern colleagues, and the data in this survey confirm that.

Today’s extraordinarily high level of partisanship mainly explains why the two most polarizing presidents among Democratic and Republican respondents are the two most recent, Obama and Trump. The difference between the average rating among Democrats and Republicans for Obama was 5.18, the largest margin of any president. Trump was next, with a sizable difference of 5.06. Clinton and Reagan tied for a distant third with a partisan difference of 2.88.

Reflecting his scandal-driven exit from the White House, Richard Nixon earned the lowest score among all respondents, 3.80, with Democrats, Republicans, and independents all rating him lower than 5.0. Lyndon Johnson, chief prosecutor of an unpopular war in Vietnam, was not far above Nixon with an overall average of 4.17.

Fading public memories and generational replacement play some role in the rating of many modern presidents. Americans have fuzzy images of Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, and even George H.W. Bush despite the fact that many scholars view them as fair-to-good presidents. Generally speaking, the oldest respondents (age 55 and up) were less likely to respond “don’t know” when rating the presidents, particularly when rating the less recent presidents.

Trump earned the third-lowest overall mark among respondents, 4.20, and his 3.77 average among independents was the second worst, just above Nixon’s 3.70. Compounding Trump’s weak performance among independents was his exceptionally low rating among Democrats, 2.14, the worst mark for any president among any partisan cohort. For comparison, Republicans gave Obama an average rating of 3.47. 

That Democrats give the lowest ratings to Trump — lower even than Nixon — is remarkable, but so is the high evaluation of Trump among Republicans. This may be further evidence that the Trump brand and the Republican Party are increasingly synonymous, though Trump does not rate as highly among Republicans as Obama does among Democrats.

Another notable finding was that women routinely gave lower average scores to 10 of the 12 modern presidents. Only Obama and Jimmy Carter received higher average scores among women than men, although in some instances the differences by gender were very minor (Carter, Clinton, and George W. Bush). Curiously, the president with the largest gender gap in mean rating was Dwight Eisenhower, who received a score of 5.73 among men and 4.32 among women, for a difference of 1.41. Trump had the second-largest gender gap, 0.95.

It seems a little bit surprising that Trump rates so high --- just above Nixon and Johnson. It's surprising since he's already the greatest leader the world has ever known. Just ask him.

*Keep in mind that Reagan didn't have such great ratings until Republicans led by Grover Norquist started the "Reagan Legacy Project" to turn him into an icon. If they could have put giant Reagan statues in every big city they would have. As it is they just systematically went about renaming airports, roads, building etc after him and creating a hagiography worthy of Alexander the Great.