According to a new survey of around 90 U.S. presidential historians conducted by C-SPAN this week, former president Barack Obama ranks as the United States' 12th best leader. Abraham Lincoln took the top spot, followed by George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt.
Using a database of C-SPAN programming, 91 historians and presidential scholars evaluated the 44 presidents by giving them a score between one and 10 on 10 different leadership qualities such as "economic management", "crisis leadership", "moral authority", and "vision/setting an agenda". "I am especially surprised that he was ranked at seventh in moral authority (despite heading a scandal-free administration); 19th in administrative skills; and eighth in economic management (despite having helped to save the auto industry and significantly reducing unemployment)".
Others in the top ten are: Theodore Roosevelt (4), Dwight Eisenhower (5), Harry Truman (6), Thomas Jefferson (7), John F. Kennedy (8), Ronald Reagan (9) and Lyndon Johnson (10).
Barack Obama is considered the 12th-best president, according to a CSPAN poll.
Former President Barack Obama earned high marks among historians and other presidential experts.
Douglas Brinkley, a Rice University professor and C-SPAN adviser, was a bit more impressed with the democrat's ranking. Obama did very well in one of those categories (No. 3 for pursuing equal justice) and very poorly in another (No. 39, near the bottom, for relations with Congress).
Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, moved up from 36th to 33rd place, but still behind his father, who is in 20th.
The survey asks historians to rank the presidents on a 1-to-10 scale on 10 qualities of leadership: public persuasion, crisis leadership, economic management, moral authority, global relations, administrative skills, relations with Congress, vision/setting an agenda, pursued equal justice for all and performance within the context of his time.
Of course, it is hard to determine the effectiveness of a presidency so soon after the president left office.
"Of course historians prefer to view the past from a distance", she said, "and only time will reveal his legacy". William Henry Harrison, who was president for only one month before he died in office, ranked 38.
Andrew Jackson, whose populist movement has been compared by some historians to Donald Trump's unconventional political rise, dropped several pegs in the latest survey, falling from the 13th slot in 2000 and 2009 to just 18th today.