Friday, December 11, 2009

Reagan tops, Bush worst among recent Presidents

Republicans who invoke Ronald Reagan's name all the time may be onto something- he is the country's most popular President of the last 30 years.

41% of respondents to our national survey said Reagan was their favorite out of the last five Presidents, followed by Bill Clinton with 27% and Barack Obama with 22%. Both of the Bushes poll in single digits.

Reagan is first among Republicans with 76% and independents with 41%. He's also the only one of the Presidents to poll in double digits across party lines, the choice of 11% of Democrats. Clinton edges Obama 46-36 for tops honors among Democrats.

Reagan is the first choice of almost every group within the poll except for liberals and African Americans who choose Obama and moderates, Hispanics, and voters under 30 who choose Clinton.

The age results on the poll are interesting. Nobody who is under 30 now had the opportunity to vote for Clinton, but he was the President while they were growing up and they seem to look back on those days fondly. There seems to be a similar sentiment with the 30-45 demographic. None of them were able to vote for Reagan when he was first elected and few of them were for his reelection but he nevertheless beats Clinton 39-27 with that group. People seem to like the Presidents of their childhood.

When it comes to the least favorite President of that group George W. Bush narrowly edges out Barack Obama for top honors 38-37 with the rest much further back. It seems somewhat remarkable considering the high levels of hatred Republicans had for Bill Clinton but Obama's already winning least popular designation by a 69-17 margin with that group. George W. Bush leads his dad 58-16 for the dubious distinction among Democrats and with independents the younger Bush leads Obama 46-30.

Some of the takeaways from these numbers:

-When you see Reagan as the most popular recent President and W. Bush as the least popular it's no wonder Republicans try to envelop themselves in the Reagan brand- it certainly has a lot more appeal to voters.

-It is a sign of how polarizing Obama's first year has been that 30% of respondents picked him as either best or worst already, more than any of the other Presidents. I don't use the word 'polarizing' as a pejorative- it's just a simple truth that Obama has pursued an ambitious agenda and the result of that has been a lot of people either really liking or really hating him.

-The first George Bush didn't leave a strong impression on the American public- few listed him as the best or the worst.

Full results here

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