Trump ranks lower than most former U.S. presidents in survey
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Former president Donald Trump’s debut on C-SPAN’s ranking of ex-presidents found the one-time commander in chief ranking lower than any of his recent predecessors.
When there is a change in administrations, the public service cable station which primarily shows Congressional sessions, asks historians to rank all of the former presidents. It started the tradition in 2001 when Bill Clinton gave way to George W. Bush’s administration.
Since then, it has conducted the poll in 2009, 2017, and now in 2021, releasing them in time for Independence Day. A sitting president, such as President Joe Biden is not included.
Trump, however, slotted in at 41st of the 44 presidents included in the survey, finishing above three Civil War-era presidents, two of whom were in office in the years directly leading up to the conflict, and directly behind William Henry Harrison, who died a month after taking office.
Presidential historian Richard Norton Smith said what stood out to him in this year’s rankings was the stability.
“It’s interesting, particularly at the top and bottom of the list, how little significant movement there has been,” said Norton Smith. “By contrast, the living presidents seem much more likely to fluctuate. It’s almost as if there was a boomerang effect where historians go overboard a bit when presidents leave office and they are at the nadir of their partisan reputation, and then they graduate to a less political status.”
Of the previous three presidents who were ranked immediately, George W. Bush, whose years in office saw the 9/11 terrorist attack, the launching of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the beginning of the Great Recession, had finished the lowest, at coming in 36th.
Bill Clinton, who was one of the two presidents to be impeached while in office prior to Trump, sat just outside the top 20 in the first C-SPAN survey, which happened just months after he was out of office.
The man Trump replaced, Barack Obama, was the most highly regarded outgoing commander-in-chief, despite the troubled rollout of his highly controversial healthcare act and serving during the depths of the worst recession since the Great Depression, which had turned around into the longest economic expansion in history.
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