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Old News: "Obama is the Worst President Since World War II", Poll Said... Years Before Trump Got Elected

  • by: Maarten Schenk
  • (Sun, 22 Sep 2019 10:38:18 Z)

Did a Quinnipiac poll say more Americans thought Barack Obama was the worst president since World War II compared to other presidents? Yes, it did... in 2014, years before Donald Trump got elected and well before Trump snatched that title away from Obama in 2018 in the first Quinnipiac poll that included Trump in the list of possible answers. Yet an old article based on the 2014 poll keeps getting shared and going viral even now in 2019.

The old story that keeps going viral is an article (archived here) published by Time on July 2, 2014 under the title "Obama is the Worst President Since World War II, Poll Says". It opened:

More Americans consider Barack Obama to be the worst President since World War II than they do any other president, according to a new poll.

The Quinnipiac poll out Wednesday found that 33% of Americans see Obama as the worst post-war president, while just 8% consider him the best. Another 28% see former President George W. Bush as the worst. Richard Nixon, the only American President ever to resign in disgrace, was picked the worst by 13%, according to the poll.

And 45% of Americans think the U.S. would be better off if Mitt Romney had been elected President in 2012, according to the poll, while 38% think the country would be worse off.

Screenshot of https://time.com/2949984/barack-obama-poll/

Here is the actual poll from 2014:

QU Poll Release Detail

Obama Is First As Worst President Since WWII, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; More Voters Say Romney Would Have Been Better

It included a table with the answer to the question who Americans considered to be the worst president since World War II, and as you can see Trump wasn't listed among the possible answers because he hadn't been president at that time:

poll1.jpg

Yet when the question appeared again in the 2018 version of the same survey the answer was quite different with Trump included:

poll2.jpg

Trump comes out as the clear winner with 41% vs Obama's 21%.

Interestingly enough the press release about the 2018 poll also had an overview of previous answers to the same question. It looks like most of the time it is the sitting president getting labeled as the worst one by most people, with a brief exception in 2017 when Richard Nixon squeaked by Barack Obama with one percent (possibly because Trump's name wasn't on the survey at that time yet because he hadn't been president long enough to be included).

poll3.jpg

It looks like many people just base their answer to this question on day-to-day current events rather than any serious historical considerations. On the other hand, one could also see this as an indirect measurement of the (im)popularity of the sitting president.

But when making meaningful comparisons one should definitely try to use the most recent numbers.

About the author:

Maarten Schenk is our resident expert on fake news and hoax websites. He likes to go beyond just debunking trending fake news stories and is endlessly fascinated by the dazzling variety of psychological and technical tricks used by the people and networks who intentionally spread made-up things on the internet.  He can often be found at conferences and events about fake news, disinformation and fact checking when he is not in his office in Belgium monitoring and tracking the latest fake article to go viral.

Read more about or contact Maarten Schenk

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