C-SPAN asked scholars to rank the presidents in terms of public persuasion, crisis leadership, economic management, moral authority, international relations, administrative skills, relations with Congress, vision, the pursuit of justice, and “performance within the context of the times.”
The list of historians included Thomas Balcerski, Mary Jo Binker, Bradley Birzer, Douglas Brinkley, Vernon Burton, Lou Cannon, Mark Cheathem, Lindsay Chervinsky, Robert Dallek, Jeffrey Engel, Ellen Fitzpatrick, Robert George, Lorri Glover, Amy Greenberg, David Greenberg, Allen Guelzo, Peter Henriques, Harold Holzer, Maurice Jackson, Michael Kazin, David Kennedy, G. Terry Madonna, Lucas Morel, Timothy Naftali, Margaret O’Mara, Paul Rahe, Willard Sterne Randall, Don Ritchie, Larry Sabato, Amity Shlaes, Manisha Sinha, Taylor Stoermer, Ronald White, Ted Widmer, and Sean Wilentz.
The groups of historians seem well-chosen. The group includes historians of multiple periods of American history and of both conservative and liberal persuasions.
The Best Overall:
- Abraham Lincoln’
- George Washington
- Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Harry S. Truman
- Thomas Jefferson
- John F. Kennedy
- Ronald Reagan
- Barack Obama
The Worst Overall:
- James Buchanan (worst)
- Andrew Johnson
- Franklin Pierce
- Donald Trump
- William Henry Harrison
- John Tyler
- Millard Fillmore
- Warren G. Harding
- Herbert Hoover
- Zachary Taylor
Public Persuasion: FDR is the best. Andrew Johnson is the worst. Reagan is 5th. Obama 8th.
Crisis Leadership: Lincoln is the best. James Buchanan is the worst. Trump is 42nd.
Economic Management: Lincoln is the best. Herbert Hoover is the worst. Bill Clinton is 5th.
Moral Authority: Lincoln is the best. Trump is the worst. Obama is 6th. Carter is 7th.
International Relations: FDR is the best. Buchanan is the worst. James Monroe is 6th.
Administrative Skills: Lincoln is the best. Trump is the worst. James Polk is 9th.
Relations with Congress: Washington is the best. Andrew Johnson is the worst. LBJ Is 2nd.
Vision: Lincoln is the best. Buchanan is the worst. Reagan is 5th.
Pursuit of Equal Justice: Lincoln is the best. Buchanan is the worst. LBJ is 2nd. Obama is 3rd. Carter is 5th.
Performance in Context of Times: Lincoln is the best. Buchanan is the worst. Trump is 43rd.