C-SPAN released its third annual survey of presidential leadership by historians. The survey polled 91 historians, include three University historians, to rank the “43 former occupants of the White House on ten attributes of leadership,” according to a press release from Media Relations Specialist Robin Newton.
University affiliates who participated include politics professor emeritus Fred Greenstein, author and professor emeritus Nell Irvin Painter, and professor of history Sean Wilentz.
The previous surveys occurred in 2000 and 2009 and used the same ten criteria. These consist of “Public Persuasion,” “Crisis Leadership,” “Economic Management,” “Moral Authority,” “International Relations,” “Administrative Skills,” “Relations with Congress,” “Vision/Setting An Agenda,” “Pursued Equal Justice for All,” and “Performance Within the Context of His Times,” according to the press release. Historians, biographers, and other professional observers of the presidency contributed to the ranking, and their individual survey results would remain confidential. According to the press release, C-SPAN tabulated responses by averaging all responses in a given category for each president.
In all three of C-SPAN’s surveys, Abraham Lincoln ranks No. 1, the statement read. George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower take the rest of the top five spots. Former President Barack Obama joins the presidents in the No. 12 spot, notably ranking No. 3 for “Pursued Equal Justice for All,” according to the press release.
Ulysses S. Grant is the most average president, ranking at No. 22 of the 43 presidents. Andrew Jackson fell the most, from the No. 13 spot in 2009 to the No. 18 spot in this year’s survey. Woodrow Wilson Class of 1879 dropped from his No. 6 spot in the 2000 rankings to No. 11 this year. According to Time magazine, historians placed new attention on his civil rights record, which may be responsible for the considerable decrease in popularity.