Historians’ Presidents Day Survey: Biden vs. Trump—A Stark Contrast Unveiled

According to a recent survey conducted by historians and presidential experts, President Biden is ranked in the top third of U.S. presidents, while former President Donald Trump is rated as the worst. The survey, which uses a 0-100 scale to measure “overall greatness,” shows that Biden’s rating is 62.66, tying him with John Adams, while Trump’s rating is 10.92.

The survey also revealed that political scientists noted that partisanship and ideology do not make a significant difference in the overall rankings. The survey’s goal is to provide historians and experts with an opportunity to express their opinions on where today’s leaders stand in a broader context.

As the political landscape churns with anticipation for the 2024 presidential race, the battle lines are drawn between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Recent polls may depict a neck-and-neck contest, but the verdict from 154 historians and presidential experts reveals a vastly different narrative: Biden commands a place in the upper echelons of presidential legacy, while Trump languishes at the bottom of the ranks.

In the latest iteration of the Presidential Greatness Project Expert Survey, President Biden secures the 14th spot, nestled between the legacies of Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan. Conversely, Trump finds himself in the ignominious position of 45th place, trailing even the likes of Andrew Johnson and James Buchanan, whose leadership was marred by historical infamy.

Diving into the nuances of these rankings, political scientists Brandon Rottinghaus and Justin S. Vaughn highlight subtle yet significant distinctions. While political affiliation doesn’t dramatically sway opinions, it’s noteworthy that conservative respondents tend to place Biden lower, at 30th, compared to liberals who elevate him to 13th, and moderates who position him at 20th. Conversely, across the ideological spectrum, Trump consistently occupies the bottom rungs of the ladder, a testament to his presidency’s departure from historical norms.

The survey employs a 0-100 scale to gauge “overall greatness,” where a score of 50 denotes average performance, and zero signifies failure. The upper echelon boasts only three names—Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George Washington—each surpassing a lofty 90 rating. Trump’s dismal score of 10.92 underscores his tumultuous tenure, contrasting starkly with Biden’s 62.66, tying him with John Adams. Biden’s appeal, in part, may stem from his contrast with his predecessor, Trump, widely regarded as the most polarizing figure among the ranked presidents.

However, as historians deliberate on presidential legacies, the broader political landscape paints a contrasting picture. While Biden may garner favor among historians, public opinion reflects concerns over his policy stewardship and age, providing a challenging backdrop to his reelection bid. On the other hand, Trump embarks on a formidable path to securing another Republican nomination, despite facing legal woes stemming from 91 felony charges and residual disapproval from his previous term.

The survey’s findings unveil a poignant partisan divide, epitomized by divergent perceptions of presidential greatness. While Republicans and Conservatives lionize George Washington, Democrats, moderates, and independents diverge, slotting the founding father lower in their rankings. Similarly, certain presidents, including Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Obama, and Biden, evoke partisan polarization, underscoring the subjective nature of evaluating presidential legacies.

Amidst the tumult of contemporary politics, the survey underscores the subjectivity inherent in measuring presidential greatness. Historical analysis often revisits leaders’ triumphs and missteps, juxtaposing them against evolving societal norms and values. For instance, the laudable deeds of Lincoln and Roosevelt coexist with critiques of their policies, underscoring the complexities of presidential stewardship.

Ultimately, the Presidential Greatness Project serves as a platform for historians and experts to offer their perspectives on contemporary leadership within a broader historical framework. By engaging in nuanced discussions and reflecting on past precedents, these scholars contribute to a richer understanding of presidential legacies, navigating the intricate tapestry of American governance.

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