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Presidents Ranked by Popularity


vcczar
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This will be the last ranking I post before creating the "official" ranking. This one attempts to capture a president's popularity during their time. Factors include, # of EC and PV victories, margin of these victories on election and reelection attempt divided by voter turnout, if denied renomination, if held both Houses of Congress on election and kept them when leaving office, impeachment/resignations, estimated approval rating either never falling below 50%, average above 50%, average below 50%, never reaching 50%. This last one is an estimate on those before Truman. However, I think it's fairly easy to know which category these presidents would have fallen in.

Trump is the only president never to hit 50% approval and the only president to lose the popular vote twice. I considered Tyler, Fillmore, A Johnson, and JQ Adams as possibly presidents to never reach 50% approval. However, the first three would have had support initially as they were following a slain president. JQ Adams likely had at least 50% approval at some point. In fact, there's arguments he would have won the PV against Jackson in 1824 had some of the states Adams won had a popular vote, such as NY, the largest state in the country.

Here's the ranking:

  1. FDR (can't beat a guy elected 4 times)
  2. Jefferson
  3. Jackson
  4. Eisenhower
  5. Washington (hurt by the fact that voter turnout was 10% and then only 6%, and he had no real challengers)
  6. Monroe (helped by the fact that he presided during a one-party state)
  7. Lincoln
  8. Madison
  9. T Roosevelt
  10. Grant
  11. Coolidge
  12. LBJ (helped by having the largest margin score based on huge turnout in 1964)
  13. Reagan
  14. McKinley
  15. Wilson
  16. Harding
  17. Nixon
  18. Clinton
  19. Obama
  20. Buchanan
  21. Biden
  22. WH Harrison
  23. JFK (would be higher if the 1960 election wasn't a nail biter)
  24. Polk
  25. Pierce
  26. GW Bush (this honestly surprises me)
  27. Taylor
  28. Truman
  29. Carter
  30. Van Buren
  31. Garfield
  32. Cleveland (1st term)
  33. Cleveland (2nd term)
  34. Hayes
  35. Arthur
  36. Hoover (landslide victory in 1928 helps)
  37. B Harrison
  38. GHW Bush
  39. Tyler
  40. J Adams
  41. Fillmore
  42. Taft
  43. Ford
  44. A Johnson
  45. JQ Adams
  46. Trump
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2 hours ago, vcczar said:

This will be the last ranking I post before creating the "official" ranking. This one attempts to capture a president's popularity during their time. Factors include, # of EC and PV victories, margin of these victories on election and reelection attempt divided by voter turnout, if denied renomination, if held both Houses of Congress on election and kept them when leaving office, impeachment/resignations, estimated approval rating either never falling below 50%, average above 50%, average below 50%, never reaching 50%. This last one is an estimate on those before Truman. However, I think it's fairly easy to know which category these presidents would have fallen in.

Trump is the only president never to hit 50% approval and the only president to lose the popular vote twice. I considered Tyler, Fillmore, A Johnson, and JQ Adams as possibly presidents to never reach 50% approval. However, the first three would have had support initially as they were following a slain president. JQ Adams likely had at least 50% approval at some point. In fact, there's arguments he would have won the PV against Jackson in 1824 had some of the states Adams won had a popular vote, such as NY, the largest state in the country.

Here's the ranking:

  1. FDR (can't beat a guy elected 4 times)
  2. Jefferson
  3. Jackson
  4. Eisenhower
  5. Washington (hurt by the fact that voter turnout was 10% and then only 6%, and he had no real challengers)
  6. Monroe (helped by the fact that he presided during a one-party state)
  7. Lincoln
  8. Madison
  9. T Roosevelt
  10. Grant
  11. Coolidge
  12. LBJ (helped by having the largest margin score based on huge turnout in 1964)
  13. Reagan
  14. McKinley
  15. Wilson
  16. Harding
  17. Nixon
  18. Clinton
  19. Obama
  20. Buchanan
  21. Biden
  22. WH Harrison
  23. JFK (would be higher if the 1960 election wasn't a nail biter)
  24. Polk
  25. Pierce
  26. GW Bush (this honestly surprises me)
  27. Taylor
  28. Truman
  29. Carter
  30. Van Buren
  31. Garfield
  32. Cleveland (1st term)
  33. Cleveland (2nd term)
  34. Hayes
  35. Arthur
  36. Hoover (landslide victory in 1928 helps)
  37. B Harrison
  38. GHW Bush
  39. Tyler
  40. J Adams
  41. Fillmore
  42. Taft
  43. Ford
  44. A Johnson
  45. JQ Adams
  46. Trump

1.Why is Wilson so high? In the first election, he won because the Republican vote was split between Roosevelt and Taft and the second election was rather close.

