- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 14, 2008

While millions of voters have been casting ballots to show support for their favorite 2008 presidential candidates, a poll released yesterday showed that the public regards Ronald Reagan as the best president since World War II and George W. Bush the worst.

The research, conducted by Harris Interactive, also found a strong partisan split. When asked to pick the best president since and including Franklin D. Roosevelt, half of the Republicans chose Mr. Reagan, compared to 6 percent of Democrats. Overall, Mr. Reagan won 25 percent support, while in second place, Mr. Roosevelt had 21 percent of votes.

On the matter of the worst president, Mr. Bush got a landslide victory, with 34 percent of people surveyed. Again, party bias played a big role: 58 percent of Democrats picked him, and just 9 percent of Republicans did.

Not that the most-recent Democrat did much better: Bill Clinton finished second behind Mr. Bush in the “worst president” polling, with 17 percent. He was the choice of 33 percent of Republicans and 7 percent of Democrats.

The New York-based research center drew a conclusion that historical memories are short and recent presidents tend to get mentioned more often — as best or worst — than their predecessors. Still, both Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton have reason for hope since, according to the survey, perceptions of previous presidents change over time, citing the example of Harry S. Truman.

The results are based on an online survey of 2,302 U.S. adults between Jan. 14 and 22. Harris Interactive didn’t provide a margin of error and said the survey could be subject to sampling error, coverage error and other incalculable factors.

In the survey that asked people to choose the best president, including all recent and the more-famous past presidents, Abraham Lincoln came in first with 20 percent, followed by Mr. Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and George Washington.

A Gallup Poll taken last year about presidential greatness had similar results. When asked “Who do you regard as the greatest United States president?” Mr. Lincoln led with 18 percent, followed by Mr. Reagan and Mr. Kennedy, with 16 percent and 14 percent, respectively.


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