A YouGov Survey on the past eight elected Presidents, therefore not including Gerald Ford, ranks their “intelligence” with unusual results.
The word “intelligent” has different meanings to different people.
Is it based on grades while in school?
Is it based on ability to get things done effectively?
Is it based on oratorical skill and charm and charisma?
Is it based on accomplishments in office?
Is it based on personal popularity with the American people?
Is it based on reaction to crises that arise?
Does being “intelligent” matter as much as other characteristics, including: honesty, experience, ability to inspire, boldness, and having a sense of humor?
What it comes down to is that how people react to Presidents is very personal, and trying to rank them on the word “intelligence” is simply extremely political in nature!
According to the YouGov poll, Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan are the two most “intelligent” of the eight recent Presidents, followed by Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. Notice that the first two are also seen as most “successful”, while Obama, even under attack recently, looks better than the rest, and the senior Bush is remembered for the Persian Gulf War, which led him to an all time high public opinion poll rating of 91 percent.
The other four recent Presidents, generally seen as “failures”, or at least seen as negative, are in order: Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and George W. Bush.
Interestingly, George W, Bush and Barack Obama have the highest percentage, both 17 percent, thinking they are not intelligent at all! This is purely emotion based on opposition that each has had from his critics!
What it comes down to is that this poll is basically useless, as it fails to look at historical reality and the record of each President!
If that was done, one could argue that LBJ should rank the highest in pure accomplishment in domestic affairs, in a way that still affects us, while Richard Nixon would rank highest in pure accomplishment in foreign policy, despite his many other shortcomings, including Watergate.
In pure native intelligence, based on information we have on their backgrounds, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter would rank the highest.
Ronald Reagan has been over inflated in image, while George H. W. Bush has been underrated for his accomplishments.
Barack Obama cannot be adequately evaluated while in office, while George W. Bush, ranking last, seems likely to remain that way for the long run!