Hail to the Chiefs

Today is Presidents’ Day, 2022. Previously this holiday, which now commemorates all of America’s Chief Executives, marked the birthday of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or both. It remains a national holiday, with banks and federal offices closed–although many schools (and universities, like this one) no longer take the day off.

Presidents’ Day is the perfect time to take stock of our POTUS ranks. Perhaps the best ranking thereof was the one done by political scientists Brandon Rottinghaus (University of Houston) and Justin S. Vaughn (Boise State University). They asked 320 fellow political scientists to rate all the Presidents from worst to best, and 170 responded. (Here’s the actual study; here’s an article about it, with a handy graph part of which is reproduced below.)

The top top:

There are differences between how Democrat and Republican respondents ranked many of them. And the data is a bit skewed because 57.2% of professors that responded were Democrats, 27.1% Independents, and only 12.7% Republicans. (According to the latest Gallup data, as of the first week of January 2022 the party identifications for Americans overall were 46% Independent, 28% Democrat and 24% Republican.)

Still, it’s nice to know that both sides of the aisle can agree that Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed the slaves, and George Washington, the man who led the Revolutionary War, are our greatest Chief Executives. Personally, I think Ulysses S. Grant (#21) should be a lot higher; ditto for Grover Cleveland (#24)–the only man with the chutzpah to win the office twice, non-consecutively!

Addendum: Right after I first posted this, “Newsweek” ran a brief story about which Presidents since World War II have had the highest and lowest approval ratings while in office. George W. Bush can claim both. He hit 92% approval a few weeks after 9/11. But he also cratered at 19% his final year in office.

2 thoughts on “Hail to the Chiefs

  1. Very interesting Tim. Noteworthy, that with the exception of FDR, the approval gap between Republicans and Democrats is relatively small … until you get down to Obama and Johnston. Says something about the divisiveness and political rancor of modern American society and politics. I also find the 46% of Americans who self-describe as Indepents telling. Good Post.

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