Trump rated one of worst presidents in history on par with leader who died after a month in office

The ratings included scores on 10 leadership qualities. Mr Trump ranked the worse of any president on “moral authority”

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 30 June 2021 19:07 BST
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Former President Donald Trump has ended up among the bottom four in a ranking of America’s commanders in chief.

A number of historians were consulted for the C-SPAN list ranking everyone who has served in the top spot for the last 232 years since George Washington took office in 1789. The list left out current President Joe Biden who is only six months into his term.

Mr Trump was ranked the lowest of all presidents who were in office during the last 150 years and the fourth worst overall. The list is the fourth iteration of the rankings by C-SPAN and is based on judgements by 142 historians and professional observers.

Mr Trump is considered the worst president since just after the Civil War, according to the group. But he still continues to hold a vice-like grip on the Republican Party and would be the overwhelming favourite if he chooses to enter the race for the 2024 GOP nomination.

At the other end of the list, Barack Obama jumped two spots in the rankings, going from 12th best to 10th. Ronald Reagan snagged the number nine spot, Bill Clinton came in at 19, George HW Bush at 21, and George W Bush at 29.

The only president forced to resign because of a scandal, Richard Nixon, was ranked 31st.

Mr Trump is the first president to have been impeached twice by the House – for conditioning military aid on political favours from Ukraine, and then for inciting the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on 6 January. He was acquitted both times by the US Senate.

Mr Trump has dismissed criticism from historians in the past as unfair. In a 2016 interview, before becoming president, he said experts “can’t see the forest for the trees”.

The ratings included scores on 10 leadership qualities. Mr Trump ranked the worse of any president on “moral authority” and “administrative skills” while he grabbed spot 32 for “public persuasion”.

C-SPAN has conducted the survey every time there has been a change of administrations in the White House since 2000. The network said it increased the number of participants in this year’s survey and diversified the group when it came to race, gender, age, and philosophy.

Abraham Lincoln has been ranked as number one in all of the previous four surveys. George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt, and Theodore Roosevelt have been among the top five. This year, as well as in 2017, Dwight Eisenhower was ranked fifth.

James Buchanan, who led the country through the leadup to the Civil War came out worst.

Andrew Johnson, who was Mr Lincoln’s vice president and assumed office following Mr Lincoln’s assassination, was ranked second worst.

Franklin Pierce, who served from 1853 to 1857, was ranked third from the bottom, just below Mr Trump.

William Henry Harrison, the shortest-serving president in US history, was ranked fifth from the bottom, just above Mr Trump. Mr Harrison died after just 31 days in office in 1841.

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