Obama Worst President Since World War II: Poll
Policy + Politics

Obama Worst President Since World War II: Poll

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A third of all Americans believe that President Obama is “the worst” chief executive since World War II – while more than half say his administration is not competent to run the federal government, according to a new Quinnipiac University national poll that may offer one of the most stinging voter assessments yet of the beleaguered president.

Obama’s approval rating has hovered around 40 percent for months and it showed no improvement in this latest survey. On issues from foreign policy and anti-terrorism to health care and the economy, voters across the country gave Obama a failing grade. For the issue of greatest concern and urgency to most voters – the sputtering U.S. economy – 55 percent of Americans said they disapprove of his performance, while only 40 percent approve.

Related: Devastating New Poll Shows Americans Believe Obama Can No Longer Lead the Country

Obama also received mixed grades for his character, according to the Quinnipiac survey, with voters evenly divided – 48 percent to 48 percent – over whether he is honest and trustworthy. The survey questioned 1,446 registered voters nationwide.

Some Democrats appear to be suffering from buyer’s remorse for having backed Obama’s reelection in 2012 over GOP challenger Mitt Romney. Ten percent of Democrats surveyed said the country would be better off with Romney in the White House, compared with 74 percent of Democrats who said the country would be worse off and 9 percent who said it would be about the same.

Obama narrowly defeated Romney in the popular vote by a margin of 50.4 percent to 48.1 percent. In the Quinnipiac survey, 45 percent of respondents said the nation in general would be better off with Romney as president, 38 percent said it would be worse off, and 10 percent said it would be about the same. Among Republicans, 84 percent said the country would be better off with Romney, while independents agreed with that, 47 percent to 33 percent.

Romney, after months in the political wilderness, has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity among establishment Republicans and those with business interests, with some urging him to make a third bid for the presidency in 2016, when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to head the Democratic ticket. Last March, 34 percent of Republicans said in a Washington Post-ABC News poll that they could definitely back Romney in the 2016 GOP primary. Many view him as standing tall above the current crop of GOP presidential aspirants in terms of fundraising firepower and leadership skills.

Related: How About This 2016 Matchup? Clinton vs. Romney

On Meet the Press last month, Romney said, “I’m not running, and talk of a draft is kind of silly.” But during a GOP summit he hosted in Park City, Utah, to help political leaders and conservative thinkers devise a winning strategy for the 2016 presidential campaign, he appeared to enjoy the renewed attention he’s been getting.

“The more Romney insists he’s not interested, the more people become intrigued at the prospect of him running,” Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post wrote recently.

With two-and-a-half years left in Obama’s second term, it may be too soon to assess the president’s place in history. Yet 33 percent of the nearly 1,500 voters interviewed by Quinnipiac said Obama is the worst president since World War II, putting him just ahead of former Republican President George W. Bush, dubbed the worst president by 28 percent of interviewees.

Republican Ronald Reagan was rated the best president of that era by 35 percent of those surveyed, followed by Democrats Bill Clinton (18 percent favorable judgment) and John F. Kennedy (15 percent). “Over the span of 69 years of American history and 12 presidencies, President Barack Obama finds himself with President George W. Bush at the bottom of the popularity barrel,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said in a statement.

Related: Obama’s Falling Ratings Hurt Dems in Midterms

The survey comes after a steady drumbeat of controversy and bad news for the president. Obama has struggled to deal with deteriorating conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan and has become so estranged from congressional Republicans that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has vowed to take him to court for allegedly violating his sworn constitutional duty to enforce laws.

While Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any other president in the past five decades, Republicans say he’s repeatedly engaged in overreach to skirt Congress’s legislative authority. Last week, the Supreme Court ruled that Obama violated the Constitution in making some recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. Earlier this week, the High Court ruled against a provision of the Affordable Care Act that would have required “closely held” companies to provide contraception coverage to workers when it was contrary to company executive’s religious beliefs.

Obama has also been sharply criticized for freeing Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a possible deserter, in return for the release of five Taliban detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration has been buffeted by scandals and controversies, including the near-disastrous rollout of Obamacare last fall, allegations of IRS wrongdoing, and lengthy waitlists at VA medical centers that may have contributed to the deaths of dozens of veterans.

Obama’s approval rating actually inched up from his all-time low of 38 percent in December 2013, said Quinnipiac. But his grades for specific issues and challenges are bleak: a 40-percent approval rating for health care; 37 percent for foreign policy; and 44 percent for combating terrorism. Only on the environment does Obama get a positive rating – of 50 percent.

The Quinnipiac poll’s release coincided with a poll by Zogby Analytics, showing Obama’s approval rating dropping 3percentage points, to 44 percent, while disapproval went up 4 points from last month, to 54 percent. “We see a president in full salvage mode,” said veteran pollster and analyst John Zogby. “He is not only racing for his legacy but for his relevancy.”

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