Siena Research Institute

Ranking Presidents Affected By Being A One Term Or Two Term President?

The game of ranking Presidents is a continuous topic among historians, political scientists, journalists, and ordinary citizens.

In the upcoming June issue of Presidential Studies Quarterly, Professor Curt Nichols, an assistant professor of political science at Baylor University in Texas, comes up with a new theory and premise about how Presidents are ultimately ranked in history.

Nichols used a statistical method known as regression analysis, utilizing Presidential ranking polls conducted by C Span, the Wall Street Journal, and the Siena Research Institute.

Each poll has different factors in judging Presidential leadership, with C Span having ten.

But Nichols says the rating score of Presidents is ultimately raised if the following six factors are considered:

Number of years served
Wartime leadership
If transformation of political landscape occurs in their term
If they are part of the Founding Fathers group
If they are considered “progressive” and pursue “equal justice for all”
If they are assassinated progressives

At the same time, two factors will decrease the rating scores of Presidents:

If the President is impeached, resigns, or has major political scandals during his administration
If they push the nation into political crisis or are unable to lift the country out of a political crisis

Going by this discussion, Nichols believes that IF Barack Obama is defeated for re-election, he will rank only as “average”, as number 22, between William McKinley and George H. W. Bush.

But Nichols also believes that If Barack Obama is re-elected to the Presidency, he could end up as high as number FOUR, behind Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George Washington, and ahead of Thomas Jefferson!

There is lots of room for debate on the Nichols viewpoint, but it certainly will cause much more discussion and analysis of the men who have been President of the United States.

A few observations here:

If wartime Presidents have an edge, then why is James Madison, William McKinley, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush rated quite low on the rankings list generally accepted?

One term Presidencies that stick out as better include James K. Polk and John F. Kennedy.

Two term Presidencies that are seen negatively include James Madison, Ulysses Grant, Grover Cleveland, and George W. Bush.

So whether having a second term really helps raise the stature of a President is still very debatable.

And whether Barack Obama could end up ranked ahead of Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton is something that will be hotly debated into the long term future.