President Obama has been out of office for less than a month and it appears that he’s already missed. According to a C-SPAN survey of 91 historians, President Obama ranked 12th out of the previous 43 presidents.
The historians were instructed to give the presidents scores from 0-10 and were ranked in 10 different “qualities of presidential leadership.” Those categories were as follows:
- Public Persuasion
- Crisis Leadership
- Economic Management
- Moral Authority
- International Relations
- Administrative Skills
- Relations with Congress
- Vision / Setting an Agenda
- Pursued Equal Justice For All
- Performance Within Context of Times
One of the people who advised C-SPAN on the survey, Howard University’s Edna Greene Medford, told The Hill that she thought President Obama would have ranked a bit higher given his approval ratings when he left office.
‘Although 12th is a respectable overall ranking, one would have thought that former President Obama’s favorable rating when he left office would have translated into a higher ranking in this presidential survey. But, of course, historians prefer to view the past from a distance, and only time will reveal his legacy.’
When President Obama left office in January of this year, his approval ratings were sitting at 57 percent. Of course, historians evaluate things differently than the average voter does. It’s also possible that the impending Trump administration made even some of President Obama’s critics look at him in a new light. After all, despite whatever political disagreements one might have had with President Obama, at least there was never any doubt that he was sane.
That being said, one score that likely hurt Obama was his poor relationship with Congress. Republican obstructionism made it difficult for him to get much of his agenda accomplished and the president scored very low in “relations with Congress.” In fact, he was ranked fifth from the bottom with a mere 37.8 points in that area.
Abraham Lincoln took the number one spot as he has every year since C-SPAN began conducting the survey in 2000. Lincoln’s leadership during the Civil War is often credited as a deciding factor in the Union’s victory over the Confederacy.
The nation’s first president, George Washington, has consistently taken the number two spot, save for in 2000 when he was beaten by Franklin Roosevelt. Overall the top three appear to be fairly firmly established with Lincoln leading the pack and Washington and FDR competing for the second and third place.
One rather interesting thing to note is that Richard Nixon actually ranks fairly well, considering the Watergate scandal. He currently is ranked 28th which is the lowest he’s been in past surveys. It would make sense that historians would take a broader view of Nixon’s time in office despite the public’s preoccupation with Watergate.
It will be interesting to see where President Trump ranks once his four years are up. His approval ratings are already poor and those rarely improve over a president’s tenure. Regardless, we suspect that unless he’s number 1, he’ll spend his post-White House years ranting about rigged C-SPAN surveys and corrupt historians.
Featured image via Getty Images.