Poll: Obama’s the worst president since WWII; Updated

Via Quinnipiac University:

President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, 33 percent of American voters say in a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today. Another 28 percent pick President George W. Bush.

And who’s the best president since WWII? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count:

Ronald Reagan is the best president since WWII, 35 percent of voters say, with 18 percent for Bill Clinton, 15 percent for John F. Kennedy and 8 percent for Obama, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Among Democrats, 34 percent say Clinton is the best president, with 18 percent each for Obama and Kennedy.

There are undoubtedly many factors which explain these numbers, but if I had to pick one, it would be the economy. Both Obama and Reagan inherited a bad economy. But despite Obama’s constant whining about the bad economy he “inherited” from George Bush, the macroeconomic conditions at the outset of his presidency were not as bad as what Reagan confronted, a point I made in a post three years ago:

Obama, of course, blames everything on Bush and still tries to claim that he inherited a bad economy.  Fair enough on the later: He did inherit a bad economy.  However, it was certainly no worse than the mess Reagan inherited from Jimmy Carter.  Indeed by any objective measure, what Reagan began with was far worse as the following chart, produced by Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute, makes clear:

The big difference, of course, is in the policies Obama and Reagan pursued to get the economy back on track. Reagan lowered tax rates, reduced government red tape, and put his faith in the free market. Obama did precisely the opposite, placing his faith in higher taxes, higher energy prices, and an ever-expanding bureaucracy. It’s not surprising, then, that the two achieved opposite results. The following chart compares the first 8 quarters of the Reagan Recovery with the Obama “Recovery”.

Quarter Reagan(GDP Growth) Obama(GDP Growth) Reagan(Avg. Unemp. Rate) Obama(Avg. Unemp. Rate)
1st 5.1% 1.7% 10.4% 9.6%
2nd 9.3% 3.8% 10.1% 9.9%
3rd 8.1% 3.9% 9.4% 9.8%
4th 8.5% 3.8% 8.5% 9.6%
5th 8.0% 2.5% 7.9% 9.5%
6th 7.1% 2.3% 7.4% 9.6%
7th 3.9% 0.4% 7.4% 9.0%
8th 3.3% 1.0% 7.3% 9.0%

Despite Obama’s multiple “pivots” back to the economy, things have not improved noticeably. Whatever drop we’ve seen in the topline U-3 unemployment rate has been due to the drop in the labor force participation rate which is now at its lowest rate since, ahem, Jimmy Carter was president.  Given all this, it’s not difficult to understand why the public rates Obama as the worst president in the post-war era and Reagan, by a 2-1 margin, the best. It’s the economy, stupid.

Good question from the New York Post:

Is it really any wonder that given a choice between Reagan’s strength and small government and Obama’s weakness and “smart” government, even today Reagan handily wins a contest for the presidency?


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