7 youngest US presidents - where do Obama and Clinton fit in?

Ronald Reagan was America’s oldest president, and could be beaten by Donald Trump if he serves two terms.

But who were the country's youngest presidents?

7th – Franklin Pierce

Born in 1804, Pierce became the youngest president in 1853 at the age of 48 years old. As the Democratic candidate, he beat the Whigs’ Winfield Scott in 1852, but lost out in the Democratic primary four years later to James Buchanan who went on to become his presidential successor.

A 2017 C-Span survey of historians ranked Pierce as America’s third worst president; he only performed better than his successor and Andrew Jackson.

6th – Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland is in the unique position of being the country’s only non-consecutive president. The Democrat won the election of 1884 and became the country’s 22nd president, lost the 1888 election, but won the 1892 one, also becoming the nation’s 24th president.

He was a former New York state governor, and started his first presidency just before his 48th birthday.

5th – Barack Obama

Obama became president aged 47. He won the Democratic party’s nomination against Hillary Clinton in 2008 and beat Republican John McCain in the general. Four years later, he defeated Mitt Romney to become the Democrats’ second two-term president since Jimmy Carter.

The C-Span table of presidential rankings by historians places him as the country’s twelfth best president of all time.

4th – Ulysses S. Grant

Before becoming president, Grant had no experience of public office, but was the US army’s commanding general during America’s civil war.

The Republican beat Democratic opponent Horatio Seymour in 1868 with 214 of the 294 electoral college votes available. He was aged just 46 years old, and went on to secure a second term four years later.

3rd – Bill Clinton

The husband of recently defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton became president aged aged just 46 after the 1992 election when he defeated incumbent president George H. W. Bush. According to the Miller Centre, he presided over a long period of economic growth, but was impeached by the House (although he was later quitted by the senate).

2nd – John F. Kennedy

Kennedy defeated incumbent Republican Vice President Richard Nixon on a wave of optimism and plans for major reforms at the 1960 election. He became president aged 43 years and 236 days old. His presidency was short-lived however, with his assassination on 22nd November 1963 shaking the world and resulting in his VP Lyndon B. Johnson taking over.

Who knows what could have been had JFK continued in power.

America's youngest president – Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt became president in September 1901 aged just 42 years and 322 days old. Before becoming president, he served as vice president, only taking the top job after William McKinley’s assassination.

5. US Presidential Election of 1980

At this election, Jimmy Carter sought a second-term, but was defeted by Republican Ronald Regan. The turnout rate was just 52.8%.

4. US Presidential Election of 1948

This election had a very low turnout rate indeed. Just 51.1% of the American voting age public turned out to vote, in an election which saw incumbent Democratic president Harry Truman win his first presidential term at the top of the ticket. The election brought about the fifth four-year period in a row of Democratic White House rule.

This ended four years later when Eisenhower came to power.

3. US Presidential Election of 2000

This election had a staggeringly low turnout rate of 50.3%. After eight years of Bill Clinton, George Bush was elected to succeed him, however, while Bush won the electoral college vote, he lost the popular vote to incumbent Vice President Al Gore.

2. US Presidential Election of 1988

In 1988, Ronald Reagan’s Vice President George H. W. Bush ran for president against Democrat Michael Dukakis. Bush’s victory secured another four years of Republican-rule. The turnout rate at this election was just 50.3%.

1. US Presidential Election of 1996

In 1992, Bill Clinton won the White House from George Bush senior on turnout rate of 55.2%. Four years later, when Bill Clinton secured his second term, the rate plummeted to just 49%, a tragically low rate for a modern democracy.

The rate is only the second lowest on record for a US presidential election; it is only higher than the 48.9% rate of 1924 in which Calvin Coolidge secured his first full term as US president.

What about in 2016?

In last year’s presidential election, Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States. The election’s turnout rate does not make it on to the list of the seven lowest modern turnout rates, but it was still a depressingly low 55.5%. The rate at Barack Obama’s 2008 victory was 58.2%, but it dropped to 54.9% in 2012.

The turnout figures are based off according to the C-Span 2017 historian rankings, only beaten by his namesake FDR, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.


The ages included in this article are based off this list of US presidents by age.

Have something to tell us about this article?