Historians Rank Trump Among Worst Presidents in US History: C-SPAN

  • Historians ranked Donald Trump lower than any president in 150 years in a new C-SPAN survey. 
  • Trump landed at No. 41 overall out of 44 presidents. 
  • Barack Obama came in tenth, while Abraham Lincoln sat in the top spot. 
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Former President Donald Trump,  a former reality TV star who’s famously obsessed with ratings, is unlikely to appreciate C-SPAN’s new survey of presidential leadership. Historians who participated in the survey ranked Trump among the worst presidents the country has ever seen.

Out of 44 presidents reviewed for the survey by 142 historians and professional observers of the presidency, Trump landed at 41 — the lowest ranking of any president in the past 150 years. The only presidents who ranked lower than Trump were Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan.

William Henry Harrison, who died only 32 days into his presidency and had the shortest tenure of any commander-in-chief, ranked just above Trump.

This was the first time Trump was ranked in C-SPAN’s survey, the fourth in a series. Since 2000, C-SPAN has surveyed historians every time there’s been a change in presidential administrations.

The 2021 survey involved 142 historians and professional observers of the presidency, and presidents were graded based on 10 characteristics of leadership. C-SPAN said this marked a 50% increase in the number of historians and professional observers who participated as compared to 2017, which added diversity in race, gender, age, and philosophy.

Of the 10 characteristics presidents were graded on, Trump’s highest ratings fell under “public persuasion” and “economic management.” His lowest marks were in “moral authority” and “administrative skills,” for which Trump received the worst ratings of any president in history. 

Trump stands as one of the few single-term presidents in US history and the only president to be impeached twice. Months after leaving office, Trump has still not acknowledged that he was fairly defeated by President Joe Biden in 2020.  His lies about the election helped provoke the fatal January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, and have continued to fuel divisions in the US while raising fears among scholars about the future of American democracy.

Other recent presidents saw changes in their ratings compared to C-SPAN’s survey in past years. Former President Barack Obama, for example, rose to No. 10 overall from the 12th position in 2017. Obama fell just behind former presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. Former President George W. Bush also saw an improvement in his rating and moved up to the 29th position after landing in the 33rd spot in 2017. 

Abraham Lincoln snagged the top spot, followed by George Washington.