A group of more than 170 scholars from the American Political Science Association released a survey today (on Presidents’ Day, the national holiday celebrating those who have held the office), which aims to calculate the “greatness” of every US president. Trump debuted at 44th, in last place. (There are only 44 spots, because Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms.)
The US’s 45th president has had a rocky start to his term as Commander in Chief.
The last time the group ran the survey, in 2014, Barack Obama entered the list in 18th place. He’s since jumped up to 8th, just ahead of Ronald Reagan. Trump still has time to turn things around, and many presidents’ legacies improve over time, the researchers note. But right now, Trump is ranked lower in the reckoning of political scientists than James Buchanan, the president who saw the US descend into civil war, scandal-ridden presidents like Warren Harding and Andrew Johnson, and William Henry Harrison, who only managed to serve for 31 days before dying of pneumonia.
The low opinion of the current president crosses party lines. Of the scholars surveyed, those identifying as Democrats put Trump last, independents put him second-last, and Republicans put him 40th, still in the bottom five. The group also graded Trump’s first year on a report-card scale (pdf), giving him a “D” in “legislative accomplishments” and “communicating with the public” (presumably thanks to his prolific Twitter use), and an “F” in “foreign policy leadership” and “embodying institutional norms.” Overall, the grades averaged out to an “F” for his first year in office.
The full list of ratings for all the presidents is below. It’s not the happiest holiday reading for the current president on President’s Day: