First Presidential Ratings Poll By Scholars Since Obama Presidency Began: Obama Rates 15th of 43!

Now in its 18th month, the Obama Presidency finally has made the Presidential rankings poll of accomplished scholars in History and Political Science!

The Siena Research Institute, located at Siena College in Loudonville, New York, has conducted polls five times now since 1982, each one including one more President than the previous polls.

Many conservatives will complain that the Siena polls are distorted to favor liberal, reform oriented Presidents. This has been a traditional reality in the field of History and Political Science, although there have been so called “conservative” oriented polls in recent years!

The top five Presidents have always been the same over the five polls in the past 28 years, although in somewhat different order!

Franklin D. Roosevelt has consistently been number one all five times, and in times as we are going through now, it is certainly not at all surprising, except for the fact that he surpasses Abraham Lincoln, who is traditionally number one in most polls of experts!

The next four Presidents are those on Mount Rushmore, with Lincoln being third, second, second, second, and third in the consecutive polls!

Thomas Jefferson is rated second, third, fifth, fifth, and fifth; while George Washington is rated fourth in all five polls!

Theodore Roosevelt has also gained over the years, as he moved from fifth and fifth in the first two polls, to third, third and now second behind his distant cousin!

Woodrow Wilson was a solid sixth for the first four polls, but slipped to eighth in the most recent survey!

Harry Truman was a consistent seventh in the first four polls, but fell to ninth in the last poll!

John F. Kennedy, always seemingly overrated by scholars, was eighth, tenth, and tenth, and then has fallen out of the top ten in the last two polls, to fourteenth and eleventh, respectively!

James Madison, arguably one of the greatest Founding Fathers, but usually termed as a mediocre President who could not keep us out of the War of 1812, is rated higher in the Siena polls than most other rankings, being ninth, eighth, ninth, ninth, and now sixth!

Four other Presidents made the top ten at some point in the Siena polls over the years–John Adams was tenth in 1982; Andrew Jackson was ninth in 1990; Dwight D. Eisenhower was eighth, tenth, and tenth in 1994, 2002, and 2010; and James Monroe was eighth and sixth in the 2002 and 2010 surveys!

Among Presidents since Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson ranks 14, 15, 13, 15, and 16; Richard Nixon rates 28, 25, 23, 26 and 30; Gerald Ford ends up 23, 27, 32, 28, and 28; Jimmy Carter ranks 33, 24, 25, 25 and 32; Ronald Reagan rates 16, 22, 20, 16, and 18; George H. W. Bush ranks 18, 31, 22, and 22; Bill Clinton rates 18 and 13; and George W. Bush ranks 23 and 39!

And Barack Obama reaches number 15, a great start for a President faced with crises not matched since Franklin D. Roosevelt!

To put Obama in the top third (almost, as 14.33 is one third of 43) seems to me very fair, and bodes well for his future ranking, despite many Republicans, conservatives, and Tea Party Movement people who will, of course, condemn these rankings!

Further discussion of these Presidential rankings will follow this entry!

3 comments on “First Presidential Ratings Poll By Scholars Since Obama Presidency Began: Obama Rates 15th of 43!

  1. John Salyers July 7, 2010 11:05 pm

    I always think that it’s premature to put the current President on the list. With all the problems facing this country it is comforting to know that we have a President who at least understands what is going on.

    I was shocked to see FDR and TR rated over Lincoln, BUT each poll reflects the current desires for what our President should be as much as anything else. And today’s American desires effective leadership that can get us out of messes. I wonder if the elevation of TR on the list has to do with the shift in focus to our environment and conservation of resources. I’m sure a large part of his placement has to do with his ability to butt heads together and force much-needed reform. Let’s hope that President Obama can do likewise.

  2. Ron Kuffel August 18, 2010 3:21 pm

    Wilson left the country with 20 % unemployment while raising the top marginal federal tax rate to 77 % from 7 % and you ranked him sixth. Amazing. Does “educated view” mean “ignore the outcomes?”

  3. Ronald August 18, 2010 4:27 pm

    This is the Siena Research Institute Poll judgment, not mine, but notice Wilson fell to eighth in the most recent poll of this organization!

    Having said that, a President must be judged on MANY factors, and while Wilson had numerous faults and shortcomings, he is being compared to all the other Presidents, not to an ideal standard! So scholars and experts have tended to put him in the top ten, and I would join them in that assessment!

    The high unemployment rate, while not as high as you stated, was due to the recession that took place after World War I, and that is not at all uncommon after our major wars! That is not justifying it, but for most of the time Wilson was in office, the economy was in good shape! He brought about more domestic reforms than anyone before him, and only FDR and LBJ after him!

    At the same time, he was a racial supremacist and against woman suffrage, horrible points, to say the least! But again, IN COMPARISON to other Presidents, he is still in the top ten for his virtues! That indicates how so many of our Presidents have been found wanting, and lacking, in so many ways. So it is NOT an endorsement of Wilson when he is “bad”, but rather a cataloguing of where he is “good”!

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