Historians Across The Political Spectrum Agree: Trump Is Among The Worst Presidents In American History

by Tod Perry

February 20, 2018
Former President Bill Clinton attends a press conference in New York. Photo via Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images.


In these divisive times, it’s nice to see presidential scholars of every political stripe agree on something.

Every U.S. president leaves a legacy that goes on for generations. Historical events and the long-term effects of policy can take on new meaning with the passage of time. So every few years, historians re-evaluate how the presidents stack up against one another to account for the passage of history. 

Recently, members of the American Political Science Association’s Presidents and Executive Politics section — a collection of scholars who stretch across party lines — were surveyed to discover their current presidential rankings. One thing they all agreed on: Donald Trump is undoubtedly among the worst.

Overall, Trump ranked last of the 44 men who’ve held the office*. Independent scholars ranked him at 43, while Republican scholars had him only at 40. Democrats pegged him dead last.

The 2018 Bottom 5

39. Warren Harding

40. Andrew Johnson

41. Franklin Pierce

42. William Harrison

43. James Buchanan

44. Donald Trump

Bill Clinton might not be very happy with his place on the 2018 list. Clinton was ranked at 8 when the poll was last taken in 2014, now he’s dropped to 13. Although Clinton presided over one of the most peaceful and prosperous times in U.S. history, his treatment of women and criminal justice record has tainted his legacy in recent years.

The past four years have been very kind to Barack Obama. In 2014, he ranked at 18 on the list, now he’s rocketed up the top ten to 8. Since leaving office, public opinion has swung to his favor on Obamacare, and most Americans give him more credit than Trump for the current economic boom. 

George W. Bush has also seen his legacy improve slightly, gaining five points from 35 to 30. 

The 2018 Top 15 

1. Abraham Lincoln

Photo via National Archives/Getty Images

2. George Washington

3. Franklin Roosevelt

4. Theodore Roosevelt

5. Thomas Jefferson

6. Harry Truman

7. Dwight Eisenhower

8. Barack Obama

9. Ronald Reagan

10. Lyndon Johnson

11. Wilson

12. Madison

13. Clinton

14. John Adams

15. John Kennedy

Click here to read the full 2018 rankings.

*Trump is the 45th president, but there are 44 people on the list. Grover Cleveland was elected twice, nonconsecutively. 





Image via ​Win McNamee/Getty Images and Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images. 

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Historians Across The Political Spectrum Agree: Trump Is Among The Worst Presidents In American History