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Donald Trump ranked as worst president in US history, Joe Biden ranks 14th

Abraham Lincoln was ranked as the best President ahead of Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington and Teddy Roosevelt. The survey said Trump's rank was determined on the basis of his radical departure from political, institutional and legal norms.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Updated on: February 21, 2024 14:07 IST
Donald Trump, US presidency, Joe Biden
Image Source : AP US presidential rivals Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

Washington: Donald Trump ranked at the bottom-most 45th position as the worst US president in the history of the country, trailing even "historically calamitous chief executives" who failed to stop the civil war or botched its aftermath, according to a recent survey. His successor and Democratic rival Joe Biden ranked number 14 on the list.

"Biden's most important achievements may be that he rescued the presidency from Trump, resumed a more traditional style of presidential leadership and is gearing up to keep the office out of his predecessor's hands this fall," wrote Justin Vaughn and Brandon Rottinghaus, the political scientists behind the survey titled '2024 Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey'. The survey ranked US presidents on the basis of their "greatness" and invited 525 scholars to participate, receiving 154 usable responses.

Abraham Lincoln topped the list with a greatness score of 95.03 average, followed by Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, Barack Obama and Dwight Eisenhower. Trump ranked lowest with a score of just 10.92, behind James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, William Henry Harrison and Warren Harding.

Trump was found to be by far the most polarising of the ranked presidents, selected by 170 respondents and earning a 1.64 average polarising ranking, while Washington was the least polarising president.

Why is Trump ranked so low?

Considering drops for Andrew Jackson and Woodrow Wilson, Rottinghaus and Vaughn in the Los Angeles Times said, "Their reputations have consistently suffered in recent years as modern politics lead scholars to assess their early 19th and 20th century presidencies ever more harshly, especially their unacceptable treatment of marginalised people." On the other hand, Trump was behind even William Harrison, who died 31 days after taking office.

Trump is a uniquely divisive figure, his legislative record slim, his refusal to accept defeat by Biden leading to a deadly attack on Congress, and his post-presidential career dogged by 91 criminal charges arising from actions in office or on the campaign trail. The scientists attribute Trump's position to his radical departure from political, institutional and legal norms that has affected knowledgeable assessments not just of him but also of Biden and several other presidents.

"Proponents of the Biden presidency have strong arguments in their arsenal, but his high placement within the top 15 suggests a powerful anti-Trump factor at work. So far, Biden’s record does not include the military victories or institutional expansion that have typically driven higher rankings, and a family scandal such as the one involving his son Hunter normally diminishes a president’s ranking," they said.

Every Democratic President has gone up in the ranking, although Rottinghaus and Vaughn noted that academics leaned left. "Yes, these presidents had great accomplishments such as expanding healthcare access and working to end conflict in the Middle East, and they have two Nobel prizes among them. But given their shortcomings and failures, their rise seems to be less about reassessments of their administrations than it is a bonus for being neither Trump nor a member of his party," they added.

Biden vs Trump

Trump is the Republican frontrunner for the upcoming presidential elections and is expected to enter a 2020 rematch with Biden. He is also flexing his influence both in Congress — where Republicans rejected a border security deal after he pushed against it — and at the Republican National Committee, as chairwoman Ronna McDaniel could resign in the coming weeks after he publicly questioned whether she should stay in the job.

Several polls show Biden trailing Trump in the elections, as the former received flak for his policies towards the Israel-Hamas war, the border crisis as well as concerns over his old age. A recent Reuters/Ipsos poll found Trump with 37 per cent support, compared to Biden's 34 per cent. Another poll showed maximum voters did not want a rematch between the two.

However, things are not so smooth for the presidential frontrunner as a federal appeals court this week ruled that Trump can face trial on charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 election, rejecting his claims that he is immune from prosecution. He is facing 91 criminal charges, but the ex-president urned those obstacles into an advantage among Republican voters, by arguing that the Justice Department was politicised and he was framed for a "witch-hunt".

ALSO READ | Trump avoids blaming Putin for Navalny's death, accuses Biden of 'destroying' America


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