Survey: Americans say Barack Obama was best president in their lifetime

WASHINGTON — A Pew Research Center poll released this week places former President Barack Obama at the top of a list of best presidents of Americans’ lifetimes.

Forty-four percent of Americans say Obama had done the best job as president during their lifetimes.

He’s followed by Bill Clinton at 33 percent and Ronald Reagan at 32 percent.

President Donald Trump, not even halfway through his first term, came in fourth with 19 percent.

The numbers reached in the telephone survey of 2,002 adults combined the respondents’ first and second choices.

How Americans feel about a president’s performance in office often is closely related to how old they are.

Sixty-two percent of millennials, which the survey counted as being from ages 22 to 37, named Obama as their first or second choice for best president.

But 42 percent of baby boomers (ages 54-72) and 38 percent of the silent generation (ages 73-90) listed Reagan as their first or second choice.

Generation X (ages 38-53) were split, naming Reagan (45 percent), Obama (41 percent) and Clinton (39 percent) as their first or second choices for best president in their lives.

It’s not surprising that political affiliations color how Americans feel about their presidents.

Among Republicans and independents who lean right, Reagan is their first or second choice with 57 percent, followed by Trump at 40 percent.

Among Democrats and left-leaning independents, Obama tops their list at 71 percent, Clinton comes in at 49 percent and John F. Kennedy is third at 14 percent.

The overall rankings:

  • Barack Obama: 44 percent
  • Bill Clinton: 33 percent
  • Ronald Reagan: 32 percent
  • Donald Trump: 19 percent
  • George W. Bush: 14 percent
  • John F. Kennedy: 12 percent
  • George H.W. Bush: 10 percent
  • Jimmy Carter: 4 percent
  • Dwight Eisenhower: 2 percent
  • Gerald Ford: 1 percent
  • Richard Nixon: 1 percent
  • Lyndon Johnson: 1 percent
  • Harry Truman: 1 percent
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt:1 percent
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