After his poor Puerto Rico response, Donald Trump's popularity continues to fall. But where does he stand compared to the 44 before him?
How bad IS Donald Trump? It’s hard to know the real-world effects of his policies and of his Presidency, since we don’t yet have the power of retrospect. But we can take a look at where those who came before him rank:
1. The latest survey puts Warren Harding at the bottom of the pile. Harding, the 29th President of the United States - held office for two years, and died in the post. Upon death, he had large-scale popularity, but the exposure of a large number of scandals ruined this post-humous support. One of the most widely reported was Teapot Dome - a bribery scandal between the White House and big business.
2. James Buchanan often ranks as the second least popular - the 15th President of the United States, he is usually rated so low due to his inability to address the partisan divisions created by slavery on the brink of civil war. Further, he is seen as having poor moral judgement and domestic leadership by modern scholars.
3. Andrew Johnson, scorned for repressing radical Republican policies which protected the rights of Americans, such as the 14th amendment, ranks third from bottom. Despite being a staunch unionist in the South and thus nearly unique, his failure to work with previous Confederates trying to undo the mistakes of the past means Historians rank him very low.
4. Franklin Pierce, languishing fourth from bottom, polarised both anti-slavery groups through the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and Unionists by failing to stem conflict on the brink of war. President between 1853-1857, Pierce was seen by Democrats as a compromise candidate - though failed, ultimately, to deliver anything of note. Pierce did, however, lead a crackdown on Treasury corruption, with mixed success.
5. Millard Fillmore. Who is he? The last member of the Whig Party to enter the White House, Fillmore came before Pierce, in 1850-53. Only elevated to the Presidency upon the death of Zachary Taylor (from Vice-Presidency,) Fillmore is said to be the most ridiculed President of all time by scholar Scarry. He is sometimes given some leeway due to the turmoil of the times in which he lived - but the contrast between Fillmore and the notably tough Zachary Taylor makes him, in legacy, one of the most unpopular Presidents of all time.
6. Independent President, John Tyler was estranged from both major Parties. Known as heavily in favour of states rights despite his penchant for nationalism, Tyler sought to expand United States influence - most notably through attempted, though unfruitful, annexation of Texas. Tyler is perhaps one of the United States’ most obscure Presidents - and his unpopularity could be down to such. Nonetheless - many historians and scholars denounce him, despite some successes in foreign policy.
7. William Harrison, the final entry to the list, was the ninth President of the United States and died of pneumonia only thirty days into his term. His general obscurity means that popularity was virtually impossible, but he still resides low on the majority of lists due to his complete lack of impact.
So where does, and where will, Donald Trump fit? No recent surveys of scholars and historians have been published - and so finding a reputable ranking for Obama is, too, difficult. Only time will tell just how one of the most controversial Presidents in recent memory will fare.
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