Ever since 2000, when a new president has been elected, C-SPAN surveys presidential historians and asks them to rate every previous American commander in chief on 10 aspects of presidential leadership.
This is the first year Trump was included in the rankings. Spoiler alert: The 142 historians surveyed didn’t exactly rank him among America’s greatest presidents. In fact, he’s toward the bottom of the list, at 41st overall.
While Lincoln tops C-SPAN’s ranking for the fourth survey in a row, Trump doesn’t quite get there.
Trump comes in dead last in moral authority and administrative skills. On both issue areas, he ranks 44th of 44. (Sidebar: Even though Trump is the 45th President, only 44 men have served as president — Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms as the 22nd and 24th president, hence he is counted only once.) Trump’s low moral authority rating likely has something to do with the number of lies he perpetuated before, during and after his presidency.
Trump is rated highest for his public persuasion, a ranking of No. 32, and economic management, at No. 34.
There could be some good news for Trump in the next survey. Some fellow recent presidents have experienced bumps in their rankings as time has passed …
As C-SPAN put it:
- Barack Obama rose to #10 from his #12 ranking in 2017.
- George W. Bush continued his steady incline, now ranking at #29, from #33 in 2017 and #36 in 2009.
- Bill Clinton began at #21 in 2000 and held steady at #15 in 2009 and 2017 before declining this cycle to #19.
The Point: In December, 1 in 5 Americans thought Trump would go down as one of the best presidents in history. But so far, historians are giving him low marks.