In a new YouGov/ The Economist survey, respondents named Barack Obama as the best president in American history more than they named any other former commander-in-chief, and they named Donald Trump as the worst president in American history at a higher rate than any other ex-president. The survey was conducted from February 6 to February 9, ending right as Trump’s Senate trial got underway, where House impeachment case managers presented their case against Trump this week on a charge of incitement of insurrection.
In the survey, a full 18 percent of respondents overall said that Obama was the best president in U.S. history, while 13 percent of respondents overall said the same of Trump. On the flip side, a full 46 percent of respondents named Trump as the worst president in American history. Propelled by strong Republican partisanship, Obama came in second on that question… but only 24 percent of respondents overall named him the worst U.S. president. In other words, agreement that Trump was the worst president in American history was almost twice as high as the level of support for the idea that Obama was the worst.
On the question of which past president was the worst ever, no other ex-commander-in-chief made it out of single digits. Meanwhile, on the question of which president was the best, three fellow former presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan, surpassed single-digit levels of support.
The results showing high public opinion of Obama mirror other recent numbers. In a USA TODAY/ Suffolk University survey from December — before the rioting at the Capitol that Trump incited — 50 percent characterized Trump as a failed president. In a similar survey from around the end of Obama’s term, only 23 percent of respondents overall characterized the then-outgoing commander-in-chief as a “failed” president. A full 50 percent of respondents overall characterized Obama as either “great” or “good.” Only 29 percent of respondents identified Trump with the same descriptors in the more recent edition of the same USA Today/ Suffolk University survey, meaning that Obama’s support seems almost twice as strong as Trump’s backing.