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Ranking of Presidents by Contemporary Greatness


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This is more for fun than anything. This list can easily be debated. This attempts to set the presidents in their own time, rather than from a historical perspective. As such, some good presidents may be ranked low and vice versa.

Anyway, I scored presidents by the following categories, leading to the ranking below. This is made with the idea that Trump will be defeated and that Dems will get a net/gain in the US Senate and US House. Trump's position changes if any of this becomes untrue:

What is scored (unweighted):

  • Times won Electoral College
  • Times won Popular Vote
  • Reelection with larger EC gain
  • Reelection with larger PV gain
  • Economy/Unemployment better when left office than when took office.
  • Foreign Affairs/Relationship with allies more solid when left office than when took office. 
  • Country is more domestically stable when left office than when took office.
  • Mostly avoided major scandals.
  • Avoided unpopular wars.
  • Generally maintain a high approval (this is guessed on pre-FDR presidents)
  • Generally maintained a low disapproval (this is guessed on pre-FDR presidents)
  • Followed by a successor (# of terms followed)
  • Left office with more Senators than took office with.
  • Left office with more US Reps than took office with.

Note: All scoring is +1, 0, or -1, except in cases where the number of times is important. Some of these may be more important than others, but I weigh them all the same, but can adjust them to meet what people think are more important. 

Presidential Ranking of Contemporary Greatness

  1. Abraham Lincoln 16 pts
  2. Thomas Jefferson 14 pts
  3. James Monroe 13 pts
  4. William McKinley 12 pts
  5. George Washington 11 pts
  6. Theodore Roosevelt 11 pts
  7. Calvin Coolidge 10 pts
  8. Franklin D. Roosevelt 9 pts
  9. Ronald Reagan 9 pts
  10. James Madison 8 pts
  11. Dwight D Eisenhower 6 pts
  12. Warren G Harding 6 pts
  13. Andrew Jackson 5 pts
  14. John F Kennedy 5 pts
  15. Ulysses S Grant 5 pts
  16. Bill Clinton 5 pts
  17. Barack Obama 4 pts
  18. William Henry Harrison 3 pts
  19. James A Garfield 3 pts
  20. Zachary Taylor 2 pts
  21. Richard Nixon 2 pts
  22. Franklin Pierce 1 pt
  23. Chester A Arthur 1 pt
  24. James K Polk 0 pts
  25. Gerald Ford 0 pts
  26. Jimmy Carter 0 pts
  27. Grover Cleveland (as 22nd President) -1 pt
  28. Rutherford B Hayes -1 pt
  29. Martin Van Buren -2 pts
  30. Grover Cleveland (as 24th President) -2 pts
  31. John Tyler -2 pts
  32. William Howard Taft -3 pts
  33. Millard Fillmore -3 pts
  34. Harry S Truman -4 pts
  35. George HW Bush -5 pts
  36. John Adams -5 pts
  37. Benjamin Harrison -5 pts
  38. Woodrow Wilson -6 pts
  39. Lyndon B Johnson -6 pts
  40. George W Bush -7 pts
  41. John Quincy Adams -8 pts
  42. Donald Trump -9 pts
  43. Andrew Johnson -9 pts
  44. James Buchanan -10 pts
  45. Herbert Hoover -11 pts

Lincoln and Jefferson are greatly helped by having a whole string of successors of the same party (I don't count Johnson taking over Lincoln's presidency as disrupting him, even if he was technically a Democrat--but he was of Lincoln's ticket was not renominated). 

Truman, Wilson, and LBJ are examples of people that appeared to be failure or disasters for their party when they left office, but were later seen as Great to Good. Monroe and McKinley presided during times in which their party was so popular as to helped in their score by a relatively harmonious country. One would think Andrew Jackson would be higher, but as the first really partisan president, he is weighted down by a vocal opposition. Nixon and Tyler are generally considered greater failures when they left office, but their accomplishments help them a bit. Coolidge is the highest ranked person on this list that is now considered average or worse. Coolidge was so popular that the party tried to draft him. He's popularity fell during the Great Depression and WWII, never to recover, even as Ronald Reagan praised him. John Quincy Adams is a sad case. He's unique in having been elected president while failing to win the EC or PV. His father, John Adams is weighed down by a string of Jeffersonian presidents that followed him. Similarly, Buchanan is hurt as it took over 30 years to elect another Democrat as president. Hoover is hurt by 4 FDR terms + 1 Truman term. FDR doesn't score as high as expected partially because his 3rd and 4th elections weren't as popular as his first two and he gets a scandal mark for the Japanese internment camps. He also came into office with a wave in both Houses of Congress so large that it was impossible for him to hold that lead, especially after 12 years as president. If Trump loses the EC, PV, and sees few Senate and House seats, this is his placement. Covid and its recession, the BLM protests, etc. make it impossible for him to score positives in some categories. His only point is for avoiding unpopular wars. He gets neither a positive or negative on foreign affairs/allies -- since his foreign relations have been such a mixed bag--it goes no obvious direction one way or the other under a contemporary mindset. In about 5 to 10 years, we'll have a better estimate.

Anyway, thought the results were interesting. 

 

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13 minutes ago, ThePotatoWalrus said:

Coolidge gang represent

Gang Gang

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30 minutes ago, admin_270 said:

Are you giving Lincoln points for winning 1864's EC and popular vote?

Yes

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1 hour ago, vcczar said:

If Trump loses the EC, PV, and sees few Senate and House seats, this is his placement. Covid and its recession, the BLM protests, etc. make it impossible for him to score positives in some categories. His only point is for avoiding unpopular wars. He gets neither a positive or negative on foreign affairs/allies -- since his foreign relations have been such a mixed bag--it goes no obvious direction one way or the other under a contemporary mindset. In about 5 to 10 years, we'll have a better estimate.

Anyway, thought the results were interesting. 

 

And if he wins everything (less probable)? What will be his position?

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1 hour ago, admin_270 said:

Are you giving Lincoln points for winning 1864's EC and popular vote?

 

55 minutes ago, vcczar said:

Yes

11 States had willingly taken themselves off the voter roster and declined to chose Electors. :P

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46 minutes ago, Entrecampos said:

And if he wins everything (less probable)? What will be his position?

Depends on a lot of factors. 

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27 minutes ago, pilight said:

This system seems designed to put Lincoln at the top.  How can you not have more senators and representatives when you add 12 states and choose their congressmen for them?

I wasn’t even thinking of Lincoln when I made this. I was thinking of Trump. I should also mention that I’m going by % of senate and House since the country increases in size for half our history. 

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3 hours ago, pilight said:

This system seems designed to put Lincoln at the top.  How can you not have more senators and representatives when you add 12 states and choose their congressmen for them?

Have you considered the fact that Lincoln might have been a good President? 😛 

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