Americans say Obama is the worst president since World War II

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from The Washington Post,

A new poll from Quinnipiac University rumbled around the Internet on Wednesday morning, and with good reason. The University’s description of the survey begins, “President Barack Obama is the worst president since World War II, 33 percent of American voters say.” And then, for good measure, it continues, “America would be better off if Republican Mitt Romney had won the 2012 presidential election, 45 percent of voters say, while 38 percent say the country would be worse off.”

One takeaway from that: Romney’s support has slipped two points since the 2012 election, when he got 47 percent support. We’re not trying to be flip about the poll, which is the latest in a long line showing that Americans are generally unhappy with the direction of the country. But as with so much else, the more interesting details lie underneath the exciting headlines.

We’ll start with that “worst president” thing. Quinnipiac helpfully includes a similar question that it asked in July of 2006, when then-president George W. Bush’s poll numbers were in the middle of their long slide downward. Here are the worst presidents since World War II as identified by American voters in 2006 and in 2014.

July 2006

George W. Bush (34 percent)
Richard Nixon (17 percent)
Bill Clinton (16 percent)
Jimmy Carter (13 percent)

July 2014

Barack Obama (33 percent)
George W. Bush (28 percent)
Richard Nixon (13 percent)
Jimmy Carter (8 percent)

No one has benefited more from the Obama presidency, it seems, than Bill Clinton. Or perhaps, there’s an element of partisanship at play.

Let’s switch to the Mitt Romney number. This isn’t new; a Post poll found the same thing last year. What jumped out at us in the new data, though, is what happens when you consider the age of the respondents. Here’s how people answered Quinnipiac’s question about if the country would be better or worse off under Romney, by age group. (In each of the charts that follow, the blue bar is the response more favorable to Obama. So here, it indicates those who think the country would have been worse off under Romney. Gray bars are usually “other;” on this one, they’re “the country would be the same.”)

People under 50 are more likely to think that the country is better off with President Obama — but less strongly than those over 50. That chart, incidentally, looks something like this one, which is the exit poll data on the overall vote from the 2012 election.

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