Americans believe Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton will go down in history as the best among recent U.S. presidents — with at least 6 in 10 saying each will go down in history as an above-average or outstanding president, according to a new Gallup poll. Only about 1 in 10 say each will be remembered as below average or poor.
Meanwhile, three years into Barack Obama’s presidency, Americans are divided in their views of how he will be regarded, with 38% guessing he will be remembered as above average or outstanding and 35% as below average or poor.
Compared with Gallup’s previous update — conducted in January 2009, just before Bush’s presidency ended and Obama’s began — ratings of several presidents are up.
• Positive ratings of George W. Bush increased from 17% to 25% since 2009, while negative ratings of him declined from 59% to 47% in the three years since he left office.
• Positive ratings of Clinton, Reagan, and the elder Bush are also higher than in January 2009.
Democrats tend to believe history will judge Democratic presidents more favorably than Republicans do, and Republicans believe Republican presidents will be regarded more favorably than Democrats do. But partisans do not universally rate all of their party’s presidents better than all of the other party’s presidents.
• 36% of Republicans believe Clinton’s presidency will be viewed as outstanding or above average, a higher percentage of GOP supporters than believes that about Republican presidents Ford (25%) and Nixon (18%).
• Democrats are more likely to believe Reagan will get favorable historical judgments (47%) than that Carter will (31%).
• With a 46% outstanding/above-average rating from Republicans, George W. Bush joins Carter, Ford, and Nixon as presidents getting less-than-majority positive ratings from their own party’s supporters.