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Presidents' Day Survey: Here's Who Scholars Rate No. 1, Where Trump Ranks

Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore Photo Credit: Pixabay

Who is the only president ranked among the Top Five of all time who does not have a 60-foot sculpture of his head on Mount Rushmore?

If you guess Franklin D. Roosevelt, you are correct.

At least according to the Siena College Research Institute’s (SCRI) Survey of U.S. Presidents, which was released just in time for Presidents Day on Monday, Feb. 18.

Mount Rushmore features (from left), No. 1-ranked George Washington, No. 5 Thomas Jefferson, No. 4 Theodore Roosevelt and No. 3 Abraham Lincoln.

FDR is ranked No. 2 in the Siena survey and took office as president in 1933, six years after the Mount Rushmore project started.

The 157 participating presidential scholars in the survey picked Washington as No. 1 for the first time.

Donald Trump enters the survey as the 42nd-rated president, and he joins Andrew Johnson, James Buchanan, Warren Harding and Franklin Pierce in the bottom five.

Barack Obama slipped two spots to 17th, Bill Clinton dropped to 15th from 13th

Dwight Eisenhower moved up to sixth, the highest ranking he has ever achieved, while Ronald Reagan was up five spots to 13th, and George W. Bush was up six places but remains in 33rd place. John F. Kennedy made it back in the Top 10, being ranked right at No. 10.

The survey also added a series of questions that asked scholars to say whether the presidents of the last fifty years – Richard Nixon (ranked 29th), Gerald Ford (27th), Jimmy Carter (26th), Reagan, George.H.W. Bush (21st), Clinton (15th), G.W. Bush, Obama and Trump will ultimately be judged by history as moving the country in the right direction or on the wrong track on foreign affairs, the domestic economy, human rights, and the quality of our democracy. 

Both Clinton and Obama were seen by respondents as strongly moving the country on the right track on all four. Ford, Carter and G.H.W. Bush moved the country on the right track on each except the domestic economy. 

Reagan moved the country on the right track on two of four – foreign affairs and the quality of our democracy while Nixon moved the country forward on only foreign affairs. 

Historians say that neither G.W. Bush nor Trump moved the country on the right track on any of the four aspects of leading the country. 

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