Barack Obama Ranked ’12th Best President Ever,’ According To Historians

Barack Obama is ranked the “12th best president” ever in the United States, according to historians.

A panel of 91 historians estimated that former President Obama ranked just below Woodrow Wilson and slightly above James Monroe in his placing. The survey conducted by C-SPAN assessed its findings based on a variant of issues that included “crisis leadership,” “economic management,” “moral authority,” “international relations,” “vision/setting an agenda,” and “pursuing equal justice for all.”

NBC News reports that the survey in which Barack Obama is considered the 12th best president of all time, is the third one conducted. Presidential experts began weighing the performance of past presidents in 2000.

Obama ranked high in certain categories on the survey. He placed third behind Abraham Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson on “equal justice.” He made the top on issues of “moral authority” and “economic management.”

When it came to other categories, however, Obama slid down the scale. He ranked fifth from the bottom on “relations with Congress,” and 24th best score on “international relations.”

Historian Douglas Brinkley of Rice University says Obama’s presidency will rank higher over time despite its weak points. Brinkley says a president’s placing tends to perform increasing well, especially if there were no scandals during his administration. Barack Obama was known for being scandal-free during his two terms in office. The historian adds that presidents in the survey are often judged against the leaders who held office before and after them. To highlight his point, Brinkley predicts that “if the Trump presidency is problematic, people may judge Obama even higher yet.”

In other rankings for the best president ever, Abraham Lincoln came in first place for the third time while George Washington came in second, and Franklin D. Roosevelt is third.

The remainder completing the top ten list of best presidents are Theodore Roosevelt at 4, Dwight Eisenhower placed at 5, Harry Truman landing at 6, Thomas Jefferson sitting at 7, John F. Kennedy taking 8, Ronald Reagan coming in at 9, and Lyndon Johnson holding 10.

Eisenhower’s ranking changed from ninth place in 2000 to fifth place in the latest survey. Historians surmise that it may have to do with “greater appreciation for his understated style, his measured approach to managing Cold War tensions and ending the Korean War, and particularly his famous — and, many say, prescient — warnings about the growth of the military-industrial complex.”

George W. Bush’s low ranking at 36 from the 2009 survey has boosted to 33 in the new one.

By contrast, Andrew Jackson slipped to the 13th slot in 2000 and 2009 to 18th in the 2017 survey. Jackson’s populist movement has been compared by some historians to Donald Trump’s presidential style (Trump is at a historic low hovering around 40 percent in approval ratings during his first 100 days in office).

Barack Obama broke new ground as the first African-American to be elected a U.S. president. Earning a spot as the 12th best president ever out of 44 leaders is impressive considering his ranking is anticipated to only rise over time.

The Hill notes that one of the historians involved in the survey, Howard University history professor Edna Greene Medford, thought Obama would’ve placed higher on the survey of best presidents.

“Although 12th is a respectable overall ranking, one would have thought that former President Obama’s favorable rating when he left office would have translated into a higher ranking in this presidential survey.”

When former President Obama left the White House in January, his approval rating was at 57 percent.

[Featured Image by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]