2.Why is Cleveland so low? He won two elections, and won the popular vote in the election he lost.

3.To be fair, I'm not well acquainted with the approval ratings of the above two...

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14 minutes ago, Timur said:

1.Why is Wilson so high? In the first election, he won because the Republican vote was split between Roosevelt and Taft and the second election was rather close.

2.Why is Cleveland so low? He won two elections, and won the popular vote in the election he lost.

3.To be fair, I'm not well acquainted with the approval ratings of the above two...

Wilson:

  • won EC and PV twice
  • Because of the split, his margin in the first election was large and his 2nd margin wasn't insignificant, although the EC was close. It should be noted that several progressive Democrats also voted for Roosevelt. It wasn't a clean GOP split. Nevertheless, the margin count. He was popular enough to hold his party together despite an attractive third party option for progressives in his own party.
  • Reelected
  • Came into office with both houses of Congress but lost them. Gets partial points.
  • His estimated average approval rating was likely over 50%, but he likely dipped at some point towards the end of his presidency, so he doesn't get full points.
  • One crazy note is that Wilson was the first reelected incumbent Democrat since Andrew Jackson!!!!!

Cleveland

  • Won EC twice and PV three times
  • All of his elections were very close. Unlike with Wilson, he won almost no margin points. 
  • He was never reelected as an incumbent. Defeated in reelection bid.
  • He never controlled both Houses of Congress and in both terms, lost control of the House he did control.
  • First term Cleveland likely would have had a 50%+ approval average, while 2nd term Cleveland was unpopular for most of that term, being unable to with many of the issues that B Harrison left him. Additionally, his own party wildly supported it's Populist wing by the end of the presidency. Cleveland would have had negative approval from not only Republicans but probably most Democratic voters in his 2nd term. 
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5 minutes ago, Dobs said:

Only Modern President to be denied renomination - 12th place, nice.

That's not quite correct.

  • Truman also dropped out of a reelection bid. 
  • Unlike Truman, LBJ wasn't seriously campaigning. Although, interestingly, support for Humphrey was so lukewarm that there was an effort to have LBJ nominated at the 1968 convention. Considering how close the election was between Humphrey in Nixon, and that LBJ's approval was ticking upwards at the end of the year, LBJ might have defeated Humphrey. LBJ was probably less popular than RFK, but he was certainly a stronger candidate than Humphrey. Overall, I wouldn't hold 12th place against LBJ or Truman, for that matter, especially LBJ since he wasn't really a candidate. He was just delaying saying he wouldn't run for reelection, just to see what support he had. 
  • As it stands LBJ had the largest margin score based on huge turnout in 1964. Absolutely unprecedented. Likewise, Goldwater has the largest margin defeat score based on huge turnout in 1964, arguably making him the weakest nominee of a major party in US history. 
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1 minute ago, vcczar said:

That's not quite correct.

  • Truman also dropped out of a reelection bid. 
  • Unlike Truman, LBJ wasn't seriously campaigning. Although, interestingly, support for Humphrey was so lukewarm that there was an effort to have LBJ nominated at the 1968 convention. Considering how close the election was between Humphrey in Nixon, and that LBJ's approval was ticking upwards at the end of the year, LBJ might have defeated Humphrey. LBJ was probably less popular than RFK, but he was certainly a stronger candidate than Humphrey. Overall, I wouldn't hold 12th place against LBJ or Truman, for that matter, especially LBJ since he wasn't really a candidate. He was just delaying saying he wouldn't run for reelection, just to see what support he had. 
  • As it stands LBJ had the largest margin score based on huge turnout in 1964. Absolutely unprecedented. Likewise, Goldwater has the largest margin defeat score based on huge turnout in 1964, arguably making him the weakest nominee of a major party in US history. 

Still, McCarthy hit LBJ pretty hard, I daresay...

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