Barack Obama moved into the No. 10 position in this year’s presidental historians survey, while Trump ranked No. 41. Abraham Lincoln remains atop the list.
CLEVELAND — Editor’s Note: The above video is from a previously published story
Just in time for the July 4th holiday as we celebrate our nation’s birthday, C-SPAN has released its latest “Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership.”
For the fourth time in a row, Abraham Lincoln was voted as America’s top president, followed in the top five by George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Donald Trump, who just left office in January, found himself ranked No. 41 out of 44 presidents. While Trump is the lowest-rated living president, Barack Obama ranks at No. 10, the highest among former presidents still living.
Harry Truman, Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Obama rounded out the top 10 in the survey.
Since 2000, C-SPAN has conducted a historians survey each time there has been a change in presidential administrations. For this year’s survey, 142 historians and professional observers of the presidency participated as they ranked our 44 former chief executives on 10 characteristics of leadership.
The characteristics of leadership include public persuasion, crisis leadership, economic management, moral authority, international relations, administrative skills, relations with Congress, vision and setting an agenda, pursuing equal justice for all and performance within the context of the times.
Trump was ranked in last place for both Moral Authority and Administrative Skills. His highest rankings were in Public Persuasion (No. 32) and Economic Management (No. 34).
The only presidents to rank lower than Trump overall were Franklin Pierce (No. 42), Andrew Johnson (No. 43), and James Buchanan (No. 44).
There may be some hope for Trump to ascend in the rankings in the future. Recent presidents have tended to move up in recent surveys. For example, Barack Obama rose to No. 10 from his No.12 ranking in 2017, while George W. Bush now ranks at No. 29 after being at No. 36 in 2009. Bill Clinton began at No. 21 in 2000 and held steady at No. 15 in 2009 and 2017 before moving down to No. 19 this year.
Point Pleasant, Ohio native Ulysses S. Grant has been the highest gainer since the start of the survey, moving from No. 33 in 2000, to No. 20 in 2021.
“Grant,” says Rice University professor and survey advisor Dr. Douglas Brinkley, “is having his Hamilton moment.”
Just as a reminder, there have been 44 men who have served as president prior to Joe Biden taking office in January. However, Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms and is considered both the 22nd and 24th president.