- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2007

It’s Honest Abe over the Gipper by two points in the White House popularity derby.

Americans rank Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan as their two favorite presidents, according to a Gallup survey released yesterday. Lincoln was cited by 18 percent, Mr. Reagan by 16 percent.

It was a close race, though. John F. Kennedy was third at 14 percent, followed by Bill Clinton (13 percent), Franklin D. Roosevelt (9 percent), George Washington (7 percent) and Harry S. Truman (3 percent). Though he was in eighth place, George W. Bush was in impressive company, cited by 2 percent of the respondents and tied for the spot with Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Jimmy Carter.

Republicans and Democrats have their own ideas about great leaders, however.

Mr. Reagan was first among Republicans, who were fierce about their opinions, comparatively speaking. Mr. Reagan was cited by 32 percent, with Lincoln in second place at 22 percent. Mr. Clinton was in first place among Democrats, cited by 25 percent, followed by Mr. Kennedy (20 percent).

The public also appears to judge presidents on personal terms.

“Americans’ conception of who is the greatest president does not appear to be highly influenced by academic experts,” Gallup analyst Lydia Saad noted.

Scholars typically cite historic names ranging from Andrew Jackson to Woodrow Wilson. Americans are most impressed by modern presidencies they have experienced, rather than “those learned about in history books,” Miss Saad said.

The poll of 1,006 adults was conducted Feb. 9 to 11 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum. U.S. News & World Report has released its list of the worst presidents of all time, based on an analysis of five polls of presidential scholars and historians since 1996 from C-SPAN, the Wall Street Journal, the Riders-McGiver and Siena surveys, and historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

The booby prize goes to Democrat James Buchanan, the 15th president and the only bachelor in the White House.

“Presiding over a rapidly dividing nation, Buchanan grasped inadequately the political realities of the time,” Buchanan’s official biography noted on the White House Web site (www.whitehouse.gov).

Warren G. Harding is ranked as the second worst president, followed by Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Millard Fillmore, John Tyler, Ulysses S. Grant and William Henry Harrison. Herbert Hoover and Richard M. Nixon tied in ninth place, followed by Zachary Taylor, Jimmy Carter and Calvin Coolidge.

Americans may not be quite so cozy with the idea of a female president as they used to be.

The White House Project, a nonpartisan research group, revealed that 74 percent say they would be “comfortable” with a female president a “slight downturn,” the group found, from 79 percent two years ago. The poll of 1,004 adults was conduced Feb. 9 to 11 and has an error margin of three percentage points.

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