Siena Research Institute

of Siena College, Loudonville, NY.


 

HISTORIANS GIVE GOOD GRADES

TO CLINTON PRESIDENCY                                                                                         JANUARY 11, 1995

IN SIENA COLLEGE SURVEY

(EDITORS/NEWS DIRECTORS: For interviews and full details of the survey, please call either History Prof. Tom Kelly at (518) 783-2595 (W) or 372-7890 (H) or Statistics Prof. Doug Lonnstrom at (518) 783-2362 (W) or 456-6073 (H).

LOUDONVILLE, NY -- "Clinton Climbs; Bush Bashed" might well be the headline on a story reporting the findings of the latest survey of U.S. Presidents conducted by the Siena Research Institute (SRI) at Siena College.

"National polls, the news media and Newt Gingrich have given President Bill Clinton low marks on a variety of subjects, " said SRI co-director Tom Kelly, "but the scholars we surveyed were much kinder to him."

They ranked Clinton third in ability to compromise, eighth for court appointments, ninth for both communication ability and handling of the U.S. economy, and 16th overall among all 41 presidents.

College professors gave Clinton a very low rank in two categories: 39th in foreign policy accomplishments and 38th in integrity.

"It's interesting that Clinton, who so admires President Kennedy, so closely parallels him in both strength and weakness in the "I" categories," Kelly said. Kennedy is sixth and Clinton seventh in Imagination; Clinton is eighth and Kennedy 12th in Intelligence; Kennedy is 35th and Clinton is 38th in Integrity.

This third SRI survey of U.S. presidents was sent to college professors of history and political science after Clinton had been in office one year. The second survey, in 1990, was done after President George Bush had been in office one year. The first survey was done in 1982, one year after President Reagan was in office. The questions in all three surveys are identical.

Bush did not fare well this time. He fell from 18th to 31st overall. Other dramatic drops were in his relationship with Congress (15th to 37th), ability to avoid crucial mistakes (9th to 31st), luck (6th to 26th), and handling of the U.S. economy (24th to 40th). Bush improved in only one of the 20 categories surveyed: He moved up in foreign policy accomplishments from 17th to 13th.

The on-going SRI studies are intended to provide a means of "tracking" the opinion of scholars regarding Presidents, their successes and failures over an extended period of time. As SRI co-director Doug Lonnstrom and Kelly hoped, the surveys illustrate changes in opinions, particularly for recent Presidents, as time provides greater objectivity of different views. They note President Carter's improvement from 33rd overall in 1982 to 23rd today.

The rankings for the top ten have shown little change over time. Franklin Roosevelt has been No. 1 in all three surveys with Jefferson, Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Washington rounding out the tope five in all three studies. The second five have also been very stable. (Wilson, Truman, Eisenhower, Madison and Kennedy).

In fact, the only newcomer to the top ten (from the 1982 survey) is Eisenhower, who replaced John Adams.

The bottom five have also remained unchanged in all three surveys. These "presidential pillars" are Harding (last), Andrew Johnson, Buchanan, Grant and Pierce.

Below are summary sheets that provide:

    1. Overall results of 1994 survey.
    2. Overall comparison for all presidents (3 surveys).
    3. Overall comparison for recent presidents (3 surveys).

In addition to the above, Professors Kelly and Lonnstrom can provide results for

Question, discuss the variations of recent presidents and provide interpretations of the rankings. Please feel free to contact them.

 

PRESIDENTS RANKED ON TOTAL SCORE BASED ON TWENTY ITEMS

RTOTAL

NAME

TOTAL

1

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT

84.76

2

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

80.02

3

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

78.56

4

GEORGE WASHINGTON

78.46

5

THOMAS JEFFERSON

78.45

6

WOODROW WILSON

73.10

7

HARRY TRUMAN

70.70

8

DWIGHT EISENHOWER

69.53

9

JAMES MADISON

68.77

10

JOHN F. KENNEDY

68.60

11

ANDREW JACKSON

68.23

12

JOHN ADAMS

67.67

13

LYNDON JOHNSON

67.25

14

JAMES K. POLK

66.88

15

JAMES MONROE

66.58

16

BILL CLINTON

64.42

17

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS

64.22

18

WILLIAM MCKINLEY

62.39

19

GROVER CLEVELAND

61.83

20

RONALD REAGAN

61.10

21

WILLIAM H. TAFT

60.39

22

MARTIN VAN BUREN

59.65

23

RICHARD NIXON

58.49

24

RUTHERFORD B. HAYES

58.33

25

JIMMY CARTER

58.24

26

CHESTER A. ARTHUR

57.64

27

JAMES A GARFIELD

57.46

28

WILLIAM H. HARRISON

56.99

29

HERBERT HOOVER

56.98

30

BENJAMIN HARRISON

56.69

31

GEORGE BUSH

56.39

32

GERALD FORD

56.15

33

ZACHARY TAYLOR

55.65

34

JOHN TYLER

54.38

35

MILLARD FILLMORE

54.33

36

CALVIN COLLIDGE

54.27

37

FRANKLIN PIERCE

52.58

38

ULYSSES S. GRANT

52.21

39

JAMES BUCHANAN

50.32

40

ANDREW JOHNSON

48.15

41

WARREN G. HARDING

46.18

Number of cased read: 41

 

PRESIDENT'S SURVEY

ALL PRESIDENTS

OVERALL RANKINGS

1982

1990

1994

WASHINGTON

4

4

4

J. ADAMS

10

14

12

JEFFERSON

2

3

5

MADISON

9

8

9

MONROE

15

11

15

J.Q. ADAMS

17

16

17

JACKSON

13

9

11

VAN BUREN

21

21

22

W. HARRISON

26

35

28

TYLER

34

33

34

POLK

12

13

14

TAYLOR

29

34

33

FILLMORE

32

32

35

PIERCE

35

36

37

BUCHANAN

37

38

39

LINCOLN

3

2

2

A. JOHNSON

38

39

40

GRANT

36

37

38

HAYES

22

23

24

GARFIELD

25

30

26

ARTHUR

24

26

27

CLEVELAND

18

17

19

B. HARRISON

31

29

30

MCKINLEY

19

19

18

T. ROOSEVELT

5

5

3

TAFT

20

20

21

WILSON

6

6

6

HARDING

39

40

41

COOLIDGE

30

31

36

HOOVER

27

28

29

F. ROOSEVELT

1

1

1

TRUMAN

7

7

7

EISENHOWER

11

12

8

KENNEDY

8

10

10

L. JOHNSON

14

15

13

NIXON

28

25

23

FORD

23

27

32

CARTER

33

24

25

REAGAN

16

22

20

BUSH

18

31

CLINTON

16

 

PRESIDENT'S SURVEY

RECENT PRESIDENTS

OVERALL RANKINGS

1982

1990

1994

TRUMAN

7

7

7

EISENHOWER

11

12

8

KENNEDY

8

10

10

L. JOHNSON

14

15

13

NIXON

28

25

23

FORD

23

27

32

CARTER

33

24

25

REAGAN

16

22

20

BUSH

18

31

CLINTON

16

 

 


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Last Updated on November 14, 2003
By Siena College
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