Among self-identified Republicans and conservatives, President Donald Trump came in 40th. | Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan are up, Bill Clinton is down and Donald Trump is off to a historically bad start — and the greats, meanwhile, remain the greats.
That was the finding of the 2018 Presidents & Executive Politics Presidential Greatness Survey, released Monday by professors Brandon Rottinghaus of the University of Houston and Justin S. Vaughn of Boise State University. The survey results, ranking American presidents from best to worst, were based on responses from 170 current and recent members of the Presidents and Executive Politics section of the American Political Science Association.
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Obama moved from 18th in 2014, when the survey was last conducted, to 8th in the current survey. Reagan jumped from 11th to 9th. Bill Clinton, meanwhile, fell from 8th to 13th — perhaps as a result of heightened attention to sexual misconduct in the midst of the #MeToo movement.
Trump came in dead last.
The top seven remained unchanged, with Abraham Lincoln holding the top spot, followed in order by George Washington, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.
Even among self-identified Republicans and conservatives, Trump came in 40th out of 44 (while Trump is officially the 45th president, the survey did not count Grover Cleveland’s non-consecutive terms separately, so the ranking runs from 1-44).
Washington received the top spot from Republicans and conservatives, while liberals, Democrats and independents chose Lincoln.
Franklin Roosevelt, the architect of the New Deal and the father of the modern Democratic Party, continues to enjoy high marks across the political spectrum. Reagan, on the other hand, who ushered in the modern era of small-government conservatism, receives high ranks from conservatives and Republicans but falls in the teens for Democrats and liberals. Obama sees the reverse.
Trump closely follows James Buchanan, America’s 15th president, who presided over the increasingly explosive national debate over slavery, and who saw the Union split apart after the election of his successor, Lincoln